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The last time Alf Logan was seen alive by anyone (except of course his devoted wife) was the previous month at the afternoon annual general meeting of Recyclers Conspicuous. After the items on the agenda had been disposed of, Alf was presented with life membership. This was for his work on the committee and for his helpful advice to the members. They clapped and applauded. His dear wife, Nola, wore her usual contented expression.
Alf thanked the members for their vote of confidence and gave one of his famous speeches extolling the virtues of recycling and conservation. The members had heard most of it before but he wasn’t to be deterred. He told how his lovely wife made marmalade from their home grown grapefruit. His apples were full of codlin moth this year, due to his refusal to spray, but Nola still cut out the rotten parts, then cooked and froze the apples for winter use. At this point he smiled towards her. She returned the smile but the woman next to her noticed that her teeth were grinding.
Alf then related his water saving methods. Nola washed the dishes in a bowl, then the water was cooled, before she distributed it over the garden. “Nothing’s wasted in our house,” he boasted.
An elderly woman, who had come on one previous occasion, whispered, “I hope we’re not going to hear about all his recycling bins – the one for onion skins, the vegetable peelings bin, the paper bin and all the others, colour coded, so his poor wife won’t make an error. It’d drive me round the bend.”
“Shsh,” said her friend.
“We have natural foods at our place,” Alf continued and he twirled around to show he was in good shape. “Perhaps I shouldn’t tell you this, it is a bit personal, but my doctor tells me that my healthy life style has produced the best bladder that he has ever encountered in a man of 70. I can control it from 8 a.m. till 8 p.m. and it’s all thanks to my wholesome lifestyle.”
Alf‘s talk shifted to supermarket shopping. He never used the plastic bags in the fruit and vegetable section. Most vegetables sat firmly in the trolley without being wrapped anyway. There had been a slight problem with the plums and the grapes, which suffered some minor bruising. He and his dear wife agreed that the damage to the fruit was preferable to that done to the environment by plastic bags.
Their woolly dog had recently been clipped and Nola had dyed the wool with a lotion made from a mixture of boiled rhubarb leaves and daphne flowers. Then she had spun the strands of dog wool and knitted them into the pale crimson scarf that was now warming his neck. Alf removed it and passed it around for the group to admire. His own hair clippings, and Nola’s (cut by themselves of course) were left by the tree at the side of their house, in case some bird, building a nest, wanted to use it. The audience thought he had finished his dissertation and one man started to applaud, but Alf raised his arm.
He was about to present his piece de resistance. He told how he begrudged the wastage of water in the toilet, so had built a garden shed of recycled wood and dug a long drop inside it. But it wasn’t really a long drop. He looked around his audience and beamed. He could almost be heard purring. He’d found a large type of colander at the local recycling station and set it into the side of the hole. The manure collected had given him the best flavoured zucchinis and the largest pumpkins that he’d ever produced. He was planning to get his idea patented, but would explain the workings of it if any of the loyal members of Recyclers Conspicuous wanted his advice.
At this stage a woman in one of the back rows said in a muffled tone, “He’s been recycled himself, you know. Nola’s his third wife. She’s had two years of all of this.“
Nobody seemed to hear or notice. Most of them were so impressed by Alf’s supreme example and his ingenuity. Nobody deserved life membership of Recyclers Conspicuous more than Alf.
They adjourned to afternoon tea where they ate zucchini bread with home-made butter on it, and pumpkin tart, all made by the ever reliable Nola.
The coroner’s report, published in the newspaper some weeks later, showed that Alf Logan had died at 7.30 p.m. on the 6th April from loss of blood following a stab wound to the bladder.
Only the members of Recyclers Conspicuous would have realised what a tragedy this must have been for Alf’s famous bladder. Nola related Alf’s last minutes to the coroner. He had just brought in another bucket of damaged apples. It was late in the evening and she knew she’d have trouble finding the rotten parts by the single candle light that Alf had organised. She recalled how she’d told him that she’d cut and freeze the apples the next morning.
“I’ll show you how to do it right now,” he’d said. Alf had always been impatient. He grabbed the knife out of her hand and then yelled as he slipped and stumbled against the end of the table. She remembered his last words. “The knife, the knife, it’s in me. Pull it out!” She’d immediately rung the emergency services.
Nola assured the coroner that the accident was a real calamity. Alf had always been a marvellous husband. He would never have killed himself intentionally. And then she convinced the coroner further, by adding, “It had to be an accident. It wasn’t quite 8 o’ clock. He wouldn’t have wanted a mess on my highly polished floor and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted it either.”
A finding of accidental death was the appropriate verdict, and Nola gave a gentle smile later in the privacy of her home, as she bit into her MacDonalds Big Mac and eyed the bag of triple chocolate treats to follow.