Cathy Vella: All Inc.

I watch as Fay’s lips flap, her face twisting into strange, exaggerated shapes as she moans on and on. There is a line of spittle in the corner of her mouth; it catches repeatedly on her dry, flappy lips as she witters on with herself. It reminds me of the stringy cheese in that pizza advert. Her tongue like dry salami, flaps in her mouth – her whiney, pedantic, never-has-a-good-word-to say-about-anyone mouth.

‘Jack, Jack? Are you even listening to me?’

I begrudgingly remove the headphones, and Fay’s drone replaces my ambient tunes. If her voice were music it would be brass, or bad gamelan. Thrash gamelan.

‘You say something?’

‘I’m too hot, it’s too hot for me.’

‘You want me to turn the sun down?’

‘Oh, you’re funny.’

‘Well, we are in Tenerife in peak season, my sweet.’

‘Yes, I know that, I’m just saying.’

‘You are in the shade, with factor fifty on, wearing the biggest sunhat on earth, what else can I do to help?’

‘I shouldn’t come on these holidays.’

‘Well, next time I shall bring my other woman.’

Fay harrumphed and flopped back on her lounger.  Moaning cow.

‘Everything’s a joke with you.’

‘Go and have a dip in the sea, it’ll cool you down.’

‘It’s full of seaweed, it’s all sloshing about near the water’s edge.’

I give her an incredulous look and shake my head. I imagine her entangled in the seaweed, choking down seawater, drowning and floating off towards the horizon. I chuckle as I pop my headphones back on. I admire the sea. A couple play bat and ball near the water’s edge, I find this very strange. Children frolic in the shallows, and a couple on an airbed kiss passionately. I observe all this with my own soundtrack. Bliss. It’s amazing how much of my life I shut out these days. In my early years I absorbed as much of the world as possible. I wonder when it changed.

We chat over all-inclusive dinner. She moans about the chicken – it’s tepid, apparently everything is covered in oil and the guy frying the fish was picking his nose and looked dirty. She also eyes up the other couples, disapprovingly I can tell.  They’re probably having far too much fun for her liking. She thinks loudness is uncouth, which is funny really as she never stops talking.  She talks a lot, but never really says anything. Her voice is like white noise.

She picks at her chicken and I find it unbearably irritating. I can feel my annoyance mount as she pushes it around her plate. Stuffing my mouth with chicken salad, I stifle my temptation to tell her that I wish she would choke on it. The waiter hovers with wine and I gesture for him to fill my glass and thank him. Fay waves him away. In my mind’s eye, he smashes the decanter into her stupid face repeatedly and she bleeds out all over her tepid chicken. Everyone in the restaurant cheers and we all raise our glasses, a few let off party poppers. I stand and take a bow and tip the waiter generously.

I hate my wife. I’m not quite sure when I realised this, but recently I have recurring thoughts about bumping her off. In fact it’s probably these thoughts that keep me sane. She dies at least twice a day in my imagination.

I decide to book her in for paragliding, water skiing and the banana ride for the next day, in the hope that fate may take a drastic turn, or at least to get a few hours respite from her fucking face.

We sit outside and the night air is cooling. The entertainment at this hotel leaves a lot to be desired, but sometimes it’s so dreadfully bad, it’s good. Tonight after the kids disco, there’s a knife thrower and then karaoke.

Carmen and Alex from Liverpool befriended us a few nights ago and they join us for drinks. Carmen is uptight and likes a good moan so her and Fay get on great. During the knife thrower act, they ask for a member of the audience to participate.  I plead with my wife to get up, but she won’t.

I drink too much, as does Alex, and we start talking about music and find a common bond over our love of Queen. We keep getting dirty looks from the ladies, but this only encourages us. We drink more. And more. Alex gets the karaoke book from the DJ and we select a song each.  We think we are hilarious.

I’m up on the stage belting out Queen’s I Want to Break Free, whilst glaring directly at Fay’s miserable face. I strut around like Freddy Mercury and the crowd lap it up and start to clap. The more ridiculous I act the more people laugh. I’m loving this.

Fay becomes so tight lipped that her face looks like it’s imploded. Alex is laughing, singing along and getting a bit lairy with Carmen, who is trying to calm him down.  He stands up and grabs at her, trying to get her to dance, but he staggers and knocks some woman’s chair over. Within a blink, her bloke uppercuts him, sending him flying over the table. Carmen is up screaming and pointing at the couple.  Fay stands up but before she can open her flappy mouth, the bloke’s girlfriend has chucked a drink in her face and is lunging towards her. Drinks go flying, and in domino fashion, rage spreads across the holidaymakers. Women are standing up, hands on hips shouting drunkenly. Hair is being pulled, tables are being flipped. Men with tattoos are offering one another out. And I’m only on the third verse.

I look at the DJ who shrugs as if this is a nightly occurrence. I carry on singing, resigned to the fact that nothing I do will make this any better.  I watch as Fay dodges the lunging woman and wipes the drink from her face. This would look so much better in slow motion. The tune changes to Don’t Stop me Now, perfect fighting music.

Chairs are flying into the pool now, along with a few women. Fay stumbles over in a less than ladylike fashion as lunging woman drags her around by her low cut top. Alex is giving it full throttle now. He smashes a chair over a bloke’s head. Bloke is now being assisted by two other meatheads: they prance around nimbly, brandishing fists in a cartoon fashion. One of them is the guy that puts towels on all the beds in the morning and has a brood of kids that swear like navvies. He has tattoos of each child on his arm and a huge one of what I presume is Elvis on his back, though it actually looks more like K.D. Lang.

The DJ has done one; I catch him disappearing behind the stage curtain, where I see the knife thrower and his assistant quickly packing their gear away. I see an opportunity here. My eureka moment. Dropping the mic, I dash to the back and grab the knives from him. I arm myself with the largest swords, the ones saved for the finale. I turn and face the fighting throng.  I head towards them, purposeful. I’m the Last fucking Samurai, Jedi Knight, and The Man from Nowhere rolled into one. I pause behind the DJ booth and flick the music back on.  Queen, Another One Bites the Dust.  I couldn’t have picked better. I dive off the stage, into the throng.

black tree

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Photo by Tomek Dzido