Health Bulletin by Chuck Thurston

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The human immune system is strengthened by exposure to good art and nature – according to some reputable scientists – in an article I read last week. I was in a hurry and didn’t read much beyond the title and first paragraph, so I didn’t discover what their definition of “good” in this context was – but I can make some fair guesses.

Good art would be of the type you might see on a gallery wall; or a good play (not some harrowing thing from Ibsen) or a lovely dance performance. Good nature would be almost anything not scorched, desiccated or floating belly up in pond scum.

This news couldn’t have come at a better time – as we enter the cold and flu season. I immediately hurried into the bedroom where my wife was folding the laundry and relayed this bulletin. “You know – we should take in a show at a strip club the first chance we get!”

Declarations like this never get a good review. I had to explain. “Look, la danse is undeniably art – even if it’s performed around a pole – and you will never see more of raw, lively nature! And, by golly, if we have a glass of good red while we’re watching, we have the equivalent of a booster shot! Antioxidents! We’ll get out of this winter without a sniffle!”

She had turned her back and was arranging the hangers in her clothes closet. I might have to go by myself.

pole dancer

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Offing the Boyfriend by Chuck Thurston

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Last night my wife said to me, “I have to kill off a boyfriend.”

“Well, Paul Simon said there must be 50 ways to leave your lover. I’d stop short of doing him in, though. That seems kind of drastic to me.”

“Oh don’t be silly,” she said. “This is a character in the new book I’m writing.”

“Why do you have to kill him?” I said. “Can’t his girl friend just dump him?”

“It’s more complicated than that. They are engaged to be married. But there is a plot twist that makes it unlikely, and well – it would just work better if he was out of the picture – permanently.”

“Damn,” I said. “You are starting to sound like The Godfather here. I didn’t realize that your romantic fiction was so cold blooded.”

She ignored me. “The heroine can’t move on with her life until he is gone, and it has to be an accident.”

“I don’t see the problem,” I said. “Automobile, drowning, getting shot, let me count the ways!”

“Well – he lives in Denmark,” she said.

“Piece of cake,” I said. “You guys never cook anything. You and Gitte used to eat beef tartare all the time. Raw beef with a raw egg yolk! That is just asking for food poisoning!

She dismissed my argument. “Danish beef is grass fed, so they don’t have to load them up with antibiotics. Gitte and I have never had a problem – and look at you! How many times have I seen you put away pickled herring?”

“True, but I washed it down with aquavit. It’s a know fact that salmonella can’t swim in schnapps.”

“Exactly!” she said. “Do you have any more bright ideas?”

“You are going to make this really difficult. We could waste him in a New York minute over here in the states — sure you can’t have him on a business trip over here? Why – a little tainted BBQ at some county fair in the U.S., and his girl friend’s worries are over! She can go after that ferry boat captain she wanted in the first place!”

“I thought of sending him on a trip,” she said, “but it doesn’t work with the rest of the plot.”

I gave myself a healthy pour of a good North Carolina merlot and began some serious thinking. Finally, I said, “Ok, let’s work on this. Denmark is pretty much surrounded by water. How about you drown him?”

“That’s the catch,” she said. “Since you are never more than 20 minutes from the ocean anywhere in Denmark, everyone knows how to swim.”

“Well, perhaps a shark…”

“No sharks in the Baltic.”

“How about he gets caught in a police crossfire, while they are chasing a bank robber?”

“This story takes place in the 1960s,” she said. Danish policemen didn’t even carry guns then.”

I was getting a little irritated now. “Well, I know the Danes have cars – can’t we have him get killed in an accident?”

“I thought about that, too, but Denmark has very few traffic deaths. Most people use bicycles for short trips – or the public transportation – busses, trains.”

“Oh yeah – I remember trains,” I said. “Ran on tracks. Nice big roomy seats. You could get a meal in the dining car and then go back to that seat and take a snooze. Say – how about he is walking across the street and gets hit by a drunken driver!”

“Hmmm…drunken driving is pretty rare in Denmark. They don’t just pull licenses – they take away your car!”

“Well, I guess that would tend to make you want to bar hop by bus,” I said, and added, “Dearie, you would be better off moving this plot line to the U.S. We could get him shot almost any old place – a movie theater, a Walmart parking lot, a college classroom…you name it, we can shoot it up! Are you sure you can’t bring him over here to visit an ailing relative – maybe take the afternoon off to catch a movie?”

She did not go for this at all, and insisted that this boyfriend had to meet his Waterloo in Copenhagen. She looked dejected, and I was getting desperate. I didn’t want to abandon an automobile as an accomplice in this.

“Say, you mentioned that they do a lot bicycle riding in Denmark. Why don’t we have him get hit by a car while he is out biking!”

She thought that this had promise, but pointed out that bicycles have the right of way over almost every other conveyance. “Automobiles, pedestrians – everything defers to the bicycle; and everyone in the country knows this. There are separate sections of the roads for bikes. A bicyclist is very rarely killed by a car.”

“But wait,” I said. “Suppose it was a foreigner – a tourist! He could be from a country where the auto is king and everything else must revolve around it! Drive-in banks, restaurants, funeral parlors — a country where bicycles and bicyclists are ignored or treated with disdain – where they are viewed as pests on the public highways, routinely ridiculed for their spandex outfits, and run off the road if they dare to slow traffic down!”

“Why…a tourist…that might work,” my wife said.

mangled bicycle

“Great. I knew I could slip an American into this plot!”