We had but two authors send entries for the contest, but what entries they were! You can read all of them below. To both Sandra and Dorothy Davies I extend my deepest thanks. Their work is, as always, brilliant.
I hope you all enjoy reading them as much as I did.
I HATE holidays, Christmas most of all. Too much to buy/do/send/cook … with the time ever ticking away.
Alto – no, also, damn fingers! Like me, fit to throw histrionics at any moment. Try again.
This year will be different. I have vowed it so and it will be so.
I am going for something different for the Christmas meal, one that will take them all by surprise and end me an ongoing problem at the same time
He knows it not yet but he will be the main course. Long pig.
For dessert, soufflé of blood.
Merk arrived as they were leaving, the distinctive nose of his car blocking the end of the drive. Had David been driving he’d’ve backed down but Viv was made of sterner stuff. The alto voices singing love to all men clearly didn’t apply to her...
That ticking on the CD was annoying though, he’d suggest the radio soon.
‘Arrogant sod,’ Viv muttered, changing up to third, having turned right instead of left since the lane was too narrow for them to pass, ‘bet Lucille is having histrionics now, thinking I don’t like her or something!’
Involuntarily, David grinned. ‘You don’t.’
‘Merk darling, you’ve just missed David...’
‘Saw them, Viv driving. David drinking, I suppose?’
‘Oh, no, I don’t think so...’
‘Heaven forfend he should do anything wrong!’
‘Well, I’m not rationing anyone: help yourself!’
Under cover of pouring a drink he checked the pigeonhole. The envelope, David’s distinctive scrawl, didn’t look as fat as last year. Bit of a setback if he’s given her a cheque and not his usual wad of twenties. Merk tilted his head at Lucille who, primed, said, ‘Mother, I’d love to see the dress you’ve bought for Christmas Day’ and steered her from the room.
Dutifully daughter-in-law, Lucille scattered flattery like autumn leaves.
Merk’s mother had already cottoned on. ‘You still at it?’
Tilted-chin defiant, ‘What?’
Impervious. Accusing. ‘Merk, shackled to your greedy little fingers, has been drained beyond emasculation. Do you really need his brother too?’
‘David?’ Fake innocent, a lie intended to alarm, hopefully precipitating heart attack.
Against septuagenarian experience, it failed. ‘Larry. He and Sonia will be here for Christmas lunch, as well as David.’
‘And then we’ll see which woman has the biggest balls. My money, for what it’s worth...’ (watching Lucille’s mercenary eyes light up) ‘is on Viv.’
Candle-light reflected off the over-varnished portraits of several dingy ancestors whose cold-eyed disapproval was, today, perfectly justified.
‘She choked – on your pea soup!’
‘On the chilli-flavoured croutons you insisted on adding...’
‘She’d just swigged half a glass of Merlot...’
Mother’s head now lay in the multi-coloured puddle whose eruption had preceded her demise. Three sons, plus wives dabbed ineffectually; no-one attempted resuscitation.
‘We need to call the police... ’
‘We need to find the will.’
‘You’re a mercenary bastard, Merk...’
Defensive, ‘Can’t tell me you’re sorry.’
‘... shouldn’t be hard to find, though. She changed it just two days ago.
All eyes swung to David. Larry spoke first as question and exclamation erupted from the other three.
Viv checked for signs of life.
‘Changed it? From what?’
‘How do you know that?’
‘What’s she done with the house?’
‘Is it ... fair?’
‘How much – do you know? – was she worth?’
‘Christ, you lot! Listen to yourself, she’d not even cold...’
Viv was on the phone.
‘... I just drove her there. Helped her up the steps. Waited. Drove her home. She didn’t say.’
Viv was heard saying ‘The evidence points to plain unvarnished murder, sir. You’d best send DS Pettinger.’