I keep thinking its tues.., p.1
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       I Keep Thinking It's Tuesday, p.1

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I Keep Thinking It's Tuesday

  I Keep Thinking It's Tuesday


  Barnaby Wilde

  Copyright 1999 by Barnaby Wilde

  Barnaby Wilde asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

  Ostrich cover photo by Petr Kratochvil

  Other works by the author.

  A Question of Alignment – a Tom Fletcher novel


  I remember seeing a cartoon once, years ago, in a magazine, of two hippopotami wallowing in a mud pool. Just the tops of their heads were visible. I think it was Playboy magazine. The caption under the cartoon said, "I keep thinking it's Tuesday". That's all. It made me laugh. I've been thinking about it a lot recently. I don't mean deeply or philosophically, I mean often. I keep thinking it's Tuesday.

  Listen. I have to tell you something. Something big. The biggest thing I've ever done. Well, I haven't exactly done it yet. But I shall. I've made the decision. That's the important thing. I've made the decision. I've decided to get rid of my wife.

  Listen. I don't want to hurt her, you understand. I don't hate her. I love her. There's no other way though. I've been over it a hundred times. More like a thousand, actually. It would be the kindest thing. For me and for her.

  I don't know why I'm telling you this. My plan depends on me not being suspected. This has to be the perfect crime. I haven't decided how to do it yet, you understand, but I have a few ideas. The main thing is that she mustn't suspect anything, and I don't want her to get hurt. That's important.

  I think about things a lot. My mind, it's always working. Going over things. Analysing. Trying to understand how things work or why things happen. I analyse things to death. Sometimes I think I think too much. I wonder if everyone thinks as much as me? I doubt it. I think there must be something wrong with me. I don't have the switch. The switch that turns your mind off. I'm sure other people have it. I've seen them, looking vacant. Eyes wide open and bodies functioning, but brains turned off. They go into conservation mode. Saving power. But my switch is broken. I can't turn my brain off.

  I tried to empty it once. To think of nothing at all. I thought about black. The colour black, but little lights kept coming on, like stars. So I thought of white instead, but my hair kept getting in my eyes. I used to have hair then.

  I dried my tongue off once. To see how it would feel. I stuck it out and let the air dry it right off to see how it would feel.

  It felt dry.

  Actually I was scared about emptying my mind. I thought I might not be able to restart it. I knew a man once, it was my grandfather, who was told by a doctor to breathe out, breathe out, breathe out. And when the doctor had lost interest, my grandfather had forgotten how to breathe in again. He had to be given artificial respiration to get him going.

  I keep thinking it's Tuesday.

  Now I stop to think about it, why would a hippopotamus have the same number of days in a week as us? Perhaps hippos have eight days in a week, or ten. Why does a week have seven days anyway? Why haven't I thought about that before?

  I keep thinking about my wife, Gail. She hurts me. I love her. She hurts me. I have to escape from her. I'm trapped. I'm too much of a coward to walk away. That's why I have to kill her. Did I tell you that I was going to kill her? I thought I did. I knew you'd understand. If I don't, then I shall wither and die instead.

  I shall need an alibi. A perfect alibi. The husband is always the prime suspect, so I'll have to sort out an alibi. The best way would be to make it look like an accident. Then no one will be suspected. The main thing is to plan. Plan meticulously. Plan well ahead. Maybe even a year ahead if I can last that long, or at least a week anyway. And tell no one. No one at all.

  You? You don't count. You are a figment of my imagination. You don't really exist. I just need someone to talk to sometimes. Now and again. When I feel lonely.

  Most murders are committed by husbands, or wives, or lovers. Did you know that? Husbands kill wives, or lovers. Wives kill husbands. Lovers mostly kill themselves. Usually it's all done in a blaze of passion. Unpremeditated. Wild, frustrated anger. Using the first blunt or sharp instrument that comes to hand. No finesse. This is a messy way to behave. Everyone gets hurt. Nobody wins.

  I can't stop thinking about those damned hippopotami. What an easy life. Sitting around in mud all day. Nothing to do except fart occasionally and watch the bubbles come up through the mud. "What shall I do today? I know, I'll fart and watch the bubbles come up through the mud again. That'll pass the time."

  I can't imagine hippos hurting one another. Maybe tread on one another's toes sometimes. Maybe steal somebody's leaf that he was just going to eat. Maybe flick faeces in someone's face by accident. Oh, they do that all the time, you know. Flick faeces I mean.

  Listen. I'm not making this up. Hippos spray their faeces around by using their stumpy little tails like egg whisks. And they are none too particular about which way they face either.

  "Look out Horace. George has got his whisk going again. I'd move if I were you."

  "Eh? Oh, I keep thinking it's Tuesday."

  It's all about planning. Analysing the situation from every aspect. Thinking about all the possibilities. Covering all the angles.

  There mustn't be any slip ups. I don't want to hurt her. I love her too much. I always loved her too much. She doesn't love me though. I think she maybe did once. I don't know if she ever did.

  She's watching me now. She's marking books and I'm writing to you. Oh, I forgot to tell you she's a teacher. I think she's beautiful. She has long legs and sometimes blonde hair. She is slim. She smiles at me.

  "What are you writing?"

  "Oh, nothing. Nothing much. I was just thinking about hippos."

  "Really? Why are you writing about hippos?"

  "Not writing about them exactly, I was just thinking about them, that's all. One stopped breathing and had to be given artificial respiration you know."

  "What, by another hippo?"

  "Yes, I suppose so. I mean a man's mouth wouldn't be big enough, would it?"

  "It all sounds a bit improbable to me."

  I think she suspects something. I smile and try to look nonchalant, but I'm going to have to be more careful in future. I know where suspicion can lead. I was suspicious once. Too little and too late, but I got there in the end. Yes, I got there in the end.

  I decide to walk up to the library. We have a good library in our town, and it's only five minutes walk from my house. We live near the centre of the town. It's a big town. We live on a main road. A very main road. Too busy. Too noisy. Too crowded. The library stays open in the evenings until eight o'clock. I'll walk up there and get out a book about murders. Preferably unsolved ones. That will give me some ideas at least. I'll get a book about hippos too. That will put Gail's mind at rest.

  They're pink you know. Hippos I mean. You think they are going to be grey, but really they're pink. And they get sunburnt. You'd think that nature would have thought about that. Evolving in a sunny country over millions of years, you'd think they'd be resistant to sunburn. But, no, they go bright red after a few hours in the sun. That's why they sit in mud all day. It's nature's sun oil. They don't have to pay through the nose for factor twenty, and beg their wives to rub it on their backs, and remember to put a bit on the thin patch on top of their head. And then still forget the backs of their knees and lose the lid in the sand. No, they just sit in mud all day, farting from time to time and thinking about Tuesday.

  "I'm just going to walk up to the library."

  "I'll come with you."

  "Actually, I think it might be raining."

  "We'll take the car, then. I need to take my books back. Why did you want to go anyway?"

  "Oh, no reason. Just thought I'd look for a book about hippos. Interesting animals hippos."

  God, I love that woman. Her skirt is pulled right up. Halfway up her thighs. I'm drooling. How can she turn me on like this?

  The library doesn't seem like such a good idea now. Perhaps I'll leave it until tomorrow.

  "Perhaps it's too late to go to the library tonight. I'll leave it until tomorrow."

  "OK. I'll get some coffee then. Would you like one?"

  "Yes, please. Just a small one."

  Listen. Is this making any kind of sense to you? It's difficult for me too, you know. I've been confused for a long time now. So long that I can't remember when it started.

  Listen. I used to be happy once. We both used to be happy. Together. We were happy together. Now we just hurt one another. But I still love her. After twenty five years, I still love her. And she's in love too. Yes, after twenty five years she is in love too. But not with me. Not any more with me.

  I wonder if hippos fall in love? I wish I could stop thinking about damned hippos. I don't even know if they have brains. They may be just big, mud wallowing, sunburnt farting machines with egg whisks for all I know. I bet they don't cheat on each other though. I bet they don't lie. I bet they don't have calendars either, so how would they know what day of the week it was? And why would they speak english? Surely a hippo would speak hip or something similar. Tuesday wouldn't be called Tuesday at all. It would be called oogmph or glawch or some other hip word.

  I keep thinking it's oogmph.

  Somehow that isn't so funny. Maybe that's why the cartoonist translated it into english.

  Gail comes back from the kitchen with two cups of coffee.

  "There's a terrible smell in here. Is it you?"

  "Er, yes. Sorry."

  "I've been thinking. It's a good job you didn't go up to the library this evening. It's early closing night."

  "Oh, is it? I keep thinking it's Tuesday for some reason."


  Geoffrey removed the wood from the top of his Morris Marina Countryman and manhandled it through the front door. There were eight pieces. Tongued and grooved chipboard. Flooring grade. Each piece four feet by two feet. He propped them against the hall radiator until he had fetched all eight pieces inside and locked the car.

  He carried them, then, one piece at a time, up the stairs to the landing. He left a small trail of sawdust on the plain hall and stairs carpet as he went.

  From the landing, he pushed open the trap door to the loft and pulled down the sliding loft ladder, using a pole that was
obviously kept for that very purpose. Straining slightly, he climbed the ladder eight times until the boards were all inside the loft.

  "Those will do nicely," he thought to himself, pleased with what he had achieved.


  I'm late. I scarcely slept last night. Hippos crashed through all my dreams. I couldn't get them out of my mind. If I tried counting sheep, they turned into hippos. And every one of them had it's little egg whisk going nineteen to the dozen.

  Gail has already left for work by the time I stumble out to the garage. The car is sitting there, looking smug. It knows it won't be going anywhere today. The driver's door is swinging limply. Open just enough to have triggered the interior light all night. It almost laughs out loud at me as I put my key in the ignition and listen to it wheeze with helpless mirth. I am not a mechanically minded man, but I know a flat battery when I see one.

  I put the battery on charge and set off, without enthusiasm, to walk the two miles to work. Oh to be a hippo.

  There are some compensations to walking, quite apart from the excercise. There are other people walking, too. Some of them young women. Some of them pretty young women. I give them marks out of ten as they go past. I'm a legs man myself. Always have been. Start at the feet and work upwards. I pass a lot of two's and three's, and the occasional four's and five's. My marking scale is tough. I'm looking for the perfect ten. When I see her I'm going to marry her. I might have to settle for an eight or a nine though, but today I'm still aiming high.

  Listen. I haven't forgotten that I'm already married. But I've told you. I intend to deal with that problem. Give me time. Don't crowd me. I'm working on it.

  I get to the office almost an hour late. Mr Hudson is obviously not amused. Luckily my phone is ringing and I am saved by the bell.

  "Good morning. Hudson, Hudson and Hudson. Estate agents, valuers, insurance and mortgage brokers. We work to serve you. Tom Fletcher speaking. How may I help you?"

  I'm supposed to say that every time I answer the phone. I say it today because Mr Hudson is in earshot. Mr Hudson wrote the script. It takes so long to say it that half the callers assume they are talking to an answering machine and ring off. It's pretty demoralising when half the world thinks you are an answering machine.

  It's a woman's voice when the response comes. A soft, sultry voice. It could be any age from thirty to fifty. I picture a blonde of about thirty. She sounds as if she could be an eight.

  "Good morning," she says. "I'd like a valuation."

  Mr Hudson can see that he's lost the initiative and walks away. He disappears into the back office. Julie, our secretary, picks up the coffee and mimes drinking to me. I nod, and she puts on the kettle.

  "Certainly madam. Perhaps you could give me a few particulars. What name is it, please?"

  It takes me about five minutes to establish all the details and arrange an appointment. She sounds in a hurry. She is very anxious for me to call around today, and foolishly I agree, forgetting that I haven't got my car. I shall have to go by bus.

  While I am talking, Julie brings over the coffee and sits on the edge of my desk drinking hers and waiting for me to finish. Julie is definitely a nine. Maybe she is the one. I try not to look at her as I talk but no matter where I look my gaze seems unfailingly to return to her chest. I find myself talking to the woman on the phone and staring at Julie's breasts. They are hypnotic. Like the eyes on a painting which seem to follow you round the room, Julie’s breasts are always about six inches in front of my eyes. I shut them as I talk, so that I can concentrate, but I can't resist peeping. And there they are. Hovering just in front of my nose. Every time she takes a mouthful of coffee her breasts strain against the thin fabric of her blouse. She seems unaware of the effect she is having on me.

  Listen. Perhaps you think it's because of Julie that I need to kill my wife. You're wrong. I promise I'll tell you more later, but now isn't the time.

  I think I might be falling in love with Julie. She doesn't know it yet. I wouldn't even have considered that if Gail still loved me. I pull my stomach in and turn on all my charm as I finalise the arrangements on the phone. Julie crosses her legs as she shifts her weight from one buttock to the other. I think my pulse rate just doubled. My hand is shaking as I pick up the coffee cup and take a nonchalant swig.

  Somehow my mouth isn't where it used to be and half the coffee drains down my chin. Julie is almost hysterical with laughter. God, what I'd give to be suave. Why is it that some men are suave and others aren't? Why is it that my brain thinks suave and my body thinks plonker? Do other people have this problem? Sometimes I think there was a mixup. I got the wrong body. My brain knows it should have been in a body that was five inches taller and coordinated. I don't mean colour coordinated you understand. I'm not complaining that I've got one brown limb and three white ones. Just that my muscles and limbs are about two miliseconds out of sync with my brain. Two miliseconds may not sound a lot, but when your coffee is draining off your chin, it's a lot.

  When I get off the phone Julie wipes me down with a paper hanky. She smells of something exotic. It's almost worth spilling the coffee to have her this close. I could cup her right breast in my left hand without hardly moving. I can feel the muscles in my shoulder tensing. They're crying out to me "do it, do it." But the muscles in my chin, dripping with coffee, are saying "who are you kidding?" The chin wins. The chin always wins. Where's your stiff upper lip man? Just above my flabby lower jaw. Just where it's always been.

  Reality sets in hard. Why is a sex kitten like Julie going to fall for a bald, middle aged man like me? Sometimes I think it would have been a whole lot easier being a hippo.

  I settle down to the rest of my work. Opening the mail. Chasing up reluctant clients. I proof read a couple of house particulars that Julie typed up yesterday. And there are a sprinkling of customers who wander in from the street from time to time. None of them serious. Window shoppers, voyeurs and time wasters. You can spot them a mile off.

  At lunchtime, it's my turn to man the office. Usually when it's my turn to be in at lunch time I bring some sandwiches to eat. Today I forgot. Today I'm going to be hungry. There isn't even time to call out to the pub. As soon as the others get back I have to run for the bus to get to my afternoon appointment. On my way to the bus stop I notice two dogs copulating on the pavement. There are two others waiting their turn. Their tails are going almost as a wild as the hippos eggwhisks. The street is crowded with people. They are all trying not to notice. I try not to notice too. But my eyes keep turning that way. I can't help it. It's just like Julie's blouse all over again. Perhaps I've got a rare disease. Perhaps the link between my eyes and my brain doesn't function like everyone else. All these other people say to their brains "those dogs aren't there”. And their eyes switch off. The dogs disappear. But my brain says "look, two dogs, copulating. In broad daylight. In the middle of the street. Don't stare." But I keep staring, like a kid. When I turn my head, my eyes just keep looking in the same direction.

  I begin to worry that I might be a pervert. Oh God. Please don't let me be a pervert. Is this why Gail stopped loving me? Could she see that she'd married a pervert?

  Listen. I'm not turned on by dogs. I don't like dogs. I don't know why I'm going on like this. You have to understand that I'm under a lot of strain. Normal people don't go round shooting their wives.

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