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Something to Think About
- What theme or themes did “Backstab” have?
- Does the story remind you of any memorable one you’ve read?
- How do you feel about Judy’s justification of her actions?
“Backstab” by Gloria McBreen
‘Do you feel bitter about not being able to have children?’ Millie asked her sister.
Judy bit her lip. ‘When I said I couldn’t have children, I meant that I couldn’t bring children into a life of corruption and debauchery.’
Millie’s jaw dropped. ‘You lied?’
‘No, I misled. There’s a difference. Letting people think I was infertile meant I didn’t have to endure constant criticism and opinions.’
‘You could’ve told me.’
‘No, Millie. Because I would’ve had to tell you everything and I couldn’t back then. Anyway, I’m only 38.’
Millie beamed. ‘You mean there’s still a chance that I’ll become an Auntie?’
Judy grinned and raised her eyebrows. ‘Let’s sit on the balcony.’ She slid her white Gucci sunglasses from her head to the bridge of her nose.
As the sisters settled into their sun loungers, Judy marvelled at the acres of lavender before them. She was proud of Millie and the good life she had made for herself in their ancestral homeland. She had worked hard to establish her career as a psychotherapist. Her French husband Leo, a pharmacist, doted on her and their two young sons. They deserved their comfortable lifestyle—unlike her. But things were different now. Judy had a new purpose in life.
‘Which were you most attracted to…Lucas or the lifestyle?’ Millie asked.
‘I loved him first, and then I fell in love with the wealth. More the security of it, though. The lavish lifestyle was attractive, sure, but I realised it wasn’t for me.’
‘You hated all those parties though. Why did you continue going to them after you found out how Lucas really made his money?’
Judy enjoyed the parties and charity events at first. But when the novelty of being a rich man’s wife wore off a few months into the marriage, she began to notice things. The women at the parties who flirted with Lucas. The way he responded to them, in front of her, as if she—his wife—didn’t exist. He was a different man at those ritzy parties than he was at his charity events.
But it was the younger women that Judy took more notice of. They were at all the parties; with different men each time. Floozies she used to call them. On the surface, they seemed to be enjoying themselves, but Judy looked deeper. It was in their eyes, their body language. She noticed how they silently communicated with each other. Things weren’t right! Lucas never engaged with the young girls, he preferred the more mature women—the diamond-clad types, who seemed to sweat Chanel and Estée Lauder. Bit by bit, Judy picked and peeled at the layers
of every aspect of Lucas Lambert.
‘It was at those parties I learned all about my sleazy husband and his money-making endeavours.’
Millie took a bottle of Pinot Grigio from an ice bucket and poured two glasses. The late afternoon sun shone directly onto the balcony. She put on her wide-brimmed hat to shade her nurtured complexion.
‘I never liked him, Judy. I had a gut feeling about him from the beginning. Slimeball! I hope he’s experiencing hell right now.’ Millie took a generous sip of her chilled wine. ‘How did you stay after you found out about those poor girls?’
‘He wouldn’t have let me leave. I suffered one hiding from him and I wasn’t prepared to give him an excuse to do it again. I was like his charity events, put in place to create a false impression, part of his façade. The timid, ordinary-looking wife, sensible shoes, and a natural ability to melt into her surroundings.’
Judy massaged sun cream vigorously into her pale pudgy legs.
‘He didn’t know his wife very well at all, did he?’
‘He hadn’t a clue what I was up to while he was off gallivanting with his rich women, and drug-dealing buddies. All that was bad enough, Millie, but trafficking young women sickened me to the core. I couldn’t let him continue.’
‘And George?’ Millie asked with a cheeky grin.
Judy felt a warm blush tingle down her neck. She and Lucas’ accountant George, had become more than just conniving partners.
‘This time next week you’ll get to meet him. I knew he wasn’t like Lucas and the others. I knew I could trust him.’
‘You took a risk.’
‘I had a gut feeling about him, the way you had about Lucas. It’s not easy moving millions around banks. I couldn’t have done that part without George. We knew the Criminal Assets Bureau would be all over Lucas as soon as the filth hit the merry-go-round. It was all hard work you know; virtually putting people in places where we needed them to be, then putting them there in real life—that was the hardest part. All those party people stoned on coke and cocktails
guiding me all the way through the labyrinth…without even realising it. With their loose inebriated tongues and their attention-craving egos. They taught me all the ins and outs of the business, as they called it. I developed valuable skills, Millie. I fluffed up more egos than pillows in the last two years.’
Judy wasn’t ashamed that she was a thief and a backstabber. It was all to save women from people like Lucas. To the left of the lavender field, she could see the roof of her new women’s refuge centre. The skylight open, just as she left it, to let the floral scent waft through her and George’s apartment. Three young women she brought with her from Dublin were already settled
‘We’ll support you running the centre, Judy.’
‘I know it won’t be easy. I’ve been working on my French too.’
‘Merveilleux!’ Millie praised.
Judy raised her glass. ‘Here’s to Lucas and his seedy friends repenting behind bars for the rest of their lives.’
‘Wondering who stitched them up,’ laughed Millie.
‘And here’s to all the women who come my way,’ Judy smiled.
Gloria lives in Co. Mayo in the West of Ireland where she is surrounded by inspiration. The River Moy is on her doorstep and she has a clear view of Mount Nephin as she works. She’s only a few miles away from dipping her toes into the Atlantic Ocean.
Gloria’s passion for creative writing has been reignited—after years of neglect—since joining the blogosphere about eight years ago. The writing and blogging community has been very supportive.
While blogging and working hard to develop her writing skills, she has managed to complete that novel she has always wanted to write.
After a few stops and starts, tears and dilemmas, and many arguments with one or two characters, her novel is due to be published before the end of this year.