And it had been only three weeks since Amelia had buried her husband, George. Admittedly, the marriage had long shrivelled up, but Amelia had never had a fling. She hadn’t as much as glanced at a passing man. But now, now (and it had been only three weeks, as I said, since Amelia had buried her husband, George) Amelia had become infatuated with her local butcher, Erwin.
She was forever popping into the butcher’s shop to get meat – a leg of lamb, a porterhouse steak, a few chicken drumsticks, even the occasional pork rib. And, of course, Erwin always gave it to her for nix. Getting her meat for nothing was a sign, surely, that he liked her. One day she went into the butcher’s shop and only the apprentice was there. Nigel looked after the sales counter on Wednesdays and Fridays. Amelia learnt not to go shopping for meat on those days. The first time Amelia encountered Nigel he asked what she wanted, and she said “tripe” because that was the first thing that came into her head. She hated tripe and when she got home she discovered that not even the cat would eat it.
Anyway, it was now winter and things had progressed rather quickly. Twice Amelia had gone out the back to watch Erwin chop up a carcass so dexterously. Amelia was in awe – it showed strength, precision, skill and (dare I say it?) masculinity. Even with his blood-drenched apron still on, Amelia couldn’t refrain from giving Erwin a casual cuddle. He flung his chopper around with such legerdemain.
And then the worst happened. Erwin, unbeknown to Amelia, got the flu. When Amelia went in to get a beef brisket for Sunday a strange woman was behind the counter.
“Who are you?” asked Amelia.
“I’m Erwin’s wife,” she said. “How may I help?”