When they were finishing their coffee, Stephanie told Lorraine that she would feel bad killing Slim, even though she did consider him a worthless dirtbag, but if Lorraine wanted to simply torture Slim a bit, she would help. Slim had broken Lorraine’s tender heart and while that wasn’t grounds enough for murder, a thrashing was certainly warranted.

The two women proposed that they should sleep on it and meet the next morning at 10 at the Dripolator to brainstorm.

That night, Lorraine, filled a hot bath and added a few drops of her favorite Jo Malone scent. She lit some candles, brought in a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, and relaxed into the tub. Sipping her wine and luxuriating in the bath, she reviewed some of the highlights and disappointments of her year with Mr. Slim Pickens.

Slim had invited her to accompany him on a week-long trip to the Turks and Caicos. He paid her airfare and covered the cost of the hotel, but when they ate out, she had to pay her own way. Still, it was March and blustery in Black Mt., so soaking up the sun on that perfect beach was heavenly. She remembered that trip as a great adventure and a perfect chance to relax. And because she ordered mainly low-cost appetizers, it didn’t break the bank. The resort they were in catered to couples and was very romantic. When Lorraine asked Slim if he had been there before, he told her he came often, but came alone. Odd.

Slim came to Lorraine’s house every night for dinner, and even though it was costly for her, she enjoyed the company and the warm companionship. Often in the late afternoon, they would take Lorraine’s dog and go to the wine bar at Mellie’s. They could chat, read, or just sit silently together. She had loved those lazy afternoons. It wasn’t all bad.

Then there was the trip to the Outer Banks. They went out of season to avoid crowds and, of course, to take advantage of the off-season rates. It was an idyllic vacation, and Lorraine loved watching Suki, her poor deceased dog, frolic in the sand. That time, however, Slim made her split the cost of the hotel room. as well as food and gas. The sex was good nonetheless.

Shortly after that trip, Slim dropped off the face of the earth. He didn’t call. He didn’t return calls, and he didn’t answer emails. Lorraine drove by his house in Biltmore Forest late at night to see for herself whether he had died, but no. The red Mercedes was parked in the driveway and she could see him moving around in his upstairs bedroom. Was he alone? She couldn’t tell. What if he had already replaced her? And why? She had acceded to all his demands and thought they were having fun, but what had gone wrong. She would never know.

She cried her eyes out that night and recognized that she should not be driving because she could barely see through her tears, but she had to get back to 44 Cherry Street, so drive she did, and made it home in one piece. She mourned for months, cried many more tears, and hoped that at the very least she would lose weight with all that crying and grieving. She bought several outfits in a size four anticipating her slender new form. Sadly she gained fifteen pounds as she ate to fill the deep hole inside. She couldn’t bring herself to sleep in the bed she had shared with Slim, and so she slept on the lumpy couch in the living room for months. with Suki curled up beside her, kicking her in the stomach every so often.

When she developed back problems, she moved back to the bedroom and to her firm mattress, but not before buying a sage stick and smudging the apartment.

Lorraine took a long drink of her wine, used her toes to add more hot water to the tub, and settled back to think of some appropriate punishments for Slim. Punishments that wouldn’t kill him exactly, but would make him suffer. If she could somehow get her hands on his credit card, she would run up some big bills and that would just about kill him, much as he hated to spend money. On her.

Lorraine remembered the adage, “The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” She had fed him dinners for a year, and he seemed to savor the food she prepared. Perhaps the quickest way to revenge was also through a man’s stomach. She could put arsenic in some homemade apple sauce, but that might kill him.Too much? How about Ex-Lax in some brownies?  Diarrhea wasn’t painful enough, though. Vomiting, however… Lorraine did anything to keep from throwing up. Ipecac, then. Ipecac in Hermit cookies. Slim always loved her Hermits.

Lorraine laughed and deep, throaty laugh and drained her wine glass. Oh yes! Revenge was hers! She would tell Stephanie in the morning.