Hard as they tried, nothing seemed to shift the large stain from the hallway wall. One of the main reasons why they had chosen this particular house was that it had been well maintained and would require minimal DIY effort on their part; after hours of scrubbing and scrubbing until their elbow grease reserves had run dry however they concluded that maybe a lick of paint wouldn't go amiss.
Rachel personally would have preferred to have gone for a more neutral shade, something light and welcoming, but as Simon pointed out it would take many, many coats of magnolia to erase the stain whilst his choice, a regal shade of purple called 'Midnight Kiss' would do the trick in just one. She was concerned that the effect would be a little seedy, more brothel than cosy family home and going against every TV property show convention but Simon insisted that she would be wowed by the finished effect, plus resale value was hardly an issue given that they didn't actually own the property, regardless of how long their tenure may or may not last.
Several tins of 'Midnight Kiss' were duly purchased along with brushes, rollers and rags. All were promptly deposited in the cupboard under the stairs where they remained for a number of months until one day out of the blue Rachel's mother announced that she was going to come and visit the couple in their new home. They'd become strangely accustomed to the stain and would even greet it by name each morning and bid it a good night before they ascended to their bedroom, however they weren't so sure that Mrs Spellman would take to it in quite the same way.
The couple tended to keep themselves to themselves; although they'd been in town since August making friends had not been a priority - they had each other, and their beautiful home, so why would they wish to waste time on other people that could be spent together? Past experiences had shown that friendship could be more trouble than it was worth - they had been perfectly happy in their previous home but when the neighbours had started to become just a little too neighbourly, bringing around homemade muffins and expecting more than just the usual inane conversation about the weather in return, then they knew it was time to move on. Learning from that previous mistake, this time they had chosen a detached property down a long gravel drive well away from twitching net curtains and uninvited guests.
It was a cold but sunny spring morning when they laid plastic sheets over the wooden floor of the hallway and retrieved the tins of paint from their resting place. Rachel made the first mark on the wall, writing 'i love u' in sweeping indigo letters. As the words began to slide down the wall like tears, Simon grabbed a brush and painted a blob on her nose. Laughing, she threw her arms around his shoulders and pulled him close, rubbing the paint onto him in an Eskimo kiss. The job at hand was pushed to one side for some time as they proceeded to strip each other naked, flicking paint onto each other’s bodies and rolling around on the plastic sheeting with careless abandon under the watchful eye of the stain and Felicia, the cat that they had acquired along with the property. After a scalding hot shower they returned to work, starting with the wall surrounding the front door and industriously progressing down the hall until they reached the large dark red splatter. With some reverence Rachel swept the first brush of paint over the stain. It was a shame that it had come to this, but as Simon had kept telling her in the lead up, it was necessary, it was the only way that they would be able to move into the beautiful house, the house with the sunny south facing conservatory, immaculate lawn and fine decor. They had spent several weeks watching number 14 Paradise Grove and its solitary occupant from afar, keenly noting that he never seemed to have any visitors, and was not connected to the telephone network. Eventually Rachel plucked up the courage to introduce herself to him, using a fictitious charity collection as a means of striking up a conversation. In their brief chat she managed to ascertain that he had no children, communicated with his one sibling only through unreciprocated Christmas cards, and enjoyed the company of only Felicia and an old transistor radio. Rachel felt quite sorry for him, all alone in that big house, but Simon told her not to be so ridiculously sentimental and to remember what he'd told her before - emotion is a sign of weakness, and weakness leads to failure. Last time, and the time before, they had gone about the house hunting process in a clinical manner and not let emotions come into it. No reason to be any different this time.
As her paint brush tenderly caressed the wall, Simon wrapped his arms around Rachel’s waist and buried his face in her hair. He had been so lucky to find her, so beautiful and so understanding, as perfect a partner in love as in crime. As she covered up the last inch of the blood stain with Midnight Kiss Rachel bade farewell to Mr Brown for the last time, erasing with the final stroke the only remaining evidence of his life, and death at the end of their gun.