Jack and Maud had nothing in common and had been happily married for 50 years. Just like Jack Spratt, in the nursery rhyme, they managed to complement each other and fit together. Maud was a cat person but had acceded to Jack’s request that they keep a dog, which had then become two and eventually three, as he couldn’t resist rescuing and rehoming a dog in need. Maud had tolerated this.
Jack was bereft when Maud died. It was so unexpected, no time to prepare or say goodbye. He came in after his morning stroll with the dogs and there she was, dead.
After the funeral and all the condolences and fuss, he tried to carry on as normal. It wasn’t as if they’d ever done a great deal together. They’d lived side by side. But he’d underestimated how much of the day to day chores she shouldered and was finding it hard to stay on top of things.
The neighbours kept an eye on him for the first few months, took the odd meal round, invited him in for supper, but he was a taciturn chap, not given to much chat, and gradually they withdrew. They’d doff their cap when they saw him out with his dogs, and he’d reciprocate.
It took a while for Betty, next door, to realise she’d not actually seen Jack for over a week.
‘Henry’ she called out to her husband, ‘Have you seen Jack lately?’
‘Nay, methinks not’, he replied. ‘Best see if he’s ok.’
Betty went to Jack’s door and knew immediately that all was not well. There was a bad smell, even with the door closed. She didn’t bother to even knock, went straight back to her house and said, ‘Best call the police’.
The police took their time but finally turned up an hour or so later and duly broke down Jack’s front door. It was not a pretty sight. Not that Betty saw, thank goodness. The smell had alerted her to the fact that something ghastly was behind the door.
At least the dogs hadn’t starved, was the best anyone could say, as they were led away to the animal rescue centre.
Maud and Jack had something in common now. They were both dead.