Pete Barker | November 27, 2018
Curiosity didn’t kill Cat Ballinger. A single round from a .357 calibre Smith & Wesson revolver did that. But Cat’s insatiable curiosity did put her in the line of fire.
Catherine Anne Ballinger came out of the womb demanding to know, What’s going on here? And Why? So her mother always claimed. While her three sisters were playing with dolls, Cat could often be found pulling Mum’s Hoover apart to find out how it worked, or dissecting a dead tree frog or possum in the backyard. Her tweenie experiments with matches on the flammability of lawnmower fuel and garden fertilizer didn’t end so well when she burned Dad’s garden shed down.
But that same curiosity drove her to get her PhD and become the university’s first female lecturer in physics, a specialist in quantum mechanics. How could a particle be in two places at once? How could light be both a particle and a wave? Why was nothing as it seemed? Cat wanted to know these things, and many more.
So when her husband of seven years, Marco, started getting odd late-night text messages, she wanted to know what was going on. Marco, the manager of a busy reef tour boat company, had also been coming home from work late and seemed very distant or tired at times.
Sure, their marriage had settled down into the usual routine after the births of their two boys Alex and Zavier, now aged four and three. Even the couple’s once passionate sex life had settled down into a perfunctory once-a-week wham-bam-thankyou-mam that held little interest for Cat. Then all of a sudden recently, Marco was trying all sorts of new things in bed and soon they were regularly cavorting like newly met lovers.
While Cat was happy to feel wanted and loved on a certain level, her curiosity got the better of her and she quickly found an answer on the Cosmopolitan magazine website, in “10 Ways To Tell If Your Husband is Cheating”. New bedroom antics were right up there with late homecomings and furtive text messages. No. She didn’t believe it could be true. Or could it? She had to know.
Installing a spyware app into Marco’s phone while he slept was no big trick for a tech-head like Cat. Now her phone would have access to every call and message on Marco’s, and would tell her his location at all times. She found it curiously satisfying to know everything he was doing, day and night.
His contact list was full of women’s names. The tourism industry was full of women who could have been just business associates, so that was not much help to Cat. But after a few days, the name Mary Jane popped up.
“Had a great time the other night. Can’t wait to do it again,” Marco texted Mary Jane.
“Sure thing big fella, anytime. Just give me the word,” Mary Jane responded.
“Meet me at the Hilton Hotel again at 7pm?” he replied.
“Love to. See you there,” came the response.
Cat, stunned, could not believe what she was seeing. She wanted to cry. She wanted to kill. That bastard! And she had to know who this Mary Jane was. What she looked like. What was so damn special about her.
Using the tracking app, Cat was able to follow Marco into the basement parking lot of the Hilton just before 7pm. Oblivious, he did not see her 4wd a few vehicles behind his. He parked his Audi in the basement lot and walked over to a nearby bright red sports coupe. A real strumpet’s car, Cat thought. Well, I’ll fix that.
As Marco stood by the car, leaning in the driver’s window talking intimately with the driver, Cat revved her 4WD’s engine, squealed the tires and drove straight for the red coupe.
“You bastard,” she screamed out the window as Marco leapt out of the way. She could see now that the occupant was not a woman, but a swarthy man, wearing sunglasses, holding a plastic bag of green leafy material in one hand.
Mary Jane. Old hippy code for marijuana, Cat realized.
But too late.
The dealer’s other hand came up. A fierce spit of flame as he pulled the revolver’s trigger, aimed straight at Cat’s head.
All went black. Then a shimmering light in the distance drew closer and closer in Cat’s vision.
“I wonder what that is,” Cat thought.