Suggested Audio Candy:
 Megadeth “Poison Was The Cure”
 James Brown “Mother Popcorn”
 The Prodigy “Poison”
Kieran and Roxanne had the perfect murder planned. For the past six months they had meticulously worked on their strategy right down to the smallest, most seemingly insignificant factor. Neither of them had killed before and, likewise, neither had any intention of doing so again once this had all passed. This was a one-time deal and the execution would need to be pitch perfect to allow them to come away smelling of roses. The margin for error was miniscule and one false move or Freudian slip could land them both in hot water. Tonight was the night, all stars were aligned, and in just a handful of minutes the wheels would be set into motion.
Their victim would have no idea what laid in wait for her this night. As far as Maude Robinson was concerned she was on her way over for a three-course meal with the pair of lovebirds who she surreptitiously despised. There was no reason to be concerned or hurriedly write out her will and instead an exclusive opportunity to savor some of Kieran’s exquisite home cooking. She was sixty-four years old and entering the twilight of her life or, at least, so she thought. In fact, her epilogue had begun from the moment she stepped out onto her front porch and, in a matter of minutes, she would be as cold and hard as the uneven paving slabs beneath her feet.
Maude was culpable of some pretty heinous crimes but, to the untrained eye, she appeared harmless and insignificant. Her treason was against life; somehow she had managed to reach a ripe old age without learning its many lessons and had ended up bitter and twisted. Since her husband of twenty-seven years had been unfaithful, she had lost faith in men entirely, and believed them all to be unscrupulous and lacking moral fiber. She was fifty when this unfortunate turn of events had altered her outlook and, despite others who cared pleading with her to get over it and move on, she never had. Now she was far too long in the tooth to make that transition and, moreover, had pushed away every single person that mattered in preference of a secluded existence.
However, she was nothing like the wilted flower, and had still managed to hurt those who should have mattered most as she meddled in affairs that should not have concerned her. Her son Kieran and his fiancé Roxanne had received first-hand experience of her noxious wrong-doing and had every reason to feel disgruntled as their seven-year engagement had almost capitulated on account of her infringement. Kieran was her first and last born and the only person in her life who she hadn’t cut ties with long ago. He knew deep down that his mother was far from saintly but had refused to throw in the towel as she was flesh and blood after all. She had been his cross to bear for the past seven years and, alas for Roxanne, she also bore the brunt.
Maude had always hated Roxanne from the first moment she stood up to her soon to be mother-in-law after a vitriolic outburst designed to make her son feel worthless, something which she had become something of a dab hand at. From that point onwards; her card was marked. However, Maude liked to think herself as smarter than the average pensioner and concealed her contempt, choosing instead to slowly whittle away Roxanne’s final nerve and cause her association with her son to terminate for reasons not directly traceable back to her. This had almost worked on occasion and the couple were just re-emerging from a particularly rocky patch in their relationship. This had led to much soul-searching from both parties and Kieran had been forced to accept some rather discomforting truths about his mother. She was rotten to the pulp and could no longer be allowed to influence proceedings. This had to end here.
Kieran had spent the past five hours in the kitchen slow-roasting a succulent joint of lamb to perfection while Roxy, as he affectionately referred to her, worked on setting the evening’s ambiance. Maude was neurotic in the extreme and would find fault with an immaculate conception so everything would be required to be just perfect. Roxy even wore the crude ill-fitting sweater which her mother-in-law had gifted her last Christmas, despite the fact that it was deeply hideous and made her skin itch. She would participate in the cursory smiles which loosely masked mutual loathing and make polite conversation, all the while imagining how effortless it would be displacing all 206 of Maude’s brittle bones with a 40lb splitting maul. After years of sitting on the fence, Kieran had finally decided it was time to pledge his allegiance to just one and the fact that Roxanne could dislocate her jaw during fellatio affording far greater love gulps had proven a most persuasive factor.
The simple fact is that Kieran and Roxanne were more in love now than they had ever been and entering a pivotal period in their proposed lifelong union. Roxy had never seen fit to propose that it “be her or me” but that was pretty much where things had been headed for some time now. Given the fact that Maude only had designs on courting disenchantment at any given moment; it was time to put the old hag down like a scabby mare. A bullet to the back of the skull had been under consideration when pondering dispatch methods but both had agreed that this was simply too humane a denouement. Kieran wished his mother to know of his reasoning before snuffing her out, while Roxanne only wished to stare into the whites of her detractor’s eyes as they became infused with red, so a decisive poison appeared to be the best course of action.
After much deliberation, they decided on Conium or Hemlock as it is commonly known. This highly toxic plant indigenous to Europe and South Africa offered the ideal solution to their problem. One concentrated 100mg dose was all it would take and this would lead to paralysis and eventually a full respiratory shutdown, all the while ensuring that she be cognizant. Roxanne had been tempted to raise the dose but had a change of heart based on the fact that she wanted to savor every second of her protracted demise. Kieran had prepared three dishes of cuisine and one of them was seasoned with Conium. So as to ensure that he didn’t murder his love, or indeed himself, he used the couple’s very best decorative plate which had never before been used to serve food. He was comfortable with the tryst he had entered into and ready to cut his ties with his meddlesome mother once and for all.
“Would you grab that please Roxy? I’m just serving up”
“Is it done?”
“Yes. 100mg. It’s one hell of a joint”
“Are you ready for this?”
“We are about to kill your mother. You’re still good with that right?”
“My conscience is clean”
“Ha. No it’s not. Mine either. We are going straight to hell for what we’re about to do”
“Yeah but she’ll get there first”
“Jesus, your mother is relentless”
“You should get that. You know how much she hates being left waiting”
Indeed Roxanne knew only too well that patience was not Maude’s strongest suite and that is why she relished hanging the moment out for as long as feasibly possible. She wasn’t ordinarily one for silly games but had resorted to such from the moment that she knew her mother-in-law had her daggers drawn behind her back and considered this healthy competition.
“Hello? It’s raining out here you know and my arthritis has been playing up something chronic”
“I’m so sorry Maude. Be there in just a moment”
Roxanne made sure that this moment was pulled taut across half a minute, then headed off to face her nemesis for the final time.
“Mom! How rude of me to keep you waiting on the doorstep. Come in, you must be soaked through”
Roxanne wasted no time in commencing the games and knew how much it needled Maude being referred to as mom by someone she loathed.
“My beautiful daughter”
Touché. This was a two-way discomfort and, to make matters worse for Roxanne, Maude had something far more disparaging in mind next. Roxy felt physically nauseous every time her mother-in-law puckered up and her gag reflex became tested each time she planted the resulting kiss squarely on her lips. Being in her sixties, and after many failed attempts at electrolysis, Maude’s maw lived under the shadow cast by facial hair and an unsightly mole with its own hairstyle had a tendency to tickle Roxy’s top lip as she lurched in for each embrace. Then there was the putrid breath which could corrode a harmonica after a single verse of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold. Roxy was convinced that the old bag licked excrement from the sidewalk in her spare time as the tang wouldn’t leave her throat for hours after one such unsavory smooch.
Her very worst fears were realized as Maude began to pout so Roxanne thought fast on her feet and prepared her best defense.
“Better not kiss me mom. Cold sore”
“Well a hug will have to do then”
Talk about out of the toaster and into the kiln. A bear hug from Maude was every bit as terrifying as her personal space was consistently hazy due to shameful personal hygiene. A vague scent of urine was also a distinct possibility as Maude had seemingly forgotten how to wipe herself since her prolapse in 2007. Alas for Roxy, she had prepared thoroughly for their soirée and left her bladder content to ferment for several hours before relieving herself at the very last moment before setting out. It appeared as though the first stone had been successfully cast as it was now officially Maude 1 Roxanne 0. The only consolation at this point was the fact that, in less than twenty minutes, the old hag would be face down in her dessert dish and about to be cut into six pieces of equal mass only to be fed to their neighbor’s swine Alfonso, which they were tending to while he traveled to the Himalayas.
Pigs are unfussy about chowing down on bone fragments and the like and it appeared the perfect way to dispose of the body. But these bones were more dense than the average cartilage and poor Alfonso would likely suffer renal failure on account of this particular feast. One dead hog seemed far easier to explain than a deceased geriatric, despite the fact that there wasn’t a soul alive that would miss her presence. Right now, this was the only thing keeping Roxy from passing out where she stood as Maude held on for dear life. Eventually however; she could simply take no more.
“I’ll get Kieran. He’ll be thrilled that you’re here”
Finally release although Roxy could swear she discerned a vague chuckle from her opposite number as she exhaled her imprisoned breath.
“You’re looking nice dear”
Nice! Roxy knew exactly what “nice” meant. It actually translated to “dowdy” and she knew as much as she was being held captive inside that infernal sweater thanks to religious holidays and one-upmanship. Again, she rose above such transparent skullduggery and turned her back on Maude without letting on that her blood was secretly boiling.
“My dear boy. You have found yourself a keeper here with this one”
“You tell me every time I see you”
“That’s because it’s true”
Liar. Liar. Big fat liar. Roxy was used to listening to this particular conversation playing out and it sickened her to the very pit of her abdomen.
“Look how beautiful she is”
Don’t you…fucking dare lean in for a kiss. You stay where you are or so help me I will pick up this candelabra and ram it straight through your skull-cap.
“Cold sore remember. Very contagious”
This wasn’t going to work forever, especially given the fact that the defective latex sore had begun to peel away as she curled her lip in rage.
“Would you be a sweetheart dear?”
“Anything for you mom”
“Grab me your foot spa would you. My bunions have been really bad today and my circulation is playing up. A good long soak should fix me up”
Now she was skating on thin ice. Of all the low down dirty tricks, none were as nefarious as the old “foot spa double cross”. Maude’s feet didn’t deserve being labeled as such and hooves didn’t do them justice either. They were hideous, two unshapely slabs of festering mutton replete with contorted toes which had never before seen a pedicure. Flaky skin was also an issue but what was more mortifying was that years of compromised posture had left the pensioner unable to remove her own stocking. To add salt to the slug, her uneven toe nails had a fondness for becoming snagged in the gossamer making it an even more drawn-out exercise.
“Sure. I’ll go get it”
Maude felt truly contented as she watched her victim fetch like the street mutt that she was. As Roxy returned with a face bereft of color, her lover gallantly threw her a life line.
“There’s no time for that. You’ll have to wait until after dinner as I’ve been slaving for hours and it’s ready to serve”
“It’ll wait until after dinner then I suppose”
As Maude delivered this line, she offered a swift knowing glare to her adversary, just to remind her that she wasn’t off the hook by a long chalk. However, Roxy was impervious to this retort as Maude would be as stiff as a bishop’s pecker by the time she finished her meal.
“I brought some wine for the occasion Kieran”
“Thanks. Just leave it on the side. I have a bottle already uncorked”
Maude ignored this intelligence entirely and poured two glasses of Merlot for the hosts.
“I’m sorry, I can’t hear you dear. My hearing aid is on the blink”
As Kieran entered the room balancing three plates of food precariously he noticed his mother’s refusal to follow the simplest instruction and raised his eyebrows in dismay as had become customary over the years.
“That smells nice”
Kieran was more than aware that “nice” meant “ghastly” in his mother’s tongue and also that she would likely spend the remainder of the evening moaning about indigestion but this didn’t bother him tonight as he had no intention of this ever reaching after dinner Scrabble. The three seated themselves at the table and prepared to tuck in. Roxy tried her level best not to make obvious the fact that she was desperate to witness the first mouthful go down but inside she was dancing.
“How about proposing a toast then as the man of the house?”
“But you haven’t got a drink mother”
“I don’t need a drink dear. I’ll just send my good wishes”
Roxy needed good wishes from this wench like a hole in her heart. She couldn’t put her finger on what Maude was scheming but something stank in suburbia right now even worse than the old windbag’s halitosis. However, it seemed like a fair enough request on the surface and it had been months since she had enjoyed her last tipple so she raised her glass.
“Dear lord. For what we are about to receive may you make us truly grateful”
“A toast son, not a sermon”
“Okay then. To my beautiful Roxanne, you are my divine light, the wind in my sails, the object of my desire…”
Maude wretched at this point.
“Sorry. Acid reflux. Continue”
“…you are the most beautiful, intelligent, kind, inspirational woman I have ever met and I love you more with every single day that passes. I propose a toast to eternal happiness and a love which will never be extinguished”
“How delightfully heartfelt. Now drink up will you?”
The couple did as requested and gazed adoringly at one another as they did, practically ignoring Maude’s presence as they kindled the romance which burned strongly within them. Tonight was going to be a monumental step for their relationship; Roxy had suggested murder on more than one occasion previously and Kieran hadn’t been feeling it but this time he was ready to choose a future of contentment over another twenty minutes of listening to his mother rattle on about her throbbing knee joints or the leaky faucet in her bathroom which he was supposed to fix months ago.
Their amorous interlude was then interrupted as Maude claimed her first lamb cutlet and began digging in.
“A little strong on the seasoning but otherwise well done dear”
Kieran was aware that “well done” translated into “you’re a desperate failure just like your father” but comforted himself with the knowledge that the poison was now circulating and soon Alfonso would be fed for the night which left the rest of the evening to seduce his significant other. He had it all planned; a trail of rose petals from the kitchen directly into the sheets of their four-poster bed which he would prepare while his love finished severing mother’s head with the rusted hacksaw from their tool shed. She would love the gesture and, once she had rigorously picked the brain matter from her cuticles, he would show her the height of his sexual prowess. Eventually Roxy could remain silent no longer.
“Kieran will be very offended if you don’t finish every bit mother dearest. He has been in the kitchen all day getting it just right. Haven’t you dear?”
“Well if I can’t cook a nice meal for my two favorite ladies then what can I do?”
In mother’s case “nice” translated to “highly toxic”.
“Such a sweet boy and you have found your lady in waiting. Have I ever told you how lucky you are Kieran?”
“She’s divine. Look at that face”
At that moment, Roxy’s fabricated cold sore dropped into her salad.
“Mom. You’re too kind. Really you are”
“I only ever speak the truth”
“Yes. You’re a pillar of integrity”
Said with just the right degree of underlying malice.
“Did you know that Kieran wet his bed until sixteen?”
“Did you know that you’re going to die a reasonably slow and painful death in a matter of minutes?”
“Excuse me young lady”
“How’s that lamb sliding down?”
Until that point Maude had paid no mind to the faint jabbing pains in her chest but suddenly she felt them all over her upper body as the toxin made itself at home.
“Oh. Oh dear. I’ve come over all queer”
“No shit. Really? Fuckin’ A. You’re going down slag”
“Don’t you talk to me like… Oh goodness”
Maude projectile vomited across the table and Kieran rued his seating plan as he received a skinful of mom’s stomach lining for his troubles.
“I…I can’t move”
Time for Roxy to execute stage two of her three-pronged assault.
“Mom. That’s awful. You look terribly peaky. I’m going to hate watching as each of your organs shut down in turn. But I’ll cheer myself up by letting your son go down on me over your dead body. Not before he washes his face mind”
“What have you done you vile cunt?”
“Just enough for paralysis and eventual death. Have you ever heard of Hemlock mom?”
“You poisoned me?”
“Your powers of deduction are immense. So what have you got to say about that you hateful bitch?”
“I prefer Cyanide”
Just as Maude said the word, Roxy began to feel unusual. Glancing over to Kieran panicked, she noticed that he too didn’t appear to be faring particularly well and was hunched over in his seat clutching his esophagus.
“Between one and fifteen minutes. That’s what it says on the bottle anyway. You’re carrying a little more excess baggage than my son so he’ll probably be dead before you”
These were to prove Maude’s final words as the poison had now taken full stranglehold and that included full facial paralysis. Meanwhile, Roxy stared at her empty wine glass and counted the cost of her opponent’s devious act. But not for long. She stood as defiantly as she could while doubled in agony and stumbled around the dinner table, clutching the nearest steak knife she could lay her hands on.
“I know you’re still alive in there mommy. I can see it in your eyes. How does it feel knowing that I’m gonna have the last laugh? Does it annoy you? Please tell me you’re frustrated. Tell you what, if you hate my guts, just dribble”
Maude couldn’t miss her one remaining opportunity to show her disdain and drooled accordingly. Then, while Kieran continued convulsing in the seat opposite, Roxy rammed the blade into the old woman’s chest and twisted it a full revolution until the final spluttered breath had vanquished. She was tempted to remain straddled across her corpse, taking in her handiwork, but the urge to gaze adoringly into her love’s eyes one final time was just too strong. Kieran and Roxanne may had acted less than honorably that evening but the love they shared was both sincere and unyielding.
She lifted his twitching head and offered him a final smile which he reciprocated with a loving grimace.
“You look really nice tonight Roxy”
He swan dived face-first into his hors d’oeuvre and suddenly she was all alone. In this case, “nice” meant “like you’re about to suffer a full renal shutdown in the next ten seconds”.