My son recommended this story to me. I was like, Roald Dahl? The children’s author? And he said, yeah, but this is no kid’s story. And he was right.
This story had a Victorian-era feel to it. The dutiful wife at home, awaiting her husband to return from work so she could give him a drink and feed him while he relaxes on a chair. She loves him. The author made that very clear. And when he comes home and quickly downs a drink and refills the glass with more whiskey, she worries for him. She thinks it might have something to do with work. We learn he is a police officer and works long days.
The problem is not his work. The problem is her. We don’t learn what he tells her, only that it changes their relationship. He promises to look after her and the child she is carrying, but would she please not make a fuss as it would look bad for him at work?
Shocked, she doesn’t want to believe it. To distract herself from her thoughts, she falls back into routine. She plans to make him dinner. She goes to the freezer and gets a frozen leg of lamb. On her way to the kitchen, she sees her husband standing at the window, with her back to her, looking outside. She caves his head in with the frozen leg of lamb.
Now what? Well, she is, was married to a police officer, and she knows what happens to murderers. She is ready to accept that punishment, but what about her child? What would happen to her child?
She plans. She places the lamb in the oven. She goes to the market, rehearsing what she will say to the grocer to appear natural and not upset. She does a good job, returns home and calls the police. They show up and they are people she knows. She tells them she put the lamb in the oven and went to the market. When she returned, her husband was dead.
The police noticed blood on the back of his head. They call in the detectives. They call in the doctor. They are looking for the murder weapon. It had to something heavy. Maybe a sledgehammer. Once they find the weapon, they’ll find the perpetrator.
They search the house all evening. The police tell her that her lamb may soon burn. She removes it from the oven and pleading that she isn’t hungry and that the food will go to waste; she convinces them to eat the lamb. They do. They eat the murder weapon. They eat the evidence.
WHAT I LEARNED:
- This was roughly a five-page story. Just think how much information the author crammed into that small space. Once again, the ability to be clear and succinct is an important and powerful skill to gain.
- Roald Dahl writes one hell of a suspense story. Even though the wife murdered the husband, the reader felt empathy toward her. I didn’t want her to get caught. I wanted her to pull it off. The suspense was not knowing if she could do so.
This was a fun, short tale that hit like a punch to the face. Well worth the read.
At its peak, under Emperor Trajan in the years 98 A. D-117 A. D., the Roman Empire encompassed approximately 5 million square kilometers. It stretched from the deserts in Africa to Northern England.
They estimate the population for that time period to be 65 million people. Roughly double of Canada’s entire population.
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