'It's just odd jobs, really,' said Sandra as she sat, interviewing the man for the job. 'Keeping the garden nice, maintaining the building, helping out with routine jobs.'
Paul sat, attentively. Summer was approaching and this seemed the ideal job to take him through to October and the new university term. He'd tried the more commercial resorts for work last year, but yearned for a quieter summer; and this quiet boarding house in a sleepy village surrounded by more rustic tourist attractions seemed perfect. This, he decided, was a place he could really relax.
'Well I'd love to work here,' he said, satisfied.
'Okay,' said Sandra, a heavily built woman of twenty five with short, brown hair, 'if my partner agrees, you got the job.'
Jessica came in then from the shops. As pretty as Sandra was plain, as feminine as Sandra was not, she scrutinised Paul, eventually nodding in the affirmative. Paul, it seemed, had got the job. He started the next day, moving in to one of the attic bed- rooms, soon deciding he could spend the rest of his life in this place. And not just for the tranquility. For as he conversed with Jessica he soon realised a chemistry existed between the two of them. He would work hard all day, and in the evening, sat in the small, private sitting room, he and Jessica would talk, with the occasional interruption from Sandra as she busied herself on the evening shift. Yet the tranquility was clearly not felt by Sandra.
'I think we made a mistake,' she said one day to Jessica. 'He doesn't work that well, and I find him rather threatening.'
Jessica smiled. 'I disagree. I like him; and I think he's perfect for this place.'
Sandra and Jessica had always worked well. Knowing each other from school, they had been the best of friends for most of their life. Both from reserved families, life had hardly intruded upon their relationship. Perhaps that was why they had managed to maintain such an ideal friendship, free of men and free of deeper emotion.
However, upon Sandra's third insistence that Paul should go, Jessica had had enough. 'What is it with you?' she asked. 'Are you jealous or something?'
Sandra went off in a huff, whilst Jessica found solace in Paul. 'She doesn't like you,' she said. Paul sat on the settee, unconcerned. 'Has she ever had a boyfriend?' he asked.
Jessica shook her head. 'No,' she said, smiling. 'And neither have I.’
Paul smiled, moved towards her, stroked her hair, kissed. When Sandra returned, the two lovers were in bed, having rode a new wave of ecstasy and were sated. Wandering through the house, she reached despair when she could find neither of them. She guessed what had happened; what she had allowed to take place. It left a void in Sandra's heart and a vision of eternal loneliness.
Slowly, deliberately, she walked upstairs and opened Jessica's bedroom door. She found them there, entwined and naked.
Jessica looked up and felt guilt. The feeling was new, as if her recent experience had released a new understanding of passion. Her heart sank as she saw the hurt on Sandra's face. 'I'm sorry,' she said, feeling somehow dirty.
Sandra was expressionless, as if an automaton. What she now had to do was ordained. She raised the carving knife high above her head and brought it down mercilessly. Paul tried to move out of the way, but Jessica had placed a pillow over his head and held him down. Together they existed in a sea of blood and in the morning prepared breakfast for their guests in a new spirit of happiness.
(c) Anthony North, 1994
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