Tag Archives: widow

2185. Government handouts

Mrs Irene Rodgers didn’t exactly regard it as murder. Husband Perry’s death was more of a duty on her part. He had been bleeding off the government all his life. If it wasn’t a sickness benefit it was unemployment. If it wasn’t unemployment it was travel expenses. If it wasn’t this, it was that. After fourteen years of dependence upon the government, Irene had had enough. She did away with him. Surely the government would thank her – if they knew.

Perry’s demise had been well planned. In preparation she had dug dozens of little holes all around her substantial flower garden. After the killing, efficiently done with the pull of a trigger, she had used some fuming nitric acid to diminish the remains as much as possible, and then “planted” bits around the flowers. It took her a good week.

When all was done it was time to shop. But first things first: she had to apply for the widow’s benefit.

2049. Bernice’s murderous plots

Bernice had spent ages (possibly years) plotting the undetectably best way to murder her brother. You see, their mother was old. And rich. Exceedingly rich. Bernice wanted it all.

Their mother – whose name was Hilda – lived in the most beautiful house on a beautiful hill with a beautiful garden and even more beautiful view. Bernice’s brother – whose name was Jules – had his eyes on the house. “You keep two thirds of the money and I’ll take a third of the money plus the house.” On the surface Bernice agreed, but… Bernice wanted it all.

Things were getting urgent. Hilda was all of fifty-nine – which to younger people seemed old. She still lived alone and managed well, but all it would take would be for an epidemic to sweep the world and she’d be packing her bags for eternity like there was no tomorrow. The urgent murder of Jules would not only cover Bernice in good fortune but would in all likelihood provide enough grief to finish Hilda off.

Jules was unmarried – in fact totally unattached. There would be no spouse or partner or kids challenging Bernice’s windfall. Then Lady Luck stepped in. Jules took ill and died without any prompting whatsoever from Bernice.

Mother Hilda was grief-stricken. But would Hilda die? Oh no! Bernice described her mother as “that old cow who was no good anymore for milking but who wouldn’t kick the bucket.”

Then the worst happened. Oh tragedy of tragedies. Some things are on a par with catastrophic viruses. Widow Hilda got married; this time to a man much younger than herself.

“Is there no justice in the world?” screamed Bernice. “Do I not matter? Under no circumstance will I ever consider that usurper to be any sort of stepfather. Great balls of fire, he’s about my age and riddled with covetous ambition.” She loathed him with a vengeance.

Bernice began to plot.

2019. A gaggle of gossipers

(Today’s story is the penultimate. Tomorrow’s story (Number 2020) will be the last – at least for a while. I am writing this in September so who knows! Tomorrow’s story has LOTS of links so it’s not impossible that it will automatically end up in your email trash. Just a warning!)

Monique and Marcel had known each other for years. They were good friends since university days. Now both were widowed. They usually met once or twice a month for coffee and a chat. Each found support from the other in their loss.

After some time they started to hear rumours: they were a couple, they were dating, they were inevitably going to get married… None of this was true, but rumours stick.

“Apparently they haven’t as yet moved into the same house,” said Nora Cudworthy to Mabel Johnstoneville. “You’d think they would. After all, they do everything else. They should stop pretending we don’t know and move in.”

“I heard,” said Sandy Monteverdi to Joe Devon, “that they were having an affair long before their spouses died. I’m not surprised, judging from the way they carry on these days.”

“It’s unbelievable! Unbelievable!” said Carmel Cranford to Tessa London. “They have their grandchildren come to stay and I heard that Marcel and Monique spend all their time otherwise engaged. Unbelievable!”

“Enough is enough!” declared Monique to Marcel. “Let’s add fuel to the fire. Let’s go away together in the same car to some fancy resort somewhere and leave them to chatter.”

And they did! Off they trundled ostentatiously in the car.

While they were away the nearby volcano erupted and utterly decimated the village. It was like a modern Pompeii. The whole gaggle of gossipers was gone. Of course, Monique and Marcel were safe. But there was no one left to announce their engagement to.

1875. The old woodshed

My late husband made this woodshed many, many years ago. It was very handy, not just for the wood, but I used to pot my house plants in there as well. My husband was very patient; he didn’t mind if I made a mess with the potting mix.

Of course the woodshed has other memories too. It was where my nephew Bartholomew accidentally injured his hand while cutting up kindling to start a fire. And it was where Virgil, a ward of the State we were looking after for the summer, set fire to a pile of old newspapers and just about burnt the whole place down. Thank goodness almost everything was made of corrugated iron. And then there was the time we caught a rat in the rat trap cage and Rocky – that was my husband – was away at a work weekend and I was too scared to go near the rat cage because of the rat. So the poor thing had to stay in the cage for several days. I kept throwing a jug of water on the cage thinking if it got thirsty it could lick the droplets off the cage wire.

So now, years later, I’ve had the shed bulldozed over. It wasn’t a bulldozer; it was a big tractor with huge fork-prong things in the front. The workmen were busy on the road that goes past my house, so I went out and put my hand up in the air for the tractor to stop when I saw it coming. I said, “Look, I’m an eighty-five year old widow and I have this woodshed that I don’t use anymore because I have a heat pump, and it’s starting to get dangerous. Every time there’s a gale I think it’s going to blow over into the house. I was wondering if you could drive the tractor onto my property and push the shed over.”

He said, “Of course lady. That’s no trouble and will only take a minute. The boss doesn’t need to know.”

So he drove the tractor into the wood shed and pushed it over like it was a pile of dead leaves. I was very grateful, and then he drove off.

I was wondering; what is an eighty-five year old widow meant to do with a huge amount of corrugated iron? It’s lying all over the place and the next wind it’s going to kick up bobsy-dye.

1864. An unsolved murder

The murder of Octavius Snickenbough was in all the papers. It was in all the papers not because it was a murder (goodness knows, murders are so common these days they could hardly be considered newsworthy) but because of who Octavius Snickenbough was.

Octavius Snickenbough was the local vicar who, despite having being married to a lovely wife for many a year, had singlehandedly fathered three children on the one night, all born in the same local maternity hospital on the same day, and all registered by different mothers with the information on the father recorded as “Octavius Snickenbough, Vicar”.

It had turned Octavius overnight, on the one hand, into a folk hero, and on the other hand, into a fiend. And now, several weeks after the births his body was discovered lying murdered in the sands of the local beach. The beach was in a sheltered bay and most popular over the summer months. The sand was a mass of hundreds of footprints going in all directions, so the murderer’s footprints going to and from the body were indecipherable.

Clearly, Octavius Snickenbough had been chopped to death by a tomahawk. In fact, it was patently obvious because a tomahawk, the kind used to split firewood kindling, was still protruding from the crown of his head.

Naturally, the three mothers of the three new-borns were questioned by the police, as indeed was Octavius’s wife. None could offer any information that caste the slightest light on the situation.

This all happened several months ago, and the police are no closer to solving the mystery and making an arrest. The closed beach has subsequently reopened, and parishioners seem to rejoice in the appointment of the new vicar whose homilies are considerably shorter than those once offered by the late Reverend Octavius Snickenbough. Rather fortuitously, the new vicar has his own house, so Mrs. Snickenbough is more than welcome to continue to live in the old vicarage. After all, why should it remain empty when it is warm and welcoming, and suitable enough for a lone widow to live comfortably? The potbellied stove in the kitchen is a little old-fashioned but Mrs. Snickenbough doesn’t mind that – once she gets a new tomahawk to split the kindling.

1827. A dear husband’s passing

John always ate like a pig. He’d stuff food in his mouth and swallow it with barely a chew. That’s why after forty-two years of marriage Bernadine wasn’t the slightest bit sad when he choked to death on a pork sausage.

Don’t get the wrong idea. Bernadine mourned his passing. Her sobs at the funeral practically drowned out the droning of the vicar. At the graveside they had to hold her back from throwing herself into the hole. At the attorney’s office where the will was publicly read, Bernadine became hysterical with anguish. As one of her friends remarked to another of her friends, “It’s exhausting being around Bernadine these days as she becomes the living embodiment of grief.”

On the evening of the day of the funeral Bernadine nonchalantly dropped a delectable-looking pie into the trash. “Saved by the seat of my trousers,” she thought. “I just hope the pie doesn’t poison too many rats in the town landfill.”

1524: Funeral arrangements

The cold, hard reality was that Amelia had nothing to wear. Now was hardly the appropriate time to go shopping for clothes. It was her own fault. She had been given a good six months to think ahead, during her husband’s final illness, and now that George had passed on she still had nothing fitting to wear to his funeral.

It’s not exactly true that she had been remiss in looking ahead. She had purchased a beautiful outfit. Black. The matching hat had black lace to hide her reddened mourning eyes. The dress looked fabulous once the jade and diamond brooch had been brought out of its bank vault to see the light of day; a green and dazzling piece of jewellery that was unspeakably beautiful against the black fabric.

Unfortunately Amelia had worn that ensemble to Fiona’s husband’s funeral three weeks earlier. Amelia wouldn’t be seen dead in the same outfit twice. It was most inconsiderate of Fiona’s husband to drop off just a few weeks prior to her George.

There was only one thing for it; in the closet, Amelia had a stunning floral frock. It verged on the outrageous; it was brash, garish, loud. She had bought it to upstage everyone at her daughter’s wedding but the wedding had most fortunately been cancelled. A despicable man; and not at all good-looking.

Yes! The floral dress was the answer. Amelia hastily penned a note for the newspaper’s funeral announcement: For his funeral George requested that we wear something bright.

1496. Averill’s late husband’s wallet

Averill was described as “a petite little thing” but she had a will of steel. Once something got into her head there was no letting go. It was this bloody-mindedness that made her determined to find her late husband’s wallet.

She had gone through all the cupboards, all the drawers, even the laundry pile. She had looked under the seats in the car. She looked beneath the furniture and down the back of the sofa cushions. All to no avail.

It was now almost fourteen years since her husband had passed away. She had long forgotten about the wallet.

And then she remembered; for no reason at all she remembered. The wallet was in the back pocket of his trousers. He would still have them on. He was wearing them when she had shoved his body into the freezer after she shot him.

1484. Good grief

Lucy and Harry had some lovely everyday things. It’s not that they were super rich. They weren’t. But over forty years or so they had collected some lovely household things.

The dinner set was getting on to be thirty-five years old. They had selected it together over a period of five days, um-ing and ah-ing over dinnerware patterns. In the end, the pattern they selected was perfect; not too ornate or extravagant but just right. They had several lovely sets of crystal glasses. Of course, one or two of each set had broken over the years, but the remaining ones still sparkled. Then there was Harry’s collection of beer mugs. There were over eighty mugs. Through the years Harry’s beer mug collection had been a lifesaver when wondering what to get him for Christmas, what to get him for his birthday. Then there were ornaments on shelves around the house. Some books and trinkets, even some wooden carvings they had picked up while on a trip to Fiji.

So many things in the house! So many memories!

And then Harry died.

Life wasn’t so easy for Lucy after that. She had to watch the pennies. In fact, to make ends meet she pawned the occasional household item. The dinner set for example fetched enough to take care of a few weeks’ rent. Harry’s collection of beer mugs fetched a handsome price. All in all, such things helped Lucy to survive until the financial complications that set in after Harry’s death were sorted out. At last things were back on an even keel.

How Lucy wished she hadn’t parted with such items of memory. Yet still, they had been her survival.

With a little more spending flexibility, Lucy began to purchase a few replacements over time. She bought new dinnerware. Oh the freedom of it! She didn’t have to compromise! She could buy the pattern she most liked. Here and there she could purchase the occasional little treat – a new picture in the dining room, for example, of a plump monk wine-tasting next to a winery vat. It was ideal, but she couldn’t help but think that Harry would not have liked it: too religious he would have said. Lucy loved it.

So it was that Lucy still missed Harry, but she had discovered a new sense of freedom. A new sense of choice! A new independence!

And then she met Archibald. How things can change in a week.

1314. The black of grief

Once Bernadette had decided to murder her husband she planned it meticulously. In fact, it was rather fun. Detailed planning was Bernadette’s forte. Her husband, Wilfred, was on medication. An overdose would do the trick. The most difficult part was the grief following his inexplicable suicide. Fortunately, Bernadette was a born actress. She had brought only a small lace handkerchief to the funeral and had to borrow Malcolm’s large cotton hankie. Those in the back pew of the church could hear the sobs coming from the front pew. Such a sad funeral.

Bernadette wore black for two months, that is, until she married Malcolm. They had a wonderful seven years together. I see Bernadette’s wearing black again.