Karla sat at the table and gazed around the restaurant at her colleagues from Tui Park School. She was actually enjoying Christmas end-of- year dinner more than she originally expected. The staff had lightened up after a few drinks and were laughing and giggling as stories were told and jokes made. She had been senior teacher at the school for term now and found her new position invigorating but demanding with the other senior staff members over a decade old than herself.
Murray was unusually talkative as he drifted around the tables reserved for their party and laughed at some joke one of the husbands was telling with a wave of hand movements. The meal was over, most of the wine bottles were empty and several of the partygoers had said their good nights and had left.
She had come by herself was about to leave also when Murray came up to her with two glasses of wine in his hand. He placed one down before her and sat himself down in the empty chair across from her,
“I noticed your bottle was empty,” he said. “Try this white. It’s one of those local wines. You might like it.”
“Well have a sip.”
She nodded but found the taste of the wine was almost tart and not to her liking at all. She turned, took a handkerchief out of a pocket and discretely spat the second mouthful out. She turned and noticed her principal was staring at her with an expression on his face that was different. Karla flushed in embarrassment for she realised the man was staring down her top at the cleavage of her breasts. If he wasn’t twice her age and the boss she would almost think he was trying to make a pass at her. She smiled faintly and coughed. Even though she had only swallowed one mouthful of the wine she found herself feeling dizzy.
“You drunk quite a bit this evening, Karla?” Murray said.
She stood up and attempted to walk away. However, her legs felt like rubber and the floor seemed to be rolling. “You could be right,” she muttered.
“No problem,” Murray cut in. “Can’t have you driving home in this condition, though. Is your car outside?”
Murray glanced around. “Damn, Sherrie my wife has already left. Tell, you what, I’ll drive your car home and take a bus back to my place.”
Karla was still feeling strangely detached from everything around. Sure, she had been drunk before, mainly back in her student days but this felt different. It was as if… Oh hell she was about to vomit.
“Excuse me!” she gulped, grabbed her purse and tore through an archway to where the toilets were. She made it just in time and was violently ill in the toilet. Afterwards she backed out and turned to the sink to splash water over her face.
She heard a cough and realised somebody else was there. It was Murray’s wife, Sherrie. “I saw you rush in here after I returned to the restaurant.” She looked almost sad. “I couldn’t let him do it again, now could I?”
“What do you mean, Sherrie?” Karla asked.
The woman stared at her and frowned. “My husband gets a bit carried away at the staff events I’m afraid, especially with young attractive women like yourself.” She opened her right hand out to show a small yellow pill. “Take this with a tumbler of water.”
Karla wasn’t sure what to do. Sherrie sounded sympathetic but there was something in her tone that she wasn’t sure about. “Why?” she asked.
“To counteract the drug that spiced your drink. You’re lucky that you vomited most of it up but I imagine there is still some in your system. This will make you feel better and quite quickly too.” She grimaced. “It happened to me many years ago now and I suspect the new so-called uppers are even more potent than in my day.” She sighed. “Please yourself though. I’m just trying to help.”
“You’re saying Murray spiked my wine?”
The woman nodded.
Sherrie shrugged. “A flaw in his character, I guess. You’re lucky I decided to return this time. Normally I turn a blind eye.” She blinked and Karla thought she saw tears in the woman’s eyes.
Karla nodded, filled a tumbler sitting on the sink top and swallowed the pill with the water. Almost immediately she felt ill again and rushed to the toilet. After vomiting again she shook her head and came out of the cubical.
Sherrie had gone!
Karla took another drink of water and found that she did feel better. Her head ached a little but the spinning had stopped and there was only a sweet taste in her mouth. She wiped her face with a tissue and walked back into the restaurant area to find everyone leaving. Murray or Sherrie were nowhere in sight.
Deep in thought, she said goodbye to the few staff members still there and walked out to her car. Perhaps she was foolish driving home but she took the risk. Anyhow, she felt normal now and not even slightly drunk. Perhaps that pill Sherrie had given her had neutralized the spiced drink. But what was Murray intending? She thought back and remembered the expression on his face as he stared quite openly at her breasts and decided to be wary of him in the future.
However, by the time she reached home she felt quite relaxed and shrugged. Often people got silly when they drank too much. Perhaps she was as bad as he was and Sherrie was just one of those neurotic wives who didn’t like her husband relaxing at a party.
Note:- Karla was wrong as later events in the novel prove.
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