As the sixth shot of whisky burnt its way down, I suddenly remembered what I left the house for.
I left the bar and made my way down to the chemist.
Years ago you’d be lucky to find a chemist open on a Saturday afternoon, they used to shut at lunch time then, but now they were open twenty four hour a day. They even have them in supermarkets, these days.
* * *
I’d specifically told her that I did not want beef stew for dinner. It was always beef stew on a Thursday night, every Thursday…Thursday, Thursday, bloody Thursday.
“Let’s have a change this week. Let’s have some fish or pasta,” I’d suggested.
“Oh, so now you don’t like my cooking. After thirty seven years of marriage you suddenly don’t like my cooking.”
“Of course I like your cooking, darling. I just think that after thirty seven years of beef stew on a Thursday, we could maybe have a change.”
“You ungrateful, old bastard. I ought to smash you round the head with this…this,” she looked round the kitchen for something, “This rolling pin.”
“Look, honey, don’t fall out with me because of some old pot of beef stew. I’ll have the beef stew, honestly….”
“Oh, so now it’s just some old, beef stew is it? And what do you call my chicken casserole and, and my shepherds pie when you’re down the pub with your friends? Eh, I’ll bet you call them old pots of food, don’t you? You cantankerous old shit.”
“Now, calm down, Margaret. Have you had your medication? This isn’t like you.”
Don’t you dare tell me what I’m like! You, useless, old bastard.”
It was at that point that she attacked me, picking up her rolling pin, only she slipped on the water that she’d spilt on the tiled floor.
* * *
“Prescription for Davis?”
“Yes, that’ll be for me. Thanks”
I left the chemist and made my way over to the hardware store. The whiskey was taking effect and my legs were beginning to take on a life of their own, but I only had a few things to pick up and then I’d be heading straight home.
* * *
“I’m home darling. Are you still in the bath?”
I smiled as I walked into the kitchen. I placed the medication on the side and turned the oven down; the aroma coming from it was beautiful. That comforting smell of home cooked food.
“I hope you don’t mind, darling,” I shouted as I walked out of the kitchen, the bag from the hardware store in my hand. “I’ve got a surprise for you. You know what night it is? Yes, that’s right. Saturday, and you know what we have on a Saturday night, don’t you? Right again. Fish pie, good old fish pie.”
I took my coat off, hung it in the hallway and made my way upstairs.
“Well, tonight is beef stew. Yes, that’s right, we normally have beef stew on a Thursday.”
I walked along the landing and pushed open the bathroom door. The putrid, acrid smell invaded my nostrils, but over the past couple of days it was a smell I’d gotten used to. I stood at the side of the bath.
“So, my darling, I decided that it was time for a change you see,” I said, as I pulled the packets from the carrier bag, “It was all I asked for on Thursday, but with you it was always a routine.”
I opened one of the packets and started pouring the flakes into the bath. The smell got stronger as they reacted with the fluid.
“You know darling, you’d never have guessed that your skin was that tough that I’d have had to use as much caustic soda as I have up to now. But, it’s working slowly. I’m sure I can see a bit of ribcage now so I think a few more days of this I’ll be ready for bagging you up,”
I poured in the rest of the packets and put the empties back in the carrier bag.
“You know, I read somewhere that caustic soda, or sulphuric acid as it’s also known, was used to dissolve dead animals. Well, it seems to work on human tissue as well. Oh, listen to me going on with myself, if I don’t hurry up and get back downstairs, that lovely beef stew is going to catch on the bottom of the pan.”
I walked back downstairs and took the pan out of the oven. I dished out a large bowl of stew and placed it on the table.
“Oh, darling,” I shouted, after saying ‘Grace’, “I picked up your medication from the chemist for you.”