“She screamed, quite a lot. It’s strange, I thought I’d feel better when she screamed. Didn’t though.”
“How did you do it?”
“She’s never liked water. Hated the shower, wouldn’t go swimming. We used to laugh about it. Well, I’d take the piss actually.”
He drifted off, staring into space. The other two shifted impatiently. They hadn’t come here for this.
“Oh, well, I tied her to a chair and tipped her back over the kitchen sink, then turned on the taps. She held her breath for a while, but not very long, really. That’s when she started screaming. Maybe it was the gargling that ruined it.”
He drifted off again, Rachel’s face in his mind, then merging as it always did into Laura’s. The smoke from the fire swirled around him until his eyes watered. The snow was falling faster now, the fire hissing as flakes struck the hot coals. He turned to look at the two men sat beside him. They were old, like him, and just as ruined.
“So, after she stopped kicking, I put her in the bath and filled it, then went out of town for a few days. When the police called I had already worked myself into a bit of state. Never thought they were going to find her, I’ll tell you.”
“So, it’s not on the agenda, but why’d you do it”?
He looked at the man who spoke. He was fairly certain he was wifehater73, but it could be darthsadious. They’d agreed not to use real names, but even if they had, he’d still think of them as their avatars, the people he’d been speaking to for the last six months. He shrugged then, and smiled, a sad, small kind of smile.
“Love, why else? I was in love with another woman. Not that that turned out well either.”
The third man, who had until now remained silent, snorted.
“She was catholic, I mean, staunch. I was never getting a divorce and besides, I wanted to hear the screaming.”
The others nodded appreciatively. He turned to look again, sure now that the man next to him was wifehater73.
The man nodded, huge eyebrows casting his eyes into deep shadow. He was the one who had started this whole business, created the site and invited them to join. It had seemed crass to begin with, just a bunch of loners moaning about their other halves, but the three of them had had more to say than the others. One thing became another and here they sat, the fire struggling to keep away the chill of the night as the snow billowed around them.
“She was cheating.”
He sounded belligerent, like he was excusing something. They both shrugged, waiting for the good stuff.
“Poison. Sounds dull, but I did my research. It turns out that if you combine the correct ingredients, the person can suffer for days.”
He dragged out the last word, a smile crossing his craggy face.
“She didn’t scream, but she moaned and cried and begged. I got to sit and watch, three days.”
His voice had become almost reverential, his eyes heavenward. The others were rocking gently, sucking up his pleasure and making it their own.
“We were on holiday at the time, in Rio. I’d made contacts there. The body disappeared and I came home in tears. There was some business between the English diplomatic office and the Brazilians, but this happens more than you’d think. You have to really push once they’ve exhausted all the channels if you want something more to happen.”
The third man, thin and sour faced beneath his over-sized duffle coat, mumbled and nodded his approval.
Silence fell between them.
He huddled beneath his coat, staring into the flames. He was feeling just as he had when she started screaming, somehow underwhelmed and disappointed. He’d expected something, some thrill, like watching his mum getting undressed. The reality of what they were talking about should have filled his stomach with butterflies. Instead, he just felt cold, and vaguely ill. He missed Laura, missed her every day.
They both turned to the third man, eyebrows raised. He smiled, his small face taking on an air of malice that made him squirm.
“I live out in the country, America, far out in the sticks. We have a basement. I’d practiced on animals, so I had a few ideas. We started with the teeth, then nails, then skin. She screamed too, so hard her throat started bleeding.”
The thin man giggled and he felt his gorge rise. He still saw his own in his mind, the detached way he’d watched her as the water filled her throat then began to spill out into the sink. There had been a sense of satisfaction in it, but not the pleasure this man was exhibiting.
“Eventually, she just gave up. Whether it was her heart, or her mind, I don’t know, but I came down one morning and she was cold.”
He sounded sad, almost regretful. He didn’t want to ask, but he couldn’t stop himself.
“How did you get rid of the body?”
“Huh? Oh, I didn’t, she’s still there, well the rats have had most of it over the years, but the bones are still hanging around. We really do live out in the sticks.”
“Oh, you know, money. She came from money, had the most amazing life insurance. “
He drifted off, his eyes straying to the fire that hissed and crackled. They sat in silence, each remembering the time, far back, when they had freed themselves, taken the next step. He shifted, lifted his feet to the fire in a vague attempt to rekindle some feeling in them.
“Well, I’ll be off. It’s been, uum, interesting. Thanks guys.”
“Hold on, I’ll come with you.”
Wifehater73 shoved himself to his feet, groaning as his knees cracked, and fell into step with him. The snow was deeper than it had been when they walked here from the cars and the going was slow. They walked in silence until wifehater73 cleared his throat.
“You really loved Laura, didn’t you, loved her enough to kill your wife.”
He stopped where he stood, his back stiffening, hands clenching and unclenching. The other man had stopped as well, just behind him. He didn’t dare turn, but wasn’t surprised when he felt the knife slip into his back.
“She told me all about you, as she sweated on the bed. I did enjoy it. I liked watching her come apart, her teeth falling out of her rotting gums. She told me everything.”
The knife twisted and he fell on his knees. He only vaguely felt the cold as the snow soaked his trousers. His back was warm, warmer than it should be. The world was reduced to two small, dark holes that were slowly getting smaller. His last thought as he toppled forward was of the letter that lay pressed flat, beneath a book on his bedside table. ‘Heading to Brazil with the husband, don’t worry though, I’ll see you soon, my love.”
The world went black.
Wifehater73 pulled the knife free with a satisfied grunt. The internet was a wonderful thing. It had taken most of his life, but that, just then, had made every second worth it. He pushed himself to his feet, and staggered away from the body, his heart beating fast. The snow mingled with the tears that finally, finally, streamed down his face. The light faded and he sunk down into the deepening snow. The cold wrapped him up and his world slowly faded.
Back at the fire, Darthsadious stared into the coals. He remembered how she smelled, how she smiled. She had been different from the animals. He remembered all of them. Marriage was so fragile these days. He pushed himself to his feet, then walked slowly to his car.
The snow fell fast, the fire rebelling, but finally hissing out, only smoke left to curl up into the night sky.
Cheers HC for the extra editing