I want to ask why is there a dead body outside my shower
My wife asks me to bring down the dead body when I get out of the shower. She’s on the floor below shouting up, practicing what I call marriage by megaphone. I am tempted to shout back: ‘Why is there a dead body outside my shower?’, but I guess I haven’t heard her correctly and I’ve learnt it’s better sometimes to say yes first and ask questions later.
‘Sure thing,’ I reply.
It’s early morning and I want some more ‘me time’ under the shower to wake up properly. If I question her instructions the next thing I know she’ll be her knocking on the bathroom door and I’ll have to get on with it, whatever it is.
I kneed my bad patch
As I knead my bald patch with a volumizing conditioner, something momentous has happened but I am not quite sure what yet. This feeling begins to take shape as a series of questions: why is there a dead body outsie my shower? Whose body is it? How the hell does my wife expect me to carry it downstairs with my back problem?
If it was a family member dead on the landing, I’m pretty certain my wife would be more upset and her instruction to brinf the dead body down was steely cold and clear and definitely from her ‘TaskMaster’ persona.
My wife is a Hilary mantel fan
I lean my head against the shower screen and have an epiphany. I’ve misheard her. She wants me to bring down Hilary Mantel’s book ‘Bring up the Dead Bodies’ which is on the bookshelf outside the shower because she wants to re-read it. Mystery solved.
‘Dad. I think you need to come out now,’ says my son.
‘There’s a dead body out here.’
‘Just throw it down to mum.’
‘I’m not picking up a dead body.’
‘It’s not a big deal for heavens sake,’ I shout, irritated my ‘me time’ under the shower is clearly coming to a premature close.
The family love Task Listicles
‘If you do, I’ll add it as a credit on your Task Listicle,’ I add, enticingly. Task Listicles are the list of jobs we’re given each day by my wife to protect us from idleness and sloth.
‘I don’t want you to patronise me with your patriarchal, reward-based behaviour systems if you really want to know I’d rather clean the bogs than pick up a dead body,’ he replies.
Mother has come up to see what the fuss is all about. She doesn’t come up this far often because the last time she was so distressed by the sight of the children’s un-ironed clothes that she didn’t sleep properly for a week.
‘Your father’s right. It’s definitely dead. I’ve just given it a prod,’ says Mother.
I wish Mother wasnt prodding the dead bird. I am not not a specialist in infectious diseases (unlike Donald Trump), but it occurs to me a dead body could still pass on the Covid-19 virus. If it really is a dead body and not Hilary Mantels’ book, then Mother prodding away at it with her crutch is just going to stir up the virus and spread it around the landing.
‘Don’t panic,’ I say as I open the bathroom door with a towel wrapped around my waist.
‘He’s like Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army,’ she says with a wink to my son.
‘Whose army?’ my son asks.
‘I’ve seen dead ones before. I don’t need you to tell me not to panic,’ says my Mother.
There’s a dead bird on the landing
On the landing outside my son’s bedroom is a dead bird. I don’t know what sort. Small. Not a pigeon. The cat is sitting up next to it. I’m tempted to say he looks proud, like a Big Game Hunter standing next to dead prey, ready for the safari paparazzi to snap his picture. But, actually, he just looks bemused by all the rumpus and the sight of Mother this far up the stairs.
‘It’s a dead bird,’ I say, as if I had discovered the Holy Grail.
‘Yeeeesss,’ say my mother and son, sneering.
‘He killed a mouse yesterday,’ says Mother. ‘I watched him from the balcony. He played with it for hours.’
‘Why didn’t you stop him?’ says my son, who loves the idea of natural ecosystems without the messy bits like hunting and killing.
‘Have you got it yet?’ I hear my wife’s voice getting closer.
I look from the dead bird to the copy of ‘Bring Up the Dead Bodies’ on the bookshelf and wonder if I have time to put on my trousers. As I hesitate, my wife arrives on the landing with a dustpan and brush and a sigh.