Muriel’s weeding

by James

And, once again, the worst had happened. Honestly, the nerve of that man, ’im indoors, as if she hadn’t put herself out enough for him all these years.

‘Bent over backwards for ‘im, I did,’ Judith said. ‘And me with my lumbago and my dicky heart. It’s not right, is it, that’s what I say. Did you hear me Muriel, what I said?’

They often had these little one-way conversations, Muriel on her knees with her weeding trowel, as Judith, high strung and rather too far over the fence for a plump person, put it about the neighbourhood in slightly hysterical tones the latest indignity she was forced to endure in the name of marital peace.

Muriel ventured a non-committal “really”, and added of tut of disapproval for good measure. That ought to buy her a couple of minutes which was time enough to ease a few more errant weedlings from amongst the rhubarb.

‘Sea shells!’ Judith spat the words with venom. ‘That’s what he bloody brought me from his business trip to Abu Blah Blah – sodding sea-shells! When I know for a fact that her at number seventeen, her old man brought her back gold earrings and he’d only been hauling a load of fish to Bognor!’

Muriel creaked up from her knees to her feet and stooped to pick up the foam knee saver that she had bought for Duncan and he had never bothered to use. She smiled vaguely at her neighbour. ‘The Dahlias. I think they could use some work.’

Muriel took herself off further down the garden. Judith kicked her legs until she had worked up enough momentum to free herself from her perch atop the fence and caught up. In a whisper designed to carry she nudged a metaphorical elbow and with much eyebrow waggling did allow (grudgingly) that perhaps the earrings were well deserved.

‘Mint Imperials! Can you imagine that! That’s what he likes. So no wonder that poor girl gets jewellery.’

Muriel brutally slayed a budding shoot of bindweed or three, and then found her trowel pausing of its own accord. Something didn’t sit quite right. She squinted up at Judith, and said, ‘Mint imperials?’ It was hardly the kind of salacious gossip that Judith lived for.

Judith was grinning wolfish. ‘Oh yes. Right up there, that’s what he likes. Leastways, that’s what Margo at the corner shop tells me. She said she nearly had herself a connery when he popped in yesterday and bought a roll of Trebor Extra Strong Mints and some Camomile lotion.’

‘Gosh,’ Muriel said, and shook her head with much sadness. She returned to her weeding but her mind wasn’t really with it, gone instead to consider the problem posed by the curious discharge that was seeping from beneath the wicker planter in the shed where she had stashed Duncan’s body. Jeyes fluid, perhaps. Would that shift it?