Runner-up: Laura Riley
A satisfied sigh curled from Jennifer Attley’s rouged lips, as she relaxed into her exquisitely upholstered chair. She drained the last drops of her weapon of choice – a Vodka martini. Ice cold Grey Goose, Noilly Prat Original Dry, and three olives leaning proudly at the side of the glass – served alongside a generous Xanax chaser. This particular cocktail had ensured many a good night’s sleep. She’d upped today’s dosage. Nothing short of the hand of God would rouse her once it took its effect.
It had been quite a day. The screen icon had listened intently as her husband – studio owner Jerry Montgomery – informed her of his plans to divorce her. There was an ingenue – not his first – but there was a complication this time. The ingenue was pregnant.
He told her this as they both sat upon their marital bed. He told her this, after they had just shared that bed. Once he was finished, Jennifer rose calmly, crossing the room to her bureau. She confidently grabbed for the revolver inside, and without a moment’s pause pointed it between her husband’s eyes and pulled the trigger. Wiping away her prints, she forced the gun into her husband’s dead hand.
They would find her first – immaculately laid out downstairs. Then they would find him – another apparent suicide – but who had been first? This would be the greatest story of her career. No-one would ever know the answer – but the question? Oh, the question would live on forever.
Winner: Rebecca Pizzey
Through an octopus of smoke in Spanish: you can’t die from a bull kick to the head. Several cigarette laughs and a thump on the poker table. Someone remarked that the matador deserved it – not quick on his feet.
The balcony was awash with late afternoon heat and a cacophony of sounds and smells from the street below, into which the men were leisurely spitting and tapping ash. His money spent, Thom turned away from the gambling men and saw that Biddy had arrived.
She was surveying him imperiously from between the encasing wings of an armchair, her long fingers encircling a crystal martini glass – the only thing she was known to embrace.
She looked utterly royal; everything about her, from her carefully arranged silk frills to the tight curl of her hair, was demanding of a Velázquez.
Thom extricated himself from the table and plunged into the heady hotel suite. The only movement in the velvet quiet was the revolving liquid in Biddy’s glass, over which she was appraising him.
‘You must have been devastated.’ Her voice was the punch of a diamond earring. ‘All that money – and he fell.
‘I didn’t watch the fight,’ she went on, a flush creeping up her exposed collarbones. ‘I was seeing to Marty.’
Thom’s voice died in his throat.
‘He’s as good as dead. Like your friend the matador.’ Her martini whisper folded itself into Thom, who had no time to wonder whether he could have been quicker on his feet.
Congratulations, Laura and Rebecca! And thanks, as always, to everyone for their brilliant stories.
See you next week!