Saturday, October 20, 2012

dr everard sprailes

Michael is in the sitting room, padlocked by his right arm to a high-backed wicker chair. With his left he alternates between smoking a roll-up and swigging from a quarter bottle of vodka.
‘Read my essays if you want to see how intelligent I am,’ he says, gesturing to the shelf of brightly coloured files behind him. ‘C’est n’a pas difficile.’
‘So – what’s happened tonight, Michael? Why have we been called?’
‘It was against my express wishes,’ he says. ‘I’ve studied the European Convention on Human Rights. I’ll happily talk you through it sometime, when I’m feeling better. But the thing is I’m sick – have been for some while. I’ve been speaking to Dr Everard Sprailes about it. Do you know him?’
‘No.’
‘No?’
‘Sorry.’
‘Oh. Well - Dr Everard Sprailes has a PhD in Neuroscience. I would call him myself but I’m temporarily incapacitated as you can see. Dr Sprailes will be able to take a scan of my head and tell me what the problem is.’ Michael taps out some more ash and sighs. ‘And I’ll be able to have a conversation at the appropriate level. Apologies for the smoking, by the way. I know it’s self-destructive. I know I shall die of cancer one day, but at the moment I think it’s the least of my worries.’
Michael’s father has been standing out in the hallway. A tall, kindly-looking man with a hunch to his shoulders like he’s been living in small spaces too long, excuses himself into the room and sits opposite his son.
‘I require you to leave now,’ says Michael, rattling his padlock. ‘Now! I’m sorry, father. I love you and I respect you but I cannot submit to your homeopathy – I will not submit to your homeopathy – you’ve damaged me in ways that cannot be forgiven, and I want you to leave.’
The father gets up.
‘But first fetch me some tea.’
He goes out.
Michael reaches for the vodka bottle and takes a long pull from it as I speak, studying me from round the side of it.
‘Can I just say, Michael – it’s probably best if you don’t drink any more alcohol. Only – if we go to the hospital – if that’s what you decide to do – then the fact that you’ve drunk all this vodka will only delay your being assessed by the duty psych team.’
Michael slowly lowers the bottle.
‘Do you honestly think I’m not aware of these things? This bottle is filled with water. Water, with a zest of lemon and honey. Okay? But thank you for your input.’
He wrinkles his nose and lips, closes his eyes and gives his head a quick little shake from side to side.
‘Look. If you can’t get me Dr Everard Sprailes then I really don’t know what you’re here for. I’m exhausted. I’ve spent the night researching my condition on the internet and I’ve come up with some fascinating links which I may or may not share with you. I can tell you’re concerned about the padlock – here…’
He slips his hand out of the lock, which turns out not to have been fastened, unwraps it from the chair and tosses it in my direction.
‘Yes, I’m suicidal. Yes, I’m ill. But if you insist we go to the hospital then I’ll agree solely on the understanding that we contact Dr Sprailes at the earliest opportunity.’
Michael’s dad appears at the door again, with a cup of tea.
‘You!’ he shouts. ‘I thought I told you to get out.’
His dad turns to go again.
‘But you can leave the tea.’

11 comments:

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

The world bulges with the myriad personalities contained (or not) therein; may this young man's demons find their way out of his mind and may he then be afforded some peace.

Sabine said...

Dear heavens. What was that?

Anonymous said...

You really do come across some interesting characters in your line of work don't you?!
-Tanya

Spence Kennedy said...

Hi Lynda - I often think it'd be great if you could just reach in, pick out the bad feelings and stuff them in the bin. It would save so much heartache and time. Maybe there's a course I could go on...

Hi Sabine & Tanya - There's no shortage! But the frustrating thing is that often there are even more bizarre details that I'd love to write about but can't without jeopardising patient confidentiality.

Cheers for the comments.

VM Sehy Photography said...

I feel bad for his dad. Spoiled brat ran through my head, but that's difficult to fix in a grown man. Perhaps my compassion is broken today.

Spence Kennedy said...

That's absolutely how Michael came across to me, too, VMSP! It was difficult not to start to feel quite irritated - esp. as the actual incident went on for very much longer than this blog post, with all kinds of avoidable delays, cigarette breaks &c. But it was useful to see his dad and another friend there - both very good and reasonable people - so I just had to think that it was the illness making him behave like that.

Invictus said...

What a strange, strange person. With a very inflated opinion of himself. Just... strange. Did you ever figure out what his deal was? (With or without Dr. Everard Sprailes...)

jacksofbuxton said...

If ever I require an ambulance Spence,do you think I could request to be only seen by Dr Cate Blanchett?

Spence Kennedy said...

Invictus - A psychotic episode (against a background of general anxiety & depression). He'd been without sleep for a long time, and generally pretty out there. I did feel for him (but only when I was out of his presence and could rationalise the whole episode). But I have to admit I had a sneaky impression maybe Michael was 'high maintenance' even when well...

Jacks - Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman.

paul said...

I cannot submit to your homeopathy – I will not submit to your homeopathy

you should print this on siren voices tshirts!

Spence Kennedy said...

I think that might be a nice little sideline, Paul. Siren Voices quotes. Mouse mats / pens / tea-towels.... Ker-ching! (the sound of four pounds thirty-eight pence being thrown in the till).