Hubby and I had just flopped blissfully into bed from parenting-induced exhaustion. When our kiddo has a cold, he makes sure the suffering is dished out fairly and evenly among all persons present. I believe some people can finish running a marathon with more energy than we had after a day of making lemon and honey, fetching tissues, running warm bubble baths and giving “morale-boosting cuddles” to our nine-year-old.
I decided to lean over and kiss Hubby goodnight on the cheek before collapsing unconscious. (Once you’ve become a parent, a peck on the cheek is sometimes all you want from your Latin Lover.)
It was dark. It was PITCH dark. As I raised myself blindly on one elbow and lunged over towards Hubby’s dear, stubbly face resting on his pillow, my head was abruptly halted by a solid object in mid-air. There was a heart-stoppingly loud cracking sound, like railway sleepers splitting in a fire, followed by shrieks of pain from Hubby.
The solid object had been Hubby’s bonce. He had decided at that very moment to lean over towards me and give me a little goodnight peck on the cheek, too.
I personally have a skull so thick it makes that of a Doberman look fragile. I could probably use it to smash reinforced concrete. I suffered no tangible damage from the impact other than mild whiplash injury to the neck.
Meanwhile Hubby was not faring so well. We conducted an emergency check of his proud Roman nose to see if it was broken, which basically consisted of me getting hold of it and wagging it slowly from side to side. It seemed firmly fixed on in a way I would describe as geostationary, but the tears were streaming down hubby’s cheeks from sheer agony and there was swelling around his eyes which inflated by the second.
Next I made him sit up facing me and follow my finger with both eyes as I moved it from side to side. I was pretty sure his eyes were moving independently of each other and that the left one was basically turning outwards whilst the right one had a tendency to drift towards the heavens.
He started swaying around alarmingly at this point, so I hastily made him lie down flat again.
By the morning his eyes could hardly open and he looked as if he had been lynched by a gang armed with bicycle chains and hammers. The whole upper half of his face was aubergine coloured with flecks of bright blue, and a few blood blisters bulging under the skin. His nose was red and purple. He appeared to have a mild concussion, and he definitely had two black eyes.
Yes, folks. I blacked both his eyes at once.
“I think I should take you to hospital,” I suggested, anxiously.
“No way,” he insisted. “I just need a paracetamol and I’ll be fine.”
He waved me away as I fretted over him, tried to spoon-feed him breakfast, and followed him into the bathroom so I could catch him if he fainted. I think he really wanted to keep me at arms’ length, just in case I tried to make any more overt gestures of affection.
I heard him let out a gasp of pain as he rammed his crash helmet on downstairs, then the familiar roar of his motorbike as he zoomed off towards the main road into Palermo.
I phoned him at work when I estimated he should have arrived. Apparently he had been greeted with gasps of shock from all his colleagues, and bombarded with questions about how he had been injured. Everyone assumed he had been knocked off his motorbike.
He works in the Palermo Palace of Justice, and a couple of the baristers he knows well offered him free legal representation if he needed to sue anyone.
“No, actually my wife did it to me,” he told them all, trying to hide his glee. One of his colleagues, whose identity I shall protect with the code name Gullible Galioto, responded,
“Oh, I’m so sorry! She seems so normal when you meet her socially.” Hubby just raised one of his maroon, bloated eyebrows and said nothing.
“I didn’t realise she was secretly a psycho,” Gullible Galioto went on.
“Oh, yes,” Hubby replied casually. “All English women are like that, actually.”
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TIMES OF SICILY