The dishwasher was full. Water swooshed through it and it began to vibrate and rumble merrily to itself in the corner. There was still a lot of clearing up to do. Serves me right for cooking so many courses, Amanda scolded herself.
She ran the hot water tap and squirted a generous dollop of washing-up liquid into the bowl. Humming to herself, she set to scrubbing the larger pots and trays. Gravy and grease merged with the water forming a film among the suds. Amanda wiped the back of her rubber glove across her forehead, leaving a cluster of bubbles on her brow.
It had been worth it, she decided. The hours of preparation, the care she had taken – she had approached the dinner like a military operation. The guests, ten minutes late, had almost thrown everything into chaos but Amanda, thinking ahead, had allowed herself a few minutes for such eventualities.
They had brought wine. Just one bottle and they’d polished off most of that between them. Not that Amanda was much of a drinker; she’d needed her wits about her. They’d left their dog at home. Amanda decided this was probably for the best although the mutt was the main reason she’d invited the Joneses over in the first place.
“Let’s get this out of the way first,” Amanda had begun when their glasses were full. “Your Henry. I’m sure he’s perfectly lovely when you get to know him. But it’s the barking in the middle of the night. I’m surprised you don’t hear it. And it’s not just that. It’s the little, ah, presents he leaves right in the middle of my front doorstep. No, I’m sure it’s him. I’ve seen him doing it.”
Mr and Mrs Jones couldn’t have looked more shocked if Amanda had smacked them both in the face. They assured her they would try to keep him quiet and to curb his, ah, gift-giving.
After that, the meal had gone really well. The mushroom soup. The roast leg joint. The sorbet. The cheese board.
At about ten pm, Mr and Mrs Jones both keeled over, face down on their place mats when the drugs in the soup took effect. Donning a plastic suit, Amanda fired up her chainsaw and set to work. The freezer was soon full with dismembered neighbours.
That’s the leg joint replaced, she thought. It was the last of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who had disturbed her viewing of Britain’s Got Talent last month.
Cut up small, the Joneses would fit through their own letterbox. That should keep Henry going for a while. The best of the meat Amanda would keep to one side. That awful Mrs Bannister across the way was forever lighting fires in her garden when Amanda put her washing out to dry. But a nice friendly dinner invitation would sort out that little unpleasantness.
Mrs Bannister, she’d say, I have a bone to pick with you.