They had been told that they could return to the house and, after some hesitation, they did. Both wanted to get it over with quickly, worried that should they put it off any longer, it would become impossible. They had already agreed that the mattress and bed frame would be gotten rid of, it seemed best to both of them, Diane insisted that the entire room be repainted and though Patrick was a little concerned about the paint fumes, he agreed.
The house felt different when they entered, though neither could say why. The rank odour that they had been expecting wasn’t present. They went up the stairs together, the door to their bedroom was closed. Patrick opened the door. The blood was still there, so was the message. His breath caught in his throat. He crossed the room, breathing shallowly, and opened the window. That should help get rid of some of it. Diane had disappeared from the room, he wondered if she was throwing up again. He shook his head slightly, at least they had the spare room to sleep in. Diane returned a few moments later with heavy plastic gloves and black bags. “Here, help me with this.” Patrick donned a pair of gloves and together they stripped the sheets from the mattress and wrapped them up. “I think we should keep them, just in case.” “The cops don’t need them, they would have taken them if they did.” “I still think we should hold onto them.” They black bags were lined against the wall, Patrick sighed. “Fine, we’ll keep them in the side room downstairs. We don’t use that for much anyway.” There was a large stain in the centre of the mattress, a deep maroon. Patrick wondered how they would get rid of it. He didn’t want to touch it and he assumed Diane would be the same. Maybe they should burn it. At least the frame would be easy, it could be disassembled in no time. He was glad he didn’t let Diane get that one solid lump of a thing she’d been looking at. He had claimed it was too expensive for what it was, really he just didn’t want to have to lug it upstairs. Diane disappeared again, but quickly returned with spray air freshener, armed with two she started to spray, her t-shirt pulled over her nose. Patrick left the room, the thick cloying clouds of chemicals was too much. When she was done she came out of their room and closed the door behind her. “Sorry. I didn’t want that smell to get absorbed into anything.” “It’s fine. I think I’ve lost all sense of smell anyway.” She pretended to chuck the can at his head. “Shit. What about flies?” “What about them?” “Will they be attracted to the blood or something?” “I have no idea.” “Damn.” “I’m sure it’ll be fine. Here, we’ll get the guest room set up now, while we’re in the mood.” They stripped off their gloves and went to the hot press.
It didn’t take long to get the guest room sorted out, they changed the sheets and duvet cover, once that was done, they decided it was time for lunch. Neither was that hungry, but they decided that they needed to do some shopping, so they might as well get something in for lunch. They left the windows open when they went out, Diane reasoning that who ever broke in wasn’t stopped by locks, an open second floor window wouldn’t provide much of an advantage. They took their time shopping, not bothering with a list. When they first decided they were done the trolley only held a few items, a small bag of rolls, some ham and a few bottles of soft drink. Seeing what they had gotten, they decided to do another round and this time they filled the trolley.
They packed everything away when they got home, cleaning out most of the food in the fridge, just in case. It didn’t seem as though anything had been tampered with but they wanted to be sure that everything was fine.
Patrick was looking forward to going back to work, of getting back to some normal routine, though he knew that Gloria would be bugging him to find out what happened. He didn’t want to have to go through explaining it to her, then answering all of her follow up questions. She probably couldn’t wait to tell her mother, as though it was some kind of real life soap opera. He wasn’t sure if he was allowed say anything, after all, they might know who ever broke in, he doubted it was Gloria, she was probably at home with her kid when it happened, but it could be worrying. Maybe he should warn her, should any new men suddenly appear in her life. She was never a good judge of men. She seemed to choose the worst and was instantly blinded by their flaws. Going out with them for a short, explosive period before becoming single again. Since Charlie had gotten older she had been dating less and less, he was pleased by this development, hoping it meant she was getting some sense, though he knew it was unlikely.
Diane went upstairs again and went into the bedroom, she paused outside it, breathing slowly. She didn’t want to be assaulted by the smells when she opened the door. Her hand rested on the knob, waiting to turn it. She had left Patrick downstairs. She wanted to get used to moving around her own home alone again. She didn’t want to be nervous here. She twisted the handle, then paused, taking another breath. Finally she pushed the door open, it swung inwards gently, the smell seemed to have dissipated somewhat. She took a tentative sniff. It wasn’t too bad. She didn’t want to close the windows just yet. She went into the room and found a door stopper, she wedged the door open and preceded to do the same for the others on the landing, then she opened all the upstairs windows, wanting to get a breeze going. Once that was done, she went downstairs again and grabbed some candles. She lit them and placed them strategically around the room and landing. Once they got the bed removed she would get some cleaners in to clean the carpet, if it was done professionally, there was no way the smell would remain. The walls and ceilings would need to be painted, but she and Patrick could do it themselves. It would just be a waste of money getting someone else in to do it. She looked at the message and shivered. That would have to be cleaned off, she’d get Patrick to carry the ladder up, it shouldn’t be too hard to clean, though she’d feel better once the ceiling was repainted, that was she could be sure there would be no visible stain. Turning, she left the room and went downstairs.