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Authors: William Shenton

Jigsaw Lovers

BOOK: Jigsaw Lovers
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William Shenton



All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior permission from the publisher or copyright holder.

© William Shenton, 2011

First published in ebook in 2011


Jigsaw Lovers
is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons (living or dead) or actual events is entirely coincidental.





John Smith opened the envelope marked ‘Personal, Private and Confidential’, which his secretary had left on his desk.

Inside was a piece of thin cardboard cut in the shape of a part of a jigsaw puzzle. The black and white image on the front was photographic, but on this small piece it was just an abstract mixture of shades of grey. What it might portray in its entirety was impossible to tell or even guess at. A type-written note on a blank piece of paper, the size of a normal compliments slip, stated ‘

Smith shook the envelope and then slit it open along its entire length. There was nothing else inside to indicate what this might be; no name, address, telephone number or any reference as to the identity of the sender. The post mark on the envelope was Cape Town. Not much help. How bizarre, he thought.

Whoever had sent it, had obviously forgotten to include the rest of the information. People were becoming more and more careless these days. It was symptomatic of the changes that were happening in the country. He himself had noticed the increase in problems in his own office, and his was a well-managed concern.

Then he realised what it must be. It was some form of typically tacky competition teaser, such as one frequently received from the likes of Reader’s Digest. In a few days another piece would arrive, probably with an over-jolly patronising letter, which would inform him that he, Mr John Smith, had been so fortunate as to be one of the chosen few, selected from many millions. It would no doubt go on to state that he had a chance to win vast amounts of money or a car, or a holiday, if he was lucky enough to match his piece to their piece. In reality, he’d probably end up with a blunt steak-knife and have to take out a subscription to their publication.

Smith didn’t believe in chance or luck, loathed Reader’s Digest, although his wife seemed to derive much pleasure from the magazine, and normally threw such circulars in the bin. Today, however, for no apparent reason, almost absent-mindedly, he put the jigsaw piece in his top drawer.

The reason Smith didn’t believe in chance or luck was because he was a bank manager. As such, there was no place in his life for uncertainties. Risks were things other people took. He often advanced money to the risk takers, but only if they had more than adequate security to cover himself and the Bank if anything should go wrong. Those with insufficient security to offer would either go away empty-handed, or if the risk was minimal Smith would advance a loan at the highest rate of interest the law would allow, and at the same time impose high arrangement and administration fees, all of which helped bolster the Bank’s profits and enhance his reputation.

The opinion he had of himself and his abilities was that he was a very good bank manager. This opinion was not necessarily shared by some of his colleagues and, certainly, many of his clients thought otherwise.



Ian Hamilton learnt the meaning of love relatively late in life. In his late teens there had been a fair number of gropings and fondling
s in darkened corners of nightclubs and occasionally the opportunity to spend the entire night in youthful, passionate sexual embrace, when parents were conveniently absent for the weekend.

This same basic approach, with a few more sophisticated touches, continued during his university days, when the principal components of having a good time were to consume as much alcohol as possible and then go in pursuit of more carnal pleasures. Fortunately for Ian, his blond haired, slightly innocent and demurely engaging appearance disguised his true nature; a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and he found that drink never dulled his wit nor his libido.

Problems arose in different areas. He had, on one occasion that he could remember, to rush naked from the young girl’s bed in mid-performance, in order to vomit profusely in the garden. His energetic coupling had set off some secondary fermentation in his stomach, which could not be harnessed. Having rinsed his mouth, he returned, brandishing a flower, to pick up where he left off.

On another occasion he’d been seeing an attractive, tempestuous, spoilt girl, who was great fun, on and off for a couple of weeks, when one morning there was a knock on his bedroom door. Thinking it was his house mate he casually shouted come in, only to be confronted by a complete stranger, who it turned out was the girl’s long-standing boyfriend. He thought his last moment had come. There seemed no possible escape. He could hardly deny the liaison, as the fellow’s girlfriend was lying naked, dishevelled and speechless next to him. But somehow, miraculously, he lived to play another day. The
boyfriend confined himself to delivering a short, sharp and very much to the point lecture on the girl’s sense of moral values and questionable commitment to their relationship, apologised to Hamilton for intruding on him in his bedroom, and left.

There were many similar incidents with numerous women over the years. He slipped in and out of infatuations, having fun where fun was to be found and moving on at the first sign of seriousness or boredom. A sense of commitment, or rather lack of it on his part was a criticism that was frequently levelled at him. Some of the relationships lasted a few months, others a few days or just a night. The one thing all his girlfriends discovered they had in common was that they considered him to be a demanding and mentally selfish person. Although they found him to be a wonderfully satisfying lover physically, and tremendous fun to be with socially, few of them could cope with the feeling that they were never going to penetrate the protective barriers that existed as far as his own thoughts and innermost feelings were concerned.

Hamilton for his part was quite happy to enjoy fun without responsibility for as long as it lasted.

The situation changed one day when he suddenly realised that the present girlfriend was different. He found himself thinking about her in a completely different way from any of the others he had had previously. It was a bizarre feeling. He wanted to spend his time with her exclusively, not to go out and get blind drunk continually with his friends, but to behave in a more responsible, some may say adult fashion, content with just the pleasure of her company.

For a while his drinking friends rarely saw him, or if they did it was fleetingly, when he’d stay for one drink and then rush off to meet the girlfriend for a quiet secluded dinner. They would make fun of him, suggesting that he was obviously in love at last. And what a good thing it was, as they might now have an opportunity with the remaining girls since he did have a remarkable ability to be the centre of female attention.

After a few weeks he realised that maybe his friends were right. This strange feeling of elation, this emotional turmoil, could this be what people referred to as Love?

However, there was a down side. From day one she had told him there was somebody else, and that all they would ever have would be fun with no strings attached. Naturally at first he had agreed to this arrangement; this was a woman who thought like he did, sensibly. But as time went by he became more and more involved with her, and more demanding for his love to be returned in equal measure. She warned him on numerous occasions not to become emotionally dependent on her – to keep his distance – because she didn’t want to see him hurt when she left to rejoin her true love in the Far East.

This was the first time that he was not in control of a relationship. For the first time he realised what it must have been like for all those girls he had toyed with over the years. It was not a pleasant feeling.

He tried to persuade himself that it wasn’t really love. He only felt this way about her because she had not fallen for him completely, as all the others had. That it was the element of the chase; that she still remained a challenge after all these weeks. He believed that once she gave herself totally to him he would cease to be so captivated and would go back to being his normal irresponsible fun-loving self.

This was not to be the case. Almost three months to the day that their affair began, it ended, as she flew off to Hong Kong, leaving no forwarding address.

He was devastated. He had never felt so sad and lonely. Until the last minute he had held out some hope that she would change her mind and stay with him, but that didn’t transpire. He had begged and pleaded with her not to leave, but her resolve had held firm.

After she had gone he spent weeks thinking she would return. When the telephone rang he held a secret hope that it would be her; but it never was. He was overcome by a profound sadness that permeated everything he did.

It took him many months to attempt to return to his former lecherous ways, but he found something missing from the relationships. They were never as much fun as he thought they were going to be. He found their superficial nature unsatisfying and he quickly became bored and irritated with his partners. Alcohol played an increasing role in his recreational habits, usually in large quantities. Fortunately his work was so undemanding that he was able to nurse his hangovers, without others noticing, until lunch time when a couple more drinks would straighten him out.

To a lesser or greater extent this lifestyle continued unabated for the best part of two years. He had managed to get over her on a day-to-day basis, but occasionally when he was alone and feeling drunkenly morose she would figure in his thoughts, which would lead him to drink even more until he passed out.

He wasn’t aware of it happening again until he had been seeing Victoria on an irregular basis for almost two months.

They were in the Waterfront sitting on the terrace of a bar overlooking Table Mountain. He had indicated to the waiter to bring more wine, when he was taken aback by what she was saying.

‘I don’t think you should drink so much. It’s not good for you.’

‘What’s that got to do with you?’ he demanded truculently.

‘Nothing, except I happen to care for you and view you as my friend,’ she answered as another bottle of wine arrived.

‘Well, that’s nice to know, but in future when I want your opinion on such matters, I’ll send you a postcard.’ He immediately regretted the remark.

‘Suit yourself.’ She got up and, much to his surprise, walked out.

The relationship proceeded along these lines, sometimes on, sometimes off, for almost a year. There was an occasion when she slapped his face for some obnoxious remark he made after a drink too many; a remark of which he had not even the slightest recollection.

It was because she had this uncompromising attitude towards him, because she didn’t tolerate his nonsense, that he became more and more enamoured of her. He realised he was experiencing the same feeling of true love that he had had before, only this time the symptoms were much stronger. She had finally managed to exorcise the memories of his first real love. He was now able to think about her as a fond memory. It no longer hurt like it used to whenever her name was mentioned.

All of a sudden life was fun again. He would wake up in the morning feeling cheerful and happy, for no other reason than his relationship with Victoria.

BOOK: Jigsaw Lovers
7.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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