“I am getting a half -Van Gogh,” I say over the phone.
“A half -Van Gogh? What is that?”
“You know how Van Gogh lopped off his left ear after a fit of madness, or so it’s claimed?”
“Well, I’m getting half my left ear, the lobe lopped off.”
“Why? Why would you do that?”
“You said you would love me even if I had half my face missing.”
“I know but …”
Please Wait to be Called,
The sign said
So I did.
I waited and waited
At the head of the queue
outside the pearly gates
And when, growing impatient,
I stepped forward,
St. Peter held up his hand:
“There seems to be some problem,”
“You’ll have to wait a little longer,”
I stamped my feet a little
When a light flashed overhead
& a door opened behind
& I was whooshed back
To the operating theatre where the surgeons
Had revived me
One step from paradise.
No one saw it coming. Least of all me. I was happily ensconced in a book when it EXPLODED. Such was its force that it blew the toupee off the man in front of me and propelled the stationary bus in which we were sitting two metres forward. The sneezer himself, a dread locked man in a canary yellow suit, whooshed around the aisle of the bus startling passengers until suitably deflated he flopped beside me flatulent as a whoopee cushion.
We sit on the deck, sipping our gin and tonics, watching the sun go down over the golf course when we spot a police vehicle drive onto the fairway and towards the rough where the car stops and an officer gets out. Three shots ring out.
Over dinner the head waiter fills us in. A king ‘roo had been hit by an SUV and wandered onto the course badly wounded, terrifying golfers whereby the manager phoned the RSPCA who suggested they phone the police. The ‘roo had been put down.
We drink our wine subdued as the dark creeps in.
It’s Carol’s 70th so we have to go and I know what’s waiting for me as soon as we rock up. The Test! My partner doesn’t have to submit to it, nor do the younger males, only the senior ones. Each Xmas, Easter, special occasions, he waits for me. Bone-crusher Bowden.
We lock eyes, hands like deer lock antlers, while my partner settles down to chat..
He grips. I grip. Harder. Tighter. Grimace. Grunt. Grin. Faces redden. Eyes almost pop. “What are you men up to?” the women say. Then one of us weakens. It’s always me. He was a wharfie. I was a teacher but it’s getting closer. He’s losing his edge.
I’ll get you next time, I smile. Not on my watch, he says. But he doesn’t know. I’m working out at the gym. Can’t wait till Xmas.
Is it any good pleading? Thompson says.
For your life? Not really.
But you can’t just toss me aside like a dog carcass, not after all I’ve done for you.
You were more than serviceable, W admits. But you’ve served your purpose. You can’t argue with me.
Will it be painless?
Well, get it over with then.
One minute, W says.
He reaches into his satchel and pulls out his laptop.
Finish your drink, W says. Out with the old and in with the new, he smiles, keyboarding fiercely.
And with that, Thompson is gone.
He laughed loudly.
A door closed behind him.
He laughed more loudly still.
Another door closed behind him. Slammed!
He continued. He chortled. He guffawed. He split his sides.
A text message came through.
“Will you STOP laughing, please? You’re annoying me.”
No, he said to himself. No. It’s my house and I’ll laugh if I want to.
And he laughed even more loudly.
The walls laughed with him. They too were beginning to split their sides.
A door opened quietly behind him.
The man was too busy laughing to notice.
He stifled his laughter as the cord tightened around his throat.
This was no laughing matter.