Jen stirred the cheese sauce as it simmered. If you didn’t keep stirring it, it would stick to the pot. Besides, she didn’t want the sauce to get lumpy. Her homemade macaroni and cheese was always a hit with Marty, even though it was such a simple dish. He’d be home in a little while, and she wanted it to be done right. She certainly wasn’t Susie Homemaker, but sometimes she felt like cooking, and Marty had his ways of showing his appreciation.
It was almost time to start cooking the pasta when Jen heard the knock at the door. She looked through the peephole. What was Colin doing here? This couldn’t be good. She unlocked the door and slowly opened it.
‘Hey, Colin,’ she said.
‘Hey, Jen. Marty here?’
‘Not yet. He’ll be home soon, though.’
‘No problem. I’ll wait.’ Colin pushed past her into the apartment.
‘This isn’t a good time,’ Jen said. ‘I’m in the middle of something, and like I said, Marty’s not here.’
Ignoring her, Colin strode into the living room and sat on the sofa. ‘I’ll wait for him. I need to talk to him. Hey, something smells good.’
‘I told you I’m busy. I’m cooking.’
‘Don’t mind me. I’ll just park it here for a while.’
Jen turned and went back into the kitchen. She stirred the sauce again and started to heat the water for the pasta. Colin’s visit was a problem. The plan was for Jen and Marty to leave early tomorrow morning and go someplace else, where nobody knew them, and people wouldn’t ask a lot of questions. Marty’d even talked about leaving the country and heading to Canada or even Australia. They’d done that sort of thing before, when they’d had to leave quickly. But none of it was going to happen without money, and that was why Colin was here. The timing couldn’t have been worse.
Just then, Jen heard Marty’s key in the door. She hadn’t had the chance to warn him, but Marty was a quick thinker. When he came in, Colin rose to his feet. ‘What’s up, Marty?’ he asked mockingly. ‘Surprised to see me?’
‘Hi, Colin,’ Marty calmly dropped his keys on the small table next to the door. ‘Yeah, I am a little surprised. I thought we settled everything.’ God he was good, Jen thought. Not showing any fear, which was the only way to deal with a snake like Colin.
‘Not even close,’ Colin snapped. ‘You still owe me.’
‘You got your money.’
‘See, that’s the thing,’ Colin went on. ‘I’ve been thinking about it. I’ve had a few unexpected expenses pop up, and I’m going to need more. It’s only right, since I helped you get all those cars.’
‘And you got your share. Now get out. Solve your own problems.’
Marty and Jen both looked up when they saw Colin pull a gun from his jacket pocket. ‘I don’t think so, Marty,’ he said. He stepped closer to Marty and pointed the gun.
A second later he started howling and cursing as a saucepan full of hot cheese sauce landed on him, pouring its contents all over his head and shoulders. That was just what Marty needed. He grabbed the gun from Colin’s hand, smiling briefly at Jen. The two of them made a good team. Then he looked back at Colin.
‘OK, Colin. Now’s your chance to leave before you really get hurt. You got your money, and that’s all you’re going to get.’
Colin shook himself a little. There was no point in arguing; Marty had the gun pointed straight at him. He muttered, ‘I’m coming for you, you bastard!’ as he stalked out.
Marty turned to Jen. ‘Hell of a move, hon. He didn’t even know you were behind him.’
She shrugged, pretending she wasn’t shaken by what had happened. ‘Yeah, but he ruined my sauce,’ she finally said. Then she got her thoughts together. ‘I’ll make more. It won’t take me that long, and we’ll just eat a little later.’
‘OK. I don’t mind the wait.’
Jen nodded and headed back into the kitchen. She rinsed the dirty pan and put it in the dishwasher. Then she got out another pan and gathered the ingredients to make more sauce. She added them, one by one, until she once again had a creamy cheese sauce. Once or twice, she looked over into the living room, where Marty was watching the news on TV. Good, he wasn’t paying any attention to her. When she was sure he wasn’t looking her way, she reached down behind the pots and pans on the lowest shelf of the pantry. She grabbed the box of rat poison she’d hidden there, and poured some of it in the sauce. She stirred it carefully, and then, when the pasta was ready, she mixed the casserole together. She put all the dishes she’d used into the dishwasher and set the table. ‘Dinner in about 45 minutes,’ she said.
Marty smiled at her. ‘Sounds good. You know I love your mac and cheese.’
Jen smiled back. She really was going to miss Marty – a lot. He was a good guy, and they made a good team. But that five hundred thousand dollars was waiting. So was Australia.