a large Pimms
Charlotte opened her eyes slowly and felt the space to her left side where James would normally be still fast asleep. The grope revealed nothing other than bedding. He was not there and it was obvious once she sat up and looked at his side of the bed he had not slept there.
‘Oh Christ,’ she said out loud ‘Don’t tell me we are going to have one of those bloody days again.’
She got up out of bed and walked naked into the bathroom and sat on the toilet recalling the argument they had after Jane and Robbie left. Standing up, she flushed the toilet, moved to the washbasin and cleaned her teeth purposely avoiding her face in the mirror. She didn’t need confirmation that she looked like she felt – crap.
Pulling on her towelling bathrobe she walked towards the lounge surprised to hear the radio playing a local station. As she opened the lounge door; she screwed up her face at the volume of the music. It heralded the start of a lurking headache. Just what she needed.
She quickly switched the radio off but not before smiling to herself that the tune playing was a sixties hit by ‘The Animals’ – ‘We Got to Get Out of this Place’. In the newly acquired silence she mouthed the next line of the song under her breath, ‘if it’s the last we ever do.’
Collecting the empty glasses from the glass topped coffee table she noticed the newly opened bottle of J & B whisky was all but empty. ‘Jesus James you really tied one on last night she announced to the empty room,’ She briefly scanned around to see if there was any collateral damage to match the presumably rat-arsed state of her husband. Thankfully nothing appeared out of place.
Carrying the empty glasses into the kitchen she came to her next surprise; the patio doors were wide opened. Placing the glasses on the draining board the light in the garage caught her eye through the kitchen window.
‘Just what the hell is he up to now at this time of the morning?’ she asked herself as she walking angrily out onto the patio and yanking open the garage side door.
James was hanging naked from the cross-beam by a length of thick ship’s rope pulling his neck backwards at a painfully unnatural angle and facing away from her. Below the eerily motionless figure lay a white plastic garden chair on its side. His left foot was caught on the corner on of one the upturned legs of the chair.
Charlotte did not break out in a hysterical scream as played out in television dramas. She calmly walked towards the body of her husband carefully avoiding looking at him but simply reaching blindly to touch the back of his bare torso.
The coldness of the touch told her all she needed to know. She retraced her steps back into the kitchen picked up the telephone and dialled first her sister and then the emergency services, speaking quietly and briefly to both parties.
Back in the garage James pushed himself with his left foot around to check that he was alone. He reached up to the beam, pulled himself upwards and undid the cable that held the rope in place. He silently thanked his lucky stars that she came when she did. He was chilled to the bone.
Eric Burdon was right.