You walk out to check the mail one morning when the sky is still purple and streaked with pink. Your pencil heels click on the pavement as you head down your short drive to your gay red mailbox. You open it up and hear the hinges creak. Up and down the block, your neighbors are opening their own red mailboxes and taking out handfuls of letters.
One letter stops you in your tracks and the untied ends of your dressing gown tremble. It is a letter from an insurance company you have no policy with, and it slides out from under the electric bill in a plain envelope.
You frown because you already know what the letter says and because Denglecorp promised there would be no more killings after the last one, but you clack back up your drive with the ties of your pink silk dressing gown flying and open your pea green front door. You walk into a house identical to every other house on the block.
The coffee is over-brewing on the shining black stove, but you pour a cup and sit down at the kitchen island. You flip the letter over and over between your nude-painted nails with one hand as you add sugar and cream to your cup with the other.
Half-way through your coffee, you steam open the envelope from the insurance company. The single sheet inside is thick and covered with neat black writing that promises too that this killing will be the last and the victim, Andrew, is visiting the Crossbury’s three doors down the street for a week.
Your mind works fast as you stand up and your white silk slip slides down to your knees. You check the weather on your phone and smile as you head to the bathroom to begin your twenty-minute make-up routine.
You visit the Crossbury’s; two older ladies with proud chins and prouder eyes, and you bring a gift of tea with you. You smile at the tall, dark-haired fellow the ladies introduce as their nephew, Andrew, and try to be interested in the ladies’ tittering over tea. As you prepare to leave, you insist on hosting a dinner party to welcome Andrew to the neighborhood. Why, of course, there will be wine and the whole block will attend.
You are famous for your elegant dinner parties, so it is no trouble to invite the neighborhood and secure the attendance of half a dozen people. Then, back home to lay the walnut dining table and cook your deliciously renown dinners by ringing up Transguild Catering.
You arrange the tables in the drawing room and go out to buy trailing vases of summer ferns and roses. You come back in time to sneak the delivery from Transguild Catering in through your back door.
You plate the food on your grandmother’s silver platters, throw out the cardboard and aluminum food containers and dirty up some pots and pans with old sauces from your fridge. You load the dishwasher with evidence of cooking and carry the catered food to the table. You set out the wines on the sideboard and change into a low-cut polka-dotted dress.
The doorbell rings.
It is the Crossbury ladies in green and purple silk with cloche hats over their grey hair. Both ladies hold beaded bags. They put their dainty ankles through the door, and it occurs to you these women must have been prettier then you when they were young.
Behind the ladies is Andrew, bashful with a red silk bowtie at his throat and holding a basket of mangoes, bananas, and grapes piled sky-high.
“Well, you darlin’ boy,” You tease him and make sure to show your leg through the slit in your dress. “I see you are not the only one who likes to make a splash.”
Andrew’s grey eyes dimple as you make sure he sees you center the fruit basket on the sideboard with the wines.
The Dales are next to arrive; Mr. and Mrs. Dale and two spinster daughters with a love of wine, and the party soon bursts into full swing as you turn on your record player and load a vinyl disc.
You took care to invite older women and only a couple of fellows Andrew’s thirty years of age, so he soon drifts to your side like wind through grass. You learn as you pour wine, he had a wife, but she died and, from the look in Andrew’s cheeks, you wonder what he is not telling you until he admits his wife was poisoned.
Ah, you understand now why Denglecorp wants Andrew dead. No doubt Andrew was found not guilty of murdering his wife, but Denglecorp knows Andrew did the deed without holding any evidence against him. Andrew has been sent to you to have his sentence fulfilled, just like the last ten people.
Looking at Andrew laughing and talking, you see yourself as you used to be; a worn-down, beaten wife driven to murder when your husband went too far. If it were not for Denglecorp, why, you would be behind bars but, being a judge, he found you not guilty. You had done the right thing, he said, and now it was time for you to keep doing the right thing for him, in return for him keeping your secret because you did murder your husband and Denglecorp knows it.
You have stabbed, strangled, and clubbed people to death, but Andrew poisoned his wife so that is how he must die. You have the poison in the bathroom and you soon have a packet tucked down your bosom.
You enjoy dinner with Andrew at your side, while your guests exclaim over the food and Andrew outshines them by way of compliments and prove himself an expert in talking of taxes, ladies’ dresses, and hats.
No doubt the poison you slipped into his wine is beginning to set in as the party goes out. With a little bit of leg and by offering an ‘accidental’ view of one breast, you convince Andrew to stay a few minutes and help you cork up the wines.
By the time the last bottle is corked, Andrew is lying dead on the floor and you drag him to your bed because you know what his aunts think you are doing.
You sleep in the guest bedroom and make it up the next morning before you dress and tidy the house. You seal the letter from the insurance company, mark it ‘return to sender’, and stick it back in your mailbox; the signal to Denglecorp the job is done.
You prepare to load Andrew into your yellow car because there is meant to be a storm blowing in at your favorite remote coastal look-out, but you glance out the window and sigh because the skies are clear, and the weather forecast is wrong yet again.
You have no choice but to bury Andrew in the garden next to bodies five and eight, but you do not mind because the hydrangeas are doing wonderfully there.