Lingonberry the cat looked down on the body from the bookcase. He arched his back and hissed at it, his ginger stripes sticking up like a boot brush.
“Shut up! Stupid cat!” hissed Beverly.
“Nyarrrrow!!” wailed Lingonberry before launching himself off the top shelf onto the sofa. Normally Beverly would have shooed him away– she didn’t like hair on her sofa– but seeing as it was covered in blood it seemed rather pointless now.
Beverly caught sight of herself in the mirror, standing over the body of the late Gregory Finster: shady solicitor. She self-consciously ran a hand through her spiky grey hair. She had always said she’d never be one of those old women– those bulldoggy women with severe frowns and even more severe haircuts. Yet, here she was. She even had the jumper with floral embroidery, which she wore under a man’s corduroy coat, complete with string bag. She had never realized it before until now– until she was staring at her reflection holding the bloodied fire-iron. The transition from forty-and-fabulous to cake-hatted-old-lady had been so gradual since Paul had died that she’d never noticed.
She felt like she was having an out of body experience as she tried to find the young woman hiding under all the folds and wrinkles on her face. She knew there were more pressing matters to deal with right now, like getting rid of Gregory’s body, but she wanted to look in the mirror a little longer. There was a knock at the door and she dropped the fire tongs.
“Shit!” she cried suddenly, looking at the body and the blood everywhere. She wrung her hands as she danced in her panic. If only she’d had more sense than to give Greg a key to her house. If only Greg hadn’t sneaked in and started taking photographs, photographs of things he should have left well enough alone about.
Her mind suddenly focused like a laser. Looking around she saw the utility closet. With tremendous effort, she rolled Gregory up in the living room rug and pulled it to the closet.
“MUM? Are you in?”
“I’m on the toilet, David!” Beverly cried giving the closet one last shove. “Let yourself in!”
“It’s locked, mum!”
“Is it?” asked Beverly, who knew for a fact that the door was locked. “I’ll be out soon! Just hold on a mo’!”
Beverly’s eyes swung to the large red patch on the couch and she stifled a scream of frustration. She couldn’t hide the couch. Why in the hell did she get a white settee? She must have been mad! Turning around in circles, her vision lit on blanket she was knitting for her daughter. She threw the blanket over the vivid red stain, satisfied that the blanket covered it nicely. She winced. It still smelled horrible in here. It was probably due to Gregory. She needed something to cover it.
“Mum! Are you alright?”
“Must have been the curry I had!” she cried as she dashed to the kitchen and grabbed a few items. She plunked down a plastic bucket and sponge mop, sprayed disinfectant in the air, and saturated the couch with upholstery cleaner. She only just had the presence of mind to wash the blood off her hands.
“Come in!” she called.
“MUM! We’ve been through this! The door’s locked!”
“Oh! Silly me!” cried Beverly, running to the door.
She flung it open and flashed a giddy smile.
Beverly knelt down and scooped up her granddaughters, Kristen and Lizzie.
“How are my girls!” cried Beverly cheerfully.
“Krissie showed me the pirate movie and Mum yelled at her!” said Lizzie with a gap-toothed grin. “But I wasn’t scared!”
Kristen rolled her eyes. “You were so scared. You were hiding from skeletons all last night.”
“Did you forget we were coming, Mum?” asked David with a grin.
“No! I was looking forward to it! You know old people, Dave. When you got to go, you got to go.” Beverly didn’t meet his eyes as she led them hastily past the sitting room.
“The couch is still damp, dears. Let’s have a picnic on the terrace.”
“Hang about,” said David stopping in the living room and looking around.
Beverly was sure her heart had stopped as David’s sharp eyes took in the dry mop and bucket, the missing carpet and the knitted blanket on the sofa… with the needles still in it. Damn.
“Oh, I see what’s going on,” said David, with a crooked grin. “Mum, how could you?”
“Oh David,” began Beverly, fighting tears.
“You just had to finish tidying up before we came in!” cried her son, shaking his head.
Beverly nearly fainted, she felt so light-headed. “That’s right. I couldn’t resist one last bit of cleaning. The house was such a tip.
David shook his head. “You’re too much, Mum. You need to relax.”
“I am as God made me. Now who wants sandwiches?”
“Excellent! I’m starving!” cried Kristen running out onto the terrace. He father followed her. Soon only Lizzie was left.
“I’m a pirate! Arr!!” cried Lizzie.
Beverly paused a moment.
“Would Lizzie the Pirate like to dig for buried treasure in the garden?”
“YES!” cried Lizzie jumping up and down.
“Good! I’ll go get a spade,” said Beverly walking out the back door and towards the shed.
“I love going to Gran’s house,” declared Lizzie, joining her sister on the terrace.
“Why’s that Liz?”
“’Cause Gran always lets me dig in the garden.”