It wasn’t all about the mushy stuff. The cards, the roses, the poetry, meant nothing if you weren’t sincere. He knew many people whose love was only for show. Did he buy her flowers every week? Not at all. Did he profess his undying love for her in front of all their family and friends? Probably never. Holding hands and other public shows of affection was something that he never did, but no matter. He knew that this wasn’t what it was all about. He was being thoughtful. Even if it seemed stupid to other people, it meant something.
The garden was looking lovely, it had taken him all day to get it the way she would have wanted. He was proud of how level the patio was. He had tidied up the house and run her a bubble bath. He had set out a thick, fluffy towel and her favourite silk pyjamas. The Bose system was waiting outside the bathroom with a CD of ‘Equinox.’ He hated Jean-Michel Jarre. He had poured a glass of white wine and left it in the fridge so that it didn’t warm up. He would wait until he heard her feet in the driveway and rush through and have it in his hands when she opened the door. There were Twiglets sitting in a dish on the arm of her chair for her to nibble. This was another expression of his thoughtfulness, they were only for her, he hated Twiglets. The fresh made pizza was sitting on the worktop and the oven was heated. He had made a trifle and that was chilling in the fridge.
She was having trouble with the babysitter so he had dealt with that. There would be no need for any embarrassing silences or confrontations. It was all sorted. She really was too shy and didn’t realise that she was the employer. And as for the kids, he had made sure that they were out the way. This night was only for the two of them. He wanted to emphasise to her that no matter what, life was all about them. His previous marriage was dead. The kids would come and go and eventually they would only have each other. He wanted her to know that this didn’t worry or scare him in any way, he was looking forward to it. Of course he loved those around him, he loved the kids but they had to be realistic, one day it would be back to the beginning. He wanted her to know that she could rely on him. That he was there for her and no matter what, she was his world.
He heard the footsteps. He ran to the fridge and took out the wine. She opened the door and he was standing there with a huge grin on his face. She gave him a small kiss on the lips and then took a large gulp of wine.
“Bath, wine, pizza, pudding and just you and me!!”
Rose smiled and kissed him deeply.
The loud click interrupted his thoughts and brought him back. He stared at the eyes, then turned to face the wall. Another click and a rattle of keys. He could work for half an hour.
Fred reached under his blankets and brought out the clothes that he had hidden. He began to knot them together.
Lunch time tomorrow. They’ll be busy then.
He wondered what everyone would think. He believed that they would blame his conscience. That was wrong! Fred missed Rose and the romance of Cromwell Street.
‘Frederick West, the man charged with twelve murders in what has become known as the “House of Horror” case, was found hanged in his jail cell yesterday. He apparently managed to kill himself despite being under close supervision by prison staff…’
James Cusick – The Independent.
Monday 2nd January 1995