CREATIVE Alan Bilton

NWR Issue 103

Two White, One Blue

After a typically frugal lunch (‘Who would get fat on this? Gandhi?’), Nussbaum forsook his plate and went off to find his pills, mooching to the kitchen as a prisoner to the gallows. Ach, those pills! Two white, one blue: or was it two blue, one white? Either way, Nussbaum had to take them after every meal or his heart would fold up like a map.

Nussbaum was a tall, heavy-set man set at an oblique angle, like a train rolling slowly downhill. Such gravitas! Such bulk! You might have thought that nothing would stop such a man, but when Nussbaum opened the kitchen cupboard his little tray of pills was gone, replaced by a jar of mayonnaise and a box of something he had never before seen in his life. Nussbaum’s only reaction was to nod. ‘So it’s finally happened’, he thought; ‘the calamity that’s been waiting for years….’

‘Somebody’s moved my pills,’ said Nussbaum, an unfamiliar numbness spreading down his left side.


‘Somebody’s been here and moved my pills.’

‘Somebody? Somebody who?’

‘I’m not casting aspersions.’

‘No, you tell me – somebody who?’

Ach, how could he hope to explain? A dull ache pulsed between Nussbaum’s eyes and for a moment he had to steady himself on the counter. Why wouldn’t they be there? Listening to his wife slurp her soup he felt a gassy burp rise up inside him. Three pills to get him through the next few hours – was that too much to ask? Only then did it occur to him that he might have left them in the bathroom sometime, between the plasters and the haemorrhoid cream maybe, or betwixt the razor blades and oil. And yet, in the cabinet – nothing. How could this be? He could picture them, imagine the stopper, almost read the label, yet for some reason the pills stubbornly refused to fall into his lap...

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