‘Jealousy makes you do bad things,’ said Dave. ‘That’s what makes it one of the seven deadly sins.’
They were drinking coffee in Nigel’s kitchen, sitting awkwardly either side of the space where the table used to be.
‘Envy,’ said Nigel, quietly.
‘Envy,’ repeated Nigel. ‘The deadly sin. Not jealousy.’
Dave shrugged. ‘Same difference. The point is – are you sure you want to do this?’
‘That so-called artist stole my wife,’ said Nigel, ‘Am I supposed to do nothing? I walked in on them …’ He faltered, struggling to say the words. ‘Having… sexual congress. On our kitchen table. Hepworth humping away. Brenda with her legs in the air. Lying right on the place where I eat my lunch.’
He gazed through the window to the garden. Two charred table legs stuck up from the smouldering remains of the bonfire, mocking him.
‘Like Jack Nicholson in The Postman Always Knocks Twice,’ said Dave, brightly. ‘Oh man,’ he yearned, ‘that Jessica Lange…’
‘The postman. You said “knocks”.’
‘Right. Is there even a postman in that movie?’ wondered Dave.
Nigel ignored him. ‘They didn’t even stop when I came in. Brenda just glared and waved at me to go away. I went and watched the TV news until they’d finished. Then I heard the door go and found that she’d left with him. Gone to be his sodding muse, I suppose.’
‘Was it the full news programme’ asked Dave, ‘or the two minute headlines?’
‘Thirty fucking minutes. They didn’t rush.’
Dave appeared impressed, albeit not with Nigel. ‘Why didn’t you just hit Hepworth there and then?’
‘I’m neither impulsive nor inclined to fistfights. But, having considered the matter, I’ve now resolved to act.’
‘You’ve also armed yourself in the meantime. A laser, you said?’
Nigel sighed. ‘A Taser, Dave.’ He stood up. ‘It should be fully charged by now. Are you coming?’
The gallery was just opening as they arrived. They walked purposefully through the rooms, ignoring various strange installations, and headed straight to the far chamber, where visitors were promised an opportunity to observe the artist at work. It was empty of people save for Hepworth himself, dressed in yellow overalls. He was contemplating an apparently random collection of household appliances, some freshly daubed with blue paint, evidently from the pot he was holding.
Nigel strode up to Hepworth, pressed the Taser to his neck and triggered it. Hepworth fell to the floor and convulsed violently. His arms jerked back and forth smearing paint across the tiles. Nigel and Dave studied him impassively.
‘He does slightly resemble Jack Nicholson, actually,’ said Dave. ‘In Cuckoo’s Nest, that is.’
An elegantly dressed woman entered and approached them, looking puzzled. She held a list of exhibits in her hand.
‘Which one is this?’ she enquired.
‘Cuckold’s Revenge,’ said Nigel, ‘It’s not on the list’.
She contemplated the twitching yellow form and the smeared blue paint for a few moments. ‘It’s clever,’ she said. ‘But is it art?’
(First published on MashStories.com May 2015)