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A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

The Well Women's Group

Jennifer was last to arrive at the monthly social gathering of the Well Women’s Group.

‘Hi,’ she said as she joined the other super-fit paragons of health and vitality.

‘How are you?’ responded Sarah, handing Jennifer an isotonic, vitamin enhanced fruit juice.

‘I feel great, as usual,’ Jennifer replied, ‘but I’m pretty pissed-off.’

Alice joined them, jogging on the spot. ‘What’s the matter, Jen?’

‘I’m sick of being exploited by members of the ill community just because of my continuous wellness.’ Jennifer sipped her drink. ‘Mavis, who works with me, got run over by a bus on Monday. Now I’ve got to do all her work as well as my own while she just lies in a hospital bed for a year or two.’

‘I know just what you mean,’ Sarah sympathised. ‘That selfish son of a bitch who was painting my flat couldn’t even go on holiday to Africa without catching Ebola. I bet the shit gave no thought to having left the work half finished and me having all the hassle of finding another decorator…’

‘At least you can see real symptoms of physical illnesses,’ Alice interrupted. ‘It’s the malingering sods with so called mental illnesses that make me so angry. Those idle bastards just whinge that they are suffering from depression, or similar, and expect the rest of us to sympathetically let them freeload.’

‘You ex-husband had depression, didn’t he, Alice?’ remembered Jennifer.

‘As soon as he told me, I said I was divorcing him.’

Sarah poured herself another juice. ‘How did he react to that?’

‘When that type don’t get a guilt free passport to pampered luxury, they up the stakes. My ex said he would kill himself.’

Jennifer was curious. ‘Why do people do that?’

‘They’re angry about not being able to manipulate everyone,’ explained Alice, ‘and want to punish us all with guilt.’

‘What did you do when he made that threat?’ asked Sarah.

‘I bought some rope, sharpened the knives and left full boxes of paracetemol around the house. I even got some new cartridges for his shotgun. Then I walked out.

‘Did he…?’ continued Sarah, wide-eyed.

‘Nope. In the end I had to shoot him myself.’

Suddenly, the attention of the three women was drawn to Marilyn as she staggered half way across the room and then collapsed to the floor in front of them.

‘She doesn’t look well,’ observed Jennifer, noting the rapid, shallow breathing, dilated pupils and blue-tinged skin tone.

The women recognised a medical emergency and knew they must act quickly.

Sarah and Jennifer lifted Marilyn and carried her towards the door. Alice recovered Marilyn’s handbag and, while following the others, removed Marilyn’s Well Women’s Group membership card from her bag.

They deposited the body on the doorstep of a house across the road, rang the bell and ran.

Back at the Group, Jennifer poured juice for them all. ‘The nerve of that woman,’ she said. ‘She’ll get a final formal warning from the Group if she lives.’

‘And if she dies?’ enquired Sarah.

Jennifer and Alice spoke decisively in unison: ‘Exclusion for gross misconduct.’