There was once a very hard-working man who lived in a small village. His wife became loud and vulgar-mouthed and morbidly obese. He always knew where she was in the house by the noise the boards in the floor made.The hulk of her set so low in the bed, the man was helpless to slide down into it with her. Every night he fell asleep with the heat of her against his back.
His friends at the mill couldn’t understand his happiness. He’d tell them how he took the wife to a candle-lit dinner; he took the wife to the fair; he took the wife, he took the wife. They wondered how he could endure her company. How he could be seen with the great, waddling heridan. He must love her. It was the only conclusion.
In time, he noticed a sense of dread on his way home from work. It ate at him for years. He stepped into it every time he set foot through the door. Their every evening meal ended the same way. He should buy her a carriage, a one horse carriage. She smiled at him sweetly through her puffy slits, licking her fingers and smacking her lips. Why must she walk, it was too far to market. It was too far. Every night it was the carriage, and he dreaded it. He told her the horse would be another mouth to feed. It was absurd, a one horse carriage. A carriage would take all of their savings. What he wanted to say was, You should be tethered to a one horse carriage and made to run a mile every morning. But he didn’t.
He began to think of ways to make her death look like an accident.
One weekend the man went with his wife to the market. He stopped in to the Stonemason’s shop to ask if he’d come by and patch up the stonework around the well. The Stonemason said he would. He said good morning to the man’s wife, too. They bought their provisions and went home. The villagers always watched them pass. In a small village, even the slightest event is an historical event. They said it was like watching a little man walking beside a game bird of extraordinary size.
That night, as she drew water from the well, the woman fell into it. The masonry had collapsed. Her husband sat in his chair by the fire, whittling a whistle in the shape of a bloated bullfrog. It was rather well done. He didn’t hear a thing, but he imagined a lot of them. In the morning he woke up in his chair. He looked in the bedroom to see she was not there. He looked out the kitchen window and saw that a section of the masonry around the well was gone. Hmmm. Interesting, he thought.
The men at the mill told the Constable the man loved the woman. He took her everywhere. The Stonemason told the Constable the man wanted his well repaired. His wife was right there with him. He said good morning to her. The villagers all told the Constable they were always together. They must have been inseparable. They looked like a little man walking beside a game bird of extraordinary size. And the man told the Constable he was glad it wasn’t him.
The Constable had a perfect grasp of the man’s point. He couldn’t, of course, openly agree. In his report he wrote, “Accidental death by falling down a well.” Looks like an accident to me, he said, and he signed his report.
At the funeral the man’s friends offered their condolences. Afterward they drank in the corner of the tavern. He told them he didn’t care. He said he was glad it wasn’t him. But you loved her, they said. You took her everywhere. You took the wife here, you took the wife there. You were so happy. He said, My friends, the wife is the woman I’m dating.