3 Feb

St John (who pronounced his name Sinjun because it gave him what he peculiarly looked on as a suggestion of archaic antecedents, which was useful, him being a politician with no great lineage) knew he was going to die. He’d arranged it like this, the funeral preparations, the patch of land in the secular graveyard (as close to a stream as they’d permit because he had a life-long fear of dehydration), the black-bordered announcement in the local press, the cards inviting an exclusive band of mourners to say their farewells to him.
St John was, if nothing else, thorough.
His ex-wife Gloria would be there. He knew she’d turn up for no better reason than to make absolutely sure he was dead because that’s how she’d wanted him for years. Dead. As a dodo. Extinct. Despite her startlingly good looks she’d been a bitter-minded cow and he’d never come to understand what he’d seen in her that had made him propose marriage in the first place. Maybe, he reasoned (though it wasn’t reason, not properly, not intellectually) it was because he had thought she was pregnant. Or maybe because it was nice and convenient to have someone at home ready for sex at the drop of a hat, when he felt in the mood to screw a woman, which wasn’t actually that often. Not often enough for her anyway, he thought. He was, he believed, a new man, a metrosexual being, able to see charm wherever charm might lie, even in the eyes of his fellow man. And Gloria hadn’t understood that. She’d called him “gay”, which he knew he wasn’t. Not exactly.
But back to the funeral. His funeral.
His current wife Annie would be there too. That would bring some tension to the proceedings, the two most warlike women under the sun glowering at each other as his box (he didn’t like the words coffin or casket) was lowered into the moist earth to the music of the trickling stream nearby. The sparks between Gloria and Annie would be a wonder to behold, and Annie would most likely win if it came to fists. He’d love to be awake, though, so witness all that tension. But the dead are rarely witnesses at their own funeral, so he wouldn’t be.
He’d be dead, probably sewn back together after the post-mortem had tried to sort out what had killed him. His organs will have been taken out (probably none-too gently seeing as you don’t have to be too delicate when handling cold flesh, especially if time’s a precious commodity and you’ve got too much to do) and poked at, sampled, tested and returned roughly to where they’d started out in life. It would take an intuitive pathologist to work out why he was a corpse rather than a living, breathing man, though.
When the St Johns of this world arrange to die they don’t do it in any obvious way. He’d taken ages trying to work out a foolproof death so that the police turned their eyes eventually on David and accused him of murder. The sliver of cold steel being pushed like a miniature submarine through his veins and arteries by the pressure of his blood would kill him (he reckoned within the hour of its insertion, carefully, in an artery running up his wrist with a veterinary syringe). He’d researched it, and it would all happen whilst David was with him. And he’d leave that syringe as a great big whopping clue … they’d find it and wonder why the man upstairs in the spare bed, (always the spare bed, much as he dreamed of it they weren’t a couple, not yet and now now ever), was one syringe short in his bag.
If Gloria and Annie had known about him and David they would have curdled worse than they did. David was the one love of his life, the single most important person in his entire world, and suddenly he hated David because David was getting married next week, to a woman, and to add insult to injury, to Gloria of all people.
“You introduced me to her. You must have known what you were doing, and when you divorced her I knew why. It was to give me a shot at happiness with a beautiful, gorgeous woman… and I’ll take the gift, my dear friend…”
“You bloody what?” he had exploded. “I thought you and me… David, it’s supposed to be you and me!”
“You and me?” sighed David, “I never could quite get my head round that … but you’ve always known me … there never would be any you and me, I’m not like that, though you are a truly good friend.”
“We were more than just friends?” he had said, knowing in his heart that they hadn’t.
David nodded. “You proved it with your gift to me,” he murmured. “Gloria is special, you know, more special than you realised when you rowed with her.”
“She just wanted…” He was going to say “sex”, but couldn’t. It would be an admission of who he was, an admission given words and sound.
“She’s a lovely woman,” whispered David.
“I guess she is, though I never really saw it,” he had sighed. “I needed cover … not that many of the bloody homophobic masses vote for gay politicians, you know, and I needed a wife like a woman needs a necklace, for decoration. I tried, but I couldn’t … love them. A man like me can’t, not properly, but I needed my wives (one at the time, obviously) for photo opportunities. And when Gloria saw me for what I was I found Annie, only too ready to become an MP’s wife. Yet all I’d really wanted deep down was you.”
“And that would never have been either,” sighed David, sadly.
And that had been that. Annie was out at one of her endless afternoon teas, David was upstairs in the spare room, sleeping the sleep of the lightly doped – and he, the potential leader of a nation, was going to die, to be murdered, and leave evidence that would quite clearly implicate David.
Within the hour.
He arranged the invitations neatly on the table, switched on the television for background distraction and picked up David’s syringe. It might hurt, but what was a painful prick when compared to death? He rested back in his armchair looking as casual as he could so that they’d say he must have dozed off – and David being the only other person in the house would get the blame. He didn’t like David very much any more. Love can be so close to hate, so painfully, horribly close.
He sipped a sleeping draft and when he knew his eyes were shutting and he was almost asleep he touched the syringe against his arm.
He pushed the needle firmly where he knew it would find an artery and depressed the plunger. This was it. He would die some time in the next hour or so. Then the undertaker would come as arranged, the notices would be posted and the police would do their worst. He supposes a plan that included his own death wasn’t the best idea, but it was what he wanted. He always got what he wanted, one way or another.
And the door opened.
“Oh, you found my syringe,” grinned David. “I thought you might. I washed it out, cleaned it properly and filled it with saline, though I’ll properly sterilise it when I get home. there was some muck in it, looked a bit like a six inch nail through a magnifying glass! I should learn to be more careful, I really should….”


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