The Meticulous Mr Hemingsworth by C JRichardson
Mr Hemmingworth was highly respected in the office. A tall, straight-backed man with immaculate hair, immaculate suit and always clean shaven.
He carried an air of authority and confidence that encouraged all who worked for or alongside him to adopt an attitude that made his department, the one area of the business that every other section could aspire to.
He enjoyed the value that his employers placed upon him and made it his life’s work to always live up to their expectations. There had never been an occasion where, when asked, he couldn’t pass over any report, file or piece of information immediately and without hesitation.
His timekeeping and that of his staff was exemplary and the average number of sick days, for the year, in his department was, unsurprisingly, almost zero. I say almost because one person had unfortunately broken his leg and had reluctantly taken an afternoon off while it was put in plaster. No one wanted to let Mr Hemmingworth or their prestigious department down.
Today was Mrs Hemmingworth’s birthday and he was looking forward to getting home and surprising her with the gift that he had bought her at the weekend.
Mr Hemmingworth finished work at exactly five o clock and had an uneventful drive home. He pulled on to the drive of their 1970’s semi in his spotless, shiny silver Mercedes. The brass knob on the front door glistened in the late afternoon sun and the borders in the garden were awash with colour as the bedding plants beamed up at him from their military rows.
Mr Hemmingworth smiled, put his key in the lock and escaped into the sanctity of his home.
‘Darling. I’m home’ he shouted as he slipped out of his jacket and draped it over the stair bannister. His tie soon joined the jacket and he undid the top two buttons of his crisp white shirt. He narrowly avoided tripping over the basket of clean laundry, not yet ironed, as he made his way down the hallway to the kitchen. The vacuum cleaner stood in front of the under stairs cupboard with the cord in a heap beside it. He stepped around it and opened the kitchen door.
Something smelled good. Something smelled very good. Mrs Hemmingworth was standing with her back to him as she stirred something in a pan on the hob. The steam billowed its way above her head and into the extractor fan. He heard her blow her beautiful blonde hair out of her eyes.
The kitchen table looked as if it had been in the centre of an argument. Every inch of surface was covered by used bowls, broken eggshells, spilt flour, sugar and a large pool of milk that was running over the edge and was dripping onto the floor. The other vacuum cleaner in the house, Rolo the chocolate Labrador, was lapping it up whilst eyeing the bowls on the table and Mrs Hemmingworth in turn. He was trying to decide whether he could manage to reach them without being seen. Miss Purrfect, the cat, had already had a go at them and he wasn’t going to be left out.
A pile of dirty shirts were on the floor in front of the washing machine waiting for the final rinse and spin of the last load to finish.
Mr Hemmingworth put his present down amongst the debris on the table, looked at his wife and grinned. Even after twenty years, he loved her ‘Barbara Windsor’ shape. He crept up and gently put his arms around her waist. She caught her breath as he nuzzled her neck. She smelled of fresh bread, apple pie and just a hint of the perfume that he had bought for her on their anniversary. He took the spoon from her perfectly manicured hand and put it on the worktop. Miss Purrfect took that as her cue to jump up and try and lick the contents without burning her tongue.
Mrs Hemmingworth turned to face her husband and he cupped her face in both hands before kissing her long and hard. Finally letting her go, he picked up the beautifully wrapped present and passed it to her. She opened it deliberately slowly to prolong the suspense.
‘Oh, darling! How wonderful.’ She exclaimed, her voice still slightly breathless from the kiss. ‘It’s Twister. I’ve always wanted this game.’
They looked at each other and, as their eyes remained locked, Mrs Hemmingworth moved to the other side of the table. They lifted it together and moved it to the side of the room. Kicking any remnants of food and debris from the floor they spread out the brightly coloured plastic sheet.
Mr Hemmingworth stepped back and watched his beautiful wife take off all her clothes and throw them on the pile of dirty shirts. He followed suit quickly.
‘Now then,’ he growled ‘Who’s turn is it first?’