There were four of them.
Mrs Agnes Pruitt, vicars wife. Mrs Dorothy Blatchett, the wife of the local undertaker. Mrs Elsie Dinsmore, the head cook at the local college and Miss Thelma Barrow, spinster of the parish.
An unholy quartet of venom and spite.
They sat there with an air of menace. There wasn’t a cauldron for them to foment their poisoned brew. Only the magazines on the coffee table of the hair salon.
They sat with their hair under the driers and talked mercilessly about their friends.
With a surgeons precision they dissected their victims reputations and gorged on the juices.
Fake news is no new phenomenon because as long as there have been human beings, there has also been these putrifacted undead who live off gossip and the ashes of other people’s living fires.
‘No smoke without fire’ They sagely spout knowing full well that any truth their gossip manages to unearth is merely coincidental to the juiciness of the tale itself. A more truthful epitaph would be ‘Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.’
“I saw her who works at the off license going into number 11 yesterday, just before lunchtime. She emerged an hour later and her hair was in a completely different style, and her hubby away working on the oil rigs too. A shame. He’ll come home to a shock.” Said Dorothy Blatchett, with glee.
Elsie Dinsmore responded, like taking a serve in tennis. “Well I saw the new teacher at the school, you know the young heart-throb who all the young ladies are keen on? Well I saw him in his living room with another man. This fashion for doing away with net curtains is a boon for those of us with a more observing nature. I could see the whole thing! A bitter disappointment for all the lasses when this gets out. A shame really, such a waste.”
Agnes Pruitt replied “It seems very common nowadays that sort of thing. My husband took our car to the garage to be serviced and he saw one of the mechanics slap another one on the backside when he bent over to check the engine!”
Slightly indignantly Dorothy Blatchett quickly uttered “Maybe it was a bit of horseplay. My grandson works at that garage and he’s been walking out with the Sunday school teacher.”
“Well maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t but there’s certainly more of it about.” Lamented Agnes.
“Shhhh, here comes Debbie to check on us, I’ve got something to tell you about her, when she’s gone.” Thelma Barrow quickly interjected.
“How are you ladies getting on? Almost dry? I can see you’re almost ready Mrs Blatchett, I’ll be back in ten minutes to finish you off.”
When she’d gone they started up again.
“Well Thelma what have you got on Debbie then? Always seems a nice girl, never heard nothing about her.”
“Well I was walking past the pub the other night and out stumbled Keith Stanmore with his arm around Debbie’s waist. I don’t think they saw me. Keith’s wife has just had twins too. You never would have thought it, would you?”
“Was that last Thursday Thelma?” Replied Elsie, “I think you’ve gone awry there dear. Keith is Debbie’s Cousin and there was a bit of a do last Thursday in the pub to celebrate Keith and Sally having twins. My Gerald was in there, apparently they all put in to buy Keith several rounds.”
The others sighed in disappointment, something would have to go and spoil it.
Then Debbie returned to see to Mrs Blatchett and their gossip came to an end, at least until the next time.
“Bye dears see you in Church on Sunday.” Said Thelma to her friends as she left.
Then she went home to her little bungalow.
She sat on her sofa and caught her reflection in the tarnished mirror on the mantelpiece. Her made-up lined face stared back at her. The bags under her eyes. When did she get so Old? Her hair was nicely blued, curled and set. She thought about her life. In the blink of an eye she had gone from a young thing getting ready for a night out, dancing with her fella. Then he was dead and gone. With so many others who had gone to war. The years passed like lightning and here she was alone and miserable. The misery was so deep within her bones. It was just habit that kept her going, and will keep her going until she died alone in bed.
Nowadays it was other people’s lives that were the only thing left to interest her. She envied them. These youngsters.
Wiping away a little tear, she reached for the remote control and turned the television on. It was one of those reality programmes where they go in undercover to see how people really lived. She smiled and took a bit of pleasure from seeing someone get embarrassed by the cameras.
While she watched and lived vicariously through others, the victims of her spite were out enjoying themselves in the local pub. They were happy. It is so much better to be living life and be the subject of other’s gossip, than to be the gossiper, alone and at home.
Nothing can be more pathetic and pitiable than a life unlived.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 28/March/2018