Gladys Gets Her Due
Gladys Bottoms decided to kill her husband the day he called her a bitch for the twentieth time. She didn’t have a good plan, exactly. She just knew she’d do it. Somehow. She bore his arguing about every little thing, she blew up occasionally and screamed back at him. But he always managed to “win” by treating her like dirt whenever she disagreed with him. Well, she decided, that wasn’t going to continue.
One more day of living with a bastard like him would drive her insane. Absolutely insane. To everyone else he was the soul of wit, the nicest man in the world, the one who you could count on to help you with anything. But to Gladys, Mr. Bottoms was a 100% bastard, a jackass who was just asking to be murdered.
But how to do it so she wouldn’t be the first suspect? What could happen to the old bastard that wouldn’t point the finger of the long arm of the law right in her face?
She thought about it through the long years of living with Mr. Bottoms. She shopped, she cooked, she cleaned, she kept his house. She smiled on the outside, schemed on the inside.
When the opportunity presented itself, she wanted to be ready. So ready that all she’d have to do was put out her hand and the weapon would be there. The one thing that would take him out of her life forever, never to treat her like she didn’t matter, like nothing she thought was any good.
From the first date, he had treated her like gold, squiring her around the little village, acting proud of her accomplishments. Then the wedding day dawned. They were married in the little chapel at the end of the wooded lane where she’d been christened. The wedding dinner had been given to them by the local villagers, who secretly hoped that by marrying him, Gladys would take him away from the village. For hadn’t she said all of her life she wanted to leave this place as soon as she could? Shake the dust off her feet and turn her face toward London?
After the dinner, they’d driven back to the house her mother had left her ten years before, after Gladys nursed her in her last illness. As soon as they crossed the threshold, she knew she’d made a mistake. Mr. Bottoms threw himself into her Da’s old chair by the fire and bellowed for her to bring him a pint. And make it quick. After all, she was his wife now, his possession, and she’d do what he bade her or she’d answer to his fist.
And that’s what she did. Until the day she finally figured out how to do it. How to kill Mr. Bottoms without a shred of suspicion falling on her.
The night came early that December evening. Darkness crept into the room, pushing at the flames in the small fireplace. Gladys sat at the kitchen table, reading one of her magazines by the lamplight. She cherished the few times she had time to herself, without chores or Mr. Bottoms getting in between her and what she truly loved.
As Gladys flipped the pages in the magazine, an article flashed by her eyes so quickly she almost didn’t believe she’d really seen it. She fingered the pages back to the thing, her breath short. “How To Kill Your Husband….” Gladys flattened the magazine on the table, rubbed her eyes, and looked back down at the magazine. The words blazed at her in the yellow lamplight. The picture on the page glowed, and Gladys sucked in a slow breath. Let it out again. Carefully, she turned the page to read the rest of the article.
(So what does Gladys do next? What does the rest of the article say? What is the murder method that would leave no trace at all and point anywhere but at her? Any ideas?)