On my hike down memory lane, I decided to write a story for you………..


They say old age isn’t the for sissies, but neither is marriage. After the rosy glow of romance has dimmed to a colourless ho-hum, and all spark has fizzled out, life becomes humdrum and


Most people manage this phase of their lives with hobbies, sports or illicit affaire’s. Others just trudge on regardless, counting the days, months or years until the sweet release of death.

Charlie and Harriet had other ideas though, they each had secret plans for ending the

the unhappy state of existence they found themselves in, where all they did was argue and fight.

Charlie was a keen gardener. He was happiest among his flowers and shrubs, taking cuttings, sowing seeds, or transplanting his’ babies’, as he called them.

Harriet was an artist. Her happiness was in oils and canvasses and bringing to life the images in her mind.

The time came though when Harriet had had enough. She had had enough of the constant bickering and being put down by her husband. She did not think she could take one more of his snide remarks and cruel comments about her weight.

She had filled up her car the previous day; Then she had told her neighbours she was going to visit her sister. Her luggage was packed and waiting.

Before setting off for an adventurous new life though, she had one last duty to perform, prepare lunch. Charlie loved mushrooms. He would eat them raw straight out the ground.

Coming from England, where his mother was a mushroom picker, he knew which to eat, and which to leave severely alone.

To the untrained eye, though, the difference between delicious food and death-dealing fungi was almost indistinguishable. So Harriet could be forgiven if she picked a few of the wild ones growing in the garden, wink wink, nudge nudge.

He’d be dead drunk by the time he sat down to eat anyway. Harriet prepared the spinach and feta, then chopped up the deadly, little white buttons and tossed them all together in a mouth-watering salad.

Going into her studio, she looked around the room. There were all her oil paints, The brushes she had so lovingly used and The canvasses, the linseed oil and turpentine. She was leaving a lot behind.  Well, apart from the furniture, paintings, china collection, and suchlike.

” Oh well,’ she shrugged, and told herself,’ I can replace everything with the insurance money, and get a whole lot more. Chuckle, chuckle.’

Just before leaving the house for the very last time, she set the timer on the panel heater, then draped an oil and turpentine soaked rag over it. Smiling to herself, she strolled up to where her husband was playing around with some contraption he had devised.

Charlie was pretty smart. He had taken a forty-four-gallon drum, cut out the bottom of it, then welded the workings and the blades of the lawnmower to the base. He now had a clever little wood-chipper.

He took all the branches and woody bits and pieces from pruning and tossed them into his contraption. A few whirls in the machine and voila! Perfect mulch.

He stepped back from his invention and applauded himself. Pretty damn good, he thought. Smiling, he lit a cigarette and looked around for something else to chip.

Then he saw her, he’s fat, ugly wife. She came waddling up to the orchard. Could not give him a moment’s privacy. Always interfering. Always nagging. His mouth turned down in an ugly grimace.

Then it came to him. He just figured out how to get rid of his hateful spouse. Hm, it just might work.

“I’ve made you lunch,” she panted, almost breathless from the short walk from the house, “it’s in the fridge. Oh, and I’m just going to see Maureen, won’t belong.”

Charlie nodded and turned away from her.

She came closer and peered into the drum,

“What the hell is this?” she said, bending over, and peering into the drum,” Another of your crazy ideas? You know, it’s funny how you always get what you want. No matter what it costs.., if I want anything, it’s still  no o, but for you, it’s a sure,’ go for it” get it.’

Her voice boomed out from the empty drum, actually hurting his ears.

” Please, just shut up.” he pleaded.

Then he took his chance.

He raised his spade.

Harriet was in midst babble when he smashed it down on her head; she could not have even felt it, well, maybe a little, but not for long. She was already gone from the blow to her head when he lifted her body more entirely into the chipper.

He switched on the motor and waited, It strained into use, then began its gory task.

When it had finished, he poured the contents over the compost heap, digging it in profoundly and covering with a full load of soil, leaves and sticks.

Then he went into the house for his deadly lunch.

Later, from the ashes of the burnt-out house, the police figured it was a bizarre and unfortunate accident. It seemed the old man had passed out at the table. Everyone knew how much he drank. 

Then the heater had come on while he was sleeping, and the oil and turpentine soaked rag which had fallen across it caught fire. 

The biggest mystery was, of course, where was the old woman? They may have considered her a suspect, but, her suitcases were there, her burnt-out car was there, it was only she who was missing.

Nowhere in the entire blackened scene of smoking, sooty walls, and smouldering ashes could they find a trace of her.

God knew, though.

 Nothing escaped His attention, He’d been watching the whole sorry affair and had given St Peter orders. Now the old Saint stood there; feet planted wide, hands-on-hips, and a furious scowl on his face.

“What on earth, literally ‘on earth’ did you think you were doing?” he demanded.

Harriet and Charlie glanced sheepishly at one another. They shuffled their feet in the sparkly iridescent sands of heaven that had spilt from behind the pearly gates.

Both of them speechless for once.

St Peter sighed, and stroked his white, flowing beard for a while, wondering what punishment would fit the deed. He’d been given free rein to choose whatever punishment he liked. Mm, what to do, what to do? Then Epiphany!

It was perfect,  subtle,  but a whoop-ass one.

“Right you two”, he thundered, “you were given life. You were given a beautiful garden to live in. You were given love and light and laughter. Charlie and Harriet nodded their heads nervously and inched closer to one another, both reaching for the other’s hand. They trembled before the wise old Saint, who had the wisdom of the ages coursing through his veins.

” Ok!”. St Peter announced triumphantly!” Ok! I’ve got it. You know that vow you took on your wedding day?”

The pair nodded and shuffled some more, Charlie drawing patterns in the sand with his big toe. Which he suddenly found fascinating.

“Well…”, mumbled Harriet, preparing an argument,

never knowing when to shut up, “there were a bunch of vows..”

Charlie nudged her,

” Shut up,” he muttered out the side of his mouth.

St Peter held up his hand angrily,

Zip it, missy,” He ordered, “you know which one, the one that ends with ‘until death do us part’.

” Uh…Yeah..?.”

A slow-burning flicker of hope bloomed in their eyes. Stupidly, they both thought, maybe, just maybe, there was some hope after all. They had both forgotten that promise, the one that said,’… something… something… Until death does us part… …’ something, something… maybe there was hope after all. They were both dead; perhaps now they would finally be rid of one another.

Charlie even gave the fist pump,

“Yesss!” He celebrated.

“Well,” St Peter laughed, “It’s been rescinded.


“Rescinded… Revoked… Revised. Whatever you want to call it. Your punishment, your hell, is going to be…”

He waited for effect, then grinned,

 “you are going to be bound together forever!. You are going to be with one another for Eternity!”

Charlie and Harriet looked at each other, their eyes dulled, and their smiles washed from their faces as understanding flooded their hearts. Then, together, they abandoned all hope and entered Eternity.

Dante hadn’t quite got it right with that’ Inferno’ he described with such passion.

Hell was much more subtle, but it did indeed last for a very long time.

Oh, and by the way, when the house was restored, and new owners dressed the lawn with the compost pile in the orchard, the neighbours all complimented them on how green and lush their garden looked.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s