It was only the revelations of the Banking Royal Commission that made Rhonda delve into the state of her financial investments. At 63 years of age, and divorced for some time, her mother’s inheritance had left her with a comfortable amount of money, that if spent wisely would see her through the remainder of her days.
Rhonda’s sister advised her to seek the advice of a financial planner in order to find a safe way to invest it, perhaps a person that she already knew and trusted.
Ken Hocking from the golf club fitted that bill; a man in his late sixties, he had sometimes paired with her in a mixed match foursome, and made an excellent Bridge partner during card nights.
After many years of working as an investment officer for the Macquarie Bank, he now operated a financial advice business from home. When the club secretary agreed that Ken would make a good choice, Rhonda asked him to take her on as well.
It soon became the thing that when meeting in his backyard office, he would invite her into the house afterwards for a cup of coffee. The coffee soon became wine, the clinking of toasting glasses led to ever longer embraces, and the ever rising hardness of their kissing soon led to their sexual entwinement, reigniting her long abandoned carnal desires into the smugness of satiated sexual fulfilment.
But that was to end. After he suicided.
They had just had matinee sex on the Persian rug that Rhonda had given him today for a ‘just being you’ present. After he left her softness and fell away beside her, as usual, his breathing edged away into a deep sleep.
“Come on sleepy boy, let’s keep you nice and warm, eh?” she whispered, and rolled him tightly into the rug, sticking the whole thing together with duct tape until it could no longer be unfurled.
She then lay down on the bed in wait.
They needed to talk.
She was awoken to the muffled cries of “Rhonda what on earth is going on? If this is some form of sexual bondage I am definitely not interested. Now get me out of here before I fucking well suffocate! Rhonda? RHONDAAAA???”
She let him stew in his fold while she left the room to fill the bath. As the water tumbled and turned, she thought about her first husband who abandoned her to raise their four young children alone, and how she had waited until their teenage years to find another partner, and although happy for a while, she finally saw that all he really wanted was someone else’s roof over his head, and a domesticated woman to replace his mother.
Ken had become the third man in her life to break her trust – her third strike. So it was with a furrowed brow that she filled the bath to its task.
The rug lay still when she returned to his bedroom, and she saw it had shifted a few inches or so, with some of the duct tape stretched near the joins when he tried to free himself from his confinement.
She spoke down to him in well-measured words.
“Terrible business this suicide of yours Ken, drowning in your own bath and everything …”
His feet end of the rug suddenly billowed dust into the air from the frenzied kicking that came from within.
“… preferring not to face the world as the embezzling arsehole that you are.”
Through the muffling thickness of the rug, she heard the repeated word sorry, that he was sorry Rhonda, so sorry Rhonda, I am so truly sorry.
“No worries”, she said, “I’d be sorry too if I were you. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve just got to nick out to the car to get the op shop skateboard I bought, so that I can wheel you down to the bathroom. Back in a tick.”
And she left him in the quiet, and with little chance of distraction, his world was filled with noise: the kids playing in the nearby primary school; the changing gears of a distant motor bike; a gardener’s leaf blower. Nothing really stood out, just the taken for granted sounds of being alive.
“Back again” Rhonda said, and began the effort of getting the skateboard under him.
“I can get your money back Rhonda, I mean, I’ll double it if you want, if you just let me out of this stinking rug. Please, Rhonda, please, I’m an arsehole, I know that, but double your money Rhonda, double your money!”
“Ken, you are so full of shit, the rug’s probably full of it. Do you really think that I will let this all go for a few days while you wheel and deal my money back?”
She began pulling him over the bedroom carpet towards his bathroom.
“No, hang on Rhonda, hang on. I’ve got the money here, in the house, I’ve got it in cash. In cash. For Christ fucking sake woman, double your investment, or, or name your price for my life. Please, I’m begging you, don’t drown me, please don’t drown me over a matter of money.”
She came to a stop in the hallway. “And where exactly would that money be then Ken?”
“I can’t tell you that Rhonda, but if you can see some commonsense here, open up the rug and I promise you, I’ll swear on my mother’s grave, I’ll go and get that cash for you, and we’ll call it all quits. I’m talking about some eight hundred thousand dollars Rhonda, in cash for Christ’s sake! Just let me out!”
“The water’s nice and warm for you”, she replied in answer, wheeling him into the bathroom.
As she slid him against the side of the bath, he yelled in gathering desperation “Behind the vent of the clothes dryer, there’s a nylon cord, pull that up and there’s a bag hidden in the wall cavity, and it’s full of cash, over a million bucks probably, I don’t really know, and I honestly can’t tell you why I do it, it’s wrong though, I know that now, and … and …“
Leaving his sobbing, Rhonda made her way downstairs to the laundry, lifted the dryer from the wall, pulled up the bag, and counted out the $100 notes that had made up her initial investment. Just that, and no more.
The authorities would find the rest and hopefully kick off the investigation that would see him condemned.
She returned to the bathroom, and bit by bit, managed to lift the rug and ease him feet first into the water. “I’ve only taken what you owe me”, she said.
Seeming to have arrived at an acceptance of his fate, death by greed, he didn’t resist, the rug stilled as his head went under.
She waited until his air bubbles ceased to break the surface, and emptied the bath. She cut the duct tape away and freed him from the rug, cutting it into smaller pieces and placing them into a large plastic bag, that she would carefully dispose of on her way home.
After carefully cleaning the bath, she refilled it. She was pleased to see that her plan of tightly restricting his movements was a good one, as his body looked free of any struggle, which would aid the coroner’s verdict of suicide.
She knelt by the bath to bid him bon voyage on his final journey, and with a tinge of regret, couldn’t help but notice that his regular weekly investment was still showing no signs of going down.
At $12.50 for a packet of four, the Viagra pills had paid her many fine dividends indeed.