THE TAXMAN COMETH

18 Apr

There was a chill in the air that shouldn’t have been there, not in high summer, not when the sun was shining from the kind of blue sky that artists have always loved painting and talking about. Chandry Boniface shivered.
“It’s cold,” hr growled.
“No,” smiled Elaina, his wife, “it’s really quite warm The reason you’re feeling cold is because you’re dead.”
Chandry thumped the table and the breakfast pots rattled. He fixed his eyes on Elaina and there was no doubt in his mind that he could see her quite plainly. If there was one thing he didn’t feel it was dead and he had more than a suspicion that the dead can’t see.
“Dead people don’t do this!” he snapped, picking up the milk jug and pouring its contents onto the floor next to where he was sitting.
“They do if they’re on their way to hell and don’t want to go there,” she told him, smirking.
“Hell? What do you mean, woman? There’s no way I’m destined for hell!” he protested, “I’ve always lived a spotless and practically perfect life! I’ve supported all sorts of charities, made huge donations to the unemployed and ruffled the tousled heads of wounded children! Nobody could say I haven’t been more than the most perfect of people!”
“You were a naughty boy once,” she reminded him with a half smile on her lovely face. “And my, weren’t you naughty!”
He glared at her, tempted to bellow his response but something in his throat wouldn’t work.
“That was only me being natural!” he managed to splutter out. “And it wasn’t that naughty!”
“Well I always thought it was, and so did the creatures involved,” she told him severely. “You shouldn’t have done it and now look at you: shivering at breakfast on a beautiful day like this, with the sun shining and the promise of a lovely afternoon, and you about to fall to pieces.”
“I’m cold,” he mumbled, and his tongue fell out and ended splat in his cornflakes. “I didn’t want it anyway,” he tried to say, but speech without a tongue is well nigh impossible and it was just as well that Elaina knew exactly what he was failing to enunciate.
“Anyway, I didn’t mean when you were pulling the wings off bats for fun I meant when you were in politics,” she said quietly. “That’s when you were a really, really naughty boy.”
“I was a boon to the British people!” his head said, but the sound that came out of his mouth was “Mwa a boo to itish ple” and not even Elaina caught every syllable.
“It’s why you’re dead and on your way to hell, though,” she said quietly and ducked out of the way when one of his eyes popped out and flicked as if jet-propelled towards her. “I told you at the time: politics was never meant to be a route to personal wealth and happiness, though you couldn’t see it. Oh, I know you believe that it worked and you amassed so much wealth by taxing the poor that you could make teensy little personal donations to charity without noticing the change in the weight of your purse, but did it bring you happiness?”
“Blurr…blurr…awah!”
“Did it bring either of us happiness? You could afford anything your heart desired and what did you spend so much money on? A penis extension! I mean, a penis extension! You were Chancellor of the Exchequer and the absolute pinnacle of your desires was to have a longer willy!”
“Glug gar glug!”
“It never crossed your mind that the money you spent on an extra inch or so in your pants might have bought a new hospital or a few more teachers for overcrowded schools, which is what the people who actually paid their considerable taxes really wanted, did it? And when the surgery was over and the pain had subsided, what did it benefit you? You could never bring yourself to you-know-what with me for fear your you-know-what went wrong or fell to bits… remember?”
Chandry Boniface tried to stand up in order to swipe his wife across her face, but his right leg disintegrated and he lurched, out of control, to the floor.
“You look rather sad down there,” murmured Elaina. “But you won’t be aware of it for long. I’m told the dead soon lose all contact with the living world, just that their going is slowed down by the stuff they’ve encumbered themselves with in life. It’s like a weight holding them back, though for most people it might be slowing their progress to Heaven. But for you it’s hell, I’m afraid. And you’ll find a few chums there, fellow wastrels and bullies with whom you can scream your agony as the flames lick at your unburning flesh for eternity. By the way, have you any clear idea how long eternity might be?”
“Gag…gag….glag…”
“That’s it! Stars get born and die and still the fires lash every nerve of your body with unbelievable pain until you can’t even find another scream or wish for a merciful release for the millionth time…. But the Prime Minister will be there to comfort you whilst you comfort him, if you can…”
Chandry Boniface tried to heave himself on to his one remaining elbow, but that suddenly became dust as well. And the strain of all that effort caused his tongueless head to roll off into a puddle of milk. It felt a great deal better when he didn’t have the fragmented remains of his body to worry about, and he blinked his one remaining eye and tried to concentrate.
The bloody woman he’d married years ago, the one who’d spent all their married life mocking his approach to the more physical side of their life together, grinned hugely.
“So it’s goodbye from me,” she hissed, “and I hope you find a kind of peace with your kith and kin when you get there…”
And she stood up, brushed a few crumbs from her plaid skirt, and sauntered into the garden where a chorus of birds were singing fresh melodies and everything seemed suddenly brand new and shining and bright.
Meanwhile the last bits of Chandry Boniface, as if directed by an unseen conductor, disintegrated into a pile of rather dirty dust that somehow got stirred by a stray breeze and blown through a crack in the floor down into some unknown and dreadful depths.
© Peter Rogerson 18.04.16

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