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by Laura Solomon and Kerryn Young

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Philip and I became joined at the hip. I didn’t mind that he was twice my age – in fact, I liked it. He was worldly wise, he could teach me the ways of the world. However, the first time I entered his bedroom I did notice that the walls were plastered with pictures of young women – women in their late teen and early twenties and I did wonder why.

“How come you’ve got all these pictures of women around?” I asked. “Where’s my picture?”

I pouted.

“I thought I was special and unique.”

“All these girls were special and unique,” said Philip in his deep manly voice, the voice I could not resist.

He put his arm around my shoulders. “Come on sweetheart. I promise to put up a photo of you. You can perch between Stella and Sheryl. They thought they were special and unique too.”

I didn’t like being ‘perched’ between Stella and Sheryl much, I wanted a whole wall to myself but I put up with it because I was so keen on Philip.

I had been seeing Philip for about four months when Sammy appeared to me in a vision. I was washing my dishes at the kitchen sink when he descended in a cloud of gold glitter.

O Sammy, I thought. How tacky. Surely you can do better than gold glitter.

“Who’s the other man you’ve been galavanting round the town with then?”, Sammy demanded.

“He’s not a patch on me. Doesn’t even own a Harley. What’s with that tacky red sports car?”

I couldn’t believe it. Sammy was jealous.

“Oh, come on Sammy”, I said. “Play the game. You’ve been dead for over a year and a woman has…needs. You’re free to sew your wild oats. Don’t they have women in the afterlife?”

“None that I fancy. There’s a headless horsewoman up here and I’ve seen Joan of Arc strutting her stuff down heaven’s main thoroughfare but none of them are you babe. Can’t you just wait till you die and then we can be together for all eternity?”

“O Sammy get a grip. I can’t go without….love…for decades. Can’t you understand that?”

“I guess I’ll just have to come to terms with it”, he replied sulkily. “Just remember though – I can see everything from my vantage point and I don’t like seeing you in the sack with that….that…loser. He’s a right sleaze. What’s with all those pictures of other women on the bedroom wall?”

“They were just friends”, I said quickly.

“Yeah right. Special and unique. God, what a line.”

And with that the vision began to crackle and fade, like an untuned TV set, till it disappeared completely.

I didn’t bother to find other work. I just lived off the money my Dad sent each month. Philip was overly fond of the white powder. He spend a fortune on it. I just dabbled. I worried that he would lose his septum and look like Daniella Westbrook. One summer evening we were together at his place after having a few drinks, when he bought out not just one but two bags of the stuff. I gasped.

“Philip”, I said. “Are you sure? There’s just the two of us. I can’t do a bag on my own – how much are you going to do?”

He shrugged.

“Enough”, he said glibly.

I giggled and rolled up a ten pound bill. Snorted some of the ‘icing sugar’. Started buzzing.

Well, God only knows what happened after that, but the next thing I knew one of the bags was empty and Philip was rolling on the floor, clutching his chest and groaning.

“Quick babe, quick, call an ambulance. No wait. They’ll know we’ve been doing cocaine. You drive me – you can drive can’t you?”

I nodded. I’d had a couple of driving lessons out in Essex once when I was fifteen.

I thought quickly. I hauled Philip to his feet and put his arm around my shoulders, then half-dragged him down to the street. The red sports car was parked up against the curb. I positioned Philip in the passenger seat, then hopped round to the driver’s side. Started the engine. Vrooom. We were off. I had been given driving lessons in an automatic and this was a manual so we bunny-hopped a bit but Philip was in too much pain to notice, groaning and clutching his chest and carrying on. We didn’t have a map but Philip had a GPS system so I programmed in King’s College Hospital, which was the hospital my Nan died at. The GPS system started narrating – ‘Dalberg Rd 200 metres turn right’. I bunny-hopped a bit. I breathed deeply into both nostrils. I obeyed. I turned right. ‘Barnwell Rd 500 metres, turn left’. I turned left into Barnwell. This was a breeze. If only Philip would shut up he was disturbing my concentration. ‘Railton Road, 200 metres, turn right’. I was falling in love with the GPS. It made things so easy. If only life had a GPS, telling you what direction to take when you became unsure.

We made it to the hospital. I got out of the car and gave myself a big pat on the back and said ‘Well done Tiff!’ There was just a small amount of paint removed from the side of the car from where I had side-swiped another vehicle but nobody had noticed. We walked through into A&E and I sat Philip down in a hard plastic chair. I walked up to the counter. The nurse was on the phone.

“No Timothy”, she was saying. “You leave the microwave popcorn in the bag. You need to cook it for at least 10 minutes or it won’t be done properly. Alright. Don’t break anything while Mummy’s at work.”

She hung up and shot me a cold look.

“How can I help?”

“My boyfriend’s having a heart attack.”

The phone rang again. The nurse picked up the phone.

“No Timothy the saveloys stay in the water for at least fifteen minutes until they start falling apart. I got you three big bags of crisps to keep you happy - they are on the bottom shelf of the pantry. There’s always the toastie pie maker if you’re still hungry.”

I stomped my white tasseled high heeled boot upon the floor.

“Excuse me lady”, I said. “A man’s life is in danger here and you’re on the phone chatting to your son about saveloys. Don’t you think you should get your priorities straight?”

The nurse put down the phone.

“We’ll get to you in a minute. You’re not the only one waiting. Can’t you see A&E is full of casualties. What make you think you’re special and unique. We see heart attacks every day – most people live through it.”

I needed something to calm my shattered nerves.

“Could I have a cup of chamomile tea please?” I asked a nurse who was walking by.

“This is the NHS love it’s gumboot or nothing,” came the gruff answer.

Philip clutched his chest.

“I’m dying here.”

“Then die quietly”, snapped one of the friendlier nurses.

I looked over at the nursing station. Through the glass I could see that two of the nurses were checking their Facebook accounts while one of the male nurses appeared to be looking at a porn magazine. I rapped on the glass near the male.

“Hello”, I said. “I know you might find XXX hot sex bunnies very engrossing but my boyfriend is having a heart attack could you please help us.”

He put down his magazine, looking flustered and guilty.

“Alright sweetheart, keep yer knickers on. Everybody round here needs help. I’m sure somebody will get to him in a minute.”

He went back to his magazine, flicking a page as he did so.

I breathed a heavy sigh and got us both a drink from the water cooler.

“Christ”, I said. “What do you have to do to get some assistance round here?”

Philip fell to the floor. His lips were turning blue and his eyes were rolling back in his head. He was gasping for breath.

“Quick”, I said. “Somebody get that vibrating machine thingy.”

Finally, somebody came across with a big machine, unbuttoned Philip’s shirt and put some sticky pads on his chest, obeying the voice prompts. They began pushing buttons at random and Philip twitched violently upon the floor. My God – they were electrocuting him! The nurses started arguing amongst themselves about how to use the machine. They pushed some buttons again and sparks flew out the sides of the pads on Philip’s chest. He spasmed and was still. I raced to his side and checked his pulse. Nothing. I took my makeup mirror out of my handbag and checked for his breath. Nothing. Philip was as dead as a dodo. Electrocuted by A&E staff.

I burst into tears.

“This is appalling”, I sobbed. “You’ve murdered Philip. He was a lovely man, wouldn’t harm a fly. I want to talk to management. Heads must roll. Somebody must be held accountable.”

One of the nurses trotted away and came back with the head doctor.

“Hi I’m Trevor”, he said, looking me up and down. “What seems to be the problem?”

“My boyfriend is dead”, I said. “He came in here having a heart attack and nobody attended to him on time.”

“Oh dear”, he said, staring at my boobs. “Dead you say. That’s no good. Why don’t I take your number and I can investigate and let you know the results of the case.”

He winked.

I took a pen and paper out of my handbag and gave him my number, flattered by the attention. Satisfied that all had been resolved, I made my way back to the sports car and drove home, hoping that Philip hadn’t made a will so that I would be able to keep the car.

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