If I say so myself, it was a fine plan, but when the chief inspector appeared at my door, I knew that I was done for. He cuffed me, and, for all the neighbors to see, walked me out of my front door and placed me inside the cruiser. At police headquarters, they sited me in a small, windowless room that had the stink of day-old fish.

The door swung open, and a tall, middle-aged, Scandinavian woman, whom I previously had seen collecting things from my kitchen, walked in and sat across from me.

“I need to inform you that whatever you say could be used against you.”

Having seen hundreds of episodes of Law and Order, I knew that I should keep my lips shut and wait for the barrister to arrive. But since I didn’t have any such names in my I-phone directory, I decided to take things into my own hands.

The Scandinavian spoke again. “Do you understand your rights?”   

“Yes,” I heard myself utter.

“Name and address.” She was all business.

“Helen Martin, Harrison Court, London.” She didn’t write it down, so I guessed that the tape recorder was on.

“Can you tell me what happened?”

I decided to butter her up, talk woman-to-woman. She would then understand what drove me to murder.

“How long have you been with the force?” I asked.

She smirked. “Mrs. Martin, I’m Detective Sergeant Dorothea Holms. I’m here to take your statement, nothing else.”

Dorothea was my favorite aunt’s name. I took it as a good sign and proceeded. “Sergeant…Dorothea, I see that you are married. Has your mother-in-law ever moved in with you?”

“No, but is this how it all started, her moving in with you?”

“It actually started six years before when the children were away at the university, and Walter and I were leaving on a cruise to celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. We got this frantic call from her. Walter cancelled the cruise and ran to be by her side. I was furious! Ten days with the old bag, only to find out that it was all in vain. It wasn’t heart trouble, just heartburn.”

“Is that when she moved in?”

“Sort of. We argued for days. He wanted her close to us. Finally, I just gave in. But the witch didn’t want to stay in the children’s room; she wanted her own place. So we built her a small apartment at the back of the house. We took out a mortgage. At our age, a mortgage—thirty thousand quid.”

“So, did things improve?”

“Not for me. I cooked, cleaned, and drove her around. She gave me no peace.”

“Did you try to pawn her off on another relative?”

“No one wanted her—not even her daughter in America.”

“Then what happened?”

“Here I was, complaining. I couldn’t imagine how things could get any worse. But they did. Walter lost his job. We could have squeaked by with his pension, but the mortgage was killing us. So, I did what most wives would do: I left the two of them at home and got a job at Harrold’s Department Store. Things settled down. I loved my job. Then this fancy envelope arrives from Australia. It’s from a solicitor informing her that her brother left her a hefty sum—a sum big enough to pay off the mortgage. We thought our troubles were over. But she refused. She said no; she had plans for that money. And here, after all that we had done for her. Walter didn’t ask her again, but I was beside myself.”

“You could have asked her to leave.”

“No, that was never going to happen. My anger just festered. All I did was think of how to get rid of her. Then, out of the blue, I get a call from her physician telling me to watch her because she was mixing up her medications. A flashbulb went off in my head. It was so easy. I bought a small bottle of her favorite sherry, threw in enough of her pills to kill a horse, strained it, and poured it back into the bottle. Then I went to work and called Walter to remind him to give her some sherry before she took her nap, and he said to me, Was that sherry for her?

2016 Derringer winner; 2016 Alfred Hitchcock- The Picture that Won- July-August 2016; 2015 and 2016 stories included in Level Best- Best New England Mystery.

Copyright © 2018 Vy Kava. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.