Gwil James Thomas

Dishing The Dirt

One thing Fernando and Carla González had shared over the years of marriage was their love of gossiping. From friends, to work colleagues, to shop assistants, to barflies, there were few that the couple wouldn’t pry, or spy on – eagerly waiting to meet the other so that they could dish the dirt. Yes dear reader – the boring fucks really didn’t have anything better to do with their time on earth! Though it was arguable that it had saved their marriage.

Over the years, the González’s had found themselves leaving their flat much less. Not that this had stopped their appetite for hearsay. Instead, they simply intensified their gossiping to the residents and visitors in their block of flats. But it was their neighbours – the Rodriguez’s that’d be the source of most conversations for the duo.

The Rodriguez’s had moved in over a decade ago. They’d been younger than the González’s and had almost seemed the perfect couple, still full of life and hope for the future. Fernando and Carla both hated bumping into them. There seemed very little to fault. Then there were the evenings that Carla and Fernando would sit at their kitchen table eating dinner, as the walls would shake and ladles fell from their hooks. Which was accompanied by the loud groans and banging of bedposts through the paper-thin walls from the sexual olympics that were going on in the Rodriguez’s adjacent bedroom. As Carla and Fernando continued to sit there in front of their meals with a rare silence.

However, over time those evenings of passion were soon replaced with sobs and the dominating shouts of Ignacio Rodriguez coming through the wall. Which Carla and Fernando quickly took notice of over their food, as if it was some sort of soap opera. Carla and Fernando would rarely see them together either and if they did they’d remark on how unhappy and worn down the other couple looked.

This went on for sometime, until one day there was a noticeable change. Suddenly the neighbouring flat went very quiet – despite the odd rustle, or knock. It was as if Fernando and Carla’s favourite TV show had just been cancelled with no explanation, or finale. It’d also felt like a long time since they’d seen Ignacio and even longer since they’d seen Martha. Fernando and Carla would sit in their kitchen waiting for the next instalment from their neighbours – yet there was nothing.

Underwhelmed, it’d soon got to the couple and eventually Carla had come up with an idea. Instead of standing there with a glass to the kitchen wall, she’d invite the Rodriguez’s over for coffee.

The following morning, Carla rang their bell and got no response. Yet, not one to quit easily, she soon gave them a call and after a while the someone finally picked up. It was Martha. She sounded almost elated on the phone with the prospect of socialising. However, Martha said that she was just cooking something and that they’d bring over some lunch later instead.

Come lunchtime Carla and Fernando eagerly opened the door to Martha – surprised to see her on her own – when Martha had then told Carla that Ignacio couldn’t make it sadly. But what had caught the González’s attention more than anything else was the mad and dreamlike fashion that Martha had about her and her smile, her incredible smileplastered from one side of her face to the other. The table was already set when Martha placed a large Tupperware on it and pulled off the lid as steam rose from the stew along with a rich aroma.

The three of them soon sat down as Fernando grabbed a ladle and served up the stew. Martha’s grin was now starting to get a little creepy and Carla tried initiating conversation, but Martha was far too interested in asking them about the stew. Which was surprisingly good, so good in fact that Fernando had reached for a second helping. Before he soon bit into something and discovered a fingernail attached to a chunk of finger. Fernando buried the rest of it, under some more stew and played ignorant.

As Carla tried again to quiz Martha on anything and everything between licking her lips, Fernando quietly went off to the toilet and vomited up the cannibal carne, wiped part of it off his shirt and reached for his phone. Aware that they’d all have a lot to talk about very soon. Too much to talk about. But before he did anything else he stared at his reflection in the mirror, released a deep sigh and for the first time in decades he took a good hard look at himself.

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