Lost Souls
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by Brian Wright

My friend Veronica was always noted for her style and taste.

An elegant size 12, she only ever wore clothes made in Paris or Milan, ate Belgian chocolate, drove German sports cars. Even Lawrence, her husband, looked as if he'd been designed by some supreme arbiter of male fashion, draped in silk shirts and pinstripe suits from the emporia of Saville Row.

They were a handsome if fleshy couple, well-known in the finest restaurants of several continents.

They lived in a penthouse apartment overlooking the river. It's rooms were huge and filled with light, ideal for showing off their fine furnishings and collection of artifacts from around the world. Dining table and chairs from Harrods. Carpets from Isfahan. Bronze heads from West Africa. They were discerning shoppers, at home and abroad.

Lawrence made pots of money out of his stockbroker job from Monday to Friday, while Veronica worked hard to make their apartment even more beautiful.

At least once a week they hosted a glittering dinner party at home. They also liked to dine out with throngs of their most intimate friends in all the most fashionable eateries in the West End. I was often in their company on such occasions.

Veronica loved Lawrence, but Lawrence mostly loved himself.

There were constant rumours in our circle that he was being a naughty boy with any woman who would have him. Veronica began to confide in me, complaining about her husband, his coldness towards her. As she was doing so, she often devoured several Danish pastries to ease the pain.

Lawrence, too, seemed to be eating even more, perhaps out of a sense of guilt - or maybe because he needed to keep up the energy levels for his latest fling.

They began to quarrel in public, but Veronica's exquisite manners always came to the rescue, sparing the other guests from embarrassment. She would usually make her excuses and leave the dinner table or party early.

More than one of their own soirees, however, went into terminal decline because of the obvious bad blood between them. She invariably rang me for sympathy later on, usually in tears, sometimes at two or three in the morning.

Everyone knew they were growing more and more unhappy together.

Then Lawrence disappeared and the police found his clothes on the banks of the river just below the couple's penthouse apartment.

Perhaps the police suspected Victoria at first, but she had a cast-iron alibi. Also, the distress on her face must have told them that she'd sooner have worn rejects from a charity shop than murder her husband. The inquest concluded that, one way or the other, Lawrence had walked away from his beautiful life.

My shoulder after that was constantly wet from Veronica's bleating about her lost darling. She was devouring pastries by the bucket-load and had started to look almost obese. You could say she was blowing things out of proportion in more ways than one.

I spoke with her for the last time this morning. She came to my apartment for a good cry and some cream cake. I'd had enough of her moaning, to be honest, plus my stocks were getting low.

So I killed her.

Now she's really gone to pieces.

The best cuts of her are wrapped in grease-proof paper in my special freezer, together with the little that's left over of Lawrence. She shared in his liver at one of my dinner parties. I'll get rid of the unwanted remains later on, then go to the police to report her missing, a concerned friend. The river will take the blame, no doubt.

While I was chopping her up, I had the occasional nibble. Perhaps it was something to do with her eating habits in the past few months, but she had a rich, sweet flavour.

Then Veronica always had taste.

Copyright Brian Wright 2005

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