‘Honey, I’m home!’
Jim dropped his cashmere coat on the chair as he passed it in the dim hallway on his way to the kitchen, where he was sure to find Sue busy preparing supper.
‘I’m in here!’ Sue called out from the kitchen.
‘Where else?’ Jim mumbled as he entered the spotlessly clean kitchen, and strolled over to give his wife a peck on the cheek.
‘Pardon?’ Sue kept on stirring the pot on the stove from which a rich aroma was emanating.
‘I said: “That smells good”,’ Jim improvised.
‘Supper will be ready in thirty minutes; time enough for you to have a shower if you like.’
‘I think I’ll stretch my legs for a bit. I’ve been sitting at that desk at the bank all day and it feels as though the circulation to my head has been cut off.’
‘You can’t go out in your work clothes. Change at least into your walking – ’
‘I will change into my running gear. A quick sprint around the block should do the trick.’
A few minutes later, Sue heard the front door bang shut and said to no one in particular: ‘Don’t be late.’ She turned the stove plate down to simmer and fetched the bottle of white wine from the fridge where it has been chilling the best part of the day, and poured herself a half measure in a crystal wine glass. She has always prided herself in the fact that she knew which wine glass to use with which wine – a fastidious habit which Jim had always teased her about. He maintained that wine tastes the same, irrespective of the vessel in which it was served; a point which she had vehemently contested over the three years since they had met. Nowadays, it has fizzled out into a friendly banter as each one knew the other’s point of view and could recite the other’s debate by heart.
On her way to the lounge, she collected the coat and hung it up in the hallway closet. Sitting down in her wingback chair, she stretched her comely legs out into the only sunspot in the lounge at this hour of the day; the weak autumn sun would soon set. Jim had often confessed that it was her shapely legs which had first caught his attention when they had met; him being a leg-man.
She must have dozed off as she woke up with a start when the front door banged shut.
‘Is that you, Jim?’ she called out.
‘No, it is the milkman, who else?’ Jim appeared in the doorway, wiping perspiration off his face with a towel he had draped around his neck when he had left.
Sue got up from her chair and carried her glass of wine to the kitchen. ‘Stop munching on that energy bar; you will spoil your appetite. I will dish up in a few minutes if you first want to have a quick shower.’
‘I won’t be long,’ Jim said, disappearing upstairs in the direction of their en-suite bathroom. A few minutes later he reappeared in the kitchen as Sue was deftly busy plating the food.
‘That looks as good as it smells. I am a lucky man to have my own chef to spoil me rotten.’ Jim rubbed his trim stomach in anticipation of the culinary delights awaiting him.
‘I prefer to cook for you, than for a horde of people who most of the time, only judge a plate of food by the price tag.’
‘You are an excellent chef and the establishment where you had worked when we met, did not appreciate you; their loss. I know that I for one don’t go there anymore since you’ve left their employ last year, and I dare say, many others have noticed the decline in the quality of the cuisine since your departure.’
‘I would not say that –’
‘Be as it may: I am eternally grateful that I had the foresight to snag you for a wife before someone else did.’ Jim slipped an arm around her slim waist.
‘Careful, I will drop the gravy!’ Sue said, twisting out of the embrace. ‘Come, your table is ready.’
Jim let out a raucous laugh. ‘You are reverting to the language of the restaurant: “Come, your table is ready”.’
‘You know what I mean. It is the talk about the restaurant …’
‘I hear that they are struggling to pull in the clientele since your departure. I no longer go there for my business lunches and my colleagues assure me that it has gone down in their estimation. It is not the place to be seen anymore as it was when you were the head chef there.’
‘When last have you been there?’ Sue asked, with the fork poised on the way to her mouth.
‘Oh, I don’t know. A year; perhaps a little less. Why do you ask?’
‘I bumped into Emma a month ago. She thought she saw you at the restaurant having lunch with a colleague.’
‘It could not have been me. I have told you before that I no longer have a reason to go there. Why would I go there? I eat better at home than at any high priced establishment.’
They each fell silent with their own thoughts as they sat down to the excellent meal which Sue had prepared. Jim’s lips started to swell up and he gasped for breath.
‘What did you put in the food?’ he managed to gasp.
‘Not the food, my dear. I added a bit of peanut oil to the energy bars which you are so fond of.’
‘But, why would you do that? I’m allergic …’
Jim slumped in his chair.
‘It’s in retribution of your affair with the new head chef at the restaurant. I started enquiring about your whereabouts during your lunch hours when you recently started to elaborate on why you would no longer frequent that place during your lunch hour. Too much information.’