The television was blaring out his favourite hymn on ‘Songs of Praise,’ but George did not sing along in his nasal, baritone, Welsh voice as was his usual habit. Despite the December chill in the living room, he was wearing only a neatly ironed shirt and grey trousers, the colours from the television dancing on the lenses of his spectacles. For a man in his seventies, he was a handsome, bullish man, priding himself on weighing the same as on the day of his wedding to Nancy, fifty years previously. Working on his allotment since retirement had kept him in trim, his willpower strengthened by a career in the army, helping him to resist the temptation of over eating, but he enjoyed whiskies rather too much. His silver hair looked more dishevelled than usual, still thick and wavy, longer than when he was an army sergeant. It was due for a trim, as Nancy preferred it freshly cut, not that her opinion had ever mattered. Five weeks previously, she had run off with Mr Toop, the newsagent. If she had been silly enough to write one, her farewell letter sitting on the mantelpiece would have blamed George’s paranoid jealousy and cruel, unfounded accusations of infidelity for her desertion. Before she fled, the young, married couple next door had often heard George ranting, accompanied by the crashing of furniture as he threw it about whilst obscenely bellowing at his timid, grey mouse of a wife, accusing her of cheating with any male whose name entered his drink-addled brain.
‘I can’t stand that bullying old git,’ Sheila said to her fiancé, Brian, as they devoured their Chinese takeaway on their knees in their modern lounge, graced by its gaudy Christmas tree. ‘George is always way too friendly to me. Last summer, he persistently stuck his head over the fence whenever I was sun bathing, bothering me with unwanted advice on gardening. The letch gives me the creeps. I’d love to give him a piece of my mind for terrorising his poor wife. I mean, have you seen her? She’s hardly a femme fatale.’
‘I know,’ Brian replied, ‘I’ve even put a glass to the wall to listen, just to check the two-faced, old bastard isn’t injuring her. Oddly, I’ve noticed there’s been no shouting and thumping about next door for a few weeks.’
‘The deaf, old codgers’ television is still blaring at all hours,’ Sheila replied. ‘By the way, please can you look at the drains sometime, Bri? There’s a strange smell coming from somewhere.’
‘I get all the great jobs, don’t I?’ Brian moaned, heading off to do her bidding.
Oblivious to the biting cold, George remained sitting in the gloom, slightly slumped in his recliner. He never stirred when groups of merry carol singers rang his front door bell. How could he answer the door, when his head had been caved in by a heavy iron wielded by his desperate, wild-eyed wife before she fled to seek happiness in the scrawny arms of Mr Toop?