Barney Westlake hadn’t expected to walk into another relationship quite so soon. In fact, his presence in Scotland and particularly his arrival in Largs was to forget Madeleine. That was some hell of an affair! He was sure to this day that the woman was mad. Well, it had certainly felt like it. She had terrorized him and made his life an absolute nightmare with her unjustified jealousies and insane tantrums. To get away from her domination of him and her possession of his mind became his prime obsession… their relationship had become intolerable and near bordered on violence!
He hadn’t planned anything in fact. Just go to Largs. Just get away. He guessed that he had come across a mention of the place recently in a dentist’s waiting room and it had stuck there in the back of his mind simply just waiting for Madeleine to give him the right excuse to leave. He didn’t have to wait for very long!
It was a chance meeting that first morning. He thought he would walk the beach, having little else in mind, and take in the sea air. Try to get Madeleine and London right out of his mind. His first steps from the hotel took notice of the wind; it was strong and tasted of damp salt… for the hotel sat squarely facing the oncoming migrations of the northern Alantic. At first, the warning signs of another headlong collision with a member of the opposite sex did not ring any alarm bells in his head. It should have done. But it didn’t. She was leaning over the rail that ran the length of the promenade and looking with great interest at the white tufts that were now forming on the increasing, incoming tide.
‘It’s rough out there.’ she spoke to him first, and turned in his direction, almost instinctively; as if they had been old friends, and in the moment, he thought she had made a mistake – mistook him for someone else perhaps. An observed and somewhat hurried take over his shoulder told him that they were quite alone.
‘Yes, it looks that way…’ It was a rather silly and pointless reply. But at this stage it would suffice, and anyway; he just couldn’t think of anything else to say. In his own experience; women rarely put much store on the opening gambit of a conversation; they either liked the look of you… or not!
The Truth about Madeleine was written by Patrick Callaghan, and first published by BBC Radio Scotland.