with the till and... well, you know how it is. You said there was a call for me," he said.
"Yes. That's right, from John Gilbert, he says it's still not right and could you sort it out once and for all. It's probably something or nothing, you know how some of these clients are."
"Don't I just. Okay, I'll get in touch with him. Thanks, Yvonne." He added, "Oh, and if you're making coffee, I wouldn't say no to a cup."
Later, he made the phone call. When the coffee arrived, he ate the Twix with it. It wasn't much, but it filled a gap.
He got home at six-nineteen in the evening. When he opened the door and called out, "Hi honey, I'm home," in an American accent as he always did, there was only the silence of an empty house. He discovered to his surprise that a part of him had wanted Anne to be there to greet him as usual, to give him a peck on the cheek and ask him how his day had been, to take his raincoat from him and hang it up on the peg behind the kitchen door. She was gone. He knew that now.
He wondered where she was at that moment. Probably at her brother's house, sleeping in the spare bedroom and watching daytime tv with his kids. If her parents had still been alive, he knew that by now she would have been weeping on her mother's shoulder and telling daddy what a brute David had been to her.
"No," he said. "No."
He threw his briefcase onto the living room sofa and looked up Ian's number in the phonebook. Ian's phone rang five times before it was answered.
"Yes, what is it?"
"Ian, it's David. Please don't hang up, I need to talk to Anne. I know she's there. Ian, will you let me speak to her?"
"Stop whining, you spineless little shit. Anne has put up with enough from you, without listening to more of your self-pitying crap."
"Ian Ian Ian Ian, only my friends get to call me Ian, and guess what, you're not one of them. Now fuck off!"
The line went dead.
David put the receiver down and walked calmly out to the car and brought the bag of shopping into the house. He put the lettuce and the tomatoes and the half cucumber in the fridge and the bottle of washing-up liquid beside the sink. He put the bottle of car battery acid into the cupboard under the sink and went upstairs and put the balaclava in his clothes cupboard.
He watched tv for a while. At seven-thirty he grilled some Welsh rarebit and ate it with pepper sprinkled over the cheese.
At seven minutes past eight he looked at his wristwatch. Her evening shift at the off-licence had begun.