Castle Cary 2016
Thirteen months I had been married to Joe, the more I thought about it the more stupid it sounded. How the hell could it have been that long. My plans of escaping and moving my store had been put on hold by one thing or another, especially with the robberies. I continued to save, but any cash sales, I now had Ula take home with her. I felt I could truly trust her, just a gut feeling, it was the right thing to do, and Ula was only too happy to help no questions asked.
The situation with roach Joe was getting worse, yep that’s what he was now called, roach Joe. Ula had met Joe once, when he called in the store, I’m still not exactly sure why he came. It was amusing to see her face when he got close to her. After he left she let so many floral bombs off in the store I thought I was going to be choked out by wild Lavender and eastern Jasmin.
A few weeks ago, Joe staged a raid at my store using a fabrication that within the sleepy county we lived in, there was a dangerous escapee on the loose. Seeing as there were no local incarceration institutions in the vicinity I found this absurd, I knew what he was after. The pendant, that and the fact that Joe couldn’t tell a lie if his life depended on it. I had learned very quickly in the beginning that when he was nervous his left eyebrow twitched, so much so that I usually had to turn away to stop from laughing. The other was lying, when he lied he blinked rapidly.
The team of would be efficient police officers ransacked the store, including demands to access locked boxes in storage. My outburst that if there had been a dangerous escapee in the area he would hardly be hiding in a locked chest, under a pile of fifteenth century cuirassier armor. Nor would he have fit into a late century Chinese jewellery box. Not unless he was a warlock and could turn himself into a jade bracelet, unlock the box and hop right in. If that had been the case then I would have jumped in with him.
The police officer I made my comment to found no hilarity in my assertion, he eyed me with a frown of suspicion. I knew the raid was but a subterfuge. If you think Joe’s stink was bad, let me tell you five of them was not just an assault to the senses, but downright suffocating. The mess had taken days to tidy up. Sloane had come in to give a helping hand, but even with Ula’s double amounts of radiance of the sun and petals of delight scents liberally covering every surface, Sloan said that chicken shite still smelt better.
This morning I received a call from a Mr de Marko shortly after opening the store. He said I had met him at the antiques fair in London. I was supposed to have met up with him a couple of days later at his office. He had however, called me the day after. The problem, except for the fact that I couldn’t remember meeting or having a conversation with him was the timing. When I was allegedly having this conversation with him I was supposedly quite a distance away standing at the altar in the registry office in St Albans marrying Joe.
Mr de Marko, the poor dear was exasperated when I asked him several times if he was sure about the time and date. Ok, now I knew I couldn’t have been in two places at the same time. One of them was lying, given a choice of it being Mr de Marko whom I didn’t know or Joe, my guess would be Joe. Why I couldn’t remember anything of the seven days before waking up in my bed is a nightmare. I thought I would have had some flashbacks or something to say what I did or where I went, or even phone calls I had made.
I called Joe at work to tell him about the phone call more for his reaction than anything else even though my senses told me I shouldn’t. He was calmer than I expected, simply saying that this de Marko fellow was a nut job. He ended the call with I’ll meet you at home promptly at five pm. He had never sited a time of when he would be home. I had a sudden stab of anxiety stirring in the pit of my stomach, and my jaw tensed. This was one of those times I knew I had made a bad mistake calling him.
As it was I was late leaving the store waiting for a customer to decide between an 1870 book of verse by Percy Bysshe Shelley, or an 1860s book of verse by William Wordsworth as an anniversary present for his wife. It was twenty minutes after closing that the gentleman decided on Wordsworth. A good decision I had thought, being slightly prejudicial about Wordsworth.
A quick trip to the Coop food store turned into a bloody long wait while a woman paid in coins for her groceries. The tapping of my foot and rolling of eyes did nothing to hurry the gum chewing peroxide blonde taking her sweet time counting every coin. It rained as I ran from the store to my car. Then, like a clumsy clod I lost my footing. Note to self never wear high heels when in a rush or when it’s raining. By the time an elderly couple had helped me to my feet and tracked down my absconding groceries I was forty minutes late.
I had no idea why I was rushing, I couldn’t care less whether Joe wanted me home at five or not. Driving home the rain was torrential. I was already soaked so getting from the car to the back door, and me not grabbing a brolly, must have looked like I had just climbed out of the sea.
Coming through the door that opened into the small kitchen, hair sodden, dripping with bedraggled grocery bags in hand, Joe was standing in the middle of the room. His anger filled the air like an overshot of static electricity that had set me instantly on edge. I could see the steam rising from his collar beneath a face that reddened by the second. He launched into screaming obscenities.
“You question me about the fucking marriage, again. Just because some ass wipe rings telling you a pack of lies. I told you we were married, I showed you the photos. But do you believe me? Noooo.” He continued spittle running down the side of his mouth. “You are nothing but a poisoned thorn in my side. Being married to you has been a bloody misery I could have done without. I should have just wrung your neck and have been done with it.”
I seethed with anger at the words spouting from his mouth. How dare he talk to me like that. “Your bloody insane.” I shouted back. What caught me off balance though were his eyes, they seemed to take on a red tinge, not the whites of them but the iris. The evil in them was intimidating. Once again, his foul breath pervaded my senses, my stomach roiled wanting to expel its contents. I shout have stood my ground but all I wanted to do, needed to do was flee, to escape his ranting, the stench of him. Try as I might with grocery bags weighing my arms down, it was impossible to get the door open behind me. He closed what small gap there was between us.
“The only fucking reason I have put up with you for this long is that bloody pendant. You are just like your rotting mother, she was a waste of good breath too.”
The provocation turned my fear to rage and I lost control. “How dare you talk about my mother. You never met her! You foul excuse for a human being…you piece of shite!”