“Come to Dappled Oaks and retire in nature and luxury!”
Bill and Betty moved in when they were in their early-80’s. On the application form his occupation was “entrepreneur” and Betty was a housewife. He was one tough, old coot in his younger days. Now he was grumpy and grim and moaned a lot. But one thing never changed – his love for Betty. She was his world and had been for over 54 years. Every night they still kissed before popping their teeth into glasses. They kissed before removing their specs so that they could hit their lips. And then they cuddled, the whole night. Spooning took longer than before but they wouldn’t swap it for the world.
Frail care was scary but the staff assured them and their family that it was what they needed, they couldn’t live alone anymore. Betty had put the electric kettle on the stove and turned it on, starting a fire. The couple was moved into frail care to the relief of their family.
Most of the staff were thoughtful and patient. Banda wasn’t. She was a huge, unfriendly and lazy nurse with a quick right hand if she got irritated. The nurses rotated who they looked after and inevitably Banda came to look after Bill and Betty. The first time she hit Betty was in the bathroom, where no-one could see. The water disguised the sound of her cries, not that they were loud. She was 83 after all. When they got back to their room Betty was composed but Bill immediately saw there was something wrong.
“What’s the matter Betty?” he asked concerned.
“She bumped her face on the basin” Banda responded, brushing her hair aggressively.
Bill looked at his Betty and saw her shake her head a little. Anger flared hot in his chest. “If I found out you hurt my Betty…”
“Oh stop it!” Banda shouted “She fell that’s it”. Banda left. Bill put his arms around Betty and hugged her shaking frame. The next day it was the other cheek’s turn and Betty again lied about Banda out of fear.
But what Banda didn’t know is what sort of “entrepreneur” Bill was. Bill had made his money getting rid of dead-weights. He was a hard hitman. He was the wrong person to mess with. Bill knew what to do and how to do it, he just hoped he had enough strength in his arms. He knew he would have to plan very carefully.
At first, he planned to make it look like an accident. But after thinking it through he realized that he could claim diminished capacity. Who was going to put a frail, old man on trial? And he could be frail, weak and shaky very well. One thing he wouldn’t compromise on was missing even 1 day with his love. On Sunday’s family came to visit. Even their sweet neighbor 2 doors down, got to see her son.
That evening Bill took a steak knife from the supper table. Betty saw it and her eyes widened, but he shook his head. He had always protected the ones he loved and this wasn’t just another job for him – it was personal. Bill knew where to hit and where to hurt. First incapacitate, then hurt, then kill. He was excited to be planning a kill again.
Banda would be their caregiver in 5 days – he had 5 days to plan her demise. Bill did some mild exercises to strengthen his arms and his resolve. He would be brutal. No-one hurt his Betty, she wouldn’t get away with it. The way he saw it he was doing everyone a favour.
Bill’s plan was to cut into her femoral artery. He knew that if he cut clean and straight across then there was time to get help. The femoral artery is circular and designed to contract and close off the cut – if its straight. But if the cut is at an angle then the bleeding needs to be treated immediately. Without additional treatment you could lose consciousness in about 30 seconds for the average adult male, longer for big, fat females and that death would happen in about 3 minutes.
Bill had to get it right. He couldn’t risk her turning on him and hurting him back or worse Betty – he had to incapacitate her quickly. He wanted to look her straight in the eyes when she died. He wanted to see her pain and fear and watch the light go out, like he had so many times before. He knew it was macabre but Betty was the only thing he still cared about.
The day came around too soon and Banda fetched Betty with a smirk. The fear on Betty’s face only made him more determined. With the steak knife safely in his gown pocket, he shuffled into the bathroom, acting frailer than he felt.
“Get out old man” Banda shouted. “You are not allowed in here”.
Bill lowered his voice forcing Banda to lean forward to hear him.
“P…please let me stay. I am scared without Betty” he stammered. Banda laughed in his face, a little spit landing on his cheek.
“Stupid old man. Get out before I call another nurse and then Betty and I will have a nice bath.” She leaned closer her eyes crazy and evil. Banda tried to read the strange look on Bill’s face. She stared so hard at him that she didn’t notice the knife. Feeling a sharp sting in her leg she looked down. Her mouth made an “O” when she realised that blood was pouring down her leg.
“What… what have you done?” she looked up at Bill, her face going pale.
“Bastard!” she reached to grab him but he nimbly stepped out of her way. She turned to Betty but slipped in the blood, down with a hard thump. She screamed in pain, her face twisted in pure rage and tried to crawl towards them. Betty walked away from her and went to Bill. He knelt down, careful to avoid the blood.
“Never underestimate the power of a man in love” he said viciously. His face and eyes looked mad with rage and for the first time Banda’s fear tickled her spine.
“Help” she screamed.
“Help” Bill shouted back into her face, mocking her. He never moved from his spot.
“Go and get help” she demanded, trying to put pressure on her leg. There was a massive blood pool around Banda.
“Watch, Betty” he said coldly. “See the anger and light in her eyes?” Betty nodded. “Its going out”. Banda feeling sick and cold, kept trying to call for help. Fear and anger showed in the tears running down her cheeks, she was dying.
Footsteps sounded outside, there was a frantic knock on the door.
“Is everything OK?” Sister Anna called.
“Time to act” Bill winked at a now quiet Banda, she stared at him, hate in her eyes but unable to act.
“Oh help sister” he cried with emotion. “Help”. Sister Anna came in and stopped in shock. Running to Banda she demanded to know what happened. “Well” Bill said. She hit my Betty and its not the first time. But it was the last. I stabbed her.”
Sister Anna started at Bill not believing that this frail, old man could take down this rotund woman. “Banda? Did Bill…?” Banda managed a nod and then passed out. There was so much blood.
Everything happened at high speed. Banda died. Bill and Betty were taken to their room and a nurse was posted outside. The police and coroner were called. Banda was declared dead on the scene.
Bill and Betty were having sweet, milky tea and hot buttered toast when the police came in. “Evening Sir?” he said politely taking his hat off. “Sir were you there when the nurse got stabbed?” Bill nodded. “Sorry sir but did you stab her?” he asked cautiously, disbelief in his voice.
“Yes son I did” Bill said honestly, wiping crumbs off his hands.
“She hit my Betty. No-one hits my Betty” he said softly. “No-one”.
The policeman scratched his head in puzzlement. He couldn’t arrest this frail, old man – he wouldn’t make it to trial and the paperwork was going to be a nightmare. Turning to Betty he asked “Is it true mam?” Betty nodded. Turning she pointed to two bruises on her cheeks. The policeman stared, sympathy all over his face.
“I’m sorry mam” he said. “My mother is two rooms away and she kept telling me about the vicious nurse who hit her”. Looking down and shaking his head he said “I didn’t believe her”.
Putting his hat back on he walked slowly out of the room, stopping at the door.
“Sir, thank you. I do believe this is self-defence and that is what the report is going to say. I’ll be back tomorrow for you to sign.” Tipping his hat he walked away, they could hear him hugging and talking to his mother two doors down.
Betty grabbed Bill’s hand. “Did you know?”
“Yes” Bill said. “He comes every Sunday, I just prayed that they would call him”.
Smiling he put his arms around his darling and kissed her cheek.
Tomorrow would be a much brighter day at Dappled Oaks.