Thursday, June 01, 2006

Down By The Water


“Uncle Ron!”
Lisa shook the body hard. Again, again, again, she shook him, as his damp head wobbled on the top of his neck. His face was blue grey, and vomit dripped out of the side of his dry cracked lips.
Lisa tried to pull him off the seat, but his heavy body was too big for her to manage. “Shit, what am I going to do now?...”.
Uncle Ron had decided to use the tried and tested method of gassing himself in the Land Rover. It wasn’t too difficult to manage, the usual way to do it was to get the exhaust pipe from the back of the jeep, put a hosepipe on the end, and pump the fumes into the car through the back window.

Life was getting just too much for Uncle Ron. It was no easy life being a farmer, the whole journey had seemed easier when he was younger; find a farmer’s wife, who cooks, cleans, has the babies, is fat, reliable, and won’t run off with anyone else. That was all he wanted out of a wife, but the woman he picked didn’t have the foresight to deal with a husband who loved his cows more than her. Often his wife would be laid in bed, and Ron would stumble in at 3am, after being stuck in the cowshed all night calving the cows, and, covered in shit, smelling of silage, he would roll straight into bed, expecting his oats. Well, for his wife, she didn’t mind too much to begin with, but after 7 years of sharing a bed with a man smelling of cowshit, she made the big escape.
Uncle Ron came home one night, late as usual, after working 7 days in a row (t’ cows need milking every day-who’s gunno milk ‘em if I have a day off?!), and found the house empty, with a note on the kitchen table:
“Dear Ronald,
Sorry it’s had to come to this. I know you will be feeling pretty angry after you have read this, but please hear me out.
I have met someone else, and cannot continue in this marriage. For 7 years I have had to put up with being unhappy, but I feel I cannot go on any longer. You love your cows more than me, and I will always be second best. We never spend any quality time with each other, as you are constantly on the farm, and take me for granted. Ron, we haven’t even had a honeymoon yet, nevermind going on holiday with each other. I just feel completely neglected, as there are 200 other women in your life that come before me.
I think it will be easier for me to leave now, so you can devote the time to your cows without me nagging at you all the time.
The man I have met has taken me out, wined and dined me, and made me feel like a woman again. He is a boring old bank clerk, but to be honest, that’s what I really want. A nice reliable partner who makes me feel special. I am number one in his life, which is why I have made this decision.
I have taken all my belongings, and also the children. I will be staying at my Mother’s for the foreseeable future, please speak to her if you have anything to discuss. Do not try and contact me under any circumstance.
Yours truly,
Doris”

Uncle Ron put the letter down on the table.
Oh my bloody God. What am I gunno do now? She’s gone and bloody lef’ me…..
He started to cry, and sat down in his dirty wellies and overalls on the kitchen sofa. The first thing he did was pour himself a strong drink of whiskey; Uncle Ron just couldn’t understand where it had all gone wrong. He had always been the model husband, reliable, caring, honest, and trustworthy; but this obviously wasn’t enough for the wife. She wanted a flash git who would take her to fancy restaurants. Ron wasn’t the biggest looker on the planet, with a bald head, and beer barrel belly he hardly qualified for model status, but the wife was in her late 30’s, and perhaps with a bit of work on his six pack, she might fancy him again someday.


So this is what it had come to - desertion in the strongest sense of the word. The house rattled, as the gripping Pennine wind took hold of the slates on the roof, and clattered them against the gutters, rattling Uncle Ron’s brain every time they shook. Apple Tree Farm seemed quieter than usual; his wife had even taken the dog. No kids, no wife, no dog – what was a man to do?

For Uncle Ron the easiest option would be to murder Doris.

He had planned this previously, some 3 years earlier, when he was convinced Doris was having it off with the Milk Recorder. The general plot would be to plant an idea that Doris should go and see her ugly sister in Barwick In Elmet for the day, in the meantime, Uncle Ron would set a trap hiding in the back of the Land Rover, and once Doris had set off, he would pull a rope across her neck, and force her to pull over. Then, he would drag her back into the milking parlour, and slit her throat before she could squeal any longer.

Dead Doris, what a thought – The only thing you waste on a pig is the squeal when you slit it’s throat.

This gave Uncle Ron the novel idea that the best place to dispose of Doris’s body was to chop her up into 15 pieces, and throw her corpse to the pigs, who would therefore ensure Uncle Ron would never get caught, as pigs destroy everything, even bones and teeth.
Ron put the whiskey bottle down on the table, slipped on his Wellington Boots, Barbour Jacket, Tweed Cap, and picked up the car keys. Driving to Doris’ Mother’s house, he felt a funny wobbling feeling in his belly - So this is wha’ Fred West mus’ a fel’ like.

What ‘ahl do is, get wife to come ‘aht and ‘av a liddle chat we me, we’ll go for a drive, quick gander downt river. ‘Ahl tell daft bitch a love ‘er, an a wan er back. Ger her back int’ Van, and slit her nec’ afore t’wench has chance t’ squeal. Mission accomplished.

As Uncle Ron thought, Doris was at her Mother’s.
“Ronald, what the fuckin’ ell are you doin’ ere?”
Ah just wondered if we could make it up Doris. Ah know things av’ been shit, but ah wanna make this up to yer.
“Fuck Off.”
Please Doris, yer me wife, yer mean t’world t’ me. Can we at least go and talk ‘bout it?
“Ah told yer. Just Fuck Off.”
C’mon love. Just f’t kids.
Uncle Ron looked at his wife with his big sad blue eyes, and from somewhere, Doris’ heart broke a little. Yes, she still wanted to be wrapped in the arm of Duncan Ramsbottom, but she owed this to her kids; to sort it out.
“You’ve got 15 minutes. Let’s go for a walk”
So the two ex-lovers, still married, now ripped apart, spent the next 15 minutes trying to resolve their differences. What Doris didn’t bargain for was the length of rope her husband had coiled up in the front pockets of his dungarees.
Doris sat down on the grass overlooking the river, and stared blankly across the riverside banks.
Uncle Ron sat beside her, and put his arm around her shoulder.
Ah dunno wha’ to say love. Yer knew when yer married me that me cows were me life. An now yer leaving me for it.
Doris wondered why her husband was being so understanding about it all, call it feminine intuition, but she somehow felt that something wasn’t right.
“Ron. I think it’s best if we leave it for now. Let’s talk again in a few months. I think you need a bit of time to get over it.”
Yeah love, ah need all the time in the world.
With one swoop, he pulled the rope across Doris’ neck and started lynching her as her the sun started setting over the hillside. He felt no remorse, no pain, it was if in this final act, all the love, and hurt, and tears that he had stored up over the years came flowing out through his Iodine stained finger tips.
Ahm sorry our Doris, but ah couldn’t let yer do this to me. Imagine shame in t’village. You’ve made me look like a right tool.

Doris gagged, but despite her best efforts, Uncle Ron had her pinned down until vomit started spraying out from the ends of her nostrils. Her grey but warm body lay upon the grass, with the smell of piss and shit covering his hands, as he tried to throw her body into the river.
Uncle Ron felt slightly uneasy, as he heard dogs barking in the distance, but more unnerved by the wailing of his Shorthorns in the paddock nearby.
Bloody cows heard wha’ happened. They know. Tha’s it now. They’ll never forgive me. Ahm well and truly fucked.
Running into his Land Rover, his head was filled with thoughts on how to shut the cows up, and how he would ever win back their trust after what they had seen. For this reason alone, as if in some unforgivable moment, Uncle Ron decided to take the tried and tested route of suicide by exhaust pipe. He knew that at 6.30, his niece, Lisa, would come over to have Sunday tea. The best plan for him was to park the Land Rover in the drive, and gas himself at around 6.15, giving her enough chance to possibly revive him, but at least cause enough of a scene to guarantee the headlines in Saturday’s Yorkshire Evening Press.


Adelle Stripe
*This piece has also appeared in Scarecrow*

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