Chapter Two

Walk a Crooked Road

Maggie

Liverpool. A new life.

Day 2

I like Liverpool. It’s a vibrant city with friendly, outgoing people. Maggie Taylor is my new name by the way. I left the old one in Dublin which is where it will stay. Finding a job here has been fairly easy despite the Covid pandemic. Anyone with degrees in advance maths as well as psychology will not be unemployed for long and the University of Liverpool welcomed me into their maths department where they offer a range of BSc (Hons) courses. I also teach in their psychology department but most of my work is with maths students.

   I found a spacious and well-appointed apartment in the Ropewalks area. I like living in the city centre. It’s a pleasant change from the suburbs of Dublin. City dwellers are a different breed from the snobbishness and self-seeking that so often pervades the suburbs, with all it’s curtain-twitching and masquerading. There is none of that among us flat dwellers. Most of us are professionals, busy people who do not have time for such nonsense. I can also walk to work which is an added bonus.

   My colleagues in the maths department are a diverse bunch and I was given a cautious welcome by the majority after the mandatory PCR tests which came back negative. I would not have expected anything else quite honestly; the new kid on the block is always an unknown quantity. There was just one man who was openly hostile for reasons that escaped me other than he appeared to think that good looks do not equate with the teaching of maths. What utter nonsense! I suppose I should consider it a back-handed complement. I noticed one or two other male colleagues suppress smiles. They obviously do not have a problem with my appearance.

   I have no intention of changing anyway. I will continue dressing casually and brightly and if people want to admire me, so be it. In the first few weeks I have been here I have noticed my lectures are always well-attended. I would like to think that it is my enthusiasm for my subject rather than my looks is the reason.

   One of the things I have noticed is the preponderance of Chinese students. I would estimate that at least twenty percent are Chinese, and I understand it is the same in all the science- based subjects. Interesting. I wonder why?

   By the way, I must apologise if I startled you with my rather brusque statement that I had decided to murder my husband. I did not intend to shock, and I am sure that you will understand why it had become necessary. I really had no alternative. If I had gone to the police over my poisoning, he would almost certainly have got off because of lack of proof. He would have labelled me as neurotic, and no doubt explained away the theft of money from my account saying that he had my permission. It would have been his word against mine. He is not a literary agent for nothing!

  One thing I am absolutely certain about is that it would not have stopped him. Quite simply, he could not afford for me to divorce him. In time, he would have found other, possibly more exotic ways to finish me off. What you must understand is that Graeme was fundamentally a very lazy man and the thought of having to find a new source of income instead of the relatively relaxed and esoteric life of a literary agent must have been anathema to him.

   In fact, once I had made the decision it did not take long for me to make the appropriate arrangements. My biggest potential problem was arranging my ‘death’ and for that I needed to find a body. In fact, he or rather they, made it easy for me. I had a suspicion that he invited one of his girlfriends to the house when I was in downtown Dublin. So, one day, I waited in my car to see if anyone turned up. I actually smiled when I saw her. She was almost a carbon copy of me. I suppose I should have been flattered really.

   Graeme had brought home a bottle of Rioja the night before, no doubt intending to share it with this lady whose name, I later discovered, was Maggie Taylor. Yes, that’s right. I have become her.

   I found a quantity of Rohypnol at the back of the cupboard. I have no idea how it got there. I can only assume it was Graeme’s. I would not have put it past him to use a date rape drug. What I do know about it is that it is just about the most powerful sedative there is, about ten times more powerful than Valium. Anyway, I injected enough of the stuff into the bottle to knock out a horse. I decided to wait three hours once she arrived. That would give them enough time to polish off the bottle.

   I half expected them to be in bed when I entered the house. There was a strange silence. I at least expected music to be playing but there was nothing. I found Graeme on the floor in the kitchen. He was naked from the waist down. There was blood on the floor where he must have banged his head. It looks like he crawled there and then lost consciousness.

   She was on the sofa, naked. It looks like they had sex and were overcome shortly after. I studied her. She was the same build as me and the likeness was uncanny. It was a shame really that she had to die as well. Her handbag was on the table. I took anything that could identify her and replaced it all with the contents of my bag, including my cards and driving licence. I put my wedding ring on her finger and the engraved bracelet on her wrist. I left her on the sofa, legs apart as though Graeme had just finished with her. I am glad I have her driving licence. The photo will easily pass for me. All I needed then was her passport and birth certificate.

   My next task was to stoke up the fire so that a good flame was burning and then I went into the kitchen stepping over Graeme in the process. I had previously examined the gas connection to the cooker. The hose was attached with a jubilee clip. I loosened it slightly until I could smell gas escaping. It would not take long for the volume of gas to become critical. They would know nothing about it when the place explodes.

   I had already booked a flight to Liverpool the previous day. I drove her car to the furnished flat she rented and cleared out all her personal possessions. I found her passport and birth certificate with other papers which I stored away then I cancelled the tenancy and paid any outstanding rent. I also rang the trendy fashion shop she worked in and said that she has moved to Canada. There was just one more action I had to take and that was to transfer nearly all my money out of my account. I used Graeme’s name when making the transfer so when police make enquiries, which of course they will, it will look like Graeme had decided to steal the cash and then murder me, but then it had all gone wrong. The bank manager will back that up. They will not be able to trace the money because it all went into Wirex, a crypto currency. I will transfer it into my new bank account at some point. There’s no hurry.

   I was in my room in Liverpool’s Adelphi Hotel when the house blew up. I stayed there while I was searching for an apartment. It wasn’t big news in Liverpool obviously. A gas explosion in a house on the outskirts of Dublin was only worth a couple of paragraphs even if two bodies were found.

   It is time for me to deliver a Zoom lecture on calculus to second year students. If you really are interested, it is about reduction formulae: Techniques of sketching conics: Reflection properties of conics, rotation of axes and second-degree equations.

   They can admire my figure as much as they like while I’m explaining the intricacies of differential calculus. I wonder what they would all think if they knew I had just murdered my husband and his lover.

   I can’t help smiling.

*The next chapter of A Walk on the Wilder side will be published on Monday and every Monday thereafter.

Published by pod1942

I am a cereer journalist having worked for the London Dail Mail, Reuters and latterly the Liverpool Daily Post on Merseyside as well as the journalists’ leader in the region. I have experience as a crime reporter, feature writer, business editor and latterly, a senior sub-editor. My qualifications include a BA (Hons) English, from the University of Liverpool; a BA (Hons) Fine Art and an MA in Creative Practice both from Liverpool Hope University. I now divide my time between art and writing. I will shortly be publishing my first full-length novel, The Poseidon Files and as a taster I have written a short story which features the same central female character in which she talks about her world and her life. It is, however, essentially a ghost story.

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