The (Last) Anniversary Waltz


Contemptuously, each gazes into the other’s face. Against an unconvincing grey-green sky, their unconvincing passion will play out in disdain. His greased hair drips black droplets onto his starched collar. “Darling”, she simpers through collagen lips, “you look so-oo handsome in black tie, just like James Bond”. A romantic gesture. To dance on the very spot where they had callously tipped her first husband into the sea. They had not estimated that without a body, she would have to wait five years to claim on the insurance. For five long excruciating years, they’d held their resolve via clichéd love tokens. A cigarette case, a gold watch, an old gramophone player. She lugged the darn thing, in heels, along the pier which was precariously wet. Anyone could slip if one of those rails came loose, as it had five years ago. He had got there early and waited in the rain. The image of her bare back when he’d stood behind her in seedy hotel rooms, winding her scarf through his fingers as he imagined tightening it around her neck, drifted though his mind as the sea gently splashed against the buttress. It was eerily calm now. He’d hung the sizeable umbrella on the railings and had chuckled surreptitiously when she folded her coat and placed it beside the umbrella. When the waltz was over, she’d turn that bony back to him to retrieve it. A single deft thwack with the umbrella would settle the matter and she’d be reunited with the old man. Her foot slid slowly towards the gramophone. A tap with her heel would put Englebert off the beat. He’d slip into that phony man-of-action chivalry and squat down, breathing something about the rarity of a genuine Hump then she’d snatch the gun from her handbag…


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