The body lay face down on the floor, blood pooling from a large gash in the back of his head.
“What are we going to do with him Grandma? You didn’t have to hit him that hard.”
“I’m fed up with him pestering us for the rent when we cannot afford it. I lost my temper and my Golden Knitting Trophy from the Women’s Guild, was handy, so I hit him over the head with it. Is he dead?”
“Yes, of course he is, you killed him outright. Now what on earth are we going to do with him?”
Maria turned to her husband Frank. “Come on Frank, you come up with some good ideas.”
“Shall we put him in the freezer?”
“But he won’t fit, the freezer is almost full.”
“Well take out all the meat and peas and stuff and we can eat that during the week as it all thaws out. Then there will be room for the landlord to fit in there.”
“I don’t think so.” Said Maria after looking inside and putting the freezer lid back down again. “We’ve got to act quickly. We need to get rid of his body and clear up all this blood. Valentina is bringing her new boyfriend for tea this evening. We cannot let them see this mess or the landlord looking like this.”
“We’ll just have to empty the freezer for the time being. Look, we can cook all the food as we’re having a family meal tonight and that won’t look so unusual. I’ll start emptying the freezer right away. Grandma, you get some pots and pans ready and put the hot air fan in front of all the meat so that it begins to defrost.” Said Frank as he hurriedly pulled out packets of carrots, runner beans and joints of meat from the freezer and lay them on the kitchen counter.
Grandma went into the cupboard and pulled out the electric heater, plugged it in and placed it on the counter in front of the meat. “Will that do Frank?”
“Yes, Grandma. Maria can you help me lift him? No, Grandma leave it to Maria and me, we don’t want you hurting your back.” Said Frank as he blocked Grandma from coming closer to the body and the freezer.
“Oh, my god,” said Maria, he’s so heavy.
Frank dragged the landlord by the arms and wedged him up against the freezer. Maria took his legs and pulled them around and then dropped them with a clank.
“Shall we take his shoes off?” Asked Grandma.
“What?’ Said Frank.
“Shall we take his shoes off?”
“I don’t know.” Said Frank.
Grandma stood with her finger to her lips, thinking hard.
“I think it’s probably best if we leave him as he is, otherwise, we’ll have to do something with all his clothes and his bag.” Said Grandma as she plonked his bag on top of his fat belly.
Maria said, “We don’t have time to undress him and we’ll have to burn everything. We cannot have the neighbours complaining about us lighting a bonfire, now can we?”
“No,” said Grandma.
“Come on Frank, let’s get this over and done with. One, two, three, heave.”
Maria managed to get the landlord’s legs and feet over the side of the freezer. Frank gave one last push and the rest of the body fell in with a resounding thud, the head crashing up against a large chunk of ice and leaving bloody hairs dangling in the slight mist that was rising from the interior of the freezer. Grandma threw his bag in and slammed the lid down, almost catching Maria and Frank’s fingers.
“Good riddance.” Said Grandma as she went to put the kettle on. “Who wants a cup of coffee?”
“Coffee? Coffee? You can think of coffee at a time like this Grandma?” said Maria. “I’ve got to clear up all this blood you left.”
“Oh, leave it and have a drink. It’ll keep.” Said Grandma as she continued to make three mugs of coffee.
“No, it won’t keep, it’ll dry and stain the floor and then we’ll never get rid of the evidence. What on earth will Valentina and her new boyfriend think if they see blood everywhere?”
“Tell them we dropped a joint on the floor.” Said Frank.
“No,” Said Maria, “You two can just help me tidy this lot up. We need to put something on top of the freezer to keep the lid down and make things look normal again.
“I’ll get a bunch of flowers from the garden, Maria and put that on top of the freezer. That will look pretty.” Said Grandma as she trundled off into the garden with a pair of scissors and came back with a beautiful bunch of mini sunflowers. “They look really nice on top of the freezer, no one will know now.”
“I hope not,” said Maria as she kneeled down and scrubbed the blood stains off the floor.”
Frank sat with his coffee and read the newspaper.
“Can’t you help Frank?” Said Maria as sweat beads gathered on her forehead.
“I’m making sure the heater defrosts all this meat and veg’ for you Maria. We don’t want it all defrosting and dripping over the floor and making more mess for you to clear up.”
“What time is it?” Asked Maria.
“Two thirty,” said Frank.
“I’ll have to start organising those joints then and get them ready for going in the oven.” Maria took the baking trays from the shelves, placed the three joints of meat, beef, lamb and pork into the trays and left them to stand.
“Frank, you can put the veg’ on when it’s time.”
Frank continued reading the newspaper.
“Grandma, you had better go and sit in your armchair and read a book and have a rest. You’ve had a very busy and traumatic day so far; we don’t want any more mishaps.”
Grandma took her coffee, picked up her book, turned on the t v set, sat down and immediately fell asleep and began snoring.
Maria looked at Frank who was otherwise engaged and tutted. She emptied the bloody water from the bucket into the sink and took the filthy cloth out to the dustbin, tutting as she went.
“Frank, can you put some tin foil around those three joints and get them in the oven please.”
Frank did as he was told. “They won’t all fit.”
“Well they’ll just have to. Shuffle them about. Just do something with them Frank. Valentina will be here in a couple of hours. We’ve just got to put on a good show and pretend that nothing has happened.”
Frank shuffled the joints of meat about and then slammed the oven door shut. Grandma continued to snore, as Maria turned the volume down on the tv.
“What time is it Frank?” asked Maria
“Nearly four o’clock.”
“Valentina will be here any minute now. Are the potatoes and veg’ nearly done?”
“Yes, my darling. Do stop panicking. Everything is cooking nicely.”
Maria looked out the bay window. “Here they are.”
“Hello Mum,” said Valentina as she gave her mother a hug. “Mum, Dad, Grandma, meet Cedro.”
Cedro stepped forward and shook hands with everyone. “So, pleased to meet you all at last.”
“Do sit down Cedro,” said Maria pointing to the chair next to Grandma’s. “Would you like a coffee? “
“I’ll get us both one, Mum, you sit down for a minute.”
“No, no!” said Maria and Frank in unison. Maria continued, “I’ll make it. You and Cedro talk to Grandma and your father. I won’t be a minute.”
Cedro sat and spoke about his job and his ‘prospects’ in answer to the many questions fired at him by Frank and Grandma. Maria brought in the coffee, then went back into the kitchen to prepare the meal.
“Frank, can you come and help me serve dinner,” said Maria. Frank told everyone to sit at the table and then went into the kitchen to help Maria. Frank pushed the lid to the freezer down hard and fiddled with the vase of flowers.
“Here you are everyone. I’ve got a lovely meal for us all.” Maria brought in a dish of roast potatoes and then went back for the two dishes of vegetables while Frank brought in the three joints of meat.
“That’s a lot of food Mum, there’s only the five of us.”
“I know,” giggled Maria, “but we Italians like to put on a good show for our visitors.”
Valentina chuckled a little as she hung her head in embarrassment.
“Um... Mrs. Romano, I’m so sorry to trouble you but I’m allergic to carrots and beans and most other vegetables. I can only eat peas.”
“Oh dear,” said Maria.
“I’ll go and get some peas from the freezer and put them in the microwave for you Cedro.” Said Valentina.
“No!” said Frank and Maria in unison once more as Frank rushed to the kitchen door, almost blocking it with his body. Maria rose quickly from her chair and knocked It over. As she was straightening it up again, she said, “That’s all right Valentina, your father and I can easily manage a few silly peas for Cedro, can’t we Frank.” Maria said as she pushed Frank into the kitchen.
“Frank,” Maria whispered, “pull the door up while I get some peas from the freezer, will you?”
Frank pulled up the door and stood guard. Maria covered her nose and mouth with her hand and rummaged underneath the landlord for a packet of peas.
“Here Frank, get these in a little water in the microwave as quickly as you can. I’ll go and get another vase full of flowers and put that on top of the freezer along with the other one.”
Maria took some scissors, hurried out into the garden and came back with a small bunch of sweet peas that she put in a vase next to the mini Sunflowers on the freezer lid. “That should do it.” She said as she took the pot of peas out of the microwave and walked with them into the dining room.
“Here you are Cedro. Very fresh, straight from our freezer.”
Grandma nearly choked on a roast potato. Frank sat down ashen faced.
“This meal is superb Mum, we’ll help you wash all the dishes when we’ve finished. That’s the least Cedro and I can do.”
“No!” Frank and Maria spoke in unison once again.
“What is it with you two, Mum and Dad, you seem rather jumpy tonight? I know you’ve never met Cedro before, but I can assure you both the meal was lovely, and you are great parents.”
“Oh, we’re just a bit tired after a very hectic day, that’s all dear.” Said Maria.
Maria and Frank began to cough nervously. Frank nodded in agreement and pretended to yawn. Grandma put her hand to her face and made yawning sounds.
“Yes, it’s been a really busy for all of us. A great deal of excitement and unexpected things happening.” Said Grandma.
Frank looked across at Grandma and glared at her.
“Well you knew Cedro and I were coming around for tea and so that should not have been unexpected.”
“No, your Grandma did not mean that, she meant um.. well I don’t know what she meant.” Said Maria.
“She meant we were not expecting Cedro to be such a nice young man.” Said Frank.
Maria and Grandma nodded their heads profusely in agreement.
Maria yawned once more. “Well I really must say it was very nice having you both here Cedro and Valentina, but we are all very tired after a long, hard day.” Maria said as she handed Cedro and Valentina their coats.
“Okay Mum, we can take a hint, but we’ll be back at the weekend to see you all again.”
“Oh! Oh, that will be... um... lovely, Valentina.” Maria almost choked on her words as she walked to the front door and opened it.
“Bye, bye and have a safe drive.”
“Bye,” said Grandma
“Safe journey.” Said Frank
Back in the kitchen Frank leaned up the freezer, his face drained of colour. “That was a bit close.”
“Yes,” said Maria,” and they are coming back on Saturday.”
“I know what we’ll do.” Said Frank.
“What?” asked Grandma and Maria at the same time.
“I’ll order some ready mixed concrete and get that patio laid by the weekend.
“Good idea.” Said Grandma, “I was about to suggest that myself.”
Maria gave Grandma one of her looks. Frank got onto his computer to place the order for the concrete. Grandma tapped the freezer lid and said, “Good riddance, is what I say.”