Saturday, May 13, 2006

My husband

'Oh, God!'
Iris is suffering, despite riding our stretcher on the lucky feather pillow that she has provided. Her wasted frame just does not have the padding to absorb the shocks of everday movement anymore. When we helped her out of her wheelchair onto the stretcher, it was like handling a loosely articulated mannequin; her tracksuit bottoms and salmon pink cardigan felt empty.

'Comfortable?' I ask. She grimaces.

We are taking Iris home from her final dialysis session of the week. She seems sapped and vulnerable, but she smiles, her tidy yellow teeth glinting in the dull interior of the ambulance.

Iris asks me if I can guess where she comes from, and then immediately tells me she comes from Gedling near Nottingham. Could I tell from the accent? I tell her I thought Birmingham. It doesn't worry her.

'We came down here twenty years ago, in an Austin Cambridge,' she tells me, and then frowns. 'Do you know, the day before we moved there was a terrible murder in the woods. And an Austin Cambridge was seen nearby. Well, the police appeared the day after we'd moved in to our new house and asked my husband all sorts of questions. Apparently someone thought the murderer looked like my husband, and what with the car and the move, well, they thought they were on to something. But of course he was innocent, so the police went away. But that wasn't the end of it. They came to talk to him quite a few times over the next few weeks. After it all blew over, and the police got their murderer, we didn't even get an apology.

'The fact was, of course, they didn't know my husband. We were married fifty years, in the end. I knew him very well. And I knew that he could never hurt a fly.

'To give you an example. We used to have a canary. One day I looked at this canary and I saw that all its feathers had fallen out. It looked a right state. Poor thing. Well, it obviously couldn't go on like that. So I said to my husband: "We're going to have to do something about that bird, you know." So he thought about it, and decided that the only way he could kill it was to gas it in the oven. He had it in there for about two hours until I said: "I think it's probably dead by now, don't you?"'


Libby said...

I've just started reading your blog and am reading from the beginning, and this post made me laugh - thank you :)

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks v much, Libby.

I must admit I had to search for that one - it really is right at the beginning! I was still on patient transport then. It feels like an age ago!

I'm so pleased you like it. Great to hear from you.

allie said...

i started reading your blog a few weeks or so ago, and am starting to go back through the beginnning... i really enjoy all of your stories, how do you remember all the details? this one is kinda creepy, i'm even thinking her husband was the murderer. wow.

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks v much, Allie. I think it was pretty creepy, too. It does sound as if he may have had something to do with the murder - and so ironic that the story the wife tells to show how harmless he was makes him sound like a psycho!

Some of the conversations you have with patients stand out, so you don't have to try too hard to remember them. Other times, if there are key details I don't want to lose, I'll make a discrete note somewhere.

Thanks again for trawling the back catalogue! Really appreciate it. :)