A heavy parcel was on the living room table where he had left it the previous evening. Then he had meticulously wrapped its contents in several black bin liners. Carefully picking up the parcel and lumbering to his first floor flats front door he opened it as silently as possible. He edged down the stairs, clinging onto his parcel, and out to the back of the block of flats. It was here the bins to the flats were located. He opened them searching for one that was half full. Having found something suitable he carefully moved some of the other waste bags to one side. Then he kissed his parcel goodbye before ceremoniously laying it flat in the bin. He covered his parcel with some other waste bags making sure it mostly hidden.
Looking down at his half covered parcel he now took time to say his farewells. Malcolm felt it was necessary to say a proper goodbye even so he was most fearful that any prying eyes should inspect his bin or see his deeply felt ceremony. Then he closed the lid and patted it, almost caressing it. The whole process was so much like loosing a much loved friend.
That was enough and Malcolm started to drag the bin out onto the street for today's collection. The plastic bin rattled against the concrete path and no matter how slowly he dragged it the volume would not diminish. He lined the bin up parallel with the road and stood there. A quiet moment of reflection for a dear departed loss. Feeling the rest of the street must be watching Malcolm dragged the other bins out and straightened them up in a perfect parallel line to the road. Just before leaving Malcolm patted the first bin lid and stood for another quiet moment of reflection.
“I love you,” he said and then returned disconsolately to his flat. Today was the last load and it was especially poignant.
Back in his flat Malcolm made himself a cup of coffee. Then he sat by the window and awaited the bin men's arrival. One by one he watched as his neighbours went off to work and a few, who had not already done so, placed their bins out on the street. He felt this ceremony was the least he could do for his dear departed lovers. For some weeks now Malcolm had been sneaking extra items into his bin. Each time he waited until the very morning the bin men were due. Then he was up bright and early and operated well out of view of his neighbours. He snuck down from his first floor flat as quietly as he could. Into his bin went the extra load all tightly wrapped in several black bin liners. This parcel always went in the general waste – despite the fact it really should have been recycled.
The bin men were usually prompt and arrived shortly after ten. Malcolm had spent the entire four hours watching out of his window. He felt bloated from numerous cups of coffee as there was nothing else to occupy him during this vigil. He first noticed the lorry's flashing yellow lights and he stood up. He watched as the lorry attempted to thread its way between the parked cars and watched the clusters of bin men scurrying around after it. Slowly and relentlessly it neared his precious bin.
Malcolm wanted to scream out for the bin man to be careful as he unceremoniously grabbed the cherished bin and dragged it disrespectfully to the back of the lorry. And a pang of regret shot through him as the hoist dumped its content with the other decaying rubbish. Malcolm waved a final goodbye as the bin lorry sauntered off down to the other end of the street.
“They should have been my wives,” he muttered from safely behind the net curtains. That had been his favourite phrase when he'd been viewing something especially beautiful. As the lorry turned the corner he finally turned away and a little tear trickled down his cheek. His life was changing.
* * *
Curtains, in the last two hours Malcolm had come to despise curtains. How many kinds can there be?
“What about these?” Tere thrust some fabric in front of him that appeared to look exactly like the ones he had just seen.
“They're great,” Malcolm said dutifully, “just right, good choice.” It seemed the apposite thing to say.
Here was Tere bright and effervescent as usual. Chattering away and doing what she did best – shopping. They were getting married in three weeks time and this was part of the necessary misery of setting up their new home.
There was going to be worse to come, far worse. After this they were going to look at bedspreads. There was a flicker of contempt as he watched Tere. Did she know what she had forced him to do? Obviously not from the way she was prattling on.
It was because of Tere that he had performed this morning's sad ritual. Then the last of the tightly wrapped parcels of his lovers had gone. Into those parcels had gone his prize collection of pornography. All the magazines, DVDs and videos he had diligently collected since being a teenager. He knew his soon to be wife would not tolerate such material in their new house. He had once tentatively broached the subject of porn to his future spouse. But she had exploded in a fit of indignation. So much so he wondered if marrying her was the right thing.
His collection had become so vast there was simply no possibility of hiding it in their new home. Could he have salvaged a few special items? Possibly, but that would have involved making choices from amongst his harem. He could not bring himself to do that. It had to be all or nothing. And so started the Wednesday morning ritual of the disposal of his former, beloved, but alas imaginary wives.
With deep sadness Malcolm looked at the fabric swatches Tere held in front of him.
“This one looks best,” she prattled on, not looking at his indignation. “What do you think? It will match the bedspread I've chosen. Yes, that's the one.”