Tuesday 13 September 2022

Across the Road by Pauline Howard, cappuccino

‘Lock that back door and get out of here,’ Geoff hissed as he hustled through to the kitchen.

            ‘But I’m in the middle of kneading this dough.’ His wife waggled her flour covered hands at him.

            ‘I don’t care. Just move it. That bloody woman is on her way over.’ But before any further evasive action could be taken, that “bloody woman” was letting herself in.

            ‘Hi, you two. Just thought I’d come and keep you up to date on the coffee morning,’ Julia beamed at them both, ‘Shall I put the kettle on, Jean? I can see you’re up to your armpits. I hope you’re making one of those for me too. And don’t forget you promised me a chocolate caramel cake. Oh, and Geoff, Ron is relying on you to help him put up the gazebo, ' she shot at his retreating back.

            Geoff just stuck up his thumb and hurried back to the den and his newspaper. He found it extremely difficult just to be civil to her. He would help Ron because he felt sorry for him. The poor chap’s whole life revolved around dancing to Julia’s tune!

            ‘Here’s a nice cup of frothy coffee for you Geoff,’ and Julia held it out so he had to put his paper down. ‘Must take care of the workers.’

            ‘Thanks,’ he said grudgingly and pointedly placed it on the side table and resumed his perusal of the paper. It was so obvious that he had no time for her, but she didn’t seem to notice or just didn’t care. She must have the skin of a rhinoceros.


‘What’s up Ron?’ asked Geoff as they finished spreading out the last stack of garden chairs, which Julia had requisitioned from various neighbours.

            ‘Oh, just a little tired that’s all,’ said Ron with a weary smile, ‘Might have been something I ate actually. I was up and down like a yoyo last night. Dickie tummy, you know.’

            ‘Not good,’ replied Geoff, ‘obviously didn’t affect the missus though. She looks raring to go.’

            ‘Oh yes, nothing stops one of her charity coffee mornings – short of death that is!’ The last part muttered almost to himself.

            Geoff gave the man a sideways glance, but the moment was lost as people were starting to arrive carrying various offerings. Another neighbour had been assigned to collect the entrance money but was not there yet, so Ron hurried over off do the honours.


‘Hey Jean,’ Geoff called out, ‘come and look. There’s an ambulance over the road.’

            ‘Don’t stand right in front of that window in full view.’ Jean admonished him as she came into the room.

            ‘Why not? There’s no one else to see. And anyway, I don’t care. I can stare out of my own front window if I want,’ he retorted.

            ‘Well, I hope it’s nothing serious,’ said Jean, but as they watched two paramedics came out, closed the ambulance doors and drove off. ‘Obviously no emergency then. I’ll get on with hanging the washing.’ She was just pegging the last bedsheet on the line when she heard Geoff calling her.

            ‘Quick, quick Jean. Get in here. Right now.’ Slightly out of breath she hurried in.


            ‘A black ambulance has arrived. Look, over there.’ He gesticulated with a pointed finger. ‘Two blokes have just gone in with a gurney!’ They stood in silence for several minutes then out they came, pushing the now laden piece of equipment.

            ‘OMG. She’s killed him. She’s bossed him to death!’

            ‘Now don’t be flippant dear, it’s very sad.’

‘Someone ought to report her. That’s the fourth one she’s seen off. Something very fishy there if you ask me.’

‘Well, no one is, so keep your silly ideas to yourself. Anyway, I’d better go over and see how Julia is and if there is someone we can call to be with her.’ And taking off her apron she hurried out the door.

Geoff was still standing gawping when Jean came back across the road. ‘What is it? What now? What does she want?’

‘You’re not going to believe this, but that wasn’t Ron in the body bag,’ said Jean, looking up into her husband’s bemused face.

‘Who then?’ and his eyes nearly popped out of his head. ‘Her?’

‘Yes. Julia. Apparently, she had a fall in the night and as they now sleep in separate rooms, he didn’t miss her. He found her at the bottom of the stairs this morning. Dead!’

Geoff slowly shook his head, ‘Well, well, who’d have thought it, eh? Poor old Ron. Must have been quite a shock.’ But – there was something niggling at the back of his mind.


About the author 

Pauline mostly writes short stories but also a little poetry. She is treasurer for South Poetry Magazine 


Did you enjoy the story? Would you like to shout us a coffee? Half of what you pay goes to the writers and half towards supporting the project (web site maintenance, preparing the next Best of book etc.)

No comments:

Post a Comment