During his long days and nights in shop doorways, Will gets to consult his dog-eared notebook and ponder life past when he had a home, a family and happiness. Stumbling on a page therein he saw and laughed at the story of when his uncle killed his auntie. So it goes like this:
““Uncle Bernie Killed My Auntie Alveoli”
Auntie Alveoli had emphysema. When she was ambulanced to Glasgow Royal Infirmary we gathered round her bed come visiting – Uncle Bernie, cousin Tom and me. As she lay there masked and struggling to blow up her lungs, Bernie wanted to but didn’t say all the right things, and had meant to but didn’t bring all the right things she’d stipulated – Catherine Cookson, slippers, new pants and nightie and such purchased from Marks and Sparks and put by for the embers of her days. It wasn’t Bernie’s fault, the man was just prone to mistake. He was a hapless specimen, a card and a hoot.
As I read the doctor’s notes at the foot of her bed, “Inflation of the Alveoli”, Bernie and Tom kept the woman company, telling her stories and making her gag with laughter. Seeing the tears of a wife of forty years and more, Bernie was suddenly moved and reached over, not to kiss her, that wasn’t their language, but to displace his emotion and ask what was the pipe connected to the whatsaname? And as he fiddled with said pipe it was it that got displaced, cutting off the vital oxygen supply to the woman he claimed to love. As it hissed and flapped in the air like a poked viper, Auntie gasped for breath. “You’ll have me fucking dead ya bastard!” she wheezed. “Fix it back on!” exclaimed Tom. “Nurse!” cried Bernie.
But it was too late, the woman had said her last word, “bastard”, and taken her final breath.
Come the funeral we feasted on meat paste sandwiches and lifeless lettuce, and it was audibly and respectfully agreed this was a tragic death by misadventure. Quietly and respectfully, however, it was posited as murder.
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