The Guardian Angels Wives Club

Eileen gasped, clapped her hand to her mouth to stifle the scream that was threatening to burst from her throat, leapt across the prone broken body lying at her feet, ran for her life – out of the terraced house slamming the door behind her, and down the dark, empty street. She didn’t stop running until she reached the safety of the little beach hut nestled in the sand-dunes at the edge of the beach. This was Eileen’s retreat. No-one knew about it, not even Gerald – especially not Gerald. Eileen had saved money from the meagre housekeeping allowance that Gerald gave her every week, bought the run down beach hut, then renovated it and furnished it using anything she had found, or that people were throwing away. The result was cheerful and homely and Eileen felt safe there.
“Oh God, what have I done?” she moaned aloud, then catching sight of herself in the shell framed mirror above the kitchen sink, she frantically rinsed her face and hands as the water turned red and gurgled away down the waste pipe
Eileen’s panic began to subside as she watched the water clear, so she brushed her hair and poured a large glass of shiraz, which she gulped greedily before sitting down and considering her situation.
She laughed loud and long, and the tears ran down her cheeks.
“Well, that shocked him!” she said, as she recalled the look on Gerald’s face as she wielded the heavy statue of the Virgin Mary and whacked him forcefully just above his right ear – causing Gerald to crash to the floor and the Virgin Mary to smash into a thousand pieces. Gerald lay still his eyes wide open and blood trickling from his right ear. A shard of the blessed statue protruded from his throat.
“The worm turned, you old devil!” Eileen poured herself a second glass and offered a prayer to the Virgin Mary.
“Blessed Mary, thank you for your intercession today, but you didn’t need to go that far. It would have been fine just to give him a fright, you know, teach him to keep his hands to himself! He won’t be beating me again that’s for sure, the old bastard. I warned him, I told him I’d wallop him and I did! (sorry for saying bastard, Blessed Mary, excuse my language, it’s the stress.)”
Eileen thought about going back to the house to check on Gerald, maybe cover him up, after all it would be a shock for whoever found him to see him naked like that and the rug ruined with the bleeding – “Ah well, can’t be helped, now can it?” Eileen continued to talk to herself before deciding she would be better to sleep on it and think about what to do in the morning. She made herself comfortable on the old sofa, pulled a picnic rug around her and fell into a deep sleep.

The next morning Eileen stretched, yawned then remembered the events of the previous evening. She hastily threw the rug to the floor, stood up, ran her fingers through her hair, opened the door and checked to see if anyone was about. No-one. Nothing stirred and the only sound was the sound of the sea heaving and sighing at the edge of the sand. Eileen wrapped her cardigan tightly around her skinny frame and walked quickly back towards her marital home. Letting herself in she quietly closed the door and stood aghast looking at Gerald’s naked, bloodstained body lying just as she’d remembered – half on and half off the cream hearth rug (which was, of course, ruined.) He’d stripped after coming in from the pub – three sheets to the wind of course – and then bellowed for Eileen to “Get down here Woman”.  Eileen knew what was coming of course. First brutish sex, whether she wanted to or not (she never did) then he’d take his fists to her and give her a hiding. Teaching her who was the master, he said. Well, this time it had been different, and he’d give her no more hidings.
“Right, Eileen O’Donnell,” she said aloud, “Time to get this mess sorted out!”

She began by rolling Gerald over onto his side, and wrapping the rug over him, then trying to roll him over again to wrap him totally in the rug. He was cold and beginning to stiffen so the job was difficult. She decided to try to get the broken piece of the statue out of Gerald’s throat to make it easier to handle him. Eileen crouched down alongside the body with a towel wrapped around her hand and took hold of the shard of broken plaster. She pulled. It didn’t move. She took a deep breath, cursed quietly, then pulled again. The plaster loosened and suddenly came free with such force that Eileen was thrown backwards onto the floor. “You did that on purpose, you sod! Well, it’s no good you trying to get the better of me now you know, I’ve got the Blessed Mother on my side!”
Several hours later, the room had been scrubbed clean, furniture straightened up and the rug containing Gerald had been dragged outside and stored inside the garden shed awaiting onward transportation to a better place, a nearby peat bog. Not too long ago a whole plane, a spitfire, had been recovered from a peat bog. Seventy years it had been there, undiscovered – Eileen planned to make sure Gerald would be undiscovered for a lot longer than that.
She checked the room carefully. There was no sign of the events of the previous evening.
“Well, that’s better, nice and tidy. I’ll just have a cup of tea and a wee rest before I do anything else.” Eileen muttered to herself as she put the kettle on and removed her overall.
There was a loud knock on the back door. Eileen jumped, startled.
“Holy Mother of God, who’s that?” she exclaimed as Maura O’Grady bustled in. “You gave me a fright Maura, what’s the matter love?”
 “Eileen, have you a cup of tea made? Oh, if that man of mine doesn’t stop his carry-on I won’t be responsible so I won’t – Oh thanks, lovely! Just what I needed. Look what the old bugger’s done to me! I swear I’ll call the cops on him, I will”
Maura pulled her sleeve up and showed Eileen the fingerprint bruises on her forearm, then pulled down the polo neck of her black sweater and showed the fresh bruises around her neck.
“Jesus! Is he trying to kill you girl? What the devil is he playing at?”
“Och no, sure he was drunk, when he wakes up he’ll know nothing about it. I’ll put rat poison on his dinner one of these days, I swear to God I will!”
Eileen stroked her chin thoughtfully and looked at Maura through narrowed eyes.
“Are you sure you mean that? Would you want rid of him? What would you live on – you need a wage coming in.”
“Oh I know, Eileen, but I’m so tired of feeling scared every time that man goes to the pub, and I’m not getting any younger and it takes longer to heal. I’ve heard you can get a divorce off the internet but I’m not very good with computers!”
Eileen leaned forward and said very quietly “If I tell you something – will you keep it to yourself?”
Fifteen minutes later the Guardian Angel’s Wives Club was born.

Jimmy O’Grady was relatively easy to deal with. The two women crept back to Maura’s house where Jimmy was passed out, still snoring in a drunken stupor on the sofa. His mouth gaped, and a string of drool had run down his chin. His knuckles were raw. Eileen and Maura stared at him.
“Well, he’s no oil painting is he girl?” Eileen sniggered.
“No, but then he never was” agreed Maura, clapping a hand over her mouth to  smother a giggle, “Right, we’d better get on with it before he starts his roaring again!”
The women held hands. “Blessed Virgin, give me strength” they prayed, then advanced on the sleeping man.
THWACK! Maura clouted Jimmy with a cast iron pan she wielded with surprising force. Jimmy’s eyes flew open as he roared “Wha…….” and struggled to sit up. WALLOP! Another mighty blow from the pan caught him on the back of his head and propelled him forward off the sofa and onto the floor.
Eileen was waiting with an eight inch kitchen knife which she plunged into Jimmy’s chest while loudly proclaiming “I am the Angel of Death!”
Jimmy shuddered and gasped his last, and Maura said “Well, that’s the last of HIS Saturday nights with the lads!” Eileen nodded and said, “I just need to catch my breath a minute. Is it alright to sit down?”
They sat together on the sofa, so recently vacated by Jimmy, who was now lying lifeless at their feet. Neither spoke, but once again held hands, each drawing comfort from the contact.
“You know, we could be in jail for a long time for this, if it ever gets out,” Maura’s face was deathly pale, and her hands shook.
“Aye, well, it had better not get out then. We’ll say the two of them went off on a trip together, which is true in a way, now isn’t it? It’s happened before, so who would say any different?”

A year had passed by and Eileen and Maura sat in silence at an old square table in Sullivan’s bar.
They each nursed a pint of Guiness as they stared gloomily around.
“Well, we seem to have managed it” Maura said finally, “Funny how no-one seemed very bothered, isn’t it? Funny though, I sometimes miss old Jimmy you know, the house is very quiet without him. Do you ever miss Gerald? You know, just the odd time?”
“I’m not saying the house isn’t quiet now Maura, but I’d never go back to how it was. I never knew what was coming with him, and there were other women as well. He thought I didn’t know, but there wasn’t much I didn’t find out one way or another! Mind you, he didn’t much care if I knew or not – he didn’t really care about me at all.”
“It’s the same with me, Eileen, but I’d like a bit of excitement in my life you know, just to feel like we did that night…..”
Eileen stared at her friend.
“Well, I’ve been thinking about wee Mary Mc Divis. I saw her outside her front door last Saturday night with her clothes in rags and crying her eyes out. Covered in bruises too, and with a nasty black eye! Himself was singing his head off in the front room!”
“Sounds like a job for the Guardian Angel’s Wives Club!” Maura smirked, and kicked Eileen gently under the table. They shook hands, ordered a couple more drinks, and began to plan.
Wee Mary Mc Divis listened carefully as the Guardian Angels put their proposals to her. She read through the contract produced by Eileen, looked at her own face in the mirror over the mantelpiece, gently touched the bruises on her cheekbone, and signed and dated the document on the dotted line in black ink.
That evening Mary went to visit her mother, and left the front door key under the flower pot on the right hand side of the door.
Eileen and Maura waited a couple of hours as Mary had suggested and then, picking up the hidden key, they let themselves into Mary’s house. Mary’s husband, Michael, was softly crooning an old Irish air while cradling a half-empty bottle of whiskey. He looked blearily at Eileen and Maura and swore. “What the fuck are you two eejits doing here now? She’s out, and if she knows what’s good for her she’ll stay out!”
Eileen and Maura tutted at him as Maura said “No Michael, it’s you we’ve come to see!”
Five minutes later, using a kitchen knife and a cast iron pan, it was all over for Michael. The two women set to, cleaning and clearing the little sitting room and stuffing Michael’s skinny, bloodied body into the plastic bin liners they’d brought with them.
“Job done!” Eileen said cheerfully, “Now let’s get this wee devil out of the way and we’ll have a nice wee drink to celebrate!”
The following day Wee Mary called at Eileen’s door wreathed in smiles.
“Thanks very much for a lovely job” she said and pushed an envelope containing £500.00 into Eileen’s hands. “I think that’s all now?”
“Oh yes,” Eileen smiled warmly, “I hope everything goes alright for you now, bye bye!”
“Oh by the way, I’ve a friend who could do with a bit of help, lives over beyond the river, you know – a couple of miles if you were interested?” Mary asked quietly.
“Oh, aye, we’re always open for a bit of business to help a friend, tell her we’ll be in McCreggan’s bar on Wednesday night, if she fancies a drink”.
So word spread, and the Guardian Angel’s Wives Club went from strength to strength.

Two years later Eileen and Maura were sitting in the shade in a little Taverna on a beach in Symi, Greece.
“Cheers!” Eileen raised her glass
“Cheers!” Maura did the same and the friends smiled. “Who would have guessed it, so many men going off travelling like that!”
“Oh yes, and the wee devils not coming home!” Eileen laughed.
“Well, we’ve made a lot of women very happy and made ourselves very rich. Just goes to show, doesn’t it, being in the right place at the right time is so important.”
“Aye, well, it’s all worked out now hasn’t it? That was a fine idea you had about the “cleaning” contracts, good cover and good money! Mind you I’d have done it for nothing, the bastards deserved it!”
“Still, retirement feels good, now, doesn’t it?” Maura remarked, just as a fat, angry man strode past the Taverna shouting loudly at a middle aged woman in black walking five paces behind him. Suddenly he stopped, turned, and kicked the woman fiercely on her leg. The woman gasped as she buckled and almost fell to the ground.  Eileen and Maura leaped to their feet.
“Seems that The Guardian Angel’s Wives Club may be back in business!” murmured Eileen grimly, and Maura gave a curt nod, signifying her total agreement.
Eileen and Maura picked up their bags and followed the warring couple as they made their way along the dry, dusty track……..

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