By Carolyn Webb

I love I love my little COLANDER girl!

Yeah, sweet COLANDER girl!

I love I love my little COLANDER girl!

Every single day of the year.

John Tully was trying to do the dishes, but his brother Fred was being particularly obnoxious today.

Fred picked up the old colander from the clean dish rack, and flicked it, like it was a top hat, on and off his head.

John could have clocked him, right then and there, with a saucepan, but remembered that Fred had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. John had thought their late parents would have approved Fred moving in with him, but John was beginning to feel uneasy with that decision.

Online forums warned him people with dementia could get pretty challenging. Walking around the house in the nude, blabbing all day about nothing, or mistaking their coffee cup for a phone.

John sent a silent curse to his wife, Sheila, for leaving on a cruise last week, and for Fred’s wife, Toni, for dying six months ago. They both would know what to do right now.

Fred was in full dance mode. It reminded him of the 1960s when Fred’s favourite annoying habit was to plague his younger brother with puns based on popular songs.

Today they were called Mondegreens. But John believed Fred invented them, back then. He’d sing Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy, and try to kiss John on the cheek. The Ants Are My Friends and make little ant moves with his fingers up John’s arm.

Fred would point and sing There’s a Bathroom On Your Right to Creedence’s lyric There’s a bad moon on the rise, whenever they passed in the corridor at home.

Each time, back then, John would shove Fred into a wall, or flick him with a teatowel, or there’d be a full on brawl, which Fred, no matter what a hiding he got, would emerge from with a silly grin, saying “I gotcha” as he ran for his life.

But Fred knew full well that John had a particular hatred for Neil Sedaka songs. There was pop, and then there was fairy floss, and John thought Sedaka was a crock.

Unfortunately, at one point in their youth, that seemed to be all that was on the radio station their Mum played. All day it would be Oh Carol, or Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen or Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.

Mum had no idea what she’d unleashed because it sent John straight into Black Sabbath, the Rolling Stones, The Who and Jimi Hendrix, which proceeded to plague her with from his room for a number of years before he moved out.

But back to 2019 – John was woken from his reverie by Fred tapping on his head with that f—in colander again, then shaking it and singing loudly in his ear:

January: you start the year off fine

February you’re my little Valentine

March I’m gonna march you down the aisle

April you’re an Easter Bunny when you smile

Yeah Yeah Yeah My heart’s in a whirl

I love I love I love my little COLANDER girl

Every day (every day) Every day (every day) of the year!

John was NOT in the mood. Just today, he’d been told his services at the hardware store were no longer required. Josie had the guts to inform him that he was too old and they needed to hire 15-year-olds. Sorry.

John’s wife, Sheila, was evidently more concerned these days in hanging out (i.e. getting drunk) with her mates than spending time with him. (“You wouldn’t mind if I went on a two month cruise, would you John?” she asked. “You’ll love spending time with Fred.” John did credit that she managed not to smirk).

To top it all, John was sure he had cancer. If it wasn’t the dodgy bladder, it was the sun spots or that cough he’d develop lately. He didn’t reckon he had much time left.

Meanwhile Fred was into a new verse. And only getting louder.

Maybe if I ask your Dad and Mom (June)

They’ll let me take you to the junior Prom

(July) like a fire cracker all aglow

(August) when you’re on the beach you steal the show

It was then that John cracked.

“Fred!!” he shouted, after Fred grabbed his shoulder to emphasise the singing.

John grabbed the colander out of Fred’s hand and whacked it at Fred. Not hard, but it hit Fred in the face and he went off balance in shock and fell backward.

Fred hit his head on the kitchen bench, so hard it sounded like a sledge hammer hitting a solid object.

Fred fell like a tree, sideways, and like a dead weight on to the floor.

For a few seconds, John stood there in shock. He bent down, and tried to slap Fred. He poured water on him. In panic, now, he checked his pulse. Nothing. John put his hand over Fred’s mouth and nose. No air was coming out.

He did chest compressions and mouth to mouth, but it was futile. Fred was dead.

John squatted there in the kitchen, his head in his hands, for what seemed like a long time.

Yes, Fred was a pain in the arse, but he didn’t deserve to die.

He’d have to tell the police, Fred’s kids and Sheila, wherever she was, what happened.

Then John felt a tickle in his throat and it wasn’t a cough.

John was overcome by uncontrollable laughter, so hard it made him cry.

There were bizarre colander shaped dots imprinted on Fred’s nose. Fred would find it funny, he was sure.

John had believed Neil Sedaka was the death of good music but his music had actually caused the death of Fred.

It would be a weird one to put on the death certificate: death by colander.