Wednesday, November 26, 2008

think of a name

‘Fuck off, Bizzies.’
‘It’s the ambulance, not the police, mate. We’ve been called to make sure you’re all right. These people here saw you slumped in the doorway and they were worried about you. As soon as we know you’re okay, we’ll be out of your hair.’
It really feels as if we are just like the leaf litter and twigs caught in his hair, an apocalyptic, sugar-watered, crow-black Gothic pile that makes his head seem roughly the height of his torso.
‘What’s your name, for starters?’
‘Fuck off, Bizzies.’
He lowers his eyelids and smirks; the effort of co-ordination involved in that has him sliding back down the shop doorway into a heap.
‘Come on, mate. Try to keep with it.’
The two people who called us are standing watching.
‘I didn’t know what to do. I thought he might be dead,’ says one, a fifty year old woman, hugging her shopping bags to her middle like they were children. ‘Do you think he’s on drugs?’
‘Well I don’t know about that. He smells as if he’s had a few drinks, though.’
The other one, an intense young woman in a beret and glasses, frowns. She still has her mobile phone in her hand, and I wonder if she’ll be tempted to take a few pictures.
‘Will you come on to the ambulance with us so we can reassure ourselves you’re fine?’
‘Fuck off, Bizzies.’
‘That’s not very nice, is it? We’ve stopped by to help, these people here have gone out of their way to make sure you’re okay, and all you can do is say “Fuck off, Bizzies”. How rude.’
‘Fuck off, Bizzies.’
‘Okay. Let’s try standing up, shall we?’
The middle aged woman takes an alarmed step backwards, but beret girl grips her phone with great resolution and leans in.
‘I think we’ll be fine now. Thanks very much for your help.’
The two women seem nonplussed.
‘Honestly. We can manage now. Thanks for calling.’
After a pause, they swap a confederate look of disappointment, then disperse East and West down the High Street.

Our patient is tall but lean. Standing him up is like helping some gigantic, alien fern to unfurl. He rises up between us, his dark-eyed pallor as much a part of his look as his pointy boots, drainpipe jeans, Fields of the Nephilim t-shirt and black jacket.
‘Fuck off, bizzies.’
‘Yeah. I think we’ve moved on from that one.’
He staggers between us to the ambulance and we load him on board, where he submits with haughty amusement to our checks.
‘Still not going to tell me your name?’
‘Ben. My name is - Ben.’
‘Right. Good. Okay, “Ben”. How are you feeling? Are you in pain? Have you hurt yourself? Tell me what’s been happening with you tonight.’
‘Fuck off, bizzies.’
‘All right. I don’t think we’re going anywhere with this, are we?’
I look at him. His pupils are wide and slow with drink. His obs are fine. When I ask if he wants to go to hospital he simply stares at me, his head moving as if his neck has been replaced by a large spring.
‘Can we do anything for you tonight? Or shall we simply release you back into the wild?’
He snorts. I make a quick grab for a bowl, but it really is nothing more than an attempt to show the level of disdain he has for this whole scene.
‘Come on then, Ben. Out you come.’
He steps off the ambulance, then – just as he seems ready to lurch away down the high street – he turns and comes back at me, holding out his hand for me to shake.
‘I love you,’ he says. ‘I really, really love you.’
‘Great. I love you too, Ben.’
Then he’s gone, riding the bucking pavement, using shops and rubbish bins to keep him on track.

I see a couple of young girls a way up ahead stand aside to let him pass. One of them turns to track his route back along the road; the power of her inquiry when it reaches us is like a wave crashing over the ambulance.

‘Fifty fifty we see him again sometime tonight. Those boots, sticking out of a paladin.’

But we don’t.

5 comments:

Noddy said...

He was on a Mission and saved by the Sisters of Mercy, but no Cure was required.

Spence Kennedy said...

Siouxsie was there with her Bandagees.... :O/

RobR said...

Sorry to appear dumb, but what is a paladin?

Spence Kennedy said...

In Wikipedia it says the paladins were.. "the foremost warriors of Charlemagne's court". But I've always thought a paladin was an oversized wheelie bin. D'oh!

Noddy said...

But Google says this.