Till death us not part

Richard doesn’t get it. Here, again? And what’s with all this woman’s work anyway? Even at this stage in our existence we still have balls, don’t we, so…?

I smile placidly as I continue to unload the dryer. Richard’s longest marriage was two years. Mine is sixty-eight and counting. The heavy basket of washing hoists up light as a feather and I go up the stairs two at a time.

Richard’s voice drifts up from below: ‘Mate, at least switch on the telly…’

Me and him, we’ve been friends since we were five years old, since we had that fight over whose turn it was on the slide. Now we have the chance to definitively look someone up and ask them but it’s much more fun to bicker about it.

With the washing hung on the airer I go into the bedroom to find Richard lurking by the chest of drawers that I made.

He’s grinning. ‘Mate, how about this? Pepper in his underpants?’

Another placid smile from me and off I go with the laundry box. Just as the second load goes on a key sounds in the front door. We lurk in the utility room as Colin comes in, kicks off his shoes and then goes into the kitchen.

Colin is twenty years younger than my wife. He still has most of his own hair, and both of his own hips. Here is, letting himself into my home, leaving his shoes in my hall. And the unspeakable things he does in the kitchen. Dairy Lea cheese over digestive biscuits?

Chocolate. Digestive. Biscuits.

Shoes and coat stowed away I go into the kitchen to find it empty but for a mug in which he is making a cup of tea. A sudden burst of chatter from the lounge, and a scream of joy – the television is on. Colin comes through into the kitchen, followed by a crestfallen Richard.

‘Bloody DIY show. Why can’t he pick a channel showing a few good murders?’

Colin fishes the teabag from the mug and leaves it on the worktop.

Richard looks at my expression then grins at me.

‘Or…a good murder here. Go on, do it. You got the power.’

Colin leaves the milk out on the counter too. What does my wife see in him? He returns to the lounge, Richard going with him making ineffectual comedy mimes, alternating between trips and strangulation. I clean up in the kitchen and go into the lounge.

It’s time to go. My wife will be home soon.

‘Go on, kill him,’ Richard says. ‘Push that blanket off the top of the chair. It has a button in the corner, might get stuck in his throat.’

‘I believe that’s frowned upon.’

‘And doing his sodding chores isn’t?’

Richard shakes his head.

‘You’re bonkers, the pair of you. Her for marrying him, and you for making him looking good by doing his bloody chores! Why? It’s madness, I tell you!’

But it isn’t, it really isn’t.

I pretty much spent twenty years turning our marriage bed into a hospital one. My wife ran the house, raised the kids, and took care of her waste of a body frail husband. So what’s twenty years of eternity just making her life a little easier?

Colin bolts upright, hands clutching at his stomach. He jumps from his chair and dashes for the door.

It’s frowned upon, using my connection with this corporeal place, but who could resist it, twenty years of putting laxatives in the guy’s tea?