Mark Hibberd

My dim-witted Sister, Anne

I was at dead uncle Arthur's funeral. The service had just finished, and I was sat outside on one of the
benches, having a fag. A figure came shuffling over towards me; it was my dim-witted sister, Anne. She came
and sat down next to me. Shes so thick that shes forgotten over the years that she is supposed to hate me
like the rest of my family do.
Hi. She said. I smiled and nodded, but didnt say anything; its always been more fun just to let Anne do all
the talking. Poor uncle Arthur eh? Where do you think hell be now then? She asked.
In his coffin, being burnt. I replied. I looked at the end of my cigarette as I pondered on dead uncle Arthur's cadaver.
I didnt mean that. I meaned (sic) where do you think hell be now like, his spirit and that? She explained.
I havent the slightest. I stated.
Because I was watching this programme the other night, and it said about a lot of people getting MBEs
 when they die. Said Anne. I looked at her, slightly confused, and wondering what relevance this curious statement had to do with the whereabouts of the spirit of our dead uncle.
Oh, you mean posthumous recognition of their contribution to society? I asked. I dont think that dead uncle Arthur will be getting one of those, I said, unless the Queen starts giving MBEs out for outstanding contributions in being miserable, aggressive and vulgar.
Anne had a far-away expression that always signalled deep confusion.
I dont understand what you mean. She said.
Posthumous MBEs. I dont think uncle Arthur will be getting one off the Queen. I re- iterated.
What, the Queen causes people to have MBEs? Asked Anne.
Well, she doesnt cause them to have MBEs, she awards them with MBEs. I told her.
What? As they die? She asked.
Well, no, not as they die, but when theyre dead. I replied. What happens is that youre   recognised for some sort of outstanding contribution to society after youve died and are given a posthumous MBE. I was now beginning to doubt what I was actually saying; was there even such a thing as a posthumous MBE? Suddenly, I wasnt sure.
It didnt say anything on that programme about the Queen giving them the MBEs. Stated Anne. It just said that they started getting the MBEs as they died. I began to feel that wed gotten our wires crossed somewhere down the line when she said this.
Anne, did they say MBEs? I asked.
Yes. She replied, firmly.
Not OBEs? I asked.
Yes, thats what they said. OBEs. She told me.
You mean out of the body experiences then? Did they mention that on the programme? I asked.
No. They said about NDEs. Said Anne.
Near death experiences. I said.
Yes. Thats what Ive been saying all along. NDEs. Said Anne, pathetically. I took a deep, deep drag on my cigarette and sighed, hoping that shed read it as a signal to just go away. She didnt.
Im getting some new binoculars in a few days time. I said. I couldnt think of anything else to say.
Ooh, thats nice. Where are you getting them from? She asked.
Ive ordered them off the internet, from some place in America. I said.
Is that where it is then? Asked Anne, cryptically.
Is that where what is? I asked.
The internet. Is that where it is then? In America? She said.
Well, yes, I suppose so. But its not just exclusive to America. I pointed out.
But thats where its run from? America? She asked.
Anne, you do know about the World-Wide Web dont you? You do understand what it means? I said.
Yeah, I do now. Its like you say; its in America. Said Anne. I despaired.
Well, no, not exactly. The internet isnt just in America, Anne. Its all over the world. Thats why its often referred to as the World-Wide Web. I explained. Anne had that far-away expression again.
So is it over here in England as well? She enquired.
Yes. I said.
Then why didnt you just order your binoculars from this country instead of travelling all the way to America to get them? She asked. I didnt even bother trying to explain.
They should get here soon. In about three or four working days. I said.
Does that include weekends? She asked. I didnt respond. There was no point. It was all hopeless.
         I could have been there all flippin day trying to explain the difference to my stupid sister Anne of working days and the weekend, so I swiftly changed the subject.
Hows Archie? I asked. Archie is her husband. Like Anne, he isnt very bright, so theyre perfectly suited. Is he not here today? I enquired.
No, hes back working on the oil planet. She replied. I had visions of Archie in an astronauts suit, all on his own on some blackened world at the edge of our galaxy, many light years away, drilling for oil, with a UFO flying by somewhere in the distance.
Dont you mean oil plant, Anne? I asked.
Yeah, thats the one. Its under the sea. She said. Now I had an image of Archie in a deep- sea scuba diving outfit, drilling at rocks on the bottom of the ocean floor. There was an octopus floating past him, and several Stingrays were fleeing the sound of his drill.
What? Archie is working underwater? I asked.
No, stupid. Said Anne, with outrageous audacity. The oil. Its under the sea. Archie works above it.
Then you mean hes working on an oil rig? Not an oil plant? I asked, seeking clarification.
Yeah, thats the one. An oil rig. Its in the West Sea. She stated, very knowledgably.
Anne, theres no such thing as the West Sea. I think you mean the North Sea.
Yeah, thats the one. She said. I rolled my eyes and dragged some more on my almost finished cigarette, wishing that I was somewhere, anywhere else... 
 

 

All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Mark Hibberd.
Published on e-Stories.org on 08/25/2008.

 

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