‘Clichés?’ he mocked. ‘They’re like a red rag to a bull to you. If there’s one thing that gets your goat, it’s a cliché.’
She never reacted to the cruelty in his humour. Rolling over, she pulled the pillow tight on her ear. It muffled his voice but she still heard every word.
‘Cat got your tongue?’ He was nudging her back. ‘Silence is golden? What can’t speak can’t lie?’
She knew what was needed and could delay no longer. In the darkness, she raised herself on one arm, pulled open the drawer of the bedside table and felt under the neatly folded underwear for cold hard metal. She took out, one by one, four pairs of handcuffs.
‘Naughty but nice’ he taunted. ‘Birds of a feather flock together. It takes one to know one. You know you want it’
She would say nothing. She took his right arm and fastened it at the elbow to the top of the bed. Then reached across him to fasten the other, his breath on her skin.
‘Look Ma, no hands.’ he said wriggling his toes.
‘Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide’ he continued as she slid seductively down the bed to cuff his ankles to the frame.
Sitting silently beside him, she switched on the lamp.
‘Throw some light on the subject? Let the dog see the rabbit?’
As she pulled the blindfold over his eyes, excitement mounted in his voice:
‘See no evil; speak no evil?’
It was usually a relief to put tape over his mouth but this time, she wanted to hear. She connected a cable to the metal bed-frame, plugged it in the socket and flicked the switch. More power to your elbow she thought as his body shook. Violent convulsions moved through every muscle and she remembered ‘What goes around comes around’. It seemed he had nothing to say to her now. He just made lots of noise, for a while. Then he was still.
In the weeks that followed, she spoke only to confirm her name and address. She said nothing more till the day of the trial and then it was only two words:
She slumped in the dock, her head inclined with her eyes out of focus. She was only half listening to what was said but she knew they were thinking 'no smoke without fire'.
‘She kept herself to herself’ she heard one neighbour say.
‘You’d think butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.’ said another. ‘They say it’s the quiet ones’ she’d added with venom.
The deliberations were quick, the evidence overwhelming, the verdict expected:
‘You have been found guilty of pre-meditated murder. Do you have anything to say before I pass sentence?’
The room was stunned into breathless silence as she raised her head for the very first time.
She smiled, looked around and loudly cleared her throat.
‘If it looks like a duck but croaks like a frog – then it’s dead’