“Ron, make sure you fix the tap in the bathroom.” Emily’s voice sounded sharp and demanding. “And the fence is missing a plank; you promised to replace it. Then look at the ladder up to the attic. I could break a leg going up there.”
Ron nodded behind his morning paper. “I’ll get to it.”
“That’s not good enough. I want it done today.” Emily smacked the coffee cup down on its saucer. “I’m going out for groceries. Make sure something is done when I get back.”
“Okay, okay. Can I finish the paper?” Ron felt the hair rising on the back of his neck. Emily didn’t answer, just gave him a steely look.
After she had gone, Ron put down the newspaper. “Yes, maam! I’m on it,” he mumbled. Every morning she came up with something new to do. She just couldn’t stand him sitting there and enjoying his last cup of coffee. He realized he had let things slip for a bit. But was Emily going to push him around like this all through his retirement? Not if I can help it, he thought. She needs serious talking to. He sighed. “Better get to it.” He went into the basement and got his toolbox. Since Emily had given it to him for his birthday, she made sure it was being used as much as possible. What to do first? The fence. At least it was outside in the sunshine. If Emily would just not nag and nag all the time, but let him do things at his own speed.
During the next two days she discovered a few more jobs to be done. Ron had slowed down a bit. I’m not running myself ragged, he decided, which again earned him the usual, “Get going! Don’t sit around.”
A few nights later, Emily complained of not feeling well. “I’ve caught something, maybe the flu. I’m going to bed and take a pill. Bring me up some milk and honey. Not too hot, mind you.”
As usual, not a "please" or "would you?" in her vocabulary, Ron thought. An idea grew in his mind. What if he spiked her milk with a bunch of her sleeping pills and painkillers, enough to put her to sleep for - at least some time? Maybe into a coma? That would be the end of her demands for a while. He emptied the rest of her pills into the hot milk and stirred until they had dissolved. The honey would cover any strange taste.
He stood by watching her drink the milk. When she had finished she lay back with a contented sigh and closed her eyes. “Good night,” Ron said as he left and closed the door.