We drove up the snowy, winding road towards the cozy A-frame cabin. The weather forecast said there was more snow to come, but we had packed plenty of food and there was fuel enough for a whole winter of snow. We were looking forward to a long weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city. A long weekend of eating, drinking and relaxing.
“Are we nearly there yet?” Jane asked, leaning across from the rear seat where she had been sleeping for the past couple of hours.
“Not long now, baby,” I replied and was rewarded with a loud smacking kiss on the cheek just below my right ear.
“Hey! What about me?” complained Rob, with a mock whine in his voice. He was rewarded with a kiss too, as Jane leant over to the other side.
We had known each other since High School and started out just as three friends growing up together, but Jane and I had grown closer. Closer still until we became first an item and then eventually marrying, with Rob as our best man. That was three years ago. At first, Rob stayed away, giving us some space and time to settle into our married life. Then we both started to miss him so made a point of going out as a threesome from time to time. The winter weekend break for three was my idea and Jane and Rob both readily agreed.
“There it is!” said Jane, spotting the outline of the cabin through the swirls of snowflakes. A short way further and I drew the pickup into the outline of what I assumed was a driveway beneath the heavy covering of fresh snow. “It’s just perfect,” she said, as she threw open the door, leaping out into the snow.
It didn’t take us long to settle in. Taking turns to cook and wash the dishes, we spent most of our time walking around the woods and nearby lake or just relaxing in the cabin, drinking wine and making the best of the wood burner. It couldn’t have been cosier.
As we luxuriated by the heat of the roaring fire one evening, glasses of red wine in hand, I noticed the aluminium wood bucket was empty. Rob or Jane must have used the last log when I went out into the kitchen to open a fresh bottle of Burgundy.
“I’ll go out back to get some more,” I said, picking up the bucket. The wood was stored in a lean-to at the back of the cabin. I chose some logs and large hunks of wood. I was in no hurry and wanted to give them time. When I returned it couldn’t have been more obvious. They had moved further apart and were studiously ignoring each other, one flicking through a magazine the other examining an album cover. As artificial a scene as you could imagine. Of course, I had known about it for months. They thought they had been so careful, arranging their little trysts while I was away on business or visiting my folks. Yet the more they tried to hide their grubby little affair the more obvious it became. What kind of a fool did they take me for?
I had said nothing, awaiting my moment to confront Rob. I needed him alone and of course the weekend away in the snowy hills was a set up. Just like my trip out to the wood store. What they didn’t know was that I had crushed up some of Jane’s sleeping medication into her portion of the dessert I cooked. A rich chocolate pudding that would cover any taste from the powdered drug. Jane has already started to nod when I came back into the cabin.
“Why don’t you get an early night?” I prompted.
“You know, I think I will,” said Jane. “If you boys don’t mind amusing yourselves.” We both told her it would be fine.
“You won’t be needing any sleepy pills tonight,” I said. Knowing what her reaction would be.
“Would you lay off the drugs lecture,” she said with something that sounded like irritation. “They help me to get a good night’s sleep is all.” With this, I knew she would take two before she slipped into bed, guaranteeing she would be out cold until morning. Nothing like a bit of negative reinforcement.
“You go on up honey,” I said. “Rob and I will stay here and play some cards and drink some more wine. Give you some peace.” This we did until I was sure she was fast asleep.
“Hey, Rob, I got something to show you,” I said, getting up and heading for the door.
“Oh yeah, what’s that?” he said, curiosity in his voice.
“Out by the wood store. C’mon, let me show you.”
He got up and went to pick up his coat.
“You won’t need that.” I said. “We’ll only be a minute?”
“What is it?” He said this with a curious grin on his face. So trusting, so stupid. I just smiled, holding the door open as he stepped outside in just a shirt. I grabbed my coat before pulling the door shut behind me, feeling the thud of heavy metal against my right hip. “I thought you said …” Seeing me pull the coat on made his suspicious. He then smiled, mocking. “Can’t take the cold huh? What is it you wanted to show me, anyway?”
“This!” I said, pulling the automatic from the coat pocket.
“What? We gonna do some shooting buddy?” His voice was starting to sound slurred from the wine. I had made sure I poured him twice as many glasses as I had drunk.
“Not you,” I said, allowing the good humour to drain from my voice. We had now both stopped at the back of the cabin.
“Hey, what’s all this about?” he said, starting to sound a little annoyed.
“You know what it’s about. Walk!”
“What do you mean, I know what it’s about?” As he said this, I could see his eyes widen as it dawned upon him that I knew. His voice began to waver. “What? Greg, buddy, you don’t think…”
“Don’t think what, Rob?” I gestured with the gun in my hand to move off. He started to walk away from the cabin and began to shiver in the wind as the snowflakes settled in his hair and on his clothes. He continued to walk, looking back at me with each few steps. It was that easy.
“Look, Greg, it’s not what you think?”
“No? What is it then?” We were now leaving the shelter of the cabin and surrounding trees and were walking into a patch of open land, stumbling over the uneven surface, wading through the drifting carpet of snow.
“Greg, buddy, I can explain.”
“You, can?” He stopped, turning back towards me, holding out his arms in supplication.
“Greg, let’s be reasonable.”
“Yes, why don’t we, Rob?” As I said this, I raised the gun in my hand and pointed it at him without taking much trouble over the aim. I wouldn’t need to at that distance. I gestured again for him to keep walking.
“What you going to do?” he asked, looking over his shoulder at me.
“What do you think I’m gonna do?” I replied, again gesturing with the gun.
For a while we trudged through the ever-increasing depth of snow in silence, slipping and stumbling here and there. By now, Rob was shivering uncontrollably, and I could feel the cold even through the buttoned up, sheepskin-lined coat and hat I had pulled out of the left pocket and fitted over my head.
“You’ll never get away with it.”
“No? Keep walking,” I said, pointing the automatic now at Rob’s face.
“They’ll easily trace the bullets to that fancy piece you are carrying.”
“You think so?”
By now the wind was howling, snow being driven into our eyes, half blinding me and I guessed Rob too.
“C’mon Greg, can’t we talk, buddy?”
“Sure, go ahead. Sit down there and let’s talk.” I stayed a good 10 yards away.
“Please don’t shoot me.”
“I ain’t gonna shoot you, buddy.”
Sitting, shivering, on the snow-covered ground as the icy wind cut through Rob’s thin shirt and pants, I think he began to understand. He looked up at me, half pleading, half sorry for the pain he had caused. Or so I thought.
After a while, his shivering decreased, and I could see his eyes start to flicker. Then he began to clutch his arms around him in a last-ditched effort to keep out the cold. At this point I don’t think he could have got back up if he had tried. Still clutching his arms about him, he fell to one side in the snow, his legs shuddering.
It took about another hour before he was completely still. I waited a further 30 minutes but, by then, I was starting to feel the cold seep through my clothing, and I thought I had better get back while I could. I didn’t get any closer to Rob, who was now a lifeless bundle slowly being covered in a blanket of soft snow. He would be frozen solid by the time we came out to look for him in the morning. I headed back, throwing the gun into the lake as I passed it. It would be safe there. The police would know nothing about the gun and there would be no reason to search for one,
When I got back to the cabin, I took a big slug of brandy before boiling some water to make a hot honey and lemon drink which I took over to the wood burner, now roaring from the fuel I had added while the kettle boiled. By the time I snuggled into bed with Jane, who barely stirred, I was warm again and ready for some sleep.
© Raymond G. Taylor 2022
About the Creator
Author based in Kent, England. A writer of fictional short stories in a wide range of genres, he has been a non-fiction writer since the 1980s. Non-fiction subjects include art, history, technology, business, law, and the human condition.