'How unfaithful is your partner?
Alice frowned as the advert in Homemaker
Weekly grabbed her attention. Self consciously she patted her tightly curled fair hair then seated her diminutive figure primly
at the kitchen table of her three bedroom semi-detached - and read on.
'Finding out is so easy for
members of Fidelity Investigation Club (FIC). Just send us brief details about your partners likes, dislikes and leisure movements
plus an undertaking that you will occasionally give just half a day of your time to helping other club members. Then sit back
and enjoy the reassurance of having questions answered that may have niggled you for years.
the color rising in her cheeks. The idea, of John being unfaithful was ridiculous - even thinking about it was quite enough
to make her feel hot and bothered. Nervously, she pulled her light blue cardigan sleeves further down towards her wrists.
'Membership of FIC costs only £10 and could save £1000's in Private Investigator's fees.'
people," she thought, contemptuously. "How many of their readers are going to spend that sort of money?"
turned the page and tried to read an article on wine making from rhubarb but couldn't concentrate and eventually found herself
drawn back to the stuff about the Fidelity Club.
The questions were straight forward - and she could easily
see, together with the photo that was required, they would give enough information for a discreet surveillance. But one question
stood out starkly and gave her real difficulty.
'What qualities would tempt your partner to infidelity?'
desperately wanted to write down a description of herself. (She was only entering the attached form so she could consider
it in an organized manner.) But she had seen her husband's eyes inexorably drawn by tall women with dark gypsy-like features.
"If a job's to be done, I suppose it must be done properly," she thought determinedly as she provided the honest response
Surprisingly quickly the form was completed, including a section about herself. Separate photos of herself and her husband
were easily brought to hand from the special photo album in the drawing room dresser. So was the stamp, envelope and cheque
"After all what's £10 these days," she thought as she popped the letter in the post box at the end
of their quiet cul-de-sac.
"If it's a con trick, what have I lost? If it's genuine, it will be nice to
She returned to her routine of dusting and tidying, contemplated briefly how often her
husband had been late back from the office recently then dismissed the matter from her mind. It had been dealt with.
A week passed and she was beginning to scold herself for being gullible, when a brown package arrived by second post.
Its post paid franking as it lay on the kitchen table carried the emblem of the club abbreviated to 'FIC'. She had a
feeling that what lay within could change her life and dreaded opening it.
It was with relief that she
found no ghastly revelations inside, merely the assurance that arrangements for the surveillance were now under way.
The organizers wanted to know when she could spend a few hours helping another member with some discrete surveillance.
(It seemed so stark to see the words in print.)
"Fair enough, I suppose", she thought to herself. "After
all it's what I agreed to and the task seems simple enough: just visit a hotel bar that the other members partner frequented,
sit next to him and observe his reactions.
The letter explained that she was his 'type' based on what
she had written about herself. If he propositioned her, he was condemned. All she then had to do was make her excuses and
report back. It would all happen in a safe, public place. There was nothing in the world to worry about.
return, another temptress member would visit Alice's husband's inner London haunt, seat herself by him and fill in a similar
account of her experiences. FIC would await receipt of both reports and then send them out to both participants simultaneously.
Simple, easy and efficient. Alice couldn't help admiring their system - it appealed to her tidy and economical mind.
There was only one thing that she felt ill at ease about. She didn't like going into a pub by herself. But eventually
she rationalized that it was a hotel bar so there would be all sorts of people, even families, to make her feel at ease.
Her 'mark' too seemed a very ordinary person. From the photograph with which she was provided, his tufty eyebrows and
balding head fitted the image she had in her mind of a studious professor. She didn't find him at all threatening.
So it was well within the prescribed fortnight that she took her place on a high bar stool besides a middle aged man
wearing corduroy slacks and open checked shirt. The man that she secretly knew to be called Alex was just sitting there alone
and quietly drinking half a lager. The bar bustled all around them with trade from the main road outside and lunch seeking
employees from the nearby College.
His glance when she took her seat was brief and non-committal but then
after staring back into his glass for a while, he gave her a second look and a slight smile.
thrill that raced through her was unexpected. She looked away to maintain her pre-planned stance of aloofness. Her simple
green cotton dress was not blatant or revealing - but she'd felt obliged to ensure her face was right and the regular visit
to the hairdressers had been brought forward for the occasion.
It was knowing she was his 'type' that
added tension. When the beer mat, she was playing with slipped through her nervous fingers and fell to the floor, like a gentleman,
he reached down and picked it up. But she knew with certainty that, somewhat less like a gentleman, he had used the
opportunity for a good look at her from ankles upwards.
"Thanks", she said, with a forced laugh and the
just to be polite went on to observe: "Idle fingers create work.
He looked at her quizzically over the
tops of his glasses, blue eyes twinkling a bit.
"You don't look like one who sits around being idle very
The words were spoken in a deep, sonorous voice that was quite attractive. They gave him the excuse
without appearing to be rude, to glance again at her neat, petite figure and hazel eyes.
His smile made
her feel at ease but she couldn't help wishing the annoying tingles would go from the tips of her toes.
to practicalities", she told herself, then aloud. "Where can I get a meal in here?
"You'd be better off
in the dining room. There's more space and the food isn't pre-cooked and then left lying around under a heater. I usually
get a drink at bar prices and then take it through with me.
"Most economical", observed Alice, nodding
her head approvingly.
"Goes with the job, I suppose. I lecture in Business Studies just a couple of stones
throws away from here. Alex is the name.
He held out his hand. It felt dry and strong.
Alice - but couldn't you get something to eat in the College?" She really felt like a private eye when she asked that question.
"Yes but it's nice to get out and have a break from the students. Plus the proprietor here knows me quite well - so
I always get made welcome."
Alice wrinkled her nose pensively.
quite honest I wasn't sure at all about coming in here by myself.
I'm on my way to visit my sister and
could have got something to eat there but with another hours drive ahead of me, hunger overcame nervousness.
"If you still feel nervous, you could join me. I'm just going through and it would be nice to have company."