The end of an era.
A few days later a letter arrived from Judy, saying that she had moved in with Jenny and asking what I proposed to do with the flat. We had bought it in our joint names, although I was the one paying most of the bills. I knew some solicitors from when I managed the Anchor so I called on one of them, told him the situation and asked what my best options were. We talked about it and then decided that I would sue for divorce, sighting her unreasonable behavior. We would offer to pay her 50% of the equity in the flat, in return for a no maintenance deal.
For an uncomplicated divorce, it still took almost a year to get settled, but eventually I was single again. I was still working the night shift but had taken to drinking at home on my days off, rather than go to the bother of getting cleaned up and going out. I would often spend the days just sitting at my window, staring at the river and watching the boats going by. I was surviving.
Then one shift we were all called into the meeting hall at the factory, to be told that new automated machinery was being introduced, and the night shift was to be drastically reduced in number. I was one of the many that were told that evening that we would not be required anymore.
Many of the workers, like me, had been with the firm for 5 or more years, and a lot of them were in despair at the loss of their job. For me, it came as a relief. I didn’t like working here, but when it had been for Judy and me, it had a purpose. Now it was just a meaningless routine and I welcomed the change, uncomfortable as it might be.
For one last time, I left the factory building, drove home in the early morning, and let myself into my flat. I took a long drink of whiskey and settled into bed. As I drifted off to sleep I thought of all the times I’d laid here with Judy, then of the one time I’d seen her with her lover. But the last image before sleep engulfed me was of Ruby, and I wondered what had become of her.