Cocooned in her warm, cosy double bed, Martha gazed up at the ceiling, listening to the central heating turn itself on. It was Saturday morning, she’d slept really well, the sun had yet to rise and she had absolutely no intention of getting up.
A loud knock penetrated her peaceful serenity.
It was the front door.
‘Oh for god’s sake.’ she moaned to nobody in particular, still lying motionless and hoping that whoever it was would go away.
The door knocked again, this time with more urgency.
‘Coming!’ she groaned, pulling back the duvet to slide into her slippers and pull her dressing gown on before trotting down the stairs.
Reaching the bottom she turned the hall light on, glanced into the mirror and gave her hair a prod before opening the door, just enough to peer out into the wintry gloom. It was the Postman.
‘Sorry to bother you Miss, but there seems to be a, er, body lying outside your house.’ he said, looking rather cold and somewhat apprehensive.
‘Really?’ she asked.
She’d forgotten about her husband. The night before she’d decided to kill him. She’d actually made up her mind to kill him a long time before that, but it was one of her New Year’s Resolutions; that she’d definitely do it this year, and just as soon as the opportunity presented itself. She’d also promised to give up chocolate and do more exercise, but killing her husband was definitely top of the list.
And the night before the opportunity had presented itself; well, the incentive to anyway. He’d phoned her late from “work” again, obviously completely drunk, again, to say that he’d be home late, again.
She’d had enough, especially as he’d just interrupted her Downton Abbey on TV. So she’d immediately instigated her plan of murderous intent by storming into the kitchen, filling up a saucepan with cold water and pouring it out, over the hard concrete steps that led up to their porch. Then she’d slammed the door shut and returned to watch Downton.
The Postman was now staring directly at her with a clear expectation for some sort of emotive response to the body, still lying face up on the path.
‘Oh my god!’ she exclaimed, covering a smirk with her hands. ‘It’s my husband! He didn’t come home last night! He must have slipped on the steps and hit his head.’
It had happened exactly as she had hoped. His skinny little body lay on its back, with its arms splayed out on either side. With the night’s heavy frost he now sparkled, festively, in the street’s yellow light. He looked like either a huge fairy who’d fallen from a giant Christmas tree, or a frozen skydiver who’d forgotten to pull his shoot. She couldn’t decide.
‘Shall I call an ambulance?’ asked the Postman, in an attempt to move things along.
It was then that the body twitched and groaned a little.
‘My god, he’s still alive!’ exclaimed the Postman, with both excitement and incredulity.
‘My god, he’s still alive!’ repeated Martha, but for different reasons.
‘Wait there!’ she said, and dived back into the house, leaving the Postman stranded out on the path. Not sure what to do next, he took off his heavy Postman’s Bag and made his way over to where the man lay. Crouching down, he eased the mumbling head to rest gently in his lap.
A moment later, Martha re-emerged from the house with a frozen leg of lamb.
‘Yes, that’s it.’ she said, treading carefully down the still frozen steps. ‘Sit him up straight and let’s have a good look at him.’
The postman was confused as to why she wanted to have a good look at someone who she must have seen before, given that it was her husband; but he did as he was told and positioned himself opposite to where she now stood to heave the gurgling body into a sitting position.
‘Right, mind out the way.’ she said, placing her feet shoulder width apart and holding the leg of lamb with an overlapping grip. She then wiggled her hips a little, as if to tee off, swung back and then violently forwards, to leave a sizable dent in the back of her husband’s head, which slumped forwards to rest unnaturally on his chest.
Having seen all this happen right before his eyes, the Postman continued to sit, open-mouthed and unable to stop staring at the caved in skull and the thick goo that oozed out from it.
‘Wh… What have you done?’
‘Finished him off; I hope. Now, help me shift the body.’ she said, regaining her balance and tossing the murder weapon casually onto the front lawn.
‘I won’t do anything of the sort!’ he replied, openly amazed at the very suggestion.
‘Yes you will! You’re an accomplice to murder now, so man-up!’
‘Jesus! Don’t be absurd, how can I possibly be an accomplice to murder?’
‘Well, it was you who lifted him up for me to get a good swing at, so you’re as much involved as I am.’
‘But, I, er.’ spluttered the Postman, attempting to follow her argument whilst trying to think of a plausible excuse.
Not giving him the chance, Martha said, ‘Now come on, help me pick him up. Grab his legs!’
At a complete loss as to what to say, the Postman stood up, took himself over to where the legs were, and placed his hands firmly around the ankles.
‘Right! One, two, three and LIFT!’ and with that they both picked up the recently deceased so that it hung, suspended equally between them.
‘What now?’ asked the Postman.
‘We’ll stick him in one of the bins.’ she answered.
‘Which one?’ asked the Postman again, looking at three of them, all standing innocently beside the wall of the house.
‘How do you mean?’ she asked back.
‘Well,’ the Postman continued, ‘one’s for General Waste, one’s for Recycling and the other’s for Food Waste only.’
‘Yes, I see your point.’ she acknowledged. ‘The food waste one is far too small, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to recycle him! We’ll stick him in General Waste.’
And with that, she dropped the top half of her late husband back onto the path with a thud, re-adjusted her dressing gown and carefully made her way around to fetch the large black General Waste wheelie bin that seemed to have been designed for such a purpose.
Having rattled it down the drive, she parked it as close to the body as she could before pulling the lid up, and over, so that if fell backwards to leave a large, body-shaped sort of a hole.
‘Right, we’ll stick him in there. It’ll be collected later today, which will suit us very well.’
The Postman, still standing on the path holding an ankle in each hand, felt increasingly uncomfortable with the whole situation. He was trying to work out how he’d managed to become an accomplice to murder by just propping someone up a bit, and he certainly didn’t like the way the lady kept saying, “we’ll” and, “us” all the time. But the longer he just stood there, holding the feet of a frozen dead guy, the more he felt like an accomplice. So there he remained, following this demented lady’s insane instructions, like an evil henchman looking to please his new master.
Meanwhile, Martha had marched back to the body’s torso and had heaved it up again.
‘OK.’ she said, breathing deeply, ‘We’ll stick his legs in first, and the rest should follow.’ and with that the Postman lifted the feet up and dropped them straight into the bin.
Having successfully posted something into a hole he felt much better; more like a Postman again, and less like an evil henchman, so he continued to help the lady shove the rest of the body in. Then he closed the lid and stood there, gazing at the man-sized wheelie bin before asking, absently, ‘Shall I take it out for you?’
‘If you could, yes, thank you. Oh, by the way, did you have any post for me?’
He did, so he reached down to grab his bag, which he then opened to pick out the correct bundle for her. Then he walked around to the bin, eased it onto its wheels and rolled it out to the corner of the quiet, still dark suburban street.
‘Right! Bye then.’ he called out, trying hard to regain some semblance of normality.
‘Yes, and thanks again!’ Martha called back as she retrieved the murder weapon from the lawn to wave at him, before hurrying inside with her post.
Out of the cold, she dumped the letters in the hall, dropped the leg of lamb into the sink, gave her hands a quick wash and popped the kettle on. She then hurried upstairs to fetch her iPhone.
Opening up her Facebook page she wrote; “Barry didn’t come home last night. I know we’ve had our differences but I still love him. I hope he’s OK!” She then made her way back down to the kitchen to make herself a coffee, before returning upstairs to bed.
‘I’ll wait till Monday before I call the Police.’ she said to herself. ‘That would probably be about the right sort of time to wait.’
Then she snuggled down to chat with those Facebook friends who’d already seen her post and were now diligently responding with the usual sympathetic comments of support and mutual condemnation for the male population in general.
The Postman who stayed outside on the path
The first in the Fish Fingered series of short stories
© Richard Blackah 2015
It's New Year's Resolution time and murder is top of the list. This is the first in a series of eight short stories by Richard Blackah.