The funeral was a sombre affair as most funerals are. Ben Masters stared down at hi girlfriend's grave and fought the urge to break dance on the freshly turned soil. He was trying to play the grieving hunk and tap dancing on the grave would have been unseemly. Chichi Nassir had been a pain in the arse almost since the day they had met, but Ben had made such a huge thing about getting the town virgin that he hadn't been willing to admit defeat. Even in his most honest moments, he would never admit that Chichi had been too much for him. Always wanting to spend time with him, getting jealous when he flirted with those other girls and grabbed their butts.
Ben allowed himself the tiniest of smiles. He'd fixed things and now she was dead. As far as anyone else was concerned, Chichi's death had either been a tragic accident or suicide. All though how you commit suicide with a tanning bed was beyond him. So what if Ben had turned up the heat? Changed the time? Chichi spent so much time on those things; her organs were pretty well cooked anyway. Ben just helped her along a little. He turned away from the crowd and finally allowed himself a large, smug grin.
The next morning, Ben rolled over and grinned to himself. The soft form beside him stirred, she was a voluptuous brunette unlike the skinny, blonde Chichi. Wendy Lindford was definitely more his taste; she did as she was damn told and knew her place. Ben stretched and pulled her closer, smiling into her curls for a moment before dragging himself from the bed. He pulled the curtains and aside and threw the window open, taking a deep breath. Ben stared out into the garden and almost chocked on his own tongue. Standing on the grass was a tall, skinny blonde girl with a deep tan. She lifted a hand in a wave. Ben spun from the window and bolted downstairs but by the time he'd swung open the front door, the figure was gone.
Pru Winton backed away from her window; she'd heard Ben shriek her best friend's name and had gone to see what the problem was. The douche bag was kneeling on the grass, staring up and down the street with a pale face and rolling eyes. The brunette whore was trying to help but Ben just shoved her away. Pru snarled and turned away, suppressing the urge to march across the street and wrap her hands around his throat and squeeze untill something cracked. The sound of an engine starting a few moments later made Pru turn back to the window, Ben was at the wheel of his flashy red car. He peeled away, leaving his hooker friend standing in the driveway. Pru frowned; the car was heading for the cemetery. Guilty conscience? Probably not, that would imply that Ben had had human emotions.
"You know, if you keep spying on that sack of shit I'm gonna get jealous and then beat the Hell outta him." Pru turned and smiled at Damien Blink and let him hug her so he wouldn't see how tempted she was to take him up on that offer.
"Sorry, Damien. It just really pisses me off that he's walking round like he did nothing wrong and Chichi's dead."
"The police questioned him. It was just an accident; Chichi overdid the sun beds is all. You need to let it go." Pru pushed him away; she didn't want to hear this again.
"He killed her. The last time I saw Chichi she said that she was scared of him. She'd fallen asleep on the sun bed a few times but woke up to find the heat turned up and the time increased. I've dozed off on them things before; they should turn themselves off when the timer runs out. That pig fucker killed my best friend." Pru clenched her jaw against the tears that threatened to fall. Damien sighed and went back to the kitchen to finish his coffee.
Ben swung the car into an empty space and almost threw himself onto the pavement; he ran through the cemetery gates and counted the headstones as he went. Chichi was dead, he'd seen the body and the woman in his garden had just been a figment of his imagination. Ben tripped over his own feet and almost knocked himself out Chichi's headstone; it was strangely comforting that everything was still the way it had been at the funeral.
"You're dead. I killed you and you're dead. So leave me alone!" whispered Ben, hating the desperation in his voice.
"Do you miss me Ben? Do you?" Ben leapt to his feet and spun around, there was a slim blonde woman hurrying away. He snarled and chased after her, spinning her round by her upper arm. Ben's hand was lifted before he realised the woman he was about to strike wasn't Chichi, she was older and her eyes were a different colour. She screamed and wrenched herself from his grip, running from the cemetery. Ben gaped for a moment before running his hands through his hair and dropping back to his knees. Jesus Christ, maybe it was time for a holiday. Ben staggered to his feet and shuffled back to his car. Yeah, definitely time for a holiday.
Pru pushed open the gate and walked towards her front door, Damien was waiting because her arms were full of flowers. They had been delivered to her shop at lunch time so Pru had decided to take the afternoon off and bring them home.
"Wow. Where are those from? You're other lover?" he asked, smiling to show he was joking. Pru handed him the flowers and followed him through the house to the kitchen.
"They're from Chichi's sister. She called today; I didn't even know Chichi had a sister! Her name's Karen and she couldn't make it back in time for the funeral, she's coming into town in the next few days and I said we could meet up and go for dinner or something" said Pru, she put the flowers in the largest vase she could find and poured herself a cup of coffee.
"You think she'll like us?"
"What's not to like?" said Damien, sipping from his own mug. Pru smiled, she ached for her friend but Chichi wouldn't want them to be sad. She'd always said her funeral was going to be one big party, just like her life.
The sound of a car door slamming outside bought Pru rushing to the living room window, she peered through the nets. Damien sighed but he didn't say anything, it wasn't worth it. He looked over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow; Ben was hurrying into his house with an armful of travel brochures.
"Murderer fleeing the country. Can you say Crippin?" said Pru, her voice dripping with sarcasm. Damien nudged her in the back.
"Forget him. Come on, I'm hungry."
Wendy was gone when Ben finally slammed into the house. That was okay, he wasn't planning on taking her with him anyway. He dumped the brochures on the table and began to sift through them, trying to decide between hot or cold weather. A door closed outside and Ben got up and frowned, he could just make out Damien leaving the opposite house. A sudden idea hit him like a bolt of lightning. Who was tormenting him? Easy. Who blamed him for the death of her best friend? Who could just go out and buy a blonde wig? They were the same height, same build. Ben kicked the coffee table across the room and gave a shriek of rage. Maybe it was about time to have a chat with Miss Pru.
Pru closed the door before Damien and flopped down onto the sofa; she switched on the TV but couldn't get her mind to focus on anything. The back door suddenly flew open and then slammed closed. Pru twisted in her seat as Ben strode into her dining room as if he owned the place. She slowly climbed to her feet, feeling the world narrow to a pin point of light as her anger swallowed everything.
"Get out of my house, you murdering sack of shit" she said, her voice a low growl. Ben reached into his pocket and pulled out a steak knife, he smiled and waved it in front of Pru.
"We need to talk" he said. Pru raised her eyebrows, she reached across the table to the cabinet and snatched up a cork screw, she grinned.
"Yeah, we really fuckin' do." Pru stepped forward.
Damien moved the Chinese takeaway bag into his other hand and pulled out his key. Something that looked like a marble ashtray suddenly smashed through the living room window and landed on the grass, Damien dropped the bag and shoved his key into the lock.
"Pru! What the Hell's going on?" he yelled, barrelling through the hall and into the living room. He stopped on the threshold and gasped, the room was a warzone. Pru was standing on one side of the room; there was a long slash on her right arm and a cut on her bottom lip. She was waving a bloody corkscrew and screaming obscenities.
On the other side of the room was Ben and he was definitely the loser here. His face seemed to be one big bruise and he was having trouble keeping a grip on the knife, there was a pattern on his hand and fingers that Damien vaguely recognized from the meat tenderizer. A few of his fingers seemed to be broken and he was limping badly.
"I'll fucking kill you!" screamed Ben, he tried to rush across the room but Damien tripped him before he took more than two steps. Before he could fall, Damien grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and dragged him to the door, throwing him out into the garden and slamming the door.
"Son of a bitch" he muttered, going back to Pru. She gave a small smile, the cut on her lip split again and blood dribbled down her chin.
"That felt good" she sighed and dropped to the carpet in a dead faint. Damien surveyed the damage and sighed.
"Never a dull moment" he muttered, lifting Pru onto the sofa.
Ben managed to drag himself home and up to the bathroom, he was vaguely aware of someone helping him up the stairs.
"Thanks Wendy" he said, grimacing as every part f his face hurt. He filled the bath with water and pulled his clothes off; Wendy helped him into the water before folding his clothes. Ben groaned but managed a smile as he watched Wendy tidying up after him. She put the folded clothes on the closed lid of the toilet and straightened up. Ben gasped; he blinked as if that would make the vision go away. The woman was blonde, not brunette. She turned to face him and Ben felt the blood in his veins freeze.
"Chichi?" he whispered. She smiled and grabbed his ankles, yanking him upwards. Ben's upper body dropped under the water, he thrashed around but couldn't find anything to grip. He couldn't breathe, his lungs were burning. Suddenly, it didn't matter anymore. His limbs turned to lead and he stopped struggling. The darkness swallowed him whole.
Pru and Damien arrived at the restaurant early. She tried to ignore the stares she was drawing, there had been a few bruises that make up just hadn't been able to hide. They sat down at the table and ordered their drinks. Pru reached across the table for a napkin and winced as her bruised ribs pulled. Damien handed her the napkin and sighed.
"I wish you'd let me call the police."
"Yeah, because they did such a great job for Chichi" laughed Pru, she sighed and sipped her drink.
"What are you planning on telling Karen?"
"I'll tell her the truth. I had a run in with a murderer." They stopped talking when a third person approached their table, she smiled but Pru and Damien could only stare.
"Chichi?" whispered Pru, forcing the words out through numb lips. The tall blonde gave a sad smile.
"No. I'm Karen. Chichi and I were twins. Didn't she tell you?"