“Sex,” said Frankie, to the consternation of some of those around the circle, many of whom had not yet had time to let their dinner’s settle. “Sex, greed and revenge are the only true motives for murder.”
“And love,” suggested Deidre. “Surely love is the strongest motive of all.”
“Love, sex, what’s the difference?” said Billy.
“Surely love is a deeper, more passionate emotion,” said Deidre who, by her own admission, wouldn’t know. “Who would consider killing for sex?”
“There are plenty of men right throughout history who’ve killed for sex,” said Vanessa. “Surely sex is the biggest motive of all.”
“I don’t think that’s quite the case,” said Tom. “Sex is just the weapon. Power is the motive. Men don’t kill for sex, they kill for the power over women…”
“Or other men,” said Jeff.
“…Or other men,” said Tom with a nod of acknowledgement. “Whatever, power is the real motive.”
“And jealousy,” suggested Elizabeth. “Surely jealousy has to be in there somewhere. Unrequited love.”
“Jealousy always sounds rather more like uninvited love to me,” said Vanessa. “More like unrequited lust than love.”
“Well, a little lust can go a long way,” said Louise.
“And there’s infatuation,” added Penny. “Unrequited love becomes infatuation, and infatuation is certainly a motive for murder.”
“She’s right,” said Elizabeth. “I remember being infatuated with a boy at school. Followed him around like a little dog I did. Held his books while he played football, gave him half my meat balls at school lunches. I’d have done anything for him.”
“And what about lust?” asked Louise.
“Hardly. I was seven and he was eight so I’m taking about anything within reason. Anyway, he broke my heart when he paid a penny to see Wendy Patterson’s knickers. I could have killed him!”
“There!” said Frankie. “Right there; sex as a motive for murder.”
“Not really. I was most annoyed because it was my penny. I’d been saving it for a Bazouka Joe and he blew it on Patterson’s scabby knickers. He could have seen mine for free if he’d wanted – or anybody’s really – we all did PE in the bloody things. Navy blue serge. They were like the Mary Whitehouse of sex appeal. We changed them once a week, less if the weather was wet and they didn’t smell too bad of wee…”
“Why if the weather was wet?”
“They weighed half a ton when they were washed, they took forever to dry, even on a sunny day.”
“Perhaps,” suggested Phil, “we just need to open out our definition of sex to encompass lust, love, infatuation, jealousy… all the affairs of the heart.”
“Is lust really an affair of the heart?” asked Elizabeth. “I think, perhaps, you are setting your sights a little too high.”
“Always been my problem,” grinned Phil. “Too high and generally just wide of the mark.”
“Yes well, putting Philips slight paucity of aim to one side for now,” said Elizabeth with a barely concealed, theatrical wink, “surely lust is the last thing you would kill for.”
“Unless it was unfulfilled,” suggested Jane. “Or if it was for someone else.”
“Someone it wasn’t wise to lust over.”
“Ah, I get it,” said Phil. “A woman scorned.”
“Or man,” said Jeff.
“Or man…” said Phil.
“Sex it is,” said Frankie. “Lust, infatuation, jealousy, even love; they’re all sex at the end of the day.”
“Only the end of the day darling?” drawled Louise. “How terribly Puritan.”
Frankie grinned. “Point is,” he continued, “you can call it what you like, but it’s still the same thing.”
“Oh dear,” she said. “What a quiet life you must have led.”
“I mean,” he persisted, “it all boils down to the same thing, doesn’t it. Boys and girls…” He looked at Jeff. “…and boys.”
Jeff smiled broadly. “Love has no boundaries does it?” he said. “Nobody chooses who to love. Nobody chooses to have their heart broken, but people do choose how to respond to it. Some go under, some bounce back up and some… some fulfil Frankie’s criteria and look for somebody to pay the price, but the thing is, if you’re going to write it, can you put yourself in their shoes? Can you understand their rage?”
“Rage. That’s the thing, isn’t it? Rage is about sex, lust, infatuation, jealousy even, but not love; there’s no rage in love. That’s all hearts and flowers, birds and bees, and ‘I will if you will’, not at all the kind of thing to kill over.”
“Surely in war,” suggested Deidre, “all those young men sent out to kill, they died for love: love of their country.”
“Love of not getting shot as a traitor, most of them,” muttered Frankie. “How many of them would ever have shot another man, except in abject fear. Fear never leads to a neat murder, does it? Too messy, too easy to solve. Besides, that’s quite a different kind of love, isn’t it?”
“Different from the kind that leads to murder?”
“Different to the kind that leads to sex.”
“What about the love of one’s family; one’s children, one’s parents. Surely a man (and let’s face facts here, murder is almost exclusively a male failing) could be driven to kill for the love of those towards whom he has no sexual desire.”
“Well, as you put it like that, Deidre…” Frankie mimicked rising from his seat and approaching Deidre with his arms outstretched and his hands clawed.
“Frankie!” whispered Louise. “Be careful.” They were all pleased to have Deidre back in the fold and while she was clearly more than happy to join in the cut and thrust of the standard inconsequential argument, it was generally acknowledged that she was not yet quite ready to accept humorous affronts.
“Right,” said Elizabeth, with a certain finality in her voice, “so I think by now that we’ve probably established that love – in all of its manifold forms – is the very worst of human emotions. So what do we think about greed and revenge?…”