VENGEANCE – A short story

Vengeance?  No – I don’t feel vengeful, or even that angry.  Except with myself, though that is more irritation than real anger.  Mostly I just feel sad.  Incredibly sad, and, I suppose sorry for myself.  And, if I am honest, more than a touch of incredulity.  How did we get here?  Why didn’t I see it coming?  But then – I was never really that clever.

When did it start?  Ah, only she knows that.  And him of course – we mustn’t forget him.

All I knew was when she told me.  And I was shocked.  I mean, absolutely.  I had no idea.  Talk about a bolt out of the blue. It was the last thing I expected.  I said earlier that I wasn’t really that clever.  Oh, I excelled at school, but I sort of bumbled along in real life; as if all that academic learning meant nothing in the world of emotions – anger and love and jealousy and hatred.  And when I met her – Joy – it was as if that name encapsulated everything I was feeling.  It was beyond happiness, it was better than anything I could have imagined, and most of all it seemed so right.

But now it is wrong.  All wrong.  In fact, everything is wrong. Her telling me she is having an affair is wrong.  In fact, the word affair itself is wrong.  It is far worse than that.  She told me she is in love with him.  And she didn’t even soften the blow by saying she still loved me.  In fact, she told me directly that she didn’t love me anymore.  She hadn’t loved me for a long time, since the baby was born in fact.  Two years.  Our little girl is two years old.  So – if she didn’t love me how come she had still made love with me.  But no – those thoughts came later – much later.

The strongest emotion I recall was simply disbelief.  You know that feeling you have on waking when you aren’t sure if you are still asleep and everything is whirling around in your head as you try to shake the dream away.  That was how I felt.

I was disoriented, my stomach churned over and over, I desperately wanted to vomit, I felt a terrible rush of imminent diarrhoea, I was dizzy and I just wanted to escape.  I ran out of the house and away, just running, running, running – until I ran out of roads to run down, and out of breath.  I slumped against a wall and tried to recall what she had said.

That was my immediate reaction.  And now, two weeks later, it is just sadness.  I have moved into the small bedroom – the one I had painstakingly decorated as a nursery for our little girl, her cot now in Joy’s, our old, bedroom.  I have taken to laying awake all evening, all night sometimes, listening to Leonard Cohen “One of us cannot be wrong” and Dylan “It’s all over now, baby blue.”  Wallowing in self-pity, replaying the words she said and the words I should have said – but couldn’t find at the time.

And, of course it didn’t end there.  It never does I suppose.  I offered forgiveness, I said that if she would stop seeing him then we could start over.  I would never mention it again.  You know – all that sloppy bollocks.

I was quite pathetic.  I still am.  She is leaving with him at the end of the week.  I gave her the choice you see, I said she had to choose.  And she has.


Last night I asked her why.  Not why she had slept with him, not why she was leaving me for him.  But why she had stopped loving me, why that had opened up a space in her heart.  You see, even now I can’t quite believe in any real wrongdoing on her part.  It must have been my fault, or at least, I must have been complicit in some way.

And she took the opportunity to wound me even more.  The truth is always hard to take, especially when it comes from the one you still love.  She said I had always intimidated her.  From the beginning really, she had always felt somehow inferior to me, to my knowledge, to my confident social skills.

“I felt stupid” Joy said “next to you.  You always knew what to say, you were witty where I was dull.  I felt everyone looked down on me, that they somehow thought I was the lucky one to have you as a husband.  Other women can be very catty and I felt they were sneering, or laughing even, behind my back.  I began to hate you, and maybe for the very same reasons I had fallen for you.”

She went on “I just needed to prove to myself that I was somebody, someone in my own right, not just your wife.  I felt I was on a treadmill, staying at home with the baby, washing, cleaning the house, cooking endless dinners.  That wasn’t how I imagined my life would end up.  And so – I began to hate you. With a vengeance.  And every time we had friends round and they laughed at your stupid jokes the dagger went in a bit deeper.  Every time you discussed Politics or Religion or Art, I despised your cleverness even more.

“I never had opinions you see” she continued. “I was just normal, a bit of a dunce at school, I never sought the limelight.  And I could never talk.  Not like you could anyway.  So, I plotted my revenge.  Well not revenge really – but in a way it was getting back at you.  At first it was just for the excitement, the thrill of doing it behind your back.  Every time we did it I felt I was getting my own back on you somehow.  And you had no idea, did you?  That was the best part.  My ideal form of vengeance.  And stupidly I thought I could get away with it.”

“But of course, the longer it went on the more I fell in love with him.” Joy shrugged. “And now it’s all gone too far, and I can’t give him up.  Besides it will have all been for nothing if I go back to you now, won’t it?”


What did I think when she told me all this?  I really don’t know, too early to take it all in.  And though I have no feelings now except sadness, at least I am beginning to understand what vengeance is all about.

My Record Collection 88

Dylan – Live and other stuff.   Some of these are bootlegs or released radio broadcasts where the copyright is only 30 years or maybe less.  So, not official releases but still pretty damn good.

Bob Dylan and The New Folk Revolution.  This is over half early Dylan songs – no really new stuff, and a collection of Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Dave Von Ronk songs.  Okay but hardly essential.

The Singer and The Song.  A great double album of Dylan and Johhny Cash songs, not singing together but still a good compilation.   I really don’t know how these other record companies get some of this early Dylan material, maybe it is officially licensed – but I am not sure.   Anyway, a great compilation – some early stuff from Dylan too.

Life and Live Only – I think this was an official CBS release of again early radio live performances’ not bad but nothing new or not really available elsewhere.

A Fool Such As I – well, this is again a strange one.  In the early Sixties Dylan fell out with his record company CBS and recorded an album Planet Waves (not his best by a long chalk) with Asylum records.  In retaliation CBS released a selection of poor songs which Bob had recorded but not included in Self Portrait of the previous year.  When Bob returned to CBS the following year this album, simply titled Dylan was buried and not released for many years on CD.  This album, ‘A Fool Such As I’ is basically that deleted record plus, and here lie the buried gems a whole lot of Dylan Cash duets…Whether they ever intended for an album or were just having fun in the studio (2 songs with Cash came out on Nashville Skyline anyway) is unknown but buried treasure it is.

Across The Borderline   This is a live double album of a concert with Tom Petty and the Heartnreakers (see P).  This was mid-nineties.  Bob and Petty toured extensively and several concerts were broadcast on local radio stations (presumably to encourage ticket sales).  Some of these emerged a few years later as live CDs.  See a bit later Decades – an 8-album collection of live sets (4 of which were live Petty/Dylan concerts).  This is quite a good concert with a fair sprinkling of Petty songs.  Bob’s voice is pretty shot though – but as usual I bought it.

Can’t Wait.  Another late 90’s concert – this time with his own band.   I am still not sure about this record, I like some of it – but almost every song is played as a slowish chugging bues, all long versions, quite hypnotic – but ultimately a bit more than boring.  And I much prefer the original arrangements.  Dylan admitted that he was constantly changing the arrangements of his songs trying to find a new way of playing them to keep them fresh for him as the singer.  Oh well.

Decades – an 8 volume set of live discs – 4 of which are different concerts with Tom Petty.  The first two are okay, early radio shows, interviews and songs from a young performer hoping to get noticed.  The four Tom Petty ones are okay but a bit much.    CD2 is especially good, with a very young Bob, almost embarrassed in an interview and not wanting to sing his own songs, he sounds really charming.  Disc 3 is another from The Rolling Thunder Review, not sure exactly which concert but very good as usual.  Discs 3 to 6 are all with Tom Petty and pretty repetitive realy.

Discs 7 and 8 I haven’t heard yet…

Shelter From A hard Rain. .Another broadcast from the Rolling Thunder Tour.  Pretty sure this was from TV broadcast I saw back in very late 70’s.  Anyway, brilliant as usual.  I just love this stuff and can’t wait (but I must) to start in on the mega box set of Rolling Thunder about to be delivered..

Chimes Of Freedom.   Is a four disc set of other voices singing Dylan.  Absolutely wonderful,

In fact one of my very favourite Dylan albums.  Too many great performances to single out any.  This album truly showcases just what a brilliant songwriter Dylan was.  I could listen to these CDs all day long – and I am often tempted to,

Then we come to the various Greatest Hits. I did have the original 1967 release of Bob Dylans Greatest Hits on vinyl, long since transferred into cassette.  As I now own all the early albums there is no need to rebuy it.  Much better was More Bob Dylan Greatest Hits (1971) I reviewed this earlier, it has four new songs which are among his best.  This was released at a time when he was seen as having a run of pretty poor Dylan albums really – but it made me go out and buy them, and now I love them.

Dylan – (2007) a single CD of Bob’s best.  A pretty good place to start – and goes right up to late 90’s.

Masterpieces – A 3-disc greatest came out in 1978 but concentrates on early stuff – mostly the early 60’s.  I bought this really for 2 tracks which were released in the mid-seventies as a rare single and were never on any album; Rita Mae and They Shot George Jackson Down.  But a good album anyway.

Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits – Vol 3  (1994) concentrates on Seventies and Eighties.  And it just makes you realise how good he still was.  While the early stuff will always resonate, these later songs were more varied, more complex often and probably worked on harder.  There have been very few artists whose work has been consistently good over the decades.  But Bob was always one to plough his own furrow; sometimes it might have seemed that what he turned up was less rich than at others, but he continues to defy description and to surprise us.

The Real Bob Dylan – 2012.  A triple album, more or less in date order.  No surprises but a couple of live versions.  The Bob Dylan industry is in full swing.  Every couple of years a new compilation emerges, as well as the continuing Bootleg series of rare and unreleased stuff.  There is also the seemingly fading possibility that Bob might actually release something new and original again.  We wait. But I have plenty of Dylan stuff to be going on with I am sure you will agree.

The Real Bob Dylan