A Few Nights of Purple Passion

by Brenda Ross

His widow draped herself over the coffin. She was wearing alligator shoes and shedding crocodile tears. Harry, still halfway between this world and the next, was disappointed. The sights and sounds of her insincere anguish were not exactly what he wanted to take with him into eternity.

Harry was not pleased with his funeral, although he knew it was a reflection of what his life had become after a few nights of purple passion had clouded his judgement. Harry had been happily married for twenty years. He had many hobbies, the chief one being the sport of foil fencing. His fencing skill had almost reached professional standards, but in the verbal duels of love he was a rank amateur against the more experienced Esme. None of his parries, whether tierce, octave or septime, protected him against her maneuvers.

Although she'd led him to believe that their cocktail table romance was true love, it wasn't long before he came to realize that his demand for a divorce from Peggy had been a mistake, and that the subsequent marriage to Esme was even more so. What he'd mistaken for joie de vivre was only the false vivacity of an alcoholic. He found himself tied down to a well-dressed drunk who spent many of her waking moments crocked out of her mind.

For many years Harry had a successful career in zymurgy, which is the branch of applied chemistry dealing with fermentation in winemaking and brewing. He'd never been more than a moderate social drinker, and wasn't familiar with the dedication and delusion associated with alcoholism. The irony was lost on him.

"Esme," he would beg her. "Please, get some help. You're killing yourself."

"Nonsense," she would reply. "I'm O.K."

As time went by he longed to reverse the direction his life had taken. He tried to get in touch with his ex-wife but she was adamant.

"No, Harry," she said. "It's over."

"Peggy," he would plead, "I just want to look at you."

He began to suffer from severe headaches. The doctors finally diagnosed an infected sinus antrum and arranged for a minor operation. The operation was a success, but the patient died from an apparent heart attack while on the operating table. Some of Harry's friends disagreed. They thought he'd died from a broken heart.

And now his inanimate body lay at the front of the chapel as flat as a pancake as his spirit soared above the pews searching for his real wife.

But Peggy was not there.

Return to Port Of Call Home Page
Return to June/July 2000 Table of Contents