myself with the thought that, “If one of her friends drops dead, she’swasted her money.”
Christmas morning; family are coming for dinner; the kitchen transmutesinto Hades. Elizabeth cremates a dead fowl in the oven. Roasting tinsspit, threatening to engulf us in flame. Pans hiss and rattle on hobs.Water boils. Steam belches. Windows glaze. Fumes and smells engulf thehouse. Smoke alarms scream from the landing and loft. Compost boxesspew peelings and scrapings over surfaces and floor. Pots pile in the sink.Freezer roars. Dishwasher trundles. Washing machine screams like acheap charter-jet on a desperate take-off. Overloaded fridge vibrates,rattling knives, skewers and implements that litter the groaning table.
I’m out of my depth, staggering about blindly, wanting to help, yet
getting in the way. The doorbell rings; bloodcurdling screams as I goheadlong, cursing, over the cat. People pile into the hall and overflow intothe trembling kitchen. A dog shakes itself violently, spraying a head full of body-fluid over the mince pies. Another wedges a massive head betweenthe venison and sausage-rolls, tongue slithering over the table like aslimy red reptile.
Elizabeth barks one of her strange commands, “#@&=+!?” “What does it look like?” I wonder, clueless, walking round in a
circle, mouth and eyes wide, like a man with a loose connection.A stray piece in the wrong jigsaw box, I decide to make myself
scarce, “Anyone for a drink?” I ask the guests, nervously. They ignoreme, busy talking among themselves. “Help yourself,” I mutter,
pouringmyself a glass of red.
“Did you get it?” Elizabeth demands. “Get what? Where did you put it?” I snap. I haven’t a clue what
“It’s on the thing!” she tells me.
I blink, hopelessly. She communicates in code when she’s under
pressure, either that, or she talks to an invisible third person. It all datesback to the years before we met. I think she was in the Secret Service.
“I’ll get it myself,” she mutters impatiently, pushing past.
I scratch my backside...Elizabeth started tensing a cou
ple of weeks ago. I can tell when she’s
uptight, she continually vacuums, gives orders in code, and talks to athird person about me.Like that day a couple of weeks back... I hear her yelling above the
din of the Miele, “The carpet’s changing colour!” she
screams. That bringsme bounding downstairs, two risers to the leap, expecting to see some
devil’s work taking place before my very eyes. I stumble down the hall
and stand, gasping, in the living room doorway, peering at the carpet. Itlooks the same as i
t always looks to me. “What do you mean, changingcolour?” I ask, baffled.
look at it!”
I squint at the floor. “It’s only wine stains,” I say, comfortingly.