The fury had bloomed within him like a crimson flower; petals unfurled, stretched and pointed menacingly. Now was not the time to argue with himself; history judged actions, and what kind of write-up was he going to get if he decided, in these, the crucial moments, to think, reason, explain. Just act. And so he had.

The pan had a reassuring heft and made a satisfying sound when it connected with the side of Beth’s head. Her goggling, gormless eyes seemed to freeze at the point of impact, as if he’d managed to catch the standby button buried deep inside her skull. The thought made him laugh – she was as dumb as a television, as loud and as incapable of shutting up.

It was her fault. She’d switched her motormouth into high gear yesterday, bleating about how her Justin had come into a lot of money, and how she’d be out of this hellhole, living the high life, and who cared how he’d made his fortune?, and He showed me piles of notes in a suitcase, just like from the movies, and Boy was she going to look good in Donna Karan.

He’d knocked on the door meaning to give her grief of the oral quality, but something popped in his head when she opened it wearing what he was sure was an entire shop window’s worth of 9ct Jewellery. Not content to wait until he took her to Tiffany’s, she’d gone and cleared out what looked like the Argos counter. From that point onward, the conclusion was inevitable.

Yelling, countered by yelling.

Pushing, countered by pushing.

Insults. Countered by a frying pan to the head.

The mess was spreading out from the hole in Beth’s skull. The frying pan sat on the floor, an island in the blood. And it stank. You never got a sense of that from the movies. He opened the kitchen sink cupboard, and reached in for cloths and 1001. Skimming the instructions on the bottle, he noticed it mentioned blood, but nothing about brain goo. The thought gave rise to his second chuckle.

There was a knock at the door. He waited to see if whoever it was would go away. And then it struck him, in the heat of the argument, decorum had taken a back seat. He hadn’t closed the door. He heard footsteps, and then saw the face of Clare peep through the entrance to the kitchen.

And saw her glance at the floor.

And then back at him.

No time to think. Act. Justin reached down and grabbed the frying pan.