by Jan Cooper
She made the decision to kill her husband during the annual neighborhood BBQ. The day began well enough, with the sun shining in the crisp blue sky. Summer came fast and bright that year and the Banks Place BBQ was planned well in advance.
Sheila heard the raucous laughter of the men as they stood around Kent’s modern new BBQ. They admired the style and the “deal” he got it with. She crossed her arms in disgust. Even knowing she allotted the money for a new dishwasher, he still went out and purchased the set. A shriek from around the pool captured her attention. She turned and shaded her eyes to see what all the commotion was about. Monica, the new neighbor, was playing around, trying not to get thrown into the water. She wore an indecent bathing suit that revealed her lack of modesty. Sheila rolled her eyes and turned around, only to see Kent watching the action. The expression on his face gave her pause and she turned back to look at Monica and then to Kent. He held the skewer prong with a burnt hotdog on the end. Completely engrossed by the sexy young neighbor, he didn’t notice Sheila watching him. Someone shouted about the hotdog and he turned back to cooking. Sheila felt the flush move up her body. His interest had not gone unnoticed and she saw the other women of the neighborhood glance her way and then whisper, heads close to each other. She pasted a smile on her face and headed over to the cluster of gossiping women. They would all regret talking about her. And Kent? He was going to pay the highest price of all.
After diffusing the gossip, she went into the kitchen and gripped the sink so hard, her knuckles turned white. Sheila watched as Kent made his way to Monica, a slow meander that ended up being more obvious in its very casualness. She took an unsteady breath and looked away, unable to watch them flirt. Her eyes flitted around the kitchen, not able to focus on anything, until she saw it. The answer to her problem. Smiling, she picked up the box of rat poison. She held it in her hand and after a thoughtful moment, she put it away. Rat poison was such a cliché. There had to be something else. Outside, Kent showed Monica the new appliance by helping her wipe it down with a cleaning rag. His hands covered Monica’s as he leaned in to “help”. Hate solidified in her heart and she headed to the back room where she had been repairing some furniture. She picked up the can of turpentine next to her cleaning rags. A quick switch of turpentine for cleaning solvent and no one would be the wiser. Wiping her hands clean, she pushed her shoulders back, held her head high and headed back to the party carrying a platter of canapés.
After the party ended and the neighbors finally went home, Sheila gathered the dirty dishes and carried them inside where Kent was mixing her regular evening martini. He handed her the drink. She accepted and took an appreciative swallow. The cleanser bottle was on the counter and she gave it to him. Kent leaned in and kissed her on the cheek before heading out.
Sipping the drink, she thought about the kiss. Maybe the affair was just her imagination. She started to doubt her decision. After another long drink and she started to yell to Kent to stop, when she noticed the rat poison on the counter. She looked at her drink and then toward Kent who turned and winked at her just as he poured the cleaner onto the still hot grill.