Susan parked the car in front of the little metal and plastic house. She looked at this facade which looked like all the others in the residence. Depression invaded her all of a sudden, she didn’t want to enter. She didn’t have the strength, not without Rick.
Yet she had loved this tiny house, she had loved to make it their cocoon. Rick often complained about the quality of this big bungalows, but he liked it. Here he had made friends, they were close to their family and didn’t worry about their future.
When the children were all gone, the big suburban house they lived in had become too big, too quiet. They had stayed there for a while of course, but the walls had not kept the laughter, the walls seemed sad without the shouts of the daily meals. As for the television, it was back in use, and they left it on, like a fourth child that we would like to preserve.
When their son went bankrupt, they hadn’t dithered for long. She remembered the moment when their eldest son fell into their arms, sobbing. She and Rick had exchanged a look, and that look had been the decision. A week later, they put the big house up for sale. Within a month, they had helped their son and searched for a property worth the dollars they had left. Simple and effective.
So, yes, going from the luxury of a big house in a nice suburban Perth neighborhood to a camping cabin in a seniors’ residence hadn’t been that easy. Yet they had quickly gotten their bearings. Susan had decorated the place with warmth. They had given their furniture to the children, friends, friends of the children.
And the more they got rid of the outward signs of their lives, the more they got rid of the outward signs of happiness, the stronger the bond between them became. Yes, they said to anyone who would listen, this shantytown had been a new breath of life for their couple. They each had their own activities, their own lives, new friends and they would meet in the evening, happy to talk to each other. Boredom had evaporated from their lives. A renewal.
But that was before, before cancer. The word was turning in Susan’s mind, over and over again, it mixed with the word dead. Death from cancer. That was what was waiting for Rick. A death, so common nowadays, so common.
Rick would have deserved to die saving the world, to die a hero’s death, or at least a death with panache, a warrior’s death. He was going to die like an anonymous vegetable in a sordid hospital room. Susan had the impression that he was already dead, in a way.
A tear ran down her cheek, then another and another. A waterfall now washed over her face on both sides. She put her head on the steering wheel and continued to sob. The images of Rick in the sanitized room, hooked up to the respirator were flooding into her mind. Today, she hadn’t even been able to talk to him. He was too weak, his eyes were running away from her. She knew him, he was ashamed. He was supposed to be the strong man of the family, not a burden. For a long time, she had forced him to look her in the eyes, and she had seen tears, tears of despair, tears of renunciation.
A new sob shook her. He would soon give up, she was convinced.
Someone knocked on the window. Paula. She had never spoken to her, this woman made her nervous. Yet, for the first time, she could see compassion on her face, real compassion. As if Paula understood, “Is everything okay? ». The nymph, in a tight pink dress, passed a hand behind Susan’s back.
The touch of that hand on her back did her good. It was as if the mermaid had the power to transmit real warmth. This foreign hand did her more good than all the words of her children, than all the wet hugs. Yes, this hand transmitted a compassion without pity, without hope, without sadness. This hand was the hand of someone who knew.
As she had appeared, Paula disappeared, whispering, “Nothing hurts more than love. ».
Rita couldn’t help but go around in circles in the kitchen. She had a plan. The words of her bridge buddies kept running around in her mind over and over again. Bruce was cheating on her. Again and again. And this time she hadn’t seen it coming. He was cheating on her on top of that with Paula! This bimbo whose expiration date had long since passed. Really, he had opted for such a bimbo?
The shower finally stopped, Bruce was not going to be long to go out. Like every morning, she had prepared him good Vegemite and raspberry jam on toast. But this morning, she had a lump in her stomach, she was trying to look natural, to act as if nothing had happened. It was impossible. So she went around the kitchen, waiting for him. Since yesterday, she had been observing his every movement, scrutinizing his every move in search of a clue.
How could she have believed that Bruce was no longer going to cheat on her? She told herself that with age, he had surely lost his ardor. But no, no menopause for Bruce, his libido was still high, according to what she had been told. She picked up the sponge and started scrubbing the worktop.
It was her fault too, she was aware of it. She felt that the disappearance of the van had affected him. He could no longer concentrate his energy on his DIY, so his second brain had taken over. As long as he didn’t find out the truth, she knew he could leave her for that. And if she could endure a few misdeeds, she couldn’t be alone without him.
The bathroom door opened, and she realized that the sponge she was holding in her hand was falling apart under her fingers. She had rubbed too hard. Smiling, she said hello to Bruce in a cheerful voice. Bruce stared at her blankly and settled down, barely blurred a “Hello” and threw himself on his toast. In less than five minutes he had eaten it all.
Without preamble, without clearing, as if everything had to be done by Rita, he left the table. He shook the crumbs from his polo shirt and without turning around, he slammed the door shut. Atmosphere, atmosphere. Well, she would clean up later, we shouldn’t waste time, we would have to follow him. She heard his van start. Perfect, he had taken his car, he was going to the Men Shed, it was sure! She called Susan, no answer, damn it. If Susan wasn’t home, she couldn’t know when or where Bruce was going to go.
Damn it, damn it, she had to find a solution. She ran for the door, leaving the mess on the table. She really had to take it on herself not to clean up. No, she didn’t have time. Come on Rita, it’s time to find out who your man is sleeping with. She took the keys to his car and decided to go straight to Paula’s house, and if luckily Bruce’s SUV wasn’t there, she would drive around the campground looking for it. She was going to give that home wrecker a hard time.
His car stalled twice before it could finally start. Paula’s house was only a few numbers away. She observed the deserted street, no trace of Bruce’s SUV. She was relieved. The most dangerous threat seemed to be over. Phew.
She stayed a few more minutes, however, and waited. You never know. The door opened and she was startled. What if Bruce had parked somewhere else? If Bruce had just gotten out. When she saw the cowboy hat, she was relieved. John !!! John had also fallen in the nymph’s net ! But when would she stop? At least John was single ! And it wasn’t Bruce. Phew. She was relieved.
Now the question was, where had Bruce gone? She restarted her car, and drove at a brisk pace, scanning every corner for Bruce’s van. Almost discouraged, she saw the van’s nose parked behind trees near the gate. What to do now? Who lived there? Impossible to remember.
Suddenly, she saw Bruce’s tall silhouette creeping through the bushes, a heavy object in his hands. When he wrapped it in a blanket in the back of the van, she could see a beautiful garden statue in the shape of a wild duck.
No, he didn’t dare, did he? Would he have had the nerve to steal all the garden gnomes from under her nose? Would he have even had the audacity to steal her own ceramic koala? Bruce, why? She couldn’t believe it.
She had to start before he saw her, quickly, quickly. This time she didn’t stall, the car sped off down the small road. She had to get home quickly and search. Where did he put all those garden gnomes? Had she married a thief? She hesitated between the feeling of betrayal and disgust, and the flame of the forbidden. Strangely this discovery made Bruce even sexier in his eyes…
Missing to hit the car on the porch, she parked her car sideways and struggled to get out. She was no longer twenty years old and sneaking between the wall and her car was really not easy at her age. Her hands were shaking, and the key would not turn in the lock. Come on, damn it, hurry up! The rattling of the lock was finally heard, she breathed a sigh of relief.
Rushing into the house, she almost tripped and wallowed on the linoleum. She had no time to dwell on her clumsiness. She walked to the guest room, where Bruce had been living for some time. The smell of his man was pervading the room, it was not unpleasant for her to smell the sweat and foot odor again. Because it was Bruce’s.
She looked around the room with her eyes. Where did he put the garden gnomes? She wanted proof, she started lifting the piles of dirty stuff, she opened the dresser, the cupboard. Then went to the bedside table, she opened the first drawer and gave a little cry, a red lace panty was religiously folded in the middle.
A red lace panties … Who liked red so much?
Ah, he had just embarked his last garden gnome, well not a dwarf, a duck. A horrible duck, which was worth more than 400 dollars! Crazy people, all the people in that cursed residence were crazy, they were spending fortunes and fortunes on these horrors. Stupid, but they had helped him a lot! When he finally sold the duck, he would have sold his van!
He was going, at once, to take the pictures in his garden shed, before putting it on sale. And finally, he could contact the seller of the van. Provided that the bus is still available! Ah, it was a beautiful machine, very spacious. He was going to remove all the seats, create a wooden frame with multiple storage spaces. Oh yes, it was going to keep him busy, he was going to have a lot of work to do!
He raised his head, after having carefully placed the duck rolled up in a blanket. For a moment, he thought he saw Rita’s car. Would she have followed him? He felt a wave of affection and love at the thought of his favorite little cook playing the spy. He still couldn’t bring himself to part with this nasty liar. The more time passed, the more he understood her gesture.
And he had to admit to himself, he had enjoyed playing gangster and had felt more adrenaline in the last few weeks than he had in the three years before. Finally, the theft of his van had opened the door to new pleasures… the pleasures of illegality. He knew he had to stop with the garden figurines before he was caught, but… But how could he feel the thrill of the forbidden again?
Well, there was Paula, and that was already something. The beautiful one had bewitched him. She had turned his head. How wild and sensual she was! With a fiery gaze, she lit up her crotch, action, reaction. Since they had begun their affair, he could not do without her.
Unfortunately, the nymph was rather busy. She wouldn’t answer his messages and only when she wanted to. Sometimes he had to wait a good week to see her again. Well, he would try now. He felt in a naughty mood, and he would experience a nasty end of the morning.
But he did not have the right, not if she did not ask him. She had the reins, and she could run away if he was too enterprising. Rita and Paula were the two opposites, and they complemented each other perfectly. He imagined himself at the wheel of the van, the two women at his side. Paula would kiss his neck, while Rita would look at him lovingly and hand him sweets. Oh yes, it would be paradise.
He was delirious, Rita and Paula would never be able to stand each other. And by the way, if Rita found out that he was cheating on her, that would be the end of him. During all these years, she had seen nothing. He had had mistresses, but Rita had never known. And that was good, he had loved them all in some way, but it was a fleeting, superficial love, when his love for Rita was so deep and abysmal.
He parked his van in front of the house. Glancing over his shoulder, he checked that no one was watching him, only then he lifted his illicit package and headed for his garden shed. He scanned the windows of his house and saw Rita tidying up breakfast. Strange, she had already had more than thirty minutes to do so. Maybe he hadn’t been dreaming and Rita had been following him. Would she have discovered his secret?
For garden gnomes, she would forgive. For Paula, on the other hand… As long as she didn’t find the lace panties. It was necessary… Yes, he had to make sure. He let go of the wrapped duck, which fell to the ground with a thud. It didn’t seem to break. It didn’t matter, he had to get rid of the panties before they broke up his marriage.
He ran towards the entrance. Rita’s car was parked across the car porche and he could barely make it to the door. He opened it with a loud crash. The whole room shook, Rita turned around, half surprised and half angry. The door to the guest room was open, my goodness. He ran, threw himself on the bedside table. Empty.
“Is this what you’re looking for? “said a voice behind him.
Franck observed the bush one last time, it was almost perfect. Just one more tiny cut with the hedge trimmer on top. The hedge trimmer whirred, it seemed heavier than usual. Franck’s arms became weak all of a sudden, and the hedge trimmer cut far below what Franck had expected. Oh dear, dear, dear, the bush was disfigured.
Franck turned off the hedge cutter and threw it to the ground. The result was terrible. He, who put so much heart into trimming the hedges as beautifully as possible, had completely ruined the poor shrub. Well, he was going to find a solution. Yes, he could make up for it, a little blow on one side, another little blow on the other and it should be all right.
A drop of sweat beaded on his forehead, he could feel his mouth drying up and he was starting to lose his energy and concentration. He would finish this one, cut the other two from the front of the house and take a break. Yes, he deserved a break. A small cigarette would help him regain his strength. Bill took breaks all the time, so why not him?
He picked up the hedge trimmer, closed his eyes, concentrated, and opened them again. He pulled on the handle to start the machine. The vibrations of the device tickled the bare skin of his hands. He tightened his grip and placed the blade on the side of the plant. The leaves and branches flew. At the end of the operation, there was only an almost naked trunk and a few leaves that had been spared by the massacre. This time, there was no question for Franck to look at his work.
He attacked the other two bushes. There had to be consistency in this garden. Once again, he committed a real genocide on the two bushes. The three naked and skeletal plants now jumped out at him. He felt that he had just made a mistake. Let’s hope the evil Sue doesn’t see him. He had to tell Bill about it, he had to fix it.
He was going to put the leaves back on the bush, that’s how he was going to put the leaves back on the bush, and that way it wouldn’t be seen, it wouldn’t be known. Yes, that was a good idea. He picked up a big handful of leaves and dumped them on the first bush, they fell to the ground, tumbling down through the few branches that were left. It wasn’t working. He cleaned the ground, picking up all the leaves. There, now it was better, at least the ground was no greener than the plants he was harboring.
A cigarette, and then he would go to Bill. Bill had apparently gone to cut down some palm trees nearby. Franck checked his pockets looking for his pack of cigarettes. He looked for a place to hide. Behind the trees at the gate, that’s it. It was perfect. His hands were shaking, and he could barely grab one of the cigarettes from his pack. The wind had picked up and he struggled to light it. Decidedly, fate did not want him to smoke it! Finally, the first puff invaded his lungs. He felt that the nicotine was beginning to take effect.
Oh yes, he finished the cigarette and already felt much more relaxed. He touched the leaves with his fingertips. He loved plants so much, he felt a brief guilt for the three bushes he couldn’t spare. It would grow back, it always grew back. And that’s why he loved plants so much. The mistake was a mere formality with the plants.
Suddenly he heard a noise. A car, or a truck. He went down in the corner, putting his cigarette out on the end of his shoe. Oh, he hoped it wasn’t Sue. He saw a vehicle approaching. It was the van of the man with the stolen van. He had seen it many times lurking around the vacant lot with a dull eye. Bill had told him, the van, the layout, the theft, a broken man. Franck could understand. His second passion was cars. He couldn’t imagine if they were stolen from him. He was heartbroken just thinking about it.
Absorbed in his thoughts, he didn’t see Bruce get out of the vehicle nor did he see where he was going. He had to go back to work, but he was waiting, afraid of being surprised. That’s when he saw the big guy come back to his van, his arms loaded. Loaded with what? He couldn’t believe his eyes. Bruce had just stolen a garden duck. Franck was convinced from the beginning that it was a wildcat trick. But it wasn’t.
The images of Bruce stealing all the figurines and dancing around laughing diabolically, struck Franck’s mind. For the first time, he was afraid of this grumpy looking grandfather. What if this man was the very embodiment of evil? The van left as quickly as it had arrived.
Frank had to find Bill and tell him what he had just seen. He rushed out of hiding and searched in vain for the walkie-talkie. Where was the damn thing, he needed it now.
While Franck was feeling his pockets for the fifth time, a thunderous noise startled him. The cry and the silence that followed froze his blood.
Paula put the capsule in the coffee machine and pressed the small green button. The machine started up. She watched with satisfaction as the steaming liquid poured into her small golden cup. A little caffeine would do her good. John had simply exhausted her. He was intense, this John, really. A little skinny, and a little ridiculous with his hat on, but intense.
On the other hand, he wasn’t married, he was going to get attached, that was for sure. She knew men like him, she had read in his eyes that loneliness, that pain of being alone. No, she would not be the one to fill the void of a woman who had left too soon or of a painful divorce. It wasn’t her who filled the void, it was the men who covered with a white sheet of paper the well that was her heart.
All the bodies that had passed through her sheets, all the lips that had run through her body, all the fiery glances that had undressed her had never filled this lack of Him. Her heart, so intense, swollen with love and life, had become dry, empty and hollow. If love hurt so much, sex was an ointment that only lasted for a while. For her, sex was like sunscreen, to avoid aggravating the burn that never left her.
Earlier in the day, while walking home from the pool, she had run into this woman. Susan, her name seemed to her. She was a very thin, graceful woman of natural beauty that Paula had long since lost. Susan was crying at the wheel of her car. Paula recognized the signs right away. She knew. Susan had just experienced the worst pain. For the first time in decades, Paula had felt compassion. Real compassion, not pity, disgust, or feigned compassion to get something. No, pure compassion.
She didn’t know why, she had knocked on the glass and placed her hand behind the sweet. As a matter of course. And she had felt that Susan had relaxed, that she had done her good. A crazy thought had crossed her mind. She wanted a friend. A real friend. For the first time, she felt the need to confide, the need to reassure, to laugh and to share, with another woman. What was happening to her?
She tried to get rid of this idea. A friend? No, she didn’t need one, she was doing fine on her own. No mood, no friendship. Yet she wanted to. She missed her men strutting around again and again, the false laughter she forced on them to feel funny and appreciated. Yes, she wanted to laugh, laugh at them, laugh at herself, laugh at the world. It was decided she was going to become friends with Susan. She was the only one here that she considered a potential friend.
Her phone on the table vibrated. She grabbed her cup, took a sip and looked at her phone. When she saw the name Andrews, she couldn’t help but smile. They were supposed to meet tonight, she couldn’t wait. Andrews was by far her favorite. He made love so well, and she loved spending time with him. It was a first since Him. She hadn’t had the courage to stop. After all, they were doing each other good, why would she get rid of such a good lover.
Her fingers tapped his code, she opened the impatient message. It wasn’t Andrews’ habit to write text messages. Her eyes read each word several times. A tiny tear appeared in the corner of her right eye. From a phalanx, she chased it away. Andrews couldn’t come tonight, he was detained by his wife. He was sorry. They would postpone it. Paula felt her heart tighten. Her heart shouldn’t tighten, it was only a carnal relationship, purely carnal. No, no and no. She wouldn’t relive the pain.
She briefly tapped a “Too bad. I had a lot of energy. “and turned off her cell phone.
As dark thoughts filled her disappointed mind, she heard a thud outside, followed by a scream. Shivers ran down her spine. Without thinking, ignoring any possible danger, she rushed outside. She checked her garden. Nothing, then she continued into the surrounding gardens.
When she saw two feet stretched out under a huge palm branch, she knew something bad had just happened.
Sue stared nervously at the floor. The new director stood in front of her and looked over the past three years accounts. At times, he would take a pink highlighter and pass it over certain lines. Sue would take care not to let her extreme nervousness show. Sometimes the 50-year-old would raise his head, stare at her, and then he would go back to the accounting lines.
She hadn’t been born yesterday, and she expected him to control it all one day. In the end, it was later than she thought. She had had plenty of time to falsify the documents and clear them of suspicion. However, she was not always sure of the accuracy of the names she had used. If by chance she had made a mistake and the director was an expert on the subject, he might have realized that something was wrong.
Luckily, the blackmailer eventually disappeared, Andrews told her that he had gotten his hands on him, but that he couldn’t give her the name without some reward. She refused. The guy had already obtained more than six hundred dollars worth of spy equipment. And he still wanted to extort money from her, it was out of the question. Too bad, as long as the blackmailer was no longer a threat, she could live in peace.
She sat up in her chair and made sure her back was straight. For the tenth time, she smoothed her skirt under the table. The director now looked her straight in the eyes. “You seem nervous, Sue. Are you all right? ». She laughed falsely, no, of course she wasn’t nervous. It was just that she was falling behind in her work. Ah, and she had an appointment with a prospective client who wanted to buy the most expensive house in the residence. Sue wouldn’t stop, she knew how to drown the fish. She talked for long minutes, highlighting the exceptional work she and Ron had done to sell the house at an above-market price.
The manager wasn’t even listening to her anymore, whispering, “Good, good. At first glance, it was going to be more complicated than expected to hide the all iceberg to this guy.
The finger of his new superior tapped a line. “I don’t understand how the taxes on Franck Stick’s salary change from one month to the next, doubling from one month to the next? ». Sue’s eyes looked around the room for a clue to this question. She cleared her throat, she had to save time.
“I’m sorry? Am I not following you? What are you talking about? ». He handed her the leaves and tapped first one and then the other. The lines were fluorescent pink and he had circled the tax amount several times. Ouch, that was a bad sign. She was going to lie again. She had to find a culprit, another culprit.
The silence lasted a few minutes, the director was apparently waiting for an answer. The ringing of Sue’s cell phone interrupted the awkward moment. She threw herself on it, almost relieved. The voice on the other end of the line made her tense. Paula. She hated that woman.
At the words the nymph said on the phone, Sue turned pale. Bill was hurt. He was lying on the ground, the ambulance was coming. She thanked Paula with her lips and hung up. “Is everything all right? ». Sue, livid, repeated the siren’s words. She had to leave, to investigate what had happened. The director nodded his head and invited her to take the buggy. There was no time to lose.
Sue left the room in a hurry. She got behind the wheel of the buggy and rode the streets at full speed. As she soon arrived at the scene, a flash of genius crossed her mind. If Bill was dead, he would be the perfect culprit.
More next week.