by G.S. Wiley
“‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’”
“I’m sorry?” Emma set the tray beside her husband. The wine, a rich claret, glowed like rubies through the cut crystal.
Neville tossed aside a priceless first edition as if he were discarding a day-old newspaper. “Hemingway. The shortest story ever written. I wouldn’t expect an illiterate clod like you to know it.” Malice was ever-present in his piggy eyes.
When they first married, Neville was a loving husband and a devoted son-in-law. Everything changed when Emma’s father died. Once his inheritance was secure, Neville allowed his true personality to show. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
“Is this Brie?”
That was the wrong answer. Neville overturned the tray, sending cheese and crackers across the floor. He kept the wineglass. “Get someone to clean that up.”
In happier days, Tarnisham Manor had been the site of parties and hunts that lasted for days. Gradually, Neville’s behaviour drove everyone away. Even Emma’s childhood best friend Dr. Jeremy Prescott only telephoned periodically to ask if “that miserable bastard is still alive.”
“And send in that new maid,” Neville called. “Doris. It’s time she made my acquaintance.” He swigged from the glass. Wine dribbled down his chin and onto his shirtfront.
As Emma left the library, she heard a gasp, followed by a desperate choking. Good. She’d received the little green bottle from Jeremy months ago; she worried the contents might have deteriorated with time.
“Vanished: One bastard, never missed.” Emma picked up the telephone and dialled.