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The Scrivener: The Hole In The Hedge

...Pam and Pete are happy in their new home. Then Felicity, the woman next door starts to take an interest in Pete. She is always out there when Pete is weeding and digging…

Brian Barratt tells a startling tale.

For more of Brian’s ebullient words please click on The Scrivener in the menu on this page. And you are cordially welcomed to visit his Web site www.alphalink.com.au/~umbidas

The place needed a bit of paint and the garden was a jungle. OK, they needed a new fence, too. Apart from that, Pam and Pete were happy with their new home. At least it enabled them to be independent.

'It'll be fine until we can afford a bigger place,' Pete commented. He shoved his muddy shoe into the undergrowth, wondering which clump of weeds to pull out next.

Pam had come outside to take a break from painting the kitchen cupboards. She grinned, wiping her hands on her overall.

'And until we start our family,' Pete added.

'When we're both ready.' Pam grabbed him round the waist, pulling him close. The tips of their noses met with a tickle. Their lips came together just as they had done for their very first kiss, eager, moist and passionate.

'Halloo! How are you settling in?' The raucous voice, with its affected European accent, came through a gap in the two-metre tall hedge. It was their neighbour, Felicity Archer. Pam's smile turned to a grimace. They had welcomed Felicity and her cups of coffee when they first moved in, but she did seem to spend a lot of time watching their efforts to get the place tidied up.

Pete pulled his face away from Pam's, like a schoolboy caught while doing something naughty, and turned towards Felicity.

'Oh, fine thanks. Plenty to do. Pete made a show of thrusting his spade into what was once a flower bed. 'Still a long way to go, though.' Pam made hasty apologies about being busy, and went back indoors to continue her painting.

Felicity put on her I do understand smile as she watched Pam retreat, and returned her gaze to Pete. He was stripped to the waist. The belt of his jeans hung loosely on his hips, below his fluff crowned navel. Felicity's expression changed as her eyes feasted on his taut muscular torso, gleaming with perspiration. Aware of her interest, he managed to mumble, 'I'd better get on with this digging'. She gave him another once-over before she pouted her lips with intent, and disappeared from the gap in the hedge.

'I don't like that woman,' Pam said, when they settled down for the evening. 'She seems to be more interested in you than in our garden. Who is she, anyway?'

'Oh, I think she used to be something big in the theatre. That's where she gets her accent from. She had some sort of bust up with her husband. He disappeared.'

'Disappeared?' Pam looked at him quizzically. 'He probably ran away. How any anyone could live with her, I've no idea.'

'I think the papers said he'd gone to Hollywood to be discovered.' He pecked her reassuringly on the cheek and added, 'You needn't be jealous, you know.'

As the weeks went by, the garden took shape, and Felicity continued to appear in the hedge to watch progress and offer advice. She was very keen on the idea of Pete building a small patio against the hole in the hedge. Pam noticed how eagerly she offered to help, even laying out a few bricks to mark the perimeter.

Felicity's own garden was still a jungle. Dammit, thought Pam, she's always out there when my Pete is digging and weeding. She can't take her eyes off him. I don't like it. I don't like it at all.

She was alarmed when she heard Pete agree to work on Felicity's side of the hedge. She would like a small brick patio, too. Warning bells started ringing in Pam's head.

'My dear late husband was never interested in the garden. I tried to encourage him, but he had so many other demands on his time, you know. He rarely performed with me.'

Pam wondered what sort of performances she had in mind. 'I'm so sorry,' she cooed, with contrived concern. 'We didn't realise that your husband had died.'

'Oh, he departed so suddenly.' Felicity clasped her arms to her ample bosom. 'I was so terribly fond of him, you know.' She switched on her appeal for sympathy face.

Pete was obviously fooled by this melodramatic widow, and let her help him to build that small brick patio on her side of the hedge. It'll give her another stage for her performances, thought Pam. Next thing, we'll have a love scene, and it won't be me in the starring role. She decided, as she had finished all the interior painting, she would lend a hand in the garden. And keep on eye on Pete. He was, after all, her own precious Pete.

Her real opportunity came when Felicity was called away, as she put it, to star in a play. She grandly announced that she was emerging from retirement to respond to her faithful public. They must be desperate, Pam thought.

Pam took to gardening in the evenings, telling Pete that she was planning a little surprise for all of them. She started weeding and digging on Felicity's side of the hedge. Pete was too preoccupied to notice that she was also carefully removing the bricks from the new patio.

The morning after Felicity's return from her public encore, she appeared at the hole in the hedge. She was so obviously pleased to see 'dear Peter' that she didn't notice the disturbed soil and bricks..

Pam wandered out, as casually as she could, carrying an old supermarket shopping bag. 'I discovered your little secret,' she announced grimly. An expression of schoolboy guilt shot through Pete's face. Pam fixed her glare on the neighbour.

'I was just digging around, and...' Felicity's theatrical façade crumbled as Pam took a brown, soiled, human skull from her plastic bag.

© Copyright Brian Barratt 2007


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