Comeuppance by Jason Darrell

"Sis, I don't know how to tell you this," Trish rattled over her mobile.

"Well, 'Hello' to you, too," Julie answered.

"Shush! Julie, it's Trevor," Trish said.

"What now?" Julie replied, exasperated. Trish had never liked him.

"He's here in town and with someone else. Another woman," Trish ventured, awaiting the fallout on the other end of the line.

Julie knew that Trevor had only married her for her money. In turn, she'd only married Trevor to enhance her corporate ladder prospects. That's why they'd opted for the quickie service in Vegas. No point involving their nearest and dearest in the subterfuge. Even so, thoughts of his betrayal still cut, at skin level if no deeper.

"You still there, sis?" Trish asked, Julie momentarily silent as she processed the news.

"Yes, I'm here," she answered, flat, monotone.

"But do you know what's odd?" Trish asked.

As if Trevor with another woman wasn't odd enough, Julie answered, "Go on."

"She's the spitting image of you," Trish said.

Fair enough: odd. Julie had always classed herself as plain, at best. From a conventional looks' perspective, not that she set much stall by that measure, she was punching above her weight with Trevor.

"Honestly," Trish continued, "if she'd not been wearing green, I'd have gone up to them convinced it was you Trevor was with."

"Okay," Julie answered, thoughts assembling themselves into logical order, "Where'd you see 'em?"

"They're in Frizzenti, New Street Station," Trish answered, "They've literally just sat down. I called as soon as I realised it wasn't you. I'm in the Costa on the corner, before you ask."

"I've got a Zoom in five," Julie pondered, "do me a favour? Take pictures. Discreetly! Then send them over."

"Sure," Trish said, "I thought you'd be angrier…"

"Oh, I've been waiting for something like this. But what's pissed me off is that you reckon she looks like me," Julie said, her noncommittal tone implying she wanted to be angrier than she was.

"How long's your meeting for?" Trish asked.

"An hour, hour-fifteen, tops," Julie answered.

"Okay. I'll come 'round. See you in a couple of hours," Trish said.

Julie simply said, "Yep," and hung up.

***

"She looks nothing like me," Julie remonstrated after going through the photos on Trish's phone, to which her sister diplomatically replied 'Mmm".

"I mean," Julie continued, "Red hair, anaemic complexion and an emerald green velvet (velour?) dress: she looks like a creased Italian flag. That's why I don't wear green right there!"

"What you gonna do?" Trish asked, steering away from the resemblance conversation.

Julie pulled up, looked incredulously at her sister, then replied, "Why, get revenge, of course."

"Don't get doing anything stupid, sis, will you?" Trish asked, knowing Julie of old.

"I won't. I've been thinking," Julie answered, "tomorrow, you're coming into the office with me, if you're up for helping me nail this loser."

Trish's smile was answer enough.

"I've called an extraordinary board meeting, in which I'll announce I'm transferring all my shares to you. Then we'll go to the solicitors', rewrite my will to the same effect. I've already transferred you my savings."

Trish looked at Julie, shocked; this was drastic, even for her.

"Don't worry," Julie said, "And if you get a call from Trevor suggesting that I'm not all the ticket, don't fret. Part of the plan!

"Oh. One last thing. I'm going to get my hair cut today, just like this bitch, change my social profiles, everything.

"Then, after we're done tomorrow, don't call me again; I'll call you. Got it?" Julie asked. Well, demanded.

Trish nodded as Julie went to fetch another bottle of Bollinger.

***

Two weeks and three days it took for Trevor to call Trish.

"When did you last speak to her?" he asked after the preamble.

"About three weeks ago, Trev, why?" Trish lied. She'd been with Julie only yesterday.

"Well, to be blunt, she's lost it," he said. "She's had her hair bobbed like…well, like someone I know. She's ranting about having sold her shares. Letters arrive from her company every day, which she instantly burns; I've seen the envelopes and uncaught bits in the fireplace.

"She's drinking constantly, refusing to go into work. She's even stopped wearing makeup. I'm scared to leave her alone, but equally nervous about being here with her."

If Trish didn't despise Trevor so much, she'd have giggled and spoilt everything. The company letters were plants, and the wine and spirits Julie was supposedly drinking the sisters had drained, then replaced with pop or low alcohol alternatives. The only surprise to Trish was that it had taken so long for Trevor to call.

"Oh, not again…" Julie said, dangling the carrot she and Julie had rehearsed religiously over the last fortnight.

"What do you mean, 'again'?" Trevor asked.

"Oh, she swore me to secrecy…" Trish began.

"You must tell me," Trevor implored, "if only for her sake."

Yeah, right, Trish thought; then she launched into her Oscar-winning routine.

"Okay. Sit down," Trish began. "Some years before she met you, she was engaged. She caught the guy messing around and, well. It didn't end well.

"We had to section her and, as far as I know, her ex still has the limp…" Trish lied, letting that last snippet hang there.

"Wow," Trevor sighed, as if someone had just let the air out of his lungs. "How long for? The sectioning, I mean."

"Six months. She was bad. If it's happening again, you'd better call someone," Trish said.

"Where do we start?" he asked.

"'We'?" Trish asked, the line she'd been dying to say primed ready, "There's no 'we' Trev. See, the woman she caught her ex with was me. You're on your own, sorry," she said, hitting the big red 'end call' button seconds before bursting out in uncontrollable laughter.

***

Julie relished the next two months, revelling in taking the wind right out of Trevor's and this other woman's sails.

He moved out, of course. He'd no backbone for a fight like the one Trish had portrayed. And, predictably, he moved in with the other woman.

From there, the sisters executed their plan. Julie had money, lots. Well, technically Trish had it now, granting Julie access.

And nefarious folk will do anything for money. Maybe follow targets around markets or extricate shopping receipts from recycling bins to see what they buy. For enough money, they'll also break into said target's house sometime later and swap any fresh produce with like mouldy items, and move furniture around just enough while they're there.

Grease the wheels further and they'll break into and move a car from one floor of a multi-storey car park to the same space on another floor. Or even copy targets' handwriting, then send personal 'anonymous' gifts with cards written in that hand to said targets' colleagues or neighbours.

And if someone was ridiculously wealthy, they could perhaps persuade a less ethical private investigation firm to 'find' unflattering information or media about someone. Not needing blackmail payments, that wealthy person may then volunteer any information thus 'found' to the respective targets' employers, families and circles of friends.

Unhinging someone wasn't difficult if you had the time, drive and resources.

***

"I want a divorce," Trevor yelled as Julie answered his persistent hammering on the front door.

Julie just smirked. "Stay there," she said, and disappeared along the hallway Trevor had known so well. The artwork had all changed, he noticed as he waited.

"Sign here," she said, planting a bundle of papers onto his upturned hands.

"What's this?" he asked.

"Divorce papers, detailing your infidelity, thus your entitlement to nothing, nada, zip," she said.

He handed them straight back. "I don't think so," he said.

"Fair enough. I'll see you in court. Toddle off, then, back to that little semi and your fancy woman; I'll just crack open another Bolly. Now, what should I celebrate?" Julie gloated.

Trevor sauntered back down the driveway, a dimpled smile punctuating his cheeks; "I wouldn't celebrate just yet," he said.

Julie feigned a yawn.

"That woman?" he laughed, "She's my sister; saw you coming, though."

"Your sister? You disgust me," Julie said, wrinkling her nose.

Trevor shook his head. "She's a beautician. Travels a lot, makeup on movies.

"Thankfully, she only bears a passing resemblance to you. But how much slap you women wear these days, it's easy to pull off 'the look'. You're sheep. Flawless make-up? Characterless, more like," he spat, trudging towards a car waiting at the end of the drive.

A brunette, with a passing resemblance to Julie, leaned across the passenger seat and pushed the door open.

"See you in court," Trevor said, turning to his astonished wife as he got into the car, "First, for harassment, then the divorce. Enjoy your Bolly."

Closing the door on them, Julie whipped out her mobile and hit 'Trish', intending to ask her to meet her at Selfridges with the credit card. The call was unable to connect.


Published in Issue#26

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