‘Kemistry’, Terry Grimwood

Illustration © 2008 Cécile Matthey.

 [ Tape recording -- © 2008 Cécile Matthey ]

"Please, please tell me why I'm here."

"You really don't know?"

"No, I don't. I want my husband."

"He isn't your husband."

"Of course he's my husband. What the hell are you talking about?"

"We don't recognise your so-called marriage to Neil Palmer."

"You don't rec... Look there's a marriage certificate, in our luggage."

"You were already married."

"Divorced. Bloody divorced."

"Not in the eyes of the law."

"I want to call my solicitor."

"Why is that, Judy? Do you think you're under arrest?"

"It feels like it. Your colleagues descended on us the moment we landed at Heathrow, we were handcuffed when my husband protested, our children were taken away... and this looks like a police station interview room—"

"How do you know? Have you been interviewed by the police before?"

"Who are you?"

"How do you know this is a police interview room, Judy?"

"My name is Mrs Palmer."

"Have you been arrested, in the past? Is that how you know?"

"No. I've never been arrested or even been inside a police station."

"Television then, lots of interview rooms on television aren't there: Frost, Lewis, Taggart."

"Who are you? At least I have the right to know your name."

"You haven't actually, but I'll tell you anyway. I'm Dr Anita Rogers. I'm a Police Psychologist. Like Cracker."

"Listen, Anita, I am divorced. The decree is in my luggage as well, signed sealed and stamped."

"I suggest you use my correct title, Judy."

"I want my solicitor."

"The law changed after you fled the Country."

"We didn't flee the Country, Neil got a job in Albania."

"What's wrong with jobs in England?"

"Does it matter?"

"Everything matters."

"My divorce doesn't seem to."

"Answer my question."

"Albania is a developing country. They're building out there, hotels mostly and apartments. Neil's an architect. It was a career opportunity."

"Is that all?"


"You're lying."

"What other reason would we have for going there? I mean, Albania for God's sake."

"Why did you come back?"

"Neil's contract has finished."

"Why Albania? Why anywhere? Come on, Judy, tell me."

"I had to get out."

"What? Speak up, for the tape recorder."

"I had to get out."


"You know why. You know everything."

"I want you to tell me."

"God. Look, my ex-husband was threatening me."

"Correction. Your husband."

"Ex, ex, ex, ex fucking ex husband."

"The law's been changed. You are not divorced from Paul. The marriage stands because it was a chemical marriage."

"A what sort of marriage?"


"I don't understand?"

"Let me put it this way, Judy—"

"Mrs Palmer."

"Judy. How do you feel about Paul?"

"That's none of your business."

"Yes it is, especially when families are involved, that's my department, Family Maintenance and Reconciliation."

"I've never heard of—"

"It's new."

"New? My God, since when has Family Maintenance and Reconciliation been a police matter?"

"Since the government made it one. Answer my question."

"Okay, okay. I hate him. He's a complete and utter bastard, a fucking bastard."

"You use a lot of strong language Judy."

"Because I've got a lot of strong feelings."

"Hate is a strong feeling, a passionate feeling."

"No, it's just hate. He hurt me."

"But when you first saw him, what about then?"

"I don't have to answer that."

"Yes you do."

"Christ, this is unbelievable. I fell for him like the sucker I am. Paul was good-looking and tough. He had a six-pack and tattoos and huge biceps and a swagger that turned me on so much it made me wet, okay? Do you want to know more, about the first time we—"

"And what about dating him? Come on, Judy, tell me. How did you feel?"

"Smug. I was Paul's girl, the one he'd chosen me over all the other bimbos who drooled all over him."

"Were you a bimbo?"

"No. I was not. I was set to go to university. I wanted to be a doctor."

"Why didn't you become one?"

"Because of Paul. I was so infatuated I eloped with him. I must have been crazy."

"You were. Crazy in love with the man you desired. Nothing wrong with that."

"Nothing wrong? Of course there was something fucking wrong. It was insanity. I gave up everything for him. I was only eighteen!"

"My point exactly. You love him. That is chemistry."

"Bruises and humiliation, that's what it is... was. He hit me, with those fucking great fists of his."

"Why didn't you run away?"

"I did."

"No, when it started. Why did you stay with him?"

"Because I thought I loved him and we'd get over the bad times and later because I couldn't seem to break away, because I felt as if I had failed and deserved what I got. That's how it is isn't it, with beaten wives? They stay because they can't leave. You're the psychologist, you should know."

"But what was sexual intercourse like with Paul?"

"Go to hell..."

"Tell me Judy and save yourself a lot of trouble."

"What sort of trouble?"

"Just tell me."

"The sex... the sex was good. Always good. But that doesn't mean..."

"Doesn't it? Isn't that what relationships are really about?"

"No, they're not, not completely... I don't know. No."

"You were attracted to him because of his looks, because of his swagger. And the sex was so good you endured physical violence to get it."

"I had no choice."

"Yes you did, in those days you did. You could've simply walked away. But you didn't."

"I want my children. Where are they? What's happening to them?"

"You could have had children with Paul."

"I love Neil."

"Do you? Really? What sort of love is it?"

"A good love. He cares for me. He's gentle and—"

"Is the sex exciting? Does his swagger make you wet? Does he give you the sort of wild ride Paul gave you? Answer me, Judy; make this easier on yourself."

"No... No, it isn't like that..."

"What is it like?"

"Neil is kind, safe."

"Aha, that word; safe, normal, secure. Boring."

"He isn't boring. God, we've just spent two years in Albania."

"Would you leave him? If another Paul came along? Would you, Judy?"

"Of course not. I love him for God's sake."

"Are you sure? If the chance of another wild ride came? If you met a man who made you wet with his swagger? How safe is your marriage?"

"Very safe."

"I don't believe you. The statistics don't believe you."

"What is going on? I want my husband. I need him. You can't keep me here—"

"Of course we can keep you here. We can keep you here indefinitely. That's how the law works in this country now. There are many threats out there. And what is the worst threat of all? The enemy within, the canker, the cancer, the rot. Family life is breaking down. So many marriages end in divorce. The strongest pillar of our society is crumbling because people leave the ones they are meant to be with, the ones with whom they share that vital chemistry. That's why our enemies despise us. They see us as immoral as dirty, loose, our women flitting from partner to partner, in and out of marriage. They want to destroy us because we are dirty and weak."

"I don't understand..."

"You have to go back to him."

"What... to who? To Neil?"

"To Paul. To your one true love."

"But he hit me. He fucking beat me until I was broken!"

"Because you were hurting him."

"How do you know? What do you know about any of it?"

"He told me. He came to us to claim you back under the law."

"What about my children?"

"Illegitimate, born out of wedlock. Social Services will take care of them."

"I want Neil..."

"He has his own responsibilities; a prostitute he used to see. Became quite fond of her, because she turned him on, because she did the things he really needs, because there was chemistry and he loved her."

"No... No, that's not true. He would never—"

"He was a healthy, normal, lonely man before you met him. And rather naive. It's quite natural, and more common than you think."

"I want to see him."

"I'm sorry. That episode is over."

"God we should never have come home."

"Not my problem, Judy. You have to face your responsibilities and do what is right."

"And if I refuse?"

"Bigamy carries a prison sentence."

"I'm divorced from Paul."

"You're married to Paul."

"You're wrong... this is insane..."

"No, our society was insane. No self-control, no grit or sense of responsibility. 'Tired of this relationship? Okay, I'll try another, and another, give my virtue to any man who comes along. Ignore what my own body is telling me.'"

"It was telling me Paul was going to kill me."

"It was telling you that you had found what it wanted. We can prove it."

"How? How can you prove something like that?"

"Chemistry. We tested your pheromones, and Paul's—"

"Tested... what are you talking about? You can't test pheromones—"

"—and he's the one, Judy. He's your life partner and the sooner you accept it and agree to go back to him the better. If not... no jury will have an ounce of sympathy, the judge will want to make an example... We have to protect ourselves, and the only way is to repair the walls. Show them, the ones who want to break us, that we are strong and moral and do not deserve their wrath."


"Think about it, Judy. You have time, you're not going anywhere. Think about it, I know you'll do the right, the moral, thing."

"No, listen, you can't go. I can explain, I love Neil. I really love—"

© 2008 Terry Grimwood

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