Tuesday, 5 January 2010

A Bit Of Peace & Quiet

“...all I want is a bit of peace and quiet! Is that really too much to ask?” Martha Goodlass was in full flow. “I don’t know! You work your fingers to the bone, slave over a hot stove, do the best you can, and what thanks do you get? None! That’s what........!”

Alfred wasn’t quite sure what had set her off this time, but a surreptitious glance at his watch told him he’d another half an hour of this to endure.

Alfred had got quite good at appearing to take in every word his garrulous wife uttered when, in reality, he was hundreds of miles away. Almost literally.

A retired airline worker Alfred, over the years, had studied the flight-paths of most of the private and commercial airlines and, indeed, had visited most of the destinations on the map in the course of his work.

He’d been the freight and cargo line mostly and had delivered parcels, letters, crates and even coffins, complete with occupant, to the four corners of the earth and when Martha `went off on one’, he’d just imagine himself back to those places.

Amsterdam, Prague, St.Petersberg, New York... he’d seen them all and each of them held their own particular magic for him.

He’d enjoyed all of it, even the little provincial places with nothing more than a bit of tarmac and a wooden hut. Maybe those places especially. They were so laid-back and lacking in the oppressive red-tape that could make a freight-runner’s life a misery.

He remembered one little place with a smile. A tropical paradise it had been. Think of the back of beyond. Well this was its more remote sister.

Tulipang was a delightful south sea island which boasted nothing more complicated than an ancient taxi-cab and, in the postmaster’s hut, a television set that the villagers, all nineteen of them, crowded around on Christmas Day to hear their Queen’s Speech and other important transmissions.

Alfred often visited Tulipang in his thoughts. It was one of his favourite escapes, due to there having been a native girl who had taken quite a shine to him thirty years ago.

He still sent her packages; quite unbeknownst to Martha of course, things that he knew would please her and their son...

“...And another thing!...”

“Alfred’s watch told him fifteen minutes more...

Back to Tulipang and a smiling, plump Neiwei. He would have loved to have stayed on the island with Neiwei and their son but at the time, he had felt such pity for Martha.

Of course HE knew who was barren but she didn’t and at the time, she was still the girl he’d fallen in love with.


He couldn’t bring himself to leave her when she was at such low ebb.

Then as the years went on, the airline routes changed and it got harder and harder to visit Neiwei. Then he’d had to retire on health grounds and hadn’t seen her for three or four years. He had grandchildren now and wanted so much to see them....

He was stunned by the force of the blow Martha aimed at him.

“...I knew you weren’t listening! You think you fool me when you sit there pretending to listen to me! You’re useless! A wimp! I’ve wasted my life on you!”

Each insult was punctuated by a blow to the head or shoulders from the frying-pan she was wielding and Alfred threw his arms over his head to protect it.

“...and you couldn’t even give me a child! The lowest slut in the world can get a man to give her a child, but not me! Mine fires blanks!.....” Thunkkkk!

Alfred wasn’t quite sure what happened next but as he tried to dodge the frying-pan, the little side table toppled over and the next thing he knew was Martha was prone on the floor, her head resting on the marble hearth.

He bent down, frantically feeling for her pulse. There was none. There was no blood either, save for a small trickle running from her nose.

Alfred knew what he must do.


“Alfled-san! You came!” Neiwei smiled her plump smile, “You no go back?”

“No Neiwei, I no go back. Ever. Did my boxes arrive?”

“Boxes arrive!” she beamed up at him like a small round spaniel, “Many boxes!”

The only thing about the island Alfred wasn’t keen on was the voracious crocodiles that were indigenous to one part of it. But he thought they would enjoy Martha. She would finally get her bit of peace and quiet.

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