The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

Writers' Showcase

Can I buy you ladies a drink?
by Sarah Hilary

One was blonde, the other not. I started in with, ‘I’m indestructible.’

‘Come off it,’ they both said.

‘Seriously. I’ve been close to death three times.’ I held up my thumb and forefinger. ‘This close.’

‘Go on,’ said Blondie.

I detected a note of disparagement but I forged ahead. ‘The third time, it was fire. Terrible.’ I didn’t tell them I used milk to put it out. Semi-skimmed, green label. The sofa smelled of rice pudding for a week afterwards. I’d dozed off there in front of Oprah, cigarette sly between my fingers. ‘I very nearly didn’t wake up.’

Not-blonde sipped at her drink. ‘Oh, my.’

‘What about the second time?’ Blondie asked.

‘Strangulation. I was actually dead for a full minute.’ I’d had a craving for pancakes with syrup, piled high on a plastic plate. When I’d started to choke, the waitress had hurried: ‘You all right, love?’

‘Paramedics brought me back,’ a little poetic license, ‘with a defibrillator.’ I whacked my chest twice, thunk-thunk. ‘Kicked like a bitch in heels.’

Not-blonde snorted her drink. My drink, actually. I paid for it.

‘The first time?’ I offered. ‘When I was born. D’you know the odds for surviving birth?’ They wrinkled their noses at me. ‘Fourth time’s the charm.’ I stretched, cricking my neck. ‘I’m holding out for a blaze of glory.’

‘How’d you mean?’

‘Sid Vicious.’ I emptied an imaginary needle into my jugular vein. ‘Keith Moon.’ I mimed a drum-roll.

Not-blonde slumped sideways, cheeks puffed out, tongue protruding. ‘Elvis?’

‘James Dean.’ I pretended to steer a car, badly.

‘Attila the Hun?’

‘Attila the –’ I parked the car and stared at her. ‘What?’

‘Bled to death of a nosebleed on his wedding night.’

‘Steve Irwin,’ I insisted, ‘died doing what he loved.’

‘So did Mark Maples.’


‘First person to die on a Disneyland ride.’ Not-blonde was deadpan. ‘Stood up on the Matterhorn Bobsleds like an idiot, and was thrown to his death.’

I’d known she was trouble the moment I saw her. Grey hair at her temples; she’d let herself go.

‘Dennis Wilson,’ I began, ‘of the Beach Boys, was diving from his yacht when –’

‘Tennessee Williams choked to death on a nasal spray cap which fell into his mouth while he was spraying.’

‘Come off it.’

‘It’s true.’ She picked the cocktail stick from her drink, removed the olive and made a show of re-impaling it with a squelch. ‘Vladimir Smirnov, fencer, got a sword through the eyeball.’

‘Keith Relf,’ I attempted weakly, ‘of The Yardbirds, played electric guitar in the bathtub.’

‘That’s nothing. Kenneth Pinyan perforated his colon in 2005 during a videotaped sex act with a full-size stallion.’

Blondie patted my hand. ‘Don’t mind Jude. She’s an obituary writer. Can’t seem to switch it off.’