Dorothy is sitting forward on her chair, letting the first paramedic on scene do her blood pressure. The carer who called us in sits by her side, one hand resting on her shoulder.
‘Who are you?’ says Dot, peering up at us. ‘Are you the ones who’re gonna cart me orf?’
‘Don’t worry, Dot,’ says the paramedic, pulling the steth out of his ears and straightening up. And then to us: ‘Thanks for coming, guys. Funnily enough, I was just about to stand you down. There’s nothing acute going on as far as I can tell. This clown thing’s been an issue for three weeks or more. Hasn’t it, Dot? The scary clowns?’
‘Ye-es. Dancin’ about like they own the place. Baring their teeth. Horrible it is.’
The carer rubs her shoulder.
‘Dot has been having these hallucinations for a little while,’ says the paramedic, writing the BP down. ‘She’s being treated for a UTI, so that’s probably got something to do with it. But she’s also suffering from macular degeneration and they think that might be a factor.The carer here was a bit concerned tonight that Dot had got worse, but to be honest everything else is checking out, and she’s settled down since I got here. Haven’t you, Dot? Settled down?’
‘Ye-es. Well. The clowns are more interested in you now, I think.’
The paramedic shudders.
To be fair, Dot seeing clowns is not all that surprising. Even if she were completely well, she’d see at least a dozen. There are porcelain clowns gurning on the mantelpiece, a row of cloth clowns lain out in clear plastic bags on the temporary clown mortuary of the sofa, and worst of all, a three-quarter size clown leaning next to the fireplace, its red glove up in farewell, a rictus of grief on its face.
‘I see kittens as well, you know’ says Dot, rubbing the spot where the paramedic unwrapped the cuff. ‘Playing around the sofa, like.’
‘Now kittens I can handle,’ he says. ‘Let's focus on the kittens.’
‘But it’s you the clowns want,’ says Dot. ‘I can tell.’