‘I’m no snitch, but I gotta secret to share,’ I say to Billy.
‘Is it derogatory to someone? Or will it cause embarrassment to the person?’
God, it’s moments like this that make me wonder why I’m with him. So noble, so…I don’t know…boring. I just want to tell him this juicy little bit of gossip I heard from Zara. He’ll love it as much as I do.
‘Billy, come on,’ I say, exasperated. ‘It’s brilliant.’
‘Don’t wanna know, if it’s hurtful in any way.’ He glares at me over the top of his glasses. Usually when he does this I’m unravelled, will succumb to any request from him. But now, it’s very clear that he’s pissed off with me. He goes on, ‘How would you feel if someone was discussing our issues with Oliver right now?’
‘Someone probably is.’ I jut my chin high. ‘I’m not hiding it from any of my friends.’ In truth, I’m humiliated by our eldest son’s drug predicament, but I bury that deep and instead choose to focus on other people’s concerns.
‘Jesus,’ Billy says through gritted teeth. ‘Is nothing between us sacred?’
I cross my arms. ‘Well, yes. There’s some things I’ll never tell.’ I flutter my eyelids at him, hopeful he’ll forget this impasse we find ourselves at, and listen to this bit of news.
‘Interesting.’ He nods. ‘That’s good I suppose.’
‘So, you ready?’
I groan. ‘The goss!’
He shifts weight from one foot to the other. He’s uncomfortable; he really doesn’t like to gossip. After clearing his throat, he says, ‘If you must.’
‘Ted is being held in remand.’
‘Who’s Ted?’ he asks, as his brow creases in confusion.
‘Oh God, really? Do you ever listen to me?’
He shrugs, little more than a shiver across his shoulder blades, but it’s a move that I interpret as ‘if you had anything of merit to share I would.’
‘Ted is Mattie’s husband. You know, the weird one. We’ve always said he’s not right.’
He shakes his head. ‘What’s he done?’
‘Embezzled gazillions from the company’s share portfolio and employee super accounts. Been doing it for over five years and no one had any idea! Can you believe it?’
Stupid question really, because Billy can’t even remember who Ted is, despite us being guests at a dinner party they hosted, and countless school picnics and fairs and year level drink nights.
‘Now we know how they can afford that giant house,’ I say. ‘Actually, I wonder what will happen to their home? I guess Mattie’ll have to move once Ted’s convicted and sent to gaol.’ I’m thinking out loud, babbling. Deep within I’m worrying about Mattie and what will become of her and the children.
‘Oh wait! Ted! Is he the tall, lanky bloke? The ranga?’
‘He’s not going to gaol, I can guarantee you. He’ll get off. He’s too connected to be sent away.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘He knows too much about those at the top of the food chain. He’ll have the best lawyer money can buy and he’ll walk.’
‘Well, that’s good news for Mattie I guess.’
‘But shit news for justice,’ Billy says.