It was a long weekend. Monday was a public holiday so everyone took Friday off as well. Adriana knew with the certitude of long experience that with everything shut for the weekend things in her life would go wrong. The freezer would die, the shower nozzle would jam, the dog’s ears would get infected, the internet would go down, young Charlie would trip and break a finger. All these “emergencies” cost twice the amount (or more) to get attended to on a long weekend.
Yes, Adriana was what some people called a pessimist. Her friends urged her to take a more positive approach to life. “What if you looked on the bright side?” asked Hilda.
“You read too much and live in a world of fiction, Adriana,” said Ivan.
“Buck out of it, Adriana,” said Gwenda. “It’s negative, negative, negative.”
“I can’t help it,” said Adriana. “I just know during this long weekend that everything will go wrong. The freezer will die, the shower nozzle will jam, the dog’s ears will get infected, the internet will go down, young Charlie will trip and break a finger.”
But, miracle of miracles! None of this happened because first thing in the morning Adriana was in a car crash on the way to get milk from the corner shop.
It was one of those tragedies that could have been avoided. It was both indulgent and unnecessary. Twenty-four university geology students on a field trip were crowded onto a lookout in the mountains. The lookout collapsed and the students fell thousands of feet down the cliff to inevitable death.
Let us compare details of two university students to better understand the sadness of what happened.
Donna Bella was enrolled at university to get a degree in Geology. She was bright, intelligent, and quite frankly full of herself. Her father (I know him from work) is a civil engineer. He said to his spoiled daughter, “You can do better than that”, and through various connections secured Donna Bella a grant to study nuclear physics at a rather prestigious institution. That is why Donna Bella wasn’t one of the geology students standing on the mountain lookout that collapsed.
On the other hand, Minnie-Martha had enrolled in geology and was standing on the mountain lookout when it collapsed. Obviously her father didn’t have the money to buy his daughter a degree from a prestigious university. Actually, she was my daughter. I cannot bear to say more. Enough said.
Some people think they can get away with things scot free. Not so, which is why I applaud the unidentified driver of the hit and run yesterday that ran over that selfish know-all called Donna Bella. She was crossing the road and the car didn’t just clip her; it went slap-bang wham full on. It was very satisfying.
Hailey had always known that when (not if) her husband fulfilled his lifetime dream of going for a ride in a helicopter it would end in disaster. Maybe the helicopter would hit a tree or power wires. Maybe it would cease suddenly to function and plummet to the ground. Maybe the pilot was on a suicide mission. Whatever the cause, Hailey knew it would end in tragedy.
And, of course, her husband’s lifetime dream was about to come to fruition. He was going for his helicopter ride next Thursday. His grown-up kids had given him a helicopter ride as a 50th birthday present. Poor Hailey. Not only would it end in tragedy, but such a tragedy would ultimately be caused by the children. How could they live with it? How could they forgive themselves for having killed their father?
Thursday came. Hailey refused to drive him to the airport. He could drive himself to his own demise. She had warned him enough. He left home about 9 in the morning. The ride was scheduled for 11. “Dear God,” prayed Hailey, “dear God, made the end quick. Do not let him suffer unnecessarily.” She could not bear the thought of him bleeding slowly to death in an isolated field somewhere between the airport and where ever it was they were going. “Oh God, make it quick”.
Hailey turned the radio on to catch any snippet of tragic news. Each time the radio approached the top of the hour when the news was broadcast, Hailey would turn the radio off. She could not bear to listen.
It was now four hours since the helicopter flight. The excursion was scheduled only for an hour. Hailey was in turmoil. He’s late. He’s late. She would have to face the whole business of the funeral and sorting out the finances. Would she stay in the same house? How would she get to the airport to pick up the car? Where was she meant to go from here?
The doorbell rang. This was it. Hailey did not want to answer. She plucked up courage. She opened the door.
It was her husband. He’d forgotten to take the house keys when he left.
It’s such a shame. They were such a lovely couple. They were so down-to-earth – which is unusual for filthy rich personages.
To think how full of promise their lives had become! They had recently moved into their brand-new multimillion dollar mansion. It suited them down to the ground. It had a games room – or should I say “rooms”? The covered heated swimming pool was a delight. The tennis courts attracted so many genuine friends. The kitchen (Jacinta jokingly referred to it as a “my humble kitchenette”!) was big enough for Rufus, their world-class chef. In fact, Rufus had been with the household for years, ever since he was hired by Archibald’s first wife many years ago. Archibald joked that Rufus was the only real jewel in the family fortune.
And then last Thursday Jacinta’s body was found floating in the tropical aquarium. Archibald was devastated. How could she have drowned? He had suggested to her dozens of times not to overfeed the African banded barbs (Barbus fasciolatus). She wouldn’t listen. Fate had clearly decreed that she should drown in the fish tank because of her over-feeding fixation. How she fell in was anyone’s guess.
Some people are prone to tragedy. That is certainly the case with Archibald. Jacinta was his fourth wife to have inadvertently drowned in a tropical aquarium. Jacinta was the brightest star in my firmament of life, said Archibald. Rufus was more matter-of-fact: That’s the last time she’ll criticise my Caraway Crusted Pork Loin with Stewed Cabbage and Sautéed Apples.
Myrtle was an accomplished writer. She posted a story every day on her blog. People complained however: Why do you always kill your characters off? Can’t you have a happy ending for once? But Myrtle refused.
She liked to kill her characters off. It was like murdering without a prison sentence. Such fun! And so like life!
Stubborn, murdering Myrtle began to type her daily story:
Ferdinand and Mavis were having a picnic in an idyllic spot under a large eucalyptus tree. Mavis had made the loveliest cucumber sandwiches and Ferdinand had brought along a bottle of his home brew to share on the picnic rug.
“Will you marry me, Mavis?” asked Ferdinand going down on one knee.
“Oh Ferdinand! Of course I will,” said Mavis, bursting into a smile.
Suddenly, a violent storm struck. There was a loud crack heard from the eucalyptus tree. The tree began to tragically fall. Ferdinand and Mavis were…
Dear Reader. Myrtle was about to slaughter her characters once again. But they were saved! They were saved! Hurrah! Myrtle dropped dead from a heart attack before she could type out the word “killed”.