I Keep Thinking It's TuesdayBarnaWilde / Humor
I Keep Thinking It's Tuesday
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."