10.48am: Sydney Airport. Jonathon and Sahanya are standing in the queue to get on the plane.
‘Hold this’, she said, and passed him a white leather jacket folded into a neat bundle. ‘I’ll be right back.’ She tilted her wheelie bag and strode away. Jonathon let a few people pass then joined the queue’s inexorable movement toward the smiling woman, who took his ticket as he said, ‘I’m with someone…’ and she gestured, ‘Straight ahead, then to your left’, and turned to the next passenger.
He took his seat by the window, his unease growing as the plane filled and overhead lockers were slammed shut. He approached the flight attendant.
‘Excuse me, there’s someone…’ and realised he was hearing the final call.
‘I’m sorry sir. You need to take your seat.’
An announcement told the flight crew to close the doors and prepare for take-off.
‘We’re travelling together. I have to – ’
‘You need to take your seat sir.’
‘Shit!’ She delivered a well-practiced stare with one eyebrow raised. Jonathon stormed back to where Sahanya’s jacket sat neatly on her seat. He punched it hard. ‘Fuckit!’ Some nearby passengers looked his way; a mother shielded her child; a young man clenched his muscles. The plane began its slow pre-flight choreography and finally rumbled into the air.
Two hours later Jonathon had consoled himself with a few whiskies and a red wine, and his Business Review Weekly lay splayed on the floor. He decided to spread out over the empty seat. He lifted Sahanya’s jacket and a fat white envelope fell out. He flipped it over and saw his name neatly written in blue ballpoint in a hand that seemed familiar. He ripped the end and shucked its contents onto the seat. It was a bundle of folded papers.
The first five were statements from his Miscellaneous bank account, the one he used for strip clubs, hotels, champagne, whisky and escorts on his ‘business trips’. ‘Faark!’ Heads turned. The mother caught the attendant’s eye, identifying Jonathon with a subtle movement of her index finger.
Next was a copy of an email exchange, apparently between he and his boss, about an unexpected and urgent deadline. Jonathon was to have a dossier complete by lunchtime, Friday 20. It was a huge deal with a Hong Kong company.
He knew, but checked his phone anyway: Friday 20.
‘Shit! Shit! Shit! Who the fuck! – ’
The attendant swooped. ‘Is there a problem sir?’
‘No! Fuck off!’ More heads turned his way.
‘Please mind your language sir.’ A male attendant was creeping up the aisle. Jonathon turned to face the window.
The three attendants exchanged knowing looks, frowned and went back to their stations.
The next page was handwritten:
When we were first married, you always had so much business out of town. I was disappointed at first, but over time I came to accept it. But one day, when I was six months pregnant, I went to get something out of the car, and down behind the front seat I found a woman’s jacket, white leather, expensive looking. It smelled of stale smoke and alcohol. Well, that threw a whole new light on your ‘important clients’ and ‘business trips’!
I kept that jacket all these years. I knew sooner or later I’d give it back to you, and at the same time I’d make you pay. But I wasn’t going to be a single mother, I’ve seen enough of that and the harm it does. I decided to wait until my child had grown up and left home. Well, that time has come!
Just by chance, a few weeks ago I ran into Sahanya at Woolworths. She said it must be difficult now that we were separated (news to me!). She thought I knew you two were getting engaged (well I never!). I set her straight on the biggest porkies, and well, ropeable is not the word! So we decided to work together.
Now, just a few things –
You may have missed that work deadline, here’s another one for you. I’m sending a copy of those bank statements to your mother. Posting today, so mumsy should get them by Monday. It’s tight, but you might just get back in time to intercept them. Good luck!
Sani and I managed to close that ‘miscellaneous’ account of yours and transfer the money to me. You might find your other accounts a little low as well. She’s a damn good PA, I’ll give you that!
I’m moving out, this afternoon. I know you’re always losing your keys, so I’ll leave mine in the front door.
I left the key in the Beamer as well. It’s parked in Kings Cross. I wouldn’t leave it there too long, it has all your good suits in it for one thing. In fact, quite a lot of your things. (I’m keeping the Peugeot).
I know you’re fond of Bobby, but I can’t have a dog at my new address, and who would take care of him? So this afternoon I’m having him sent to doggy heaven. Sad, but for the best.
Last but not least: I put a little something in your bag. Sani got it. Apparently Danny at your work is a bit of a dealer on the side. But then you’d know that.
It was signed with exaggerated calligraphic swirls:
Your loving wife,
10.48pm: In a small living room amid boxes and crumpled newspaper, Madeleine, a large glass of red in hand, and Bobby the schnauzer are watching the news on a small TV balanced on a milk crate. ‘Look it’s daddy!’ He wags his stumpy tail. On the screen, surveillance footage of an ‘Australian businessman’ frantically rifling through his bag, throwing out clothes, tearing the lining of a white jacket, being led away by security staff.