A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

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            Norman, a quiet, stoic and religious man of 68 years, was married to Betty. Retired early at 48 through ill health and having been pensioned off from his job in the post office, Norman had no option but to stay home with his wife.

            “You need to be doing this. – Have you done that? – When will this be done?” were all a part of the routine barrage that Norman would undergo from his other half on a daily basis.

            “That lady, from down the road, her at 42, you know the one,” Was Betty’s daily theme for her gossiping. “I asked her how her hubby was, thinking he was ill as he hadn’t been to the last few council meetings,” she went on. “She thought I was wrong but I soon corrected her, I told her that the young councillor Jane Marks hadn’t been there either. We thought she must be ill too. You know the one with the pretty face and the long legs that go right to her ...” Betty stopped in mid sentence as two and two finally made five, “Oh my God, they’re having an affair!” Going on and on and on with herself, her mouth would never stop and Norman, with the patience of a saint would take it all in his stride.

            Plodding on regardless, for 39 years now he had stood by Betty, never complaining or taking umbrage at what she was saying. Very rarely had he ever argued with her. Nor for that matter had he ever gotten a word in edgeways.

            “Sometimes Norman, I feel like I am talking to a brick wall,” she would say. “I don’t seem to be getting through to you,” or “talk to myself” were all stock phrases for Betty as Norman would grunt by way of answering her ramblings. On the few rare occasions where Norman was actually able to spark a conversation, Betty would always interject and steer the subject matter to that of her own choosing.

            Day in, day out Betty’s mouth would be reeling ten to the dozen as Norman just stood by. It never seemed to get to him, just in one ear and out through the other. What, why, where, when, who and how? Was all he would ever get from her. Question after question interjected with a few bold statements and a huge amount of gossip. Small talk was a thing of the past as the speed of Betty’s tongue grew faster and faster and faster.

            And that’s how it always was, for the long suffering Norman. Amazed at Betty's ability to multi-task, in as far as breathing and talking so much at the same time was concerned. He was continually receiving a regular dose of meaningless banter, a diatribe of useless information interspersed with many questions, instructions and the occasional insult to boot. Only at night did the constant prattling stop, but it was only to be replaced by a snoring akin to the roars of a lion. The life of Norman was far from a quiet one.

            Somehow, beyond all means of reasonable explanation, Norman managed to die peacefully in his sleep one night. This, whilst coming as a complete shock for Betty, gave her quite a lot to talk about for weeks, despite her lack of an audience.

            And as there was no indication of Norman being anywhere close to dying the night he passed away, his body was taken away for an autopsy. The coroners were thorough in their examinations but were unable to decide on the cause for Norman’s untimely death. The autopsy report concluded that he had died solely from natural causes and everything seemed to be in perfect order. But there was one small thing.

            It appears that Norman had been deaf from birth, a well hidden but disturbing fact that had knocked Betty for six. And needless to say, for one reason or another, Betty didn’t really speak much at all after that.



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