GRANNY Bledislow was a garrulous old biddy. She imagined she knew everyone well enough to refer to them by their first name, and she collected fragments of unimportant information, which she cobbled together.
Herein lay the danger.
Mrs Bledislow did not like her neighbour, Alisia Wadsworth. She disapproved of her lifestyle. "Frivolous" was one of the adjectives she used, as well as "wasteful" and certainly "sinful". Alisia entertained often, sometimes with groups of people who laughed and drank wine. Granny knew this because of the bottles in the recycling bin. Alisia was a "new-age" woman, and that engendered total disapproval.
There was another neighbour who did not meet the criteria set down by Granny Bledislow. Janine Hughes was an artist, and according to Granny, a "hermit". She worked alone, she seldom had guests, and her conversations with Mrs. Bledislow were limited to monosyllables.
This set the scene for scrupulous overseeing through lace net curtains.
One day, Janine Hughes had an evening visitor, a handsome man, much to the gossipmonger's delight. Who could it be, she wondered, and what was he doing there? Evoking even more curiosity was the fact that he came every evening at the same time and was never seen to leave.
She spent hours watching and formulating a conspiracy theory that she could pass on at the next meeting of the Ladies' Coffee Club.
It became almost too much.
So she called on Janine Hughes with a chocolate cake, hoping to be invited in so she could ask a few pertinent questions. She was rewarded with a preview of a commissioned painting of the handsome gentleman. Granny Bledislow studied it, perplexed. The picture portrayed someone that she vaguely recognised, but who the man was eluded her.
However, she was pleased that the mystery was almost solved.
But one night, destruction was afoot. Someone broke into Janine's studio, and slashed the painting. It was worth a lot of money and time.
The street was agog!
As usual, Granny Bledislow was in the forefront of information providers. She thought she had seen the shadowy stranger and given a little time to recover from the shock, she could probably recall many things.
"It was a woman," she said. "A woman wearing a raincoat similar to this one" and she produced an elegant garment from earlier times. It so happened that Alisia had one, very similar.
"She was carrying a supermarket shopping bag," the brand was obscured by the dark, as was the colour of the raincoat, so the investigator had to wait until some other clue popped from Granny's memory.
Then at last "and she had long hair hidden under a scarf with flowers on it". The description fitted Alisia, and she produced similar clothing to what Mrs Bledislow had described.
Thus she became the prime suspect. But not really, because she had an alibi for the whole two days - verified by six people.
The investigator by a strange quirk, turned his attention to the man who was the subject of the painting. He was a local businessman, well known, well liked. He was a supporter of the art gallery, and he commissioned Janine to paint his portrait for two reasons: He supported and encouraged young artists to to learn new techniques, and Janine had never painted a portrait before. So the man, Mr X, would have it hung in the art gallery.
No doubt, his portrait would not go unnoticed as a benefactor.
He would also pay a considerable sum to Janine. Benefits all round, it seemed. Further benefits were a growing friendship between the two - the older statesman, and the emerging young talent.
He was happy to answer any questions. He had always been an honourable man, and certainly he had no motive to slash his own portrait. He did not know of any enemies.
He did not know Alisia ; he did not know Granny Bledislow.
Now the fact that nothing was happening irked Granny.
She liked action, and she liked to be the centre of the action.
So she embellished the description of the shadowy stranger. "He walked with a limp," she told the investigator. This titbit of information was the downfall of Granny Bledislow.
She'd changed her story. Was she confused? Or was she hiding something? The investigator was sceptical and turned his investigation around and looked into her past. It was quite revealing.
As with most married women, Granny had assumed her husband's name, so it was not surprising that Mr X had not recognised that name. Anne Hunter, yes, he remembered her. Had he seen her face, he would have remembered. But she remembered him, and the fraud that had devastated her family.
She had watched him for weeks, and when it seemed as if the portrait had been completed, she had crept in and slashed it.
She knew about the knife in the shopping bag because she was describing herself and if it coincided with making her "new-age" neighbour feel uncomfortable, then that was a bonus.
Anne Bledislow happily paid reparation for the damage she had done.
They say revenge is sweet, and worth much. She enjoyed being the centre of attention. She really enjoyed telling her story of the fraudster and confidence trickster who had ruined her family financially, and was posing as a philanthropist and businessman.
The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury. Marcus Aurelius