The news of Tim’s death spread through Salisbury quickly.
Everyone reacted with a gasp of shock and horror, but nobody feigned sadness. It was horrible news, one that had surely affected his family in a tremendous way, but it would have taken real effort to mourn such a horrible man.
Tim had no family, not anymore. His daughter was the only person who had continued to bother with him. She would never forgive him for all the pain he had caused so many people, but he was her father and she needed him.
When Ellen, Tim’s ex-wife, heard the news she was unsure how she should react. The police had knocked on her front door early on Monday morning to break the tragic news. He had been murdered. She cried, although she was unsure whether the tears were real or merely for the benefit of the two strangers sitting opposite her. When they left the house and Ellen was alone again, a feeling of relief swept over her. Or, at least, she thought it was relief.
She phoned her best friend, Greg, to tell him what had happened. He did not hold back.
“Good, the bastard deserved it after all he did,” he spat down the phone. “Are you okay?” He then asked, worrying that he had been insensitive.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine. It’s just…” She paused. “It’s just, how am I going to tell Katherine? She’s going to be devastated.”
Ellen was right. She had requested for her two children to come to the house immediately, which they did. When she broke the news, in what she considered to be a sensitive yet slightly detached manner, Katherine screamed as though she was in unbearable pain and sobbed violently while Ellen tried to console her. Rob, Katherine’s brother, remained fixed to the spot, his face unchanged.
Rob, like his mother, was not saddened by the loss of Tim (or ‘ The Sperm Donor’, as he referred to him in the rare occasions he was mentioned in his presence). For the last year, Rob had completely denied Tim’s existence and so he had already come to terms with losing his father. As he watched his sister crying inconsolably, he pitied her. Maybe she was too young, too naïve, to understand why she should be happy that she was free at last from their scumbag dad.
It was a year ago that the family found out what had been happening. Rob had grown suspicious of his father’s actions long before they came to light but he had remained silent, afraid that he would upset his mother or anger his father. Tim was usually a calm man, but when pushed he had been known to present his son with a black eye. Once, when Tim had unearthed that a fifteen-year-old Rob had stolen money from his wallet, purchased alcohol and cigarettes, and spent a weekend at his friend’s house having parties with his school friends, he had hit Rob so hard in the ribs that they had to go to A&E. So that his father would not tell Ellen about the weekend, Rob had said that he had been riding his bike and had fallen over the handlebars.
One evening, while Tim was marking some of his students’ essays, Rob heard his father’s ringtone in the kitchen. He answered it and a woman answered back. She thought it was Tim.
“Hi babe, are you free to talk?” The woman’s husky voice asked.
“Yeah,” replied Tim, not really thinking about what he was doing.
“Last night was amazing, I can’t stop thinking about it.”
“Me too, it was fun.” Rob knew he was not being very convincing, but the woman on the other end of the line didn’t seem to notice.
“When can I see you again?” She asked.
Rob suspected that he would regret it when he replied, “Tonight.”
Rob agreed to meet his father’s mystery woman at a pub in a nearby village. He shouted up to his father that he needed to borrow his car and left the house. He waited in the car park for ten minutes until a burgundy Mondeo pulled up next to him. She looked into his car, smiling, but then her face dropped. Rob was horrified to see that his father’s mystery woman was Carly, his mum’s best friend. He had know Carly, her husband Greg, and their twin sons since he could remember, yet Rob had not managed to recognise her voice on the phone; he would never have expected his father to have an affair with her.
Angry and confused, Rob sped off without asking any questions, and confronted his father. Tim made no threats nor did he try to deny anything. He promised to tell his wife, but Ellen had entered the house during the shouting match and heard everything.
That evening was the worst night of Rob’s life. He witnessed the screaming, the crying, the arguing and the unravelling of many truths. His father had been having an affair with Carly for over two years. All the evenings Tim spent at school marking essays and meeting with the other teachers in his department were actually evenings spent somewhere secret with his wife’s best friend.
Rob was relieved that Katherine had moved out a few weeks previously, so she did not have to know all the small details that were being yelled through the house by their mother. She threw her husband out and told him never to return. But the next day, she changed her mind.
For the next month-or-so, Ellen and Tim carried on as if nothing had happened. When Greg had heard about his wife’s affair, he had kicked her out immediately and vowed to cut off Tim’s testicles if he ever saw him again. He stopped talking to Ellen altogether, unable to forgive her for staying with the man who had ruined their lives.
Ellen was in constant turmoil. She was always anxious to know where Tim was and called him constantly to check up on his whereabouts. Eventually, she cracked. Switching on his laptop and searching through his files, Ellen thought she would put her mind to rest. Instead, she discovered that her husband’s treachery was only the beginning.
Three different girls had been emailing Tim. Blackmail. Threats to tell the headmaster, to tell their parents, to tell Tim’s wife. Three of Tim’s students were claiming that he had made passes at them. Ellen felt sick as she read the messages. None of them mentioned the word ‘sex’, but that was only a mild relief in the cobweb of lies in which she was trapped. Tim was the spider, creeping over girls and women, spinning a web of destruction.
Ellen phoned the school to report the emails and Tim’s career, family, and reputation crashed around him. His family, except Katherine, detested him, his best friend wanted to kill him, and the families of the three fifteen-year-old girls had a score to settle. Tim was forced to leave his home in West Devon and moved to his sister and brother-in-law’s house in Salisbury. He left behind tens of people who hated him to start anew.
However, it seemed that Tim was so accustomed to making enemies that he had forgotten how to make friends. His fresh start was the beginning of his sticky end.