This was a very difficult day for Rosie. Bert, her husband, had been fatally injured in a freak explosion in his beloved shed. The amount of time he spent in there had often worried Rosie. She’d even been into his shed while he was out at a football match with his friends one Saturday, to see if she could find out what he had in there that was so fascinating, so compelling. She could find nothing.
On the day of the accident, a Sunday, Bert had gone out to his shed, telling Rosie that he had some work to do on an article he was writing for a specialist magazine. He said it was to do with insect infestation in old wooden buildings.
“Couldn’t you write that in here?” Rosie asked “Do you have to lock yourself in there all the time?”
“Can’t write it indoors,” he mumbled. “Can’t concentrate. Besides, you have the wireless on all the time, so a man can’t hear himself think.”
“Anyway,” Rosie said, “what do you know about insect infestation?”
“That’s why I need to think.” He said, and marched out.
An hour later, there was an explosion. Rosie didn’t go near the shed; it was still in flames. She called for the Fire Brigade, who turned up quite quickly, accompanied by two policemen and an ambulance crew. When they eventually managed to get through the rubble, they found Bert’s charred body. The brigade carried out a thorough investigation, examined all the remains, and in the end put the explosion down to Bert lighting a cigarette when there was a leak of gas from the small fridge he has, or rather had, in there. He should have smelt the gas, but they believed that it was probably masked by some other stronger smell in the shed at the time. They couldn’t find anything that could give that much smell, but agreed that it must have been that.
The man at the bank, an assistant manager by the name of Xavier Mendez – funny name, Rosie thought, but she said nothing about it – was very kind. He went through all of their joint affairs with her, and arranged for everything to be transferred to her sole name. The bank had wanted to send him to the funeral, as Bert had been a loyal customer for more than fifty years and they still seemed to value that, not like most big businesses these days, but Rosie had said that she just wanted it to be a private family affair with no fuss. Less fuss there could not have been. Bert’s family consisted of Rosie and, well, nobody else. Revd Braithwaite gave him a nice send-off and the cremation fire did the rest. The irony wasn’t lost on Rosie.
The police and fire brigade were happy that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Bert’s accident, so his funeral wasn’t delayed, and all the paperwork went through easily. His life insurance payment had just arrived at the bank, which is why Rosie had been called in.
That nice Mr Mendez (please, call me Xavier) explained that the insurance money was enough to pay off the rest of the mortgage and leave her with a handsome sum in her account. Eighty thousand pounds, he said. Not that she wanted it. She told him that no amount of money could replace Bert, and without him to help her, she wouldn’t know what to with it. Xavier said that it will always be there, earning interest, if she ever needs it for any purpose.
Rosie went home to the house in which she had effectively been alone for quite a long time. She didn’t expect there to be much change in her life, except she was now cooking, washing and cleaning for one. Oh yes, and she had eighty thousand pounds in the bank.
She turned in for the night, thinking that the double-strength pine air freshener was probably the best three pounds she had spent in many a year.