This is the final part of a fiction serial, in 975 words.
Don slowed his bike as he passed the cemetery on his way home from work. The following day was the first anniversary of Allan’s murder, and Jean was planning for them to spend some time at the grave in the afternoon. He didn’t like to cry in front of Jean anymore, so allowed the tears to flow as he glanced at the gates of the entrance. Things hadn’t been great since they had left Waterloo Close. Don’s Mum hadn’t taken the news of Allan’s death too well, and a few weeks later she had suffered a stroke that left her with seriously impaired mobility. Don had arranged for a local company to go in and clear up the house, sending the keys down by courier. They had employed a removal firm to bring up their clothes and the stuff they wanted to keep, and all the rest had been given to charity.
There hadn’t been much interest in the sale of the house at first. Nobody seemed inclined to want to buy a place that was the scene of a murder. But when they dropped the price by twenty percent, someone had snapped it up. They knew they would have to stay and look after Mum now, and would eventually inherit her house when she had gone. Jean had applied for the allowance to be her full-time carer, and not bothered to look for a job. As for Don, he didn’t want to work with a lot of people who asked him questions, so took a job as a night security guard, working on his own route, checking premises in a van. The old bus had to go, as they needed something suitable for Mum in her wheelchair. Now Jean drove the converted car, and he used a small motorbike to get to and from work.
As he turned off the road that led to the cemetery, he spoke aloud inside his crash helmet. “See you tomorrow, son”.
Alex Conroy was relishing life on his own. He had packed up all of Lucy’s things, and sent them off into storage, as arranged by Julian. Even after using some of his compensation money and savings to pay her off, he was still a wealthy man, at least by local standards. He had changed the house completely too. The carpets had been replaced by smart wooden flooring, and the bulky furniture changed for sleek designer items, with minimalism as his style choice. His job was going well, and there had been hint of a promotion to control of the larger City Council, once Edgar Pomeroy retired. And despite it only being two years old, he had got rid of the Jaguar, part-exchanging it for a nice new Range Rover. That had turned a few heads at the Golf Club.
Best of all, he had found a gem of a housekeeper. Esther Fitzgerald was from a respectable Irish family in the town, and he had employed her straight after the interview, not bothering to see any of the other applicants. She came to the house every afternoon at two, except for weekends. She did all the cleaning and the washing and ironing, then waited until he got home from work, to serve him an evening meal before she went home. She didn’t gossip, and had never asked any questions about the murder, Lucy, or his personal life. At weekends he would eat out, or just hot up a pasta meal from the freezer. He had all he had ever desired, and despite everything that had gone on during the last year, he enjoyed both the respect and sympathy of colleagues, friends, and neighbours alike.
He still enjoyed doing his own gardening, and had spent a long time laying out an ornamental Japanese arrangement, with lots of slabs and gravel, as well as a pleasant water feature crossed by a small bridge. He had kept the fuchsias by the shed though, for nostalgic reasons. As he worked outside, he liked to look up at the window of the back bedroom next door, and replay those events in his mind.
When he got home that night, there was a large rental van on the driveway of the Sinclair’s house. He had seen the ‘SOLD’ sign a while back, and been surprised how long it had taken the new owners to move in. He smiled as he closed the door. Inside, the house was immaculate as always, and he could smell something nice coming from the kitchen. Mrs Fitzgerald called to him as he put down his briefcase. “Table’s laid, Mr Conroy. It will be ready in five minutes”. Alex went up to the bedroom, to hang up his jacket and put on a cardigan. He washed his hands in the en-suite, and returned to take his place at the table.
She came into the dining room carrying a plate of steak and vegetables. Good, tasty, basic food, something she did so well. As always, she looked immaculate in her pristine apron. “There is apple crumble in the oven. It will still be warm when you have finished this. Is there anything else I can do for you, before I get off home?” Alex was already cutting the meat, and turned with a smile. “Nothing at all, thank you”. After putting on her coat, Esther came back into the room, fiddling with the zip. “I met your new neighbours this afternoon, Mr Conroy. They seem very nice, but I didn’t catch the name. They have a daughter, looked about ten, and an older boy around seventeen. I saw him carrying a big drum kit up the stairs, it looked very professional”.
Alex paused before placing the fork into his mouth. “A drum kit you say?” He smiled at her.
“Oh dear. I hope he is not going to be too noisy”.