As anyone knows whos lived there, Sacramento is hot in the
summer. To be sure, the humidity is low so its a dry heat,
but that doesnt make much difference when its 100 or more degrees.
Being in this kind of heat you become irritable and everything gets on your
nerves. The slightest thing can drive you into a rage.
My wife Hillary and I were playing bridge at our next-door
neighbors. Tom, a retiree like myself, was a big man who hated the hot weather.
His wife Gwen was a petite woman but she ran the house. Now they were having
one of their typical arguments. I told you to straighten up the
house, Gwen said.
Its too hot to do anything, replied Tom.
Especially with you keeping the thermostat up.
We have to conserve energy. She asked us if we
thought it was too hot. I felt warm but I politely said, No, its
In the next game Tom mistakenly trumped Gwens ace.
You fool, she yelled. You just cost us the game. How could
you be so stupid?
Because its too hot in here to think straight.
Hillary and I left as soon as we decently could. As we prepared
for bed, we could hear yelling from next door. Later that night I thought I
heard a scream but couldnt be sure. Then still later I heard the sound of
digging in Toms backyard.
A few days later I went over and asked Tom about the digging. He
said it was some work Gwen had been after him to do and since it was so hot and
he couldnt sleep anyway hed done it late at night. I noticed the
house was in a mess and the air-conditioner was going full blast. I casually
asked him if Gwen was okay. Yes, he said. Shes gone to
stay with our daughter.
After Gwen hadnt reappeared in two weeks I said to
Hillary. Are you thinking what Im thinking.
You never know. Lift your feet so I can vacuum there. You
know, I wish youd get out of the house sometime.
Dont worry. If it ever cools off, Ill be happy
to get out of your way.
And pick up those papers. Youre getting as bad as
I could have said she was getting as bad as Gwen but refrained.
I waited another two weeks, then I couldnt stand it any
more. I went next door. Look, Tom, I said. Come clean.
Why, Im right here. It was Gwen, coming down
the stairs, as sprightly as ever.
She just got back, said Tom.
Oh. I admit I was surprised. I went back to my
house. This would take some thinking. Id been sure that Tom had done away
with Gwen and planted her in his back yard. I was counting on him to confess so
that we could put Hillary beside her, as I knew shed have liked. Now what
to do? Well, for now shed have to stay where she was, in the freezer.
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