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Last updateTue, 06 Aug 2013 2am

Monday, 28 February 2011 23:42

The Placebo Effect

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She doesn’t care about leaving me behind. She believes in reincarnation.

I’ll meet you in the next life, she says. This one has nothing left for me.

She’s gone to buy champagne.

She wants to celebrate her death.

I empty all the pills into the toilet and replace them with placebos. What I replace them with varies. Technically, they’re not placebos because they don’t have nothing in them.

I replace them with pills that look similar. Little pink ones swapped for contraception pills. Little white ones with sugar tablets. I swap some with iron tablets because she’s terribly skinny. Vegetarian. Giant-sized tic-tacs are her new white capsules.

It doesn’t matter what I swap them with, not really. By the time she gets the guts to swallow a handful of anything she’ll be too drunk to tell what they are.


A beam of light flashes through the bedroom window. The engine over-revs and the tires squeal. I wait for the car door to open. Silence. I look out the window and there she is, elegant as ever, swigging from a bottle of wine in the front seat. I put the pill bottles back and walk outside.

Tonight’s the night, Richie-baby, she shout-slurs through the glass, trying to point her finger, but never quite landing on me.

Yeah, yeah, I say.

I don’t care what you think. Or say.

An empty bottle is on the passenger side floor and she catches my eyes drifting towards it. The door flings open, knocking me backwards. One of her legs falls out.

What, Rich? Yes. I’ve been drinking. Big fucking whoop.

I’m sick of your bullshit, Jeanie. And I’m sick to fucking death of trying to stop you.

Look, don’t bother, because you can’t fucking--what?

I’m saying, Do it. I’m off it. I’m done. I can’t wait ‘til you’re halfway to hell and regretting it. I won’t be the one driving you to fucking hospital.

Okay. Finally you’ve come to your senses. Now help me get inside.

I pick her up and walk her inside. She goes to the bathroom with her wine and I sit in lounge room with a beer and the paper. Glancing over the obits, I imagine her name in there. But as an old lady, not now.


I must have fallen asleep in the chair. It’s three-thirty in the morning. All the lights are on. I call out to her. She doesn’t answer.

I walk into the ensuite and she’s lying on the floor, pills spilt everywhere.


She’s really out of it. I pick her up and she’s freezing. I wonder how long she’s been on the cold tiles and carry her into bed. When I put her down she gasps.

Sorry, babe, I say. But it’s for your own good. I snuggle into her side.


I wake early and tidy the bathroom and go out to get breakfast. I was going to cook a feast but decided on Maccas. It was easy, greasy and she didn’t deserve a home-cooked meal.

I try waking her with food under the nose, but she’s still out of it. I say her name a few times, nudge her shoulder.

Wake up, I say. I’ve got some brekkie for you.

She looks like shit. Crusty dribble lines the outside of her mouth and a line, like a snail trail, spills onto her cheek. I wipe it off and her skin, pale, like skim milk, is still icy. Black circles like smudged make-up under her eyes, only it’s not make-up.

I go sit on the loo and read the morning paper. When I come out, she’s still asleep. I jump on her.

Wake the fuck up, you lazy shit.

I shake her shoulders. Her muscles are pulled tight. Warm breathe escapes her mouth and I gag at the smell. It sits on my tongue and tastes like bad fruit or the juice from the bottom of a bin.

She won’t wake.

Why won’t she wake up?

I crouch next to the bed, staring at her, shaking her shoulder.

Wake up, I say. It gets softer and softer, until it’s but a whisper in my mind.

I sit on the edge of the bed, eating her cold bacon and egg roll.

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Doc O'Donnell

Doc is the deadbeat responsible for www.dirtynoir.com. His work has filthied the pages and screens of a few other dives: Crime Factory, Warmed and Bound: A Velvet Anthology and a bunch of Thunderdome issues. He can be abused for his many misgivings at www.docodonnell.com. Dare you to drop him a "Fuckyou".

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