The Leg of Lamb is a scary short story about a woman who murders her husband. It is based on an old episode of the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents called “Lamb to the Slaughter” which, in turn, is based on a Roald Dahl story.
Mary Moloney was waiting for her husband. He usually got home from work around 5:30 PM. Now and then, she glanced at the clock. She wanted to have the dinner ready when he came home.
Around 5:00 PM, she heard a car pull up in the driveway. A moment later, she heard a key turning in the lock. The front door opened and her husband came in.
She met him in the hallway and as he took off his coat, she tried to give him a kiss. He pushed her away, then went into the living room and fixed himself a drink.
“You’re home early, dear,” she said. “Is there something wrong? I was just about to get the dinner ready.”
“Don’t bother,” he said gruffly. “I’m not hungry. Sit down. I’ve got something to tell you.”
“What is it, darling?” she said as she took a seat. “What’s the matter?”
“I might as well come right out and tell you,” he muttered. “You’re old and you’re fat and you’re ugly and I don’t love you anymore.”
Mary couldn’t say anything. She just sat there staring at him with a puzzled look on her face.
“I want a divorce,” her husband said. “I’ve met someone else. She’s 20 years old, thin and beautiful. I love her and she loves me. That’s all there is to it. I’m leaving you tonight.”
Mary was dumbfounded. She couldn’t believe what was happening. Her life was falling apart right in front of her eyes. She felt like it was all just a bad dream and as soon as she woke up, everything would be back to normal again.
“I’ll get the dinner ready,” she mumbled.
She got up and walked to the kitchen in a daze. She couldn’t feel her feet touching the floor. It was like she was floating in mid-air. She felt sick to her stomach.
Mary opened the freezer and took out the first thing she found. It was a leg of lamb. Carrying it in both hands, she went into the living room.
Her husband was standing at the window with his back to her. Mary walked up behind him. She swung the big frozen leg of lamb high in the air and brought it crashing down on the back of his head. He staggered for a moment, then collapsed on the floor, knocking over the coffee table.
Mary stood there for a few minutes, in stunned silence, staring down at her husband’s body. Slowly, she came back to her senses and realized what she had done. Her husband was dead and she had murdered him.
Her mind was racing. She had to think fast. She didn’t want to go to ail for the rest of her life. She looked at the clock. It was only 5:10 PM. Her husband had come home early.
She carried the leg of lamb into the kitchen, placed it on a pan and put it in the oven. Then she fixed her hair in front of the mirror and practiced her smile. She had to pretend that everything was normal. Then she put on her coat and went down to the shops.
At the grocery store, she bought some potatoes and some vegetables. She made sure to ask the shopkeeper what time it was. She wanted him to remember. He would be her alibi.
Mary hurried back home. When she opened the front door, she called out, “Honey! I’m home!”
She looked at her husband’s body lying on the living room floor and pretended to be shocked. Then, she grabbed the phone and called the police.
“Please come quickly!” she cried. “It’s my husband! He’s been murdered!”
When the police arrived, Mary was crying. The tears came naturally and it didn’t require much acting.
“What happened?” one policeman asked.
She told him she had gone to the grocery store and when she came back, she found her husband lying on the floor.
A little while later, two homicide detectives arrived. The police took photographs and dusted for fingerprints while the detectives asked her a lot of questions.
She told them her story over and over. The two detectives were very nice and polite to her and they spoke gently. They searched the house, looking for a murder weapon. By the time they were finished, it was almost 9:00 PM.
“Would you like something to eat,” she asked them.
The detectives politely declined.
“It’s late and all of you must be very hungry,” she said. “You’ve missed your dinner. If you don’t eat it, I’ll have to throw it out. It would be a shame for it to go to waste…”
The detectives hesitated, but they were hungry, and in the end, they sat down around the kitchen table. The police photographer and the crime-scene expert joined them. Mary carved the meat off the leg of lamb and served it to them on four big plates.
Mary sat in the living room and listened. The kitchen door was open and she could hear the policemen talking as they were stuffing their faces.
“The killer must have used a club or some sort of bat,” said one of them. “The back of his skull was smashed in.”
“You can’t hide a weapon that big,” said another. “The murderer wouldn’t have taken it with him.”
“It should be easy to find,” said another. “It’s probably right under our noses…”
By the time they had finished eating, there was nothing left of the leg of lamb but the bone.