Marjorie’s friend Edith Clancy had asked if they’d look after the hole over Christmas. She was off visiting her eldest in Skegness and wouldn’t be back until the New Year.
Marjorie had space in the spare bedroom now that their youngest, Suzie had gone off to live with that young man of hers. She’d had to push the bed against one of the walls to fit the hole in but, apart from that, it had all gone very smoothly.
Then the tears began. Later that night, shortly after she’d finished her mug of Horlicks, loud sobbing noises emerged from the spare bedroom. It turns out the hole was feeling lonely. It wasn’t used to being stuck out of the way. No amount of gentle coaxing from Marjorie could get the poor thing to calm down.
In the end, Bill had to be persuaded to get out of bed and carry it downstairs. They moved the telly and settled the hole in a corner in the lounge. It seemed much happier and sat there purring like a cat and glowing gently.
It was not an unpleasant hole. Roughly the size of a dustbin lid and quite unobtrusive. It didn’t need feeding or cleaning but did like company. It particularly enjoyed the old Christmas programmes and Marjorie was sure she heard it crying when ‘Love Actually’ was on.
Marjorie looked from the hole to her husband and said,
“Well! Are we going or not?”
Bill looked up from his paper. He stared at his wife. They’d been married for thirty years now and as he looked at her he wondered how on earth it had lasted that long.
“Up to you love,” he replied. “Mind you, this time of year’s not good for travelling. The roads will be busy and the weather’s not great. Says it might snow tonight. Why don’t we just stay here.”
“That’s the trouble with you Bill Matthews, you’ve no sense of adventure. Anyway, if we use the hole we won’t need to worry about busy roads. Edith said we could give it a whirl, as long as she could have it back when she gets home.”
Bill put the paper down in his lap knowing he was wasting his time trying to finish reading the report on yesterday’s match. “But we don’t know if it’s safe to love? We’ve only Edith’s word it actually works and you know how scatty she can be. If you ask me, it all sounds a bit weird.”
Marjorie sighed. Edith had told her using the hole was easy. All you had to do was decide on a holiday destination. Then it was just a case of stepping into the hole, calling out the name of the place you wanted to go to and that was it.
“I’ve told you, Bill,” she said, “One moment you are stepping into the hole with your packed bags and the next moment you’re in front of a hotel in your favourite resort. Edith and Jim have been using it for years. They’ve been all over the place. Margate last year, then Southend. They even went as far as Blackpool once.”
“What about getting back?” said Bill.
“Simple,” said Marjorie, “With this model, all holidays are exactly seven days long. You can get a more expensive hole that will give you longer. At the end of your holiday, you simply stand at the place you were dropped off and the next thing you know your back in the hole and home. We could try somewhere abroad Somewhere warm, exotic and romantic.” ”
Bill shuddered at the thought.
“I’ve decided,” she announced, “I’m using the hole for a holiday. For the next week, I’m going to be in the sunshine in Majorca. If you don’t want to come with me that’s fine. You can look after yourself. There’s some cold turkey in the fridge.”
Bill continued reading his paper as his wife flounced out of the room.
Twenty minutes later she was standing next to the hole, which appeared to be glowing more brightly than usual. Bill looked over the top of the paper. She was dressed in a tee shirt, long baggy shorts and a pair of flip flops. Her sunglasses were tucked into her tee shirt and by her side was a bulging suitcase.
She turned to her husband.
“When I get back in seven days Bill Matthews I expect this place to be looking pristine.” Then, she picked up her suitcase, shouted ‘Majorca’, stepped into the hole and disappeared.
Bill closed his newspaper, put it on the table by his chair, got up and peered into the hole. He half expected to see her lying there. She wasn’t. It had worked. He looked at his watch. It was 2.00pm. If Marjorie was right she’d reappear out of that hole at exactly 2.00pm in seven days from now. He had to move quickly.
Bill spent much of the week in the library, either pouring over books or intently looking at a computer screen. Every now and again he could be seen making copious notes in a small black notebook. He had to find the right place.
It was a long journey and the hole sobbed the whole time. To begin with, Bill had it on the back seat, hoping the music from the car’s radio would keep it amused. By the time they reached Carlisle Bill had shoved the thing in the boot and turned the radio up full volume so he couldn’t hear it.
Bill arrived at his destination, a small island off the far west coast of Scotland just after lunch. Today was the day Marjorie returned from her holiday. He hoped his calculations were right.
He parked by the side of a small deserted beach, opened the boot, and lifted the hole out. He carried it gently down towards the shoreline. He studied the notes in his little black notebook and started pacing back from the sea back up the beach. Then he stopped. Checked his notes once again and carefully put the hole down. It was now one o’clock. If his calculations were right it was just fifty minutes to go until high tide.
Bill got back in his car and watched the tide roll in. The waves crashed onto the beach and surrounded the hole. By 2.00pm it was far out to sea.
A week later the police arrived at Bill’s door to inform him that his wife’s drowned body had been washed ashore on a remote island in the Outer Hebrides. How she got there remains a mystery.
As for Edith Clancy – she bought herself a new hole. The latest model that allows you to travel wherever you want and for as long as you want. It had been expensive but Bill Matthews had kindly given her some money from the payout from poor Marjorie’s life insurance.
She and Bill are currently in the Maldives and not expected back for at least another month.