Death and His Best Friend
Henry Patterson was a lugubrious fellow. He spent a great deal of time shaking his head and sighing. He liked to dwell on doom and his colleagues’s teeth were regularly set on edge by his repeated, subdued moans of, ‘Oh dear, oh dearie, dearie me’.
At least his colleagues only had to tolerate him during office hours; his poor wife was lumbered with him at home. A once-amiable woman, she was now reduced to occupying a world of foggy gloom and, as her mind descended into a slurry of despair, so her hips and thighs surged ever outwards.
Henry had many preoccupations, including the tardiness of trains, colleagues and dinner guests, but the chief among them was death. Even on the sunniest of days with the world stretched out at his feet his mind was never far from it.
‘The Reaper comes for us all,’ he was fond of saying, particularly at New Year and inside his wife’s birthday cards.
Whilst most men’s fantasy lives revolved around money, sex, power or James Bond transfigurations, Henry lived in a gothic dreamworld of death. He imagined his funeral the way young girls dream of their wedding days. He pictured nameless women, of a beauty and elegance he had never encountered in life, weeping and strewing roses over his coffin; his wife unconscious with grief; hordes of fine young men fighting to be his pallbearers; lightning cracking across the sky overhead and an organ thundering away in the background. The irony was lost that, unlike those young would-be brides, he would never get to witness his Big Day.
Every day he would indulge himself in this fantasy, embellishing the details until the thing had grown to a veritable symphony of grief and opulent mourning. It was a pity he got quite so absorbed; he was trying so fervently to decide between marble and onyx for a headstone that he didn’t even see the hearse as he stepped off the kerb and under its wheels.