Keith, a retired office manager, liked to exercise his brain, keep it nimble, by doing crossword puzzles and watching quizzes on TV. At the moment his brain was on overdrive—trying to work out if an idea he’d seen in a Soap would actually work in real life.

A couple of characters each had someone they wanted to be rid of and had come to an agreement. You kill mine and I’ll kill yours. No motive. No link to the corpse. Home and dry…at least the characters presumed so—But there was a big snag. Killer Number One messed up. The victim survived the murder attempt  and killer Number Two decided he hadn’t got the guts to kill a stranger for no apparent reason…kill anyone, in fact.

Keith wanted to know the outcome.  He had tried to second-guess the scriptwriter. Would the second killer blackmail the first , or would the first one kill the second, so he couldn’t? After all, he had killed once…or tried to…

Keith puffed his lips out in a gusty sigh. He’d have to wait an episode or two to find out…That was the worst of Soaps, they meandered along, switched to another story-line, and it could be months before the inept police, who were nosing around about something different, finally put two and two together and hit on the truth.

“Can’t you find something to do other than watch TV?” his wife’s carping voice bawled from the kitchen. “How about tidying the garden?”

“The grass is too wet to cut,” he replied. “Been too much rain. Besides, it’ll be dark soon.”

”Nothing to stop you stripping the wallpaper off in the back bedroom and we can shop for new tomorrow. It isn’t good for you to get no exercise. You should keep active or you’ll turn into a couch potato!”

“I’m hardly that,” he protested. “Maybe we should get a dog….”

“Over my dead body! Hairs and muddy footprints all over the place. No thank you!.”

Keith was tempted to give the stock answer of ‘That can be arranged!’

He wondered, not for the first time, how the girl of his dreams had turned into the sour bad-tempered cow in the kitchen. He  also wondered which of his friends had someone making their life hell? Which one would help him out? And more importantly—who could he trust? While he was mentally working his way through his ‘pals’ list his wife came into the room carrying two mugs of coffee.

“There  y’go,” she said, handing him one. “I’ve never stopped all day and here’s you idling on your backside.”

She plonked down beside him on the sofa. He felt himself tilt towards her as the cushion sagged. She’d put on weight, too, unlike him who’d kept his trim youthful figure. This thought made him feel quite smug.

“I was talking to Dolly today,” she said, blowing on her coffee. “You remember Dolly Hopkirk? She’s wanting to get rid of that cheating husband of hers and told me about an idea she’d got off TV. These two fellas both had somebody they wanted to get rid of and decided if they each killed the other one’s enemy, they’d get away with it. It would be a motiveless crime, y’ see. I thought it was a brilliant idea and I’ve never liked her bully of a husband, so I said, count me in!”

Keith turned to gape at her, his smug feeling gone. He felt as if he’d been whacked over the head with a hammer.

“So, I was wondering how to do it,” his wife continued, as if she was discussing a knitting pattern. “And who I want to get rid of most. Any ideas?”

He shook his head, unable to answer this loaded question. He actually felt sick. Talk about coincidence!

“I said I’d go first,” his wife said, “Show her how easy it will be…she’s such a ditherer, y’know…”

Dithering Dolly. Keith latched on to this. How could a woman who screamed when she saw a spider commit murder? He felt safe… for now…

“Nothing to say?” his wife asked.

He shook his head, but he did wonder if he should tip Dolly’s husband off.

Copyright © 2016 Betty Woodcock

Photo by courtesy of TACLUDA rgbstock.com


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