Burt Pugach was a mildly successful lawyer who lived in the Bronx way back in ’59. He was thirty-two and no looker, with his Buddy Holly specs and rake-thin build. But he was a bit of a man about town. He owned a nightclub and a light aircraft. One day he met a beautiful local girl in the park. Linda Riss had just the look he loved. She resembled Liz Taylor, with creamy skin, a mane of black hair and a good dollop of glamour. She was only twenty-one, ten years his junior, but they clicked immediately. Burt knew how to charm a woman. He wined and dined Linda like a B-grade rock star, took her on flips in his plane and dancing in his nightclub. He was smitten, and she was warming to his affections.
Then she found out that there was just one small detail Burt had forgotten to mention: he was actually a married man. Like a good girl, Linda quickly broke off the relationship and moved on, starting to date other men.
Burt was heartbroken. Really heartbroken. We’ve all felt heartbreak before, but Burt stepped over the line from heartbreak to harassment. He started following Linda day and night, stalking her and scaring her silly. The cops said there was little they could do about it, so the stalking continued. Eight months later, Linda announced that she was engaged to another man. Burt felt as if his life was over.
The very next day, Linda was at home when the doorbell rang. Pulling back her long black hair, she opened the front door with a grin. A stranger stood in front of her and, before she knew what was happening, he threw a jar of lye acid into her fully exposed face. Burt had put out a contract on her. Linda was blinded in one eye and her skin was disfigured for life. The Liz Taylor lookalike was just twenty-two, and the media went crazy with the story of a lover’s passionate revenge
Her story: He left me for an underwear model
Worse, she was just twenty-three years old, whereas I was over thirty-five with two small kids. How miserable can it get? When I met him he was a hotshot ad exec and we hit it off right away. He asked me to marry him six months later, and our first son was born the next year. I left my agency job for a while, then started freelancing from home.
When he told me he was leaving me, the boys were four and six. I was shell-shocked for months, and then I just felt defeated. I had been blissfully unaware that there was anything wrong. He had planned it all and had already taken a flat in central London, where he promptly shacked up with the new girlfriend. He had a new life within two weeks. It all happened so fast, and before I knew it we had formalised the sep-aration and agreed on alternate weekends with the boys.
When we were in our twenties and we looked at those boring married folks, we swore on pain of death that we wouldn’t become like them. You know the ones … those older couples who leave dinner parties at 10 p.m. like clockwork to climb into bed so that they can get up early enough to watch their kids play soccer. Not us, you promised. We will stay hip and happening; we’ll be out there living our dreams, having hot sex and singing in our knickers till the sun comes up.
And then one night, just as the rest of the partygoers are opening up the third bottle for Jägerbombs, you find yourself standing up and sheepishly saying your farewells: ‘We’ve got to catch an early night,’ you hear yourself say. ‘Mikey’s got a rehearsal for the school fashion show at an ungodly hour.’ Or: ‘Oops, will you take a look at the time? The babysitter charges double after ten.’