Moving out of the East End of London was the best move I have ever made.  Commuting has turned out to be a favourable experience.  Mornings spent snoozing as we hurtle past open fields with lush green grass and bright flowers before the glory of the countryside gives way to the smoke and smog of London life.

But the mornings are nothing compared to the evening commute home where I have come to get to know so many of my fellow passengers in such an intimate way.  They don’t know it but I know more about them than they would give me credit for.

I am a watcher you see, I watch people for a living and I watch people for a hobby.  It is a skilled art form and although we all claim to love ‘people watching’ not many actually take in what they see.  But I do.  I watch and I listen and I learn.

Take Paul Smith who always sits to the left of me.  His name may be boring but his life is certainly not.  Mr Smith is in his 50’s married to Jane Smith with two teenage sons.  He works in a big city bank but is it the pressure of the job that has caused the greying of the hair and frown lines that adorn his weathered face?  Or is it the dark secret he harbours that keeps the frown permanently on his face.

Now Liam Stephens who sits directly opposite me most days, he is in a long term relationship with Lisa who rings him at least three times on the journey to see where he is, how long he will be, blah blah.  Liam always looks tired and always nods off in between the phone calls.  Although it isn’t only Lisa who is calling him.

The lovely Jenna, a tall leggy brunette with piercing green eyes and a bust so far pushed up it is hard to tell where her chest ends and her chin begins.  Always immaculately turned out and always too busy with her lap top or Blackberry to ever relax.  Appointments roll in even after hours but then Jenna doesn’t work the usual 9-5.

Of course, there are others on the train that I watch but as yet these three certainly excel in providing the entertainment I need to fill my journeys.

The First Friday

Today is Friday, the last day of the working week.  My three subjects look more relaxed than usual.  I even get a smile from Jenna as our eyes fleetingly meet.  Jenna exits at her usual stop and I follow at a distance.  I know where she is going on this cold, wet, December evening. 

She pulls her coat around her and head and shoulders down heads for the short cut she always takes across the park even though she has been advised not to walk this way by her husband Tom.  The trees are casting shadows and I see her quicken her step.  She exits through the far gate and arrives at her front door.  As she is rooting in her bag for her key, the front door is thrown open and Tom looking rather worse for wear stands there with a suitcase thrust in front of him in one hand and a crumpled letter in the other.  I hang back far enough away to hear and see the showdown.

“This is for you Jenna, take it and leave” he says, anger in his voice but tears in his eyes.  He thrusts the letter in her face.

She takes it, her usually glowing face, turning a ghostly white.  She almost falls onto the step as she slowly reads the letter.  When she is finished, she looks up into the eyes of her once adoring husband.

“It came today, by hand whilst you were out ‘working’.  I didn’t believe it at first but as you can see, it reveals more than I need to know.  It’s over.  I’ve arranged for your stuff to be put into storage” he said tears now streaming down his face.

Jenna had the grace to remain dignified.  She stood touched Tom on the cheek and walked away.

“I did it for us, Tom” was all she said as she made her way down the path and back onto the main road.

Where she would go was not my concern.  Once a whore, always a whore, she didn’t deserve a good man like Tom.  I’d followed her, like the others and established exactly what Jenna was doing each day between 9 and 5 and if being a PA was code for Prostitution then her husband had a right to know exactly what his good little wife was doing.  And I was just the right person to enlighten him.  Tom would be fine and no doubt Jenna would soon be sharing with all the other junkies, strippers and whores.  In the gutter where she belongs.  A job well done.

Monday Mania

The weekend seemed to drag but here I am again with only two left to deal with.  Liam, the delightful Liam who once again has just ended a call with Lisa.  No call from Debra though, I wonder why.  I chuckle to myself and have to stifle it with a cough.  Liam is checking his phone every five minutes.  You can see the worry etched onto his face.  Should he carry on to Debra’s or go home to Lisa.

You see Lisa sounds neurotic, always ringing Liam but she has good reason.  Twice before she has caught him cheating.  But this time it is different because despite all the promises, a week before the big announcement he is still sleeping with Debra.  Lisa has no clue about Debra but Debra knew from the start that Liam was already involved with someone.  It didn’t stop her and like all women she thought Liam would leave Lisa and they would live happily ever after.

Debra was about to announce her own big news to Liam, yes a baby; they were having a baby together.  But I knew it was a big plan to trap Liam and push him to make the choice.  I could have let it go and let the two women fight over the man who wasn’t worth it but Lisa is also expecting and both were ready to tell their parents and the world very soon.  What a mess poor Liam is in.

He exits the train and at the station entrance I see he is heading over to Debra’s after all.  Guess he can’t help himself.  I can’t wait to see his face when he realises that Debra knows Lisa is pregnant and that Liam isn’t involved in the unhappy relationship he pretends to be.

He knocks on the door and instead of Debra opening, her Dad pulls back the door with such force, I thought for a minute it may come off of the hinges.  Red doesn’t come near to describing the colour of his face.  Uh oh, an unexpected bonus for the evening.

“You no good son of a bitch.  You have the nerve to knock on my door for my daughter.  You’ll head back the way you came if you know what is good for you and you won’t look back” he screamed.

“What are you talking about Jim?  I have no idea, I’m sure” Liam said.

And then bang, Jim pulls back and lands one straight on the nose of Liam.

“My nose, my nose, you’ve broken my god damn nose” Liam cries cupping his bloody face.

“That’s enough Dad” Debra appears, tears staining her fat face. 

“Liam I know.  I know about Lisa and I know about all the lies.  Don’t bother to deny it.  Engagement party next week and baby on the way.  Well go back to your fiancé and your perfect little life.  Because this life inside of me, you will never see” she spat at Liam.

Liam stopped groaning and you could see the realisation set in. 

“Have you told her” was all he said.  Selfish Liam always worried about himself not anyone else.

“No Liam, I haven’t told her, she doesn’t deserve it” Debra said and with that turned her back on him.

Liam made his way home to the doting and rather naïve Lisa.  She probably did deserve to be told and put out of her misery but Lisa is fragile and genuinely loves Liam.  Maybe this is the wake-up call Liam needed.  Maybe now he will settle down and be a grown-up instead of acting like he did in his youth.  I watch as Lisa fusses over Liam and hope this is the last lie he tells her.

“I’m fine, honey.  I slipped over…………..”

Friday the 13th

Grand finale day for me.  The day I finally put to bed my third and final plan.  Mr Smith is on the train in his usual spot.  He gets his lap top out and as always checks his emails.  His hands click on one and then another.  He opens the next and his hand freezes. 

I know what he has seen because I sent the email.  Dozens of photos of him dressed in women’s lingerie.  That would be bad enough for any man but scroll down as Mr Smith does and you will see him in positions with other men that leave nothing to the imagination.

I glance across and he looks composed.  He is looking at his screen and he actually looks quite relieved and calm.  Not what I was expecting from a man whose seemingly ordinary life is about to be blown right out of the water.  Because the lovely Mrs Smith has also been copied in on the email as have his two sons.

An announcement comes over the speaker.  We have to change trains as this train will be terminating at the next station due to technical problems.  Great.  I have to stay as close to Mr Smith as I dare.

On the platform the announcer states the fast train will soon be approaching and to stay back from the edge of the platform.  Our train is due in after.  Only five more minutes and I can watch the disgusting Mr Smith’s life fall about around him.

His mobile phone has started to ring off the hook.  He looks at the caller ID.  No doubt his wife or one of his children.  He turns it off.  I hear the fast train approach.  Mr Smith looks around, he seems dazed.

As the train approaches, he walks forward and with perfect timing launches himself in front of the oncoming train.

People start screaming, alarms start sounding and I just stand rooted to the spot.  I am shocked to say the least but I am more inconvenienced by the fact I will now have to wait goodness knows how long for the next train whilst this mess is being cleared up. 

As I wait I feel disappointed that Mr Smith felt he couldn’t talk his way out of this one and took the easy option.  He didn’t have the stomach to stand up and face the music.  Instead he leaves a wife and children with no explanation.  As I always thought, a coward.

Closure and New Beginnings

“Your late darling” Brad says as I walk through the door.

“It’s been a hell of a day” I say as I walk over and kiss my husband.  “How are the kids”?

“They are all tucked up in bed fast asleep.  They have been great today, no tantrums.  So how come you are so late?  Working on a big case?” Brad gently messages my shoulders.

“You know how it is, the Met like to get their pound of flesh especially out of their newly appointed Detective Sergeant.  I told them I’d only take the promotion on the promise of regular hours.  Today was exceptionally busy and I had to work later” I said with a sigh in my voice.

“When you spend all day dealing with the lowest of the low, the only cure is a hot bath and a cup of tea.  You go and kiss the kids and I’ll run your bath for you” Brad said with one last squeeze “Oh I almost forgot, you’ll be glad you had to work late, there was a suicide at Chelmsford Station, the guy threw himself in front of a train apparently.  It’s quite sad, I mean how anyone can get to such a low point to want to do that” he says.

“I have no idea what pushes people to do the things they do.  It’s definitely tragic.  I’m just grateful for the normality of you and me” I say as I kiss him gently on the nose.

I make my way up the stairs hearing the gentle snores of my twin boys.  I smile to myself, that’s another week over and so much accomplished.  Now for a relaxing weekend before its time for a new week and no doubt new challenges.