It was around twelve ‘ o’ clock on the second Sunday after the move and they were at it again.
It seemed to go on constantly, day and night, and always the same. John and Heather were the new couple that had moved next door to Mrs. Pennyfather and they never stopped arguing. It would start with something small Heather had told her, John it seemed had a very bad temper and the slightest thing could set him off. Then their would be screaming and shouting and eventually Heather would run out, crying loudly, with her hands over her face, into the Garden, and sit their shaking and sobbing on the old, pale blue swinging seat at the bottom of the Garden. Oh, how Mrs.
Pennyfather longed for the days when the Krobobles had lived next door, in the big white house, with it’s ivory covered front and double pale blue garage. But when their children had grown up and moved away the house had become to big for the Kroboble couple and they had moved closer to the city to be with their children. But things had changed since the Kroboble kids could be seen playing around happily in their beautiful garden. The McKenzie’s had also moved away a year earlier, Mr. McKenzie and his family had moved because of his new job, he had been assigned as a ‘ volunteer doctor’ to South America, were he felt his skills were more needed. Monday morning was the same as ever in July in Winter Street, just south of Southern California, the sun shone with it’s usual brilliance and the sound of the sprinklers from the Garden Centre across the street mingled with the sounds of the old, petrol lawnmower down the road.
Mrs. Pennyfather glanced across at the drive next door, only to find that John and Heathers cars had already left, John drove an old, brown Cadillac 4litre, which roared as he sped out of the drive. Heather’s car was altogether different and quite unusual in America anywhere. It was an old European car called a Beetle, lime green with a small yellow flower painted on it’s curved, bonnet.
Mrs. Pennyfather always thought the cars represented their owners well. Heather always seemed to be the small, frail type, but fun underneath when she wasn’t being oppressed by her sulking, grumpy husband. A day passed with nothing unusual happening in Winter Street, that evening however only John’s car had returned to the drive, Heather’s car however was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps something had happened Mrs. Pennyfather thought, maybe one of their arguments had gone to far and he had done something to her.
Oh, poor Heather, she could be… No, don’t be silly she thought to herself, there was obviously a reasonable explanation for Heather not returning, maybe she was late from work or…
she could be anywhere, there are plenty of reasonable explanations why she wouldn’t come home straight from work. But something told Mrs. Pennyfather that maybe something was wrong, what chance would little Heather stand against that…
No, she thought to herself again, they might have their arguments, but they had their good moments as well. Mrs. Pennyfather saw them many times sitting out late in their lovely new house, enjoying the evening together. But perhaps she should just check anyway.
So of she went, over to see where Heather was, “ Uuurrhhh,” John answered the door, looking terrible, he was dressed in a scruffy old tracksuit, nothing like the smart suit he had been wearing for work. It was the things she couldn’t see from her window that worried Mrs. Pennyfather the most though, his face looked like it needed a good wash and a shave, and his eyes were bloodshot so badly that it looked like he hadn’t slept for days. “ Hi John, I was just wondering if I could speak to Heather,” Mrs.
Pennyfather asked tentatively. John looked nervous and scarred when she asked him, and replied with very little conviction. “ I… erm.
.. think she’s gone to stay with her friend for a few days. ” “ Is there any way I could contact her,” asked Mrs. Pennyfather more confidently, feeling she had him on his back foot.
At this question, John’s face seemed to swell up with rage. “ No, I don’t know where she’s gone, maybe she just hasn’t come back from work, or maybe her cars broke down how the hell should I know, all I know is her and her car aren’t here, now could you please leave me alone,” John blurted out angrily. “ I’m sorry,” said Mrs. Pennyfather as she turned and almost ran from the house, the sound of the door slamming ringing in her ears.
It was dark as she ran across John’s Garden and she didn’t see the sprinkler wrapped up in long grass, she tripped over it painfully, lying facing the house. Then she saw it, she could just see under the garage doors, and yes, they were definitely a pair of tires and the bottom of an exhaust pipe. Slowly she got to her feet and crept over to get a better look. She looked through a large gap in the wooden doors and their surely enough was Heathers little car in the back what was that, an crumpled figure lying face down on the back seats. “ Heather! she mouthed silently, luckily she was to scared to say anything out loud. Then she ran, as fast as an old woman could, across the garden and back into her home.
She lay there all night fully clothed hiding beneath her bed covers, terrified like a young child and shaking violently. Tomorrow she would have to tell somebody she thought, but who? All her friends and family had either died or moved away, she would have to go straight to the police. The next morning having not slept at all and as she got to the mirror she was shocked to see her eyes, bloodshot and heavy. Never the less, she was determined to make sure John would not get away with whatever he had done to poor Heather. Later that evening Mrs. Pennyfather realised she had made a big mistake, the police had been around to check on the house next door and had walked in to find John and Heather happily sitting on sofa watching television.
The police had promised not to say that it was Mrs. Pennyfather who had told them to check on the house next door, but she was sure that John would have been able to work out that it was she from the conversation the previous night. Mrs. Pennyfather simply had to go around to apologise.
She slipped on her shoes in her front porch and strode purposely across to next doors garden to apologise about the police incident. As she approached the front door she realised the door was ajar, not strange at this time of year in such warm weather, but in recent times the neighbourhood had become unsafe at night and not many people left their doors open. She knocked on doorframe and waited for a reply, and she waited, and knocked, and waited, and knocked. She knew they were inside, because no one had left or entered the house since the police had been around and the door was still open. Then “ Scratch, scratch.
” What was that noise, it was coming from inside the house, she peeked though the gap in the door, it was coming from the cupboard under the stairs. She slowly pushed open the door. “ Scratch, scratch. ” She crept inside the house and tried to say “ Hello” but nothing came out.
She crept closer to the cupboard under the stairs. “ Scratch, scratch. ” She had to open the door, what if John had managed to fool the police and had Heather trapped under the stairs. She had to open the door and get Heather out.
She took one more step towards the door and opened it quickly. Mrs. Pennyfather screamed as John fell out of the cupboard bound by his wrists and ankles and tightly gagged around the mouth, with his face covered in blood. His eyes shot open and as there eyes meet she could see his pain. Mrs. Pennyfather had no idea what was going on.
Then his eyes seemed to look though her. No, behind her, she saw the look of terror in his face. She turned around just in time to see Heather with an axe raised above her head. A million thoughts rushed though her head she had no idea what was happening. And then it didn’t matter.
The axe came down before Mrs. Pennyfather could move.