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Jane Thought She had Found Mr Right

                        by Gerry McKendry

Jane thought she had found Mr Wright, a published author, good-looking, suave, and actually called Mr Wright! Not believing in love at first sight, she astonished herself by falling head over heels....at first sight. The fact that he appeared to reciprocate, brought her joy unconfined. They became the 'perfect couple' from day one. The envy of all her friends, she almost paraded George like a trophy. So much in love, it seemed that everyday experiences took on a magical tint, and, after a whirlwind romance they married.


    The honeymoon was idyllic, it had of course to be romantic Paris. They saw all the sights, and George insisted on Jane having her portrait painted by one of the Left Bank artists, and when they visited the Louvre he told her she was more beautiful than any masterpiece there. He was charming with the staff in their hotel and the waiters in the many fine restaurants they frequented. Just a small niggle. It seemed to Jane that George made sure everyone knew he was a 'professional author'. She teased him about it and thought she saw behind his forced laugh just a suggestion of irritation or anger. All in all however, she was still on cloud nine, and looked forward to a carefree future. A few weeks back home and reality raised its ugly head, royalties from George's book were beginning to thin out alarmingly, and the rather ostentatious flat in Mayfair would not pay for itself.


    George had insisted that his latest idea for a new book would bring them a fortune when it became an international best seller. Meanwhile it would be up to Jane to bring home the  tofu, (after watching a documentary on the new giant 3D Plasma TV, George had become a vegan). This was just one of a series of short-termed fads that Jane's new hubby toyed with. In fact, it seemed to Jane recently, that George spent his days thinking of new ways to spend more money on his latest whims. His increasingly extravagant lifestyle was putting some strain on their relationship, but she still loved him. When the new book was finished, things would surely revert to bliss.


  It was however around this time, that other cracks began to appear in their Eden. George announced that he had stopped smoking, bringing on mood swings of frightening ferocity.

The non-smoking fad lasted only days, but sadly the moods remained. Next he engaged an au pair 'to ease the burden on Jane' as he was too busy with his book to look after the household while Jane was at work. An argument ensued over yet another unnecessary expense, but George talked her round. The new book was almost finished, and all monetary problems would be solved.


   At the end of the first week with au pair Helga, George announce he was on a diet. Special foods had to be purchased, and a gym membership obtained. Jane was offered extra responsibilities bringing in more money but requiring some evening work. She accepted, with the proviso that it would be temporary. The diet was of George's design, but one evening when Jane witnessed him putting three heaped spoonfuls of sugar in his bedtime drink, she comically tutted. George's response was one of bellicose rage. He blamed her for the temptation of having sugar in the flat, as only he used it. He then announced dramatically, that he would never touch sugar again. Jane bought him a variety of sweeteners, but he rejected them all as having an after-taste.


   Jane assumed the mood swings, now more often than not swinging to the belligerent, were only a result of his frustration regarding his new novel. She told herself that the bed of roses had only been put aside and would return on the book's completion. However the months following proved her wrong. He became unapproachable, and his expensive fads knew no bounds. Thing were getting serious, the debt they were running up would take some sorting out. Another crisis meeting was arranged. George was his usual abrupt, dismissive self, admonishing Jane for worrying about 'temporary' setbacks. At her suggestion that they could no longer afford Helga, George blew up. He said he couldn't work in an untidy house and would not be convinced to let the au pair go. Then came the bombshell. He announced he was scrapping his novel as 'it was going nowhere'. He had however one or two vague ideas that he was about to work on and soon they would be 'rich as a king' George said that one of the problems with his writer's block was his isolation, and 'a few day at his club' would stimulate him again. Staying at the expensive club turned out to be an increasingly regular event and his drinking did nothing to temper his moods, temper being the appropriate word.


    Red letter demands were arriving daily, and Jane was beginning to come apart. Divorce was out of the question, George had religious objections, and anyway Jane would find it difficult to come up with grounds. That was until she discovered that a 'seminar' weekend coincided with Helga's visit to her family. On checking with the hotel, Jane confirmed that 'Mr and Mrs Wright had booked a double room. The final straw! He would have to go. She did not have the confidence to go to court, so when she determined he would have to go... he would have to go. Soon a plan began to form in her mind.


    She had inherited an allotment that she had visited a few times and then lost interest. It had become neglected and overgrown. “The plot thickens” she thought in a rare comedic moment. It did however still contain remnants of old-fashioned garden chemicals, some of them lethal. In fact she had read somewhere that one of the chemicals grew more lethal the longer it was stored, and it had been stored for a pleasingly long time. A little internet research told her that an hour after someone had ingested the sweet powder, they became lethargic, and fell into a deep sleep and never wakened. But how to administer without leaving a signature?


    A brilliant idea struck Jane, and it would have a touch of irony. It took a little planning, and depended on two of Georges least appealing traits. It also relied on George's insistence that Helga went home for a few weeks every year. It surely would be suspicious if she stayed with George all year round.


    Thankfully George was a creature of habit and almost every day he would lock himself in his home office and during his largely unproductive day, drink several cups of strong coffee. He would of course add three sugars to each cup.


    Helga supplied him with small sticks of sugar like the ones used in a café and having emptied the contents into his coffee, George would meticulously dispose of the evidence having previously affirmed he would never use sugar again. Jane was well aware of this subterfuge, and having suspected George was doing something underhand, she decided to check his room while he was at his club. She had found his secret stash of sugar packets behind some old books on a shelf. She did not inform George of her discovery and was amused that he had taken to burning the empty packets in his ashtray, hiding the evidence in his cigarette and cigar ash. The lethal plan took several months to come to fruition. Time enough for Jane to establish a pattern of regularly visiting her 'sick' Mother in Inverness. A nocturnal visit to the allotment where she availed herself of just enough of the powder to do the job.


    As her plans came nearer to fruition, Jane began to have second thoughts. Murder after all was a huge step and rather final. She made a determined effort to rekindle the flames of her failing marriage. If she could only recapture something of the old George she felt she could save the union and with care and patience return to some semblance of harmony. It was of no avail. Things had become irretrievably bad. George's drinking had got worse, his flirting with an openly receptive Helga showed Jane how little respect the pair had for her. There was no alternative, it was just a matter of when. Then one week in September an opportunity presented itself. It seemed that Helga was going home for a fortnight and George was starting yet another 'masterpiece', the details of which were very hush hush.


    Jane's 'sick mum' took a turn for the worse. It was fairly easy for Jane to sneak into George's study while he was out at the club. She removed the old books, emptied three of the sticks of sugar, mixed in the poison, filled the packets up, folded the top down, and it was done. Jane was relying on George's personality even with his current disdain for her, he would still want to show he was a man of his word. He would try to keep the existence of the sugar a secret. One he would now no doubt take to his grave. It remained only to put the plan into action. Jane's mother did indeed live in Inverness but was, as always, hale and hearty. A visit was nonetheless arranged, 'unfortunately' clashing with Helga's absence. As she gave George a perfunctory kiss on the station platform, Jane silently prayed that George, a creature of habit would unwittingly follow the plan. After all if something untoward happened to George, like taking his own life this week, Inverness was a long way away.

   

Ten days later she arrived at Waterloo railway station, and was pleased to see that George was not waiting to meet her. So far so good. The journey from the station was a very nervous one. How would she, should she react? The flat was silent when she turned her key in the lock. It was warm as the central heating seemed to be on full. Jane gritted her teeth as she opened the study door. George dead or alive was nowhere to be seen. There was however a note which read “ I have gone off with Helga for a better life, I am a new man with her and in this past week we became aware that we were meant to be together. I have even given up smoking and drinking and gone on a genuine diet.


    "Oh! by the way I have just sold the film rights for my first almost forgotten book, so I think Helga and I will be very comfortable.... I hope you can manage the rent.