Personally, I’d have said my writing went downhill this week, but as someone famous once said, a good idea saves bad writing way better than good writing saves a bad idea. I was unsure whether I pulled it off, but I think I must have because when I finished editing it I had an evil smile on my face that would make small children cry… Enjoy
The Start of Something Special
The rose garden by the back fence didn’t really need to be weeded, but John Terrence was weeding it anyway. Eve would be back any minute, and he didn’t want to be around when she did, at least for a while.
That wasn’t a good sign, he thought, kicking the spade in under a particularly stubborn weed. It was a very bad sign actually, and he found himself thinking that divorce may be in the cards after all. Until now, he thought it would be better to have a wife, if for nothing else than to maintain a certain image, but to have a marriage as dysfunctional as this could only cause harm.
He gave the spade another hard kick and then leaned on it, bringing the weed out of the ground in a heap of roots and dirt. He threw it over his shoulder so hard it almost hit the shed. It was dusk, and getting quite cool already, but he was sweating hard. He took a moment to wipe his forehead before getting to work on the next weed. He lifted the spade, and then froze. He squinted down at the small crater he’d just made. Was that…
He lowered the spade and bent down to scrutinise it closer. It was. A nose. He could even make out the nostrils, packed with soil.
He took up the spade again and began to dig, more carefully now, around the sides of the crater. After about ten minutes, he’d uncovered the rest of the face.
Once he’d revealed enough to be sure, he dropped the spade and stood back, staring down at it. He was sure he recognized it… Yes, the man from Ingleton, who’d gone missing just a week ago. He didn’t look more than a week decomposed, either.
Only then did the truth begin to dawn on him. His breath caught in his throat. Eve, he thought. It had to be Eve’s doing. Who else? No one else had access to their back garden – and the surrounding walls were ten feet tall and lined with electric wire.
The sound of a car pulling into the front driveway came to him over the soft wind and he turned around. She was back. He glanced back, thoughtful, and then used the spade to turn a few clumps of soil back onto the face.
This, he thought, was incredible. He wasn’t sure he could believe it, but there was only one way to find out. He’d have to confront her about it. He considered bringing the spade with him, but dismissed it as cowardice and strode into the house empty handed.
He waited for her in the kitchen, leaning up against the counter, near the cutlery drawer.
She entered the same way she did every day. Tossed her jacket onto the couch, hung her keys on the hook by the front door, and called out: ‘John! I’m home. Terrible day for me, what about you?’
She’d entered that same way for the last two years, since they bought the house, but today it sounded so wrong. How many of those times had she driven past her office at the dealership and hunted some new victim. Where were the others buried? There had to be more, after all – you didn’t just kill a stranger for no reason and then stop.
‘John? Where are –’ she stopped in the doorway to the kitchen. ‘What’s wrong?’ she said, her eyes darting down to his dirty hands. ‘Have you been out in the garden?’
‘I was weeding the rose garden,’ he said.
‘I found something interesting.’
She said nothing, but he saw her shift her weight to one leg, and her hand drop almost casually into her pocket. What did she keep in there, he wondered, in case of emergencies?
‘I think his name was Sheldon… something or other. I was wondering what he was doing there?’
She narrowed her eyes. Her hand moved and found whatever it was in her pocket, but she didn’t take it out.
He stepped to one side and pulled the cutlery drawer open.
‘I put him there,’ she said quietly.
‘What was that?’ he said.
‘I put him there. What, are you deaf as well as stupid?’
‘Oh I heard. I just couldn’t believe you were. How shallow did you have to bury him? One spadeful of dirt, one, and there he was.’
She gaped at him, and then that little smirk crept onto her face, the one that always set his blood boiling whenever they argued. His right hand felt something and he glanced down. A butterknife. Not good enough. He grabbed the paring knife instead, but didn’t take it out just yet.
‘Oh, I see how it is,’ she said. ‘First you’ll have your big monologue, about how much smarter you are than me. You could do it better, of course, because you know so much about murdering. Then, when I’m just wide eyed with admiration, you’ll call the police and that’s the end of me. Is that about right?’
He shook his head. ‘Unbelievable,’ he said. ‘You don’t even know, do you?’
‘Maybe,’ he said, drawing out the paring knife and slamming the cutlery drawer shut, ‘you would have noticed all the other bodies back there, the ones conveniently chopped up and buried more than three inches below the surface, if you’d dug a bit deeper. But I suppose you were too busy thinking about how dark and mysterious you were being, how evil and clever.’
The smirk disappeared from her face, replaced with total surprise.
‘Oh, what’s that? Who’s the clever one now? Just so you know, that rose garden has been my body dump for the last two years, and I’ll be damned if you’re going to start crowding it up.’
The surprise turned into a scowl, and now she drew the thing from her pocket at last. Inwardly, he cursed. It was a syringe. She flipped the cap off the needle, but kept it by her side.
‘Are you mad?’ he said. ‘You just carry that around with you?’
‘Concealed pocket,’ she said. ‘Not that you’d ever notice, anyway. Did you even glance at the candles and silverware I set out today?’
He had noticed, actually, but hadn’t known quite what to think of it.
‘I didn’t think so,’ she said. ‘Just like you didn’t notice my haircut, or the people I’ve been burying under our shed since we bought this place.’ Her voice was beginning to rise to that horrible whine he hated so much. The tears wouldn’t be far away. For the first time he saw the bag she’d set down by the front door. It had two bottles of wine in it.
Suddenly, it all made sense. The wine, the syringe, her weekend ‘meetings’. He hadn’t been the only one thinking of divorce, it seemed, but hers was a different kind.
‘You were going to murder me!’ he said, and winced at the sound of his own voice. The front door was still open halfway – it wouldn’t do to be overheard at all.
She looked genuinely offended. ‘I was not!’
‘You were! That’s how you do it, isn’t it? You flirt a bit, get invited for a nice personal dinner. Out comes the wine and then…’ he nodded down at the syringe.
She said nothing, but he read it in her face.
‘I wasn’t going to do that to you,’ she said.
‘No. Maybe if you stopped to think for one second you might realise I was trying to grow a spark or two in our marriage, which is plenty more than I could say for you.’ She glanced down at his blade and the smirk came back. ‘How do you do it, anyway? Butchery? So original. I’ll bet no one’s ever thought of that before.’
He came forward, knuckles whitening on the handle, but she stepped back and raised the point of her syringe and he hesitated.
‘What’s your count, then?’ he said.
She raised her eyebrows. ‘You want to play that game?’
He spread his arms. ‘I’ll go first then. Thirty five.’
She snorted and shook her head. ‘Amateur.’
‘Go on then.’
She looked him in the eye, still smirking, and said: ‘Seventy three.’
He couldn’t hide his surprise quickly enough, and she laughed.
‘Liar,’ he said.
‘What was that?’ she raised her syringe higher and took a step forward. They were almost within reach of each other now. Both of them tense.
All of a sudden the fight seemed to drain out of her and almost deflated. If there was a time to strike, he thought, this was it.
‘I’m sorry,’ she said, and now at last the tears began to stream from her face. ‘It’s just. We never get to do anything together anymore. I would get so lonely, with that need. You know how it is.’ She looked up at him, and he felt his grip on the knife loosening. He did know.
In the brief silence that followed, they both heard it: a sharp intake of breath. He didn’t look, but out of the corner of his eye he saw something move near the front door. He noticed her hand tighten around the syringe, but he gave his head a slight shake and saw her hesitate.
‘Well, there is one last thing you should know,’ he said slowly. He let the knife drop so that he was holding it by the blade. He kept his eyes trained on hers. ‘I can’t abide… Eavesdroppers!’ At the last word he stepped forward and flung the knife straight for the door.
Mrs. Gaven, their next door neighbour, had been standing poised on the front porch. She was carrying a homemade chocolate cake, but it began to slip from her arms when the blade of the paring knife sunk into her neck.
Moving with speed and grace that John would never have thought possible in all the years he knew her, Eve spun around, caught the cake in one hand and curled the other around Mrs. Gaven’s neck. John didn’t know what was in that syringe, but a second later the whole lot of it was in Mrs. Gaven. While the old lady died, he moved around them and closed the door, avoiding the urge to slam it.
Eve lowered Mrs. Gaven to the floor and then stood up and put the cake on the counter.
For a moment there was total silence except for their breathing and the beat of their hearts.
‘Witnesses?’ Eve said.
He’d got a brief look outside before he shut the door, but he’d have bet his life that no one had been within shouting distance. ‘None,’ he said.
They both relaxed. Eve took a step towards him to avoid the spreading pool of blood beneath Mrs. Gaven. While they stood, staring at the body, her hand found his and clenched it tightly.
‘I think I need a drink,’ she said.
A few minutes later, the two of them were sitting side by side at the dining table, two fresh glasses of wine poured, the lights off, the candles lit. Dinner could wait.
‘That was amazing,’ Eve said, so quietly it was almost to herself. He glanced at her, sensing sarcasm, but for once, he didn’t see a smirk but a shy smile.
‘It was, wasn’t it?’ he said. ‘The way you got to her so quickly? I bet she doesn’t even know she’s dead yet. I’ve never seen you move that way before.’
She looked away and he realised she was blushing. ‘I could say the same about you,’ she said. ‘When did you learn to throw a knife like that? Ten feet, a ten inch gap, and you get her in the neck. Incredible.’
He couldn’t help but grin and shrug modestly. ‘Practice, that’s all,’ he said.
She grabbed the wine bottle and refilled both of their glasses. ‘I’m sorry about those things I said.’
‘So am I,’ he said, and he meant it. ‘I don’t think we should separate, after all.’
‘Me either. And… Can we bury her in the rose garden together?’
He nodded. ‘Of course. A little deeper, though, and in pieces. I find they decompose quicker that way.’
‘Yes. I don’t know why I never thought of it. It’s much better that way.’
She raised the glass up to her lips, but he raised a hand to stop her.
‘Wait. I just want you to know. I love you.’
‘I love you too,’ she said.
They clinked glasses. As he raised the wine to his lips, John sat back in his chair and watched the prone body of Mrs. Gavens. Their first kill together.
Yes, he thought, this was the start of something special.