Man, Woman and child
...then I woke up ... it was all
What? I wasnt listening.
I said then I woke up, never mind. You seen the shampoo?
Shit, sorry, I used the last of it on the cat.
Huh? I looked at her in the mirror. We havent
got a cat.
She returned my look and gave me a Homer Doh!
I know we havent got a cat because you
wont let me have a cat. If we had a cat Id have
someone to talk to all day instead of watching the dumbfuck
I turned off the shower and grabbed a towel, irritated I
hadnt been able to wash my hair. I like to wash my
hair every morning. She was still staring at me as if awaiting
an answer. I knew what this was. She wanted a row. Great
timing, Im late for a work meeting and she wants a
row. Listen, if you hadnt walked out on your
last job you wouldnt have to watch TV all day and
besides Richard and bloody Judy arent going to find
you a job. You said youd register with an agency.
I did. I told you. I did the typing test and Juliette
says she thinks shes going to put me up for a job
at the undertakers.
The who? I couldnt have heard that right.
I pulled on my black chinos and looked back across at her
as she sat on the end of the bed. Undertakers? Davina,
you are a designer, what could you possibly do at an undertakers?
Makeovers for the dead?
She kicked the cupboard door shut and looked at me with
that special kind of piercing annoyance she saved up for
That was a typically stupid sexist remark. I dont
use make-up, in case you havent noticed - ever. And
if I want to work at
the undertakers I bloody well will.
Tucking my shirt in I looked at her with dispassionate eyes.
Her thin white body, the inverted nipples on her silicone
enhanced pale breasts. I had begged her not to changed her
breasts, it wasnt natural to be so thin and have a
big girls breasts. Who knows why people do things. I will
myself to recall what it was that had drawn me to her two
years before. Shed changed
a lot in that time. Some people would say she has grown
up, but I tended to think of her as someone who had soured
on the vine. Everything she did or said was pretty indigestible.
I adopted a conciliatory tone.
What I meant was ....you are a talented designer with
great skills. I dont know why you got laid off, I
dont know why anyone with such a great portfolio hasnt
been snapped up, but working at an undertakers seems...
No, beneath your expectations. Shit Davina, you are
always complaining everything is so soulless well
at least you could guarantee that there.
Funny. She frowned at me. Another ploy in her
arsenal of interpersonal weapons. She sighed. They
need new brochures and a corporate image.
Now theres a thing, an undertaker who needs
a better corporate image.
Everyone needs a better image, death is a hard sell.
I slipped on my shoes and began to tie the laces. So
bigger, brighter coffins, buy now whilst stocks last.
Something like that.
I saw the clock. Shit. Running
You should have breakfast.
Make time Richard, I need to talk to you.
Tell me now. I pulled on my black linen fake
She lay back on the bed and pulled a sheet over her feet.
I could see the gooseflesh on her thighs. The central heating
was lower than normal. Bloody boiler on the blink again.
She darted a look at me as I waited to hear what she had
But... A rush of thoughts raced through my head,
but one particular one. My vasectomony.
Is that all you can say? But?
I was numb. I decided to keep it light. Bad time for confrontations.
Need to think this through. I distinctly remember her telling
me that she never wanted to have kids and how I was the
perfect partner since I couldnt have any now.
Whos the lucky guy?
She smiled, I recognised that smile. It was a cruel and
victorious smile. The smile you make after you have cut
Martin. She answered.
A light switched on in her eyes. This was the knife she
was using. An excellent joke,choosing my immediate boss
to impregnate her, someone she knew I loathed and detested.
Martin? The Hunchback of Ladbroke Grove?
Its a stoop. He had asthma as a child, its
not a hunch.
Great genes. How long?
Me and Martin?
Yes, you and fucking Martin.
She laughed. Since he made you take on the website
and the late shift. Remember how keen you were to get the
website going. How you thought it would impress Martin,
look good on your CV? He knew you would obsess. You didnt
even notice hed been lying in our bed you are
so fucking insensitive, you didnt smell him. You even
fell asleep one night when he was still here. She
laughed again. Everyone in your office knows. You
are so pathetic Richard.'
This hurt, but then it was meant to. But fucking Martin?
The child will be hideous.
Youre not playing the game Richard.
What? Demanding you get out, slap you around? Is that
the game? Of course you have to move out. Go and live with
Martin. But then Martin is married isnt he. A wife
and two nasty, weasly asthmatic runts. Must be awkward that.
Martin is leaving her. Im leaving you. Today
in fact. At nine-thirty. Martin is coming here. Thats
why he called a meeting for nine. Youd be there. Hed
be here. Were going to Barbados. Scuba diving.
I laughed. Scuba diving? You hate the water. You dont
even sunbathe. You refused to go near a beach.
She pulled a face. Martin will teach me. Hes
got a holiday home there. You dont even own a car.
I need a coffee. I walked over to the kitchen.
Thats the trouble with a loft apartment. Everything
is one place, you couldnt escape the other person
if you tried.
Are you angry? She enquired. A stupid question,
but oddly enough, now I thought about it. I wasnt.
Disappointed, but not angry.
Martin doesnt drink coffee she informed
me. He says it reduces your potency.
I stood in the kitchen and thought about my life with Davina
as it was coming to an abrupt end. What was worse? That
I had spent two years with this shallow devious woman or
my nemesis had been shagging her behind my back and then
boasting about it to my co-workers (who had never breathed
a word to me the bastards.) What kind of saphead was I.
How could I have noticed nothing?
The kettle boiled, I poured the steaming water over the
coffee grounds and waited a moment to depress the cafetieres
plunger. Something was dead wrong. How had I missed all
this? Surely there would have been some warning? How could
I have made this big a mess? What happened so bad that it
made the woman who told me she loved me more than anything
else in the whole world turn against me with bloody
Martin of all people.
The fridge door opened behind me. I turned and there was
Martin with Davina standing behind him, still naked apart
a pair of pink bedsocks. Martin was wearing an undertakers
outfit, complete with a blacktop hat with tassels. This
was getting seriously weird.
Hello Richard. You ready?
To go. Did you sign off the website? It looks good
by the way. Its nice to know that you didnt
waste your time.
Kill him now, Davina hissed. Im
cold, Martin. Kill him now.
What? Now that hurt. It is one thing to know
that she didnt love me anymore, but to discover she
hates me. The look on her face was one of pure loathing
and impatience. Oh God, Ill do it. I always
have to do everything.
She suddenly wrenched the ice-pick out of his hands and
lunged forwards towards me. She plunged the pick into my
chest. I felt her sour breath on my face and saw into her
angry eyes as she said ...next time youll notice
when I cut my hair, you bastard.
I felt a rush of air escape my lungs and an intense pain.
There was a roar of pressure building up in my head as I
realised that I was going to die, killed by the one person
I had truly trusted.
Bye Richard, Martin said.
Dont make a mess, Davina added as she
moved over the bedroom to get dressed.
The phone was ringing. Really close and loud. Someone should
I suddenly opened my eyes.
Davina was sitting naked on the edge of the bed holding
my mobile phone and talking to someone. She was smiling.
She saw I was awake.
Its Martin, she said. He wants you
in the office for nine.
© Sam North 2001