This is a work of fiction. A short story of less than 1000 words.
Karen walked over to his desk. Waiting for him to log off the terminal, she tried again.
“Some of us are going to the new burger place for a meal and drinks after work. Do you fancy it, Nigel?” He looked up at her, his black hair and unusual green eyes making her feel like they always did. “Sorry, no can do. I have company for dinner this evening. I am cooking a meal for two friends. Maybe some other time.” This was the third time she had suggested he join them. Once for a trip to the cinema, and another time for a riverboat party.
Karen sighed, resigned to never getting any personal time with her handsome colleague. “Never mind. If you need someone to make it four for dinner though, I’m available.” She stepped back from the desk, and waved to the others who were waiting near the door to the lift. Nigel watched her go. She was pretty enough, though a little heavy for his taste. Kevin had told him weeks ago that she liked him. Well what he had actually said was, “She’s well up for it, mate. Fancies the pants off you, always asking about you. Can’t beat a divorced slightly older woman, I’m telling you.” Nigel had listened, and filed the conversation away for later attention. He wasn’t sure if she would be good company.
For now, he had to get home and prepare dinner.
Once his guests were seated, Nigel popped back into the kitchen to get the food. They seemed distracted tonight, and he hoped that it would be a pleasant evening, and not drag too much. He placed the steaming dish onto the table mat, and served himself a good portion. No need to stand on ceremony, with people he knew so well. Tony and Barbara sat opposite each other. They were both looking a bit sullen, and Nigel felt the need to interject a little jollity into the proceedings.
“Come on you two, why so glum?” He raised his glass, chinking it against the sides of theirs in turn. “Here’s to a great evening; good food shared with good company, conversation, and friendship. Cheers!”
He was sure that he caught the hint of a smile on Barbara’s face, but Tony sat silent and looked fed up. Fair enough, Nigel and Barbara had once been an item, so maybe he was feeling awkward. But they had enjoyed meals together before, so why not tonight?
There was a time when Nigel and Barbara had shared a passion. Their lovemaking had been delicious, and her body warm and responsive. Over time though, Nigel had sensed a coldness developing in Barbara. She didn’t seem the same anymore, and he could feel the detachment in her embrace. Rather than lose her as a friend, he had introduced her to Tony. Despite the difference in their ages, they seemed to hit if off right away. It had been a lucky chance meeting, when he had seen Tony hitch-hiking after his old car had broken down. He was a student in a city far away, and when Nigel invited him to come back for dinner, he had accepted readily.
His first meeting with Barbara over that meal had assured Nigel that they would get on. She obviously liked a younger man. Perhaps that was why they had not worked out as a couple. Too close in age, Nigel thought. They joined him on quite a few occasions after that, and despite their different backgrounds, Nigel always found them to be very good company indeed.
For some reason he couldn’t put his finger on, the evening was not going at all well. Neither of them seemed to be eating much, and they hadn’t touched their wine. Nigel took charge. He told them about what had happened at work, discussed the current political situation, and even asked their opinion on the merits of the new car he was thinking of buying. He never tired of hearing his own voice, but eventually realising that he was monopolising the conversation, he spoke directly to the woman.
“I was thinking of selling this bungalow, Barbara. Mum and Dad bought it for a song all those years ago, and I reckon it’s worth a fortune now. I could buy somewhere a little way out of town, perhaps with more land, or some outbuildings. I have always wanted a workshop, or man-cave. What do you think?”
The woman was so rude. She barely managed a shrug in reply, and even slumped down in her chair, apparently not at all interested in his housing question. Tony said nothing. No doubt he was just too embarrassed by his girlfriend’s rudeness. Nigel ate the rest of his meal in silence, barley able to contain his anger. He kept his thoughts to himself, but really, you ask these people round, serve them wine and a nice meal, and this is the thanks you get. They seemed to have forgotten what it meant to be polite.
Nigel didn’t bother with the dessert. He was furious. Fetching the sack barrow from the hallway, he loaded Barbara onto it and wheeled her into the spare room. “Perhaps Tony would sooner have Karen as a girlfriend?” He sneered at her as he said it. Opening the chest freezer, he dragged her body into it, letting it fall inside with a thump. “She might be better company than you, you should watch out.” As he went back to the dining room for Tony he stopped for a moment, thinking.
If Karen came for dinner, he would need a bigger freezer.