Three Minute ‘Outsider’


Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday. Bof. Who cares? The old people's home is 50 miles from Algiers, so I asked my boss for two days off. He didn't seem pleased. It was very hot.


"Mrs Meursault was happy here," the warden said. "She was bored living with you." It was true. That's partly why I never went to see her. And also because it was too much effort. The undertaker began to unscrew the coffin lid. I stopped him. "Don't you want to see the body?" he asked. "No," I answered. "Why not?" "I'm not bovvered." "Was she old?" I shrugged. "Maybe."


I went swimming the next day. In the water I met Marie Cordona, who used to be a typist in the office. I told her Mother had died. She wanted to know when. "Whenever." Afterwards she came back to my place. When I woke up the next morning, Marie had gone.


On my way home from the office the next day I met my neighbour, Raymond. Locals say he lives off women. He's always seemed fine to me. He'd been in a fight with his Moorish girlfriend's brother. "He was upset I'd beaten her up," he said. "But she had been deceiving me. Is that not fair?" I'd been smoking Raymond's cigarettes so I said yes. He asked me to write her an unpleasant letter. He was pleased I agreed.


Marie and I were disturbed by dull thuds. People banged on Raymond's door. "He hit me," the woman said. Raymond asked me to be a witness. He told me to say she had cheated on him. I agreed and he asked if I wanted to go to a brothel. I refused as it was far too tiring.


The following week Raymond invited me to his chalet. I asked if I could bring Marie. That evening Marie asked me to marry her. "If you want," I replied. "I ain't really bovvered." Did I love her? Bof. Maybe yes, maybe no. Probably not. I asked her if she wanted to eat. She said she was doing something. She looked at me. "Don't you want to know what?" I did, but I couldn't be bothered to ask.


The sun was very hot. I walked along the beach with Raymond and his friend, Masson. We came across his former lover's brother sitting with a group of other Arabs. There was a fight. Masson got cut. The Arabs ran off. Later Raymond handed me his gun. I walked down the beach. I met the Arab. It was even hotter now. I shot him once. Then I shot him four times more.


"Why did you shoot him?" the magistrate asked. "It was too hot." "Do you miss your mother?" "I'm not bovvered." "Do you believe in God?" "I said I ain't bovvered."


Marie came to visit me once. "Would you have got married to anyone who asked you?" she asked. "Probably." Apart from missing cigarettes, I quite enjoyed my time in prison.


It was very hot in court. "Did I love my mother?" "Whateva." "Had I picked up a girl the day after the funeral?" "Whateva." "Had I deliberately gone back to shoot the Arab?" "Whateva." It was still hot when the guilty verdict was read out. The judge told me I would be decapitated in a public square. Did I have anything to say? "Not really," I said. "I ain't that bovvered."


The chaplain begged me to hand my soul over to God. I grabbed his cassock in frustration. I'd lived in a certain way. I'd done some things and I hadn't done others. I'd been happy. All I needed was a crowd at my execution saying they weren't bovvered either.