The Surprise Homecoming
Mark Allgood had been away for two weeks in Melbourne at a conference on ‘The Benefits of Good Oral Health’. By Friday morning of the second week he thought that if he had to sit through yet another boring lecture accompanied by graphic slides of rotting teeth he would, to put it colloquially, ‘Neck himself’. So, at the morning tea break, after a tepid cup of bitter coffee and a piece of stale sponge cake, he decided to quietly sneak out and catch an early flight home.
He was in luck. The airline transferred his booking to a 1pm flight and after quickly packing he was on his way to the airport in no time at all. He considered calling his wife to let her know that he would be home about five hours early but decided to just surprise her. It was their seven year anniversary this weekend and to add to her surprise he bought a large box of her favourite chocolates.
On his arrival in Sydney he added two dozen red roses to her surprise and a bottle of French champagne. The taxi ride from the airport was frustratingly slow, but he spent the time imagining how surprised and ‘thankful’ his wife would be.
Arriving home he carefully unlocked the front door and tiptoed through to the door into the kitchen where he could hear his wife on the phone.
He was about to shout surprise when he heard his wife say, ‘How quickly will he die?’ He stood frozen to the spot when his wife continued after a short pause. ‘Mark will be home about 9:30 so come around shortly after that.’
Again after a pause when whoever was on the other end of the line said something his wife continued, ‘I will have the money ready for you after the deed is done. Now, as we agreed, I will clean up any mess and you will take the body away and dispose of it.’
‘I know. I know. You are a professional but I just want to make sure that there will be no problems.’
‘No. I won’t change my mind, this is the only way.’
Shocked to his very core and unable to listen to any more, Mark very carefully backed out of the house. Outside, without really knowing what he was doing he threw the flowers in the gutter and ran away from the house as fast as he could.
Charity, his wife of nearly seven years, was planning to have him killed this very night. His mind racing he eventually sank down on a bus stop seat and burst into tears. Who was she talking to? Were they going to use poison? A lethal injection? Shoot him? Why? Did she have a lover? Maybe she had found out about that airline hostess? God! He couldn’t even remember the girl’s name.
He must have sat there for over an hour when he suddenly remembered. His suitcase and the bottle of champagne sitting on the floor in the middle of the lounge room where he had left them. If she found them she would realise that he had returned early and overheard the phone conversation. Maybe the assassin was out looking for him already?
He leapt to his feet and looked wildly around. No one except two startled school girls who took one look at him and ran away.
The police? Should he call the police? What could they do? Nothing had happened yet. His wife would just deny it. Best to just quickly go back home, confront her; pack a few things and move into a motel.
His suitcase was still in the lounge room. She had not as yet realised that he had come home early. He marched straight into the kitchen where his wife was packing the dishwasher. He shouted her name and asked her to turn around. She turned slowly with a large carving knife in her hand. He almost turned and ran.
Almost screaming, he told her that he had heard her phone conversation and demanded to know why she would want him dead.
To his surprise his wife burst out laughing.
‘Mark, it was the Vet, Graham that I was talking to. The dog has been very sick the past week; she is after all nearly 14. He is coming around to euthanize her later tonight. I thought it best to do it here in her familiar surroundings rather than at the vets. You know how agitated she got every time we took her there. I wanted you here as I know how much you love that dog.’
After a grovelling apology for thinking the worst of Charity the champagne and chocolates were put to good use.
They were having a coffee when promptly at 9:45 the front door bell rang.
It was Graham the Vet with his small bag of instruments. Mark opened the door for him and asked him to follow him into the garage where the dog was sleeping in its kennel.
When he turned he felt a sharp jabbing pain in his right shoulder. He jerked around and saw a large syringe with its needle buried deep in his flesh.
Bio: John is a Cancer survivor (Acute Myeloid leukaemia) as well as an Ex Airline Manager. To him the most important things are: family, friends, his garden and enjoying each and every day.