1667. The worst of rats

The thing that irked Iris wasn’t so much Harvey’s little eccentricities, but the fact that the poison hadn’t worked. They had been married for thirty-two years and for the last twenty-seven Harvey had driven Iris nuts. He’d squeeze the toothpaste tube, for example, at the top. It should be squeezed at the bottom. That way the paste would work its way up to the top. If you squeezed it at the top all you’re doing is driving half of the toothpaste downwards.

Then there was the way he’d spin the teapot before pouring. He’d turn the teapot three times to the left, then three times to the right, then once to the left; to aid the tea drawing process. Iris had been brought up the proper way, and she turned the teapot first to the right, then to the left, then to the right. Harvey was not going to compromise. He was stuck in the mud. He was what Iris called “a social embarrassment”.

Iris didn’t know how many times she told him, on a daily basis, when putting things into the dishwasher he should RINSE THEM FIRST. The dishes should be rinsed first; that’s what the instruction booklet said. RINSE THE DISHES FIRST. But no! In they went; straight into the dishwasher.

These were just a few of the things that riled Iris every day, all day, for twenty-seven out of the thirty-two years of wedded bliss. The solution to the problem lay in rat poison. If ever there was a rat, it was Harvey. Iris no longer cared about the consequences. Iris loved the irony of the possibility: rat poison for a rat. She put it in his food, in his coffee, even in the snuff he grotesquely sniffed about four times a day before sneezing loudly into a snuff-stained handkerchief.

It was all for nothing. Harvey seemed to have developed an immunity to rat poison. The worst rats sometimes do that.

Things came to an end when Iris, not Harvey, took ill and died. It was a slow, drawn out, painful death, in which she convulsed and writhed on the bedroom floor for a good half hour while Harvey meticulously filled the dishwasher in the kitchen, and poured himself a single cup of tea.

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