Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Shared Grave: Two

This ordinary little bungalow in the county of Norfolk is so very typical of that county. Just another family home, divided into large rooms. Plebian? Perhaps. Ugly? Definitely, but in its little close, built hard by the site of the orchard which gave the close its name, it is like so many other bungalows, a testimony to mediocrity.

And it is the home of Mr. Eric Abbs and his wife, Dora. Eric is a builder, self-employed now, although once he was a day-labourer, travelling around the county, building homes a lot like the one he lives in. He's come a long way since dropping out of school at sixteen. And he ought to be content.

In fact, he would be content if it wasn't for what he now believes was a mistake. His marriage, five years ago, to Dora. College-educated Dora, who gave up a great career because of her love for him - a fact she never tires of making known. In spite of Abbs' rise from the bottom, she's not satisfied. She could have lived in a big house in the suburbs, she tells him, adding that she's a cut above the trashy young wives of Abbs' friends.

Once a trophy, now she has become an albatross.

And, when Eric's business begins to fail, she becomes insufferable, telling him that she's wasted her life on him, and how she's got half a mind to divorce him -to get some money out of him while she can. She will break him. Now the arguments become prolonged, even violent.

One day - or rather night - it happens. Dora wants him to clear the bathroom. She comes out to the garage, where Abbs is working. Soon, she's screaming at him, telling him she'll definitely leave him. At last Eric can stand it no longer. He lashes out at her.

With a heavy claw-hammer.

Dora's skull cracks like an eggshell. She's dead by the time Eric gets round to checking her pulse.

After one in the morning, a man carring a bundle wrapped in black plastic hurries out to the churchyard. Eric finds the grave, freshly filled. He hurries back home and gets a shovel, along with more bin bags. By the time the sun rises, the grave is fuller than before. And no trace remains of the murder.

Except in the mind of Eric Abbs. Soon afterwards, Eric's business fails and he leaves the country for Australia. Dora remains where she is,. And there she will stay for twenty years.

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