Jane was unable to turn onto the drive until the big red van pulled away. The driver honked in salutation as he sped away, the giant rubber rat on the van’s roof wobbling and quivering like an overexcited jelly.
Odd… Jane got out and locked the car. She found Brian in the kitchen attaching an invoice to the fridge with a magnet shaped like a slice of lemon.
“Trouble, love?” she asked.
“Looks like it,” Brian shrugged. “I’ll put the kettle on.”
While he made tea, he explained that since he’d been working more and more from home, he’d become aware of certain noises in the house. Sounds of movement and scratching around. In the end, it became so distracting he found he couldn’t concentrate on data entry or spreadsheets or anything and so he had called in an expert, an exterminator. The man had found nothing as yet but swore blind he had heard something, something large, moving about behind the walls.
“He’s put poison down; that should sort it,” Brian scooped sugar into his cup. “He’ll be back in a fortnight in case there’s any bodies to be disposed of.”
“Hmm,” said Jane. She sipped her tea. As usual when Brian made it, it was horrible. Her mind was racing. An idea flashed behind her eyes and she seized on it. “I could murder a biscuit,” she sighed, knowing full well the biscuit barrel was empty.
“You’re out of luck there,” laughed Brian.
“Oh, please, love,” Jane wheedled. “Pop down to the shop and get me some hobnobs. I’ve been on my feet all day.”
“I work too, you know,” Brian wagged a finger. “It’s not all daytime telly and scratching my belly, you know.”
After a couple of minutes of pleading, he relented, pulled on his anorak and, rolling his eyes, said he might even bring the chocolates ones if she was lucky.
As soon as the front door closed, Jane sprang into action. She went to the living room wall and rapped on it with her knuckles. She listened… The knock was returned from the other side. Jane stuck her head in the fireplace.
“You’ve got to go!” she hissed. “Brian’s got a man in; you’ll be discovered!”
“Bloody hell!” wailed a voice from beyond the brickwork. “What’s he doing working from home anyway? When are we going to have some time to ourselves?”
“Calm down, Colin!” Jane urged. “He’ll be back in a minute. Get your arse into gear and get the hell out. We’ve had a good run but now we’ll have to think of an alternative arrangement.”
“Six months I’ve been living here,” said Colin. “Six months of having it off with his wife, behind his back, under his nose.”
“Colin! Will you get a move on?” Jane cast a panicked look to the window. Brian could be back at any second…
“I’m starving, chick,” said Colin. “Make me a sandwich or pass me some biscuits, would you?”
“Brian’s gone to fetch the bloody biscuits, Colin! Get out of there now.”
“Oh, hold on. I’ve found something. Did you put this here? Hmm, nice… Bombay mix, is it?”
“Colin! What – no! Don’t eat anything, Colin! COLIN!”
At the window, Brian watched, a smirk stretched across his face. He phoned the exterminator.
“It’s worked,” he said. “And whatever’s on the invoice, I’ll pay double!”