Clancy has been on the floor all night. There’s an abraded patch of red skin on the side of his face where it was pressed into the lino, and a few lank strands of hair sweated across it. Luckily he didn’t break anything when he fell, so we pick him up as gently as we can and set him down in his armchair. Clancy is an artist. All around his chair, hanging on the walls, or stacked up in tidy piles next to boxes of pastels and tubes of acrylic paint, there are canvases and boards and sketch books, all of them covered with such explosive bursts of colour it’s like they’ve been pegged outside in the middle of a paint storm.
‘I used to drink a great deal,’ he says, running his fingers through his hair. ‘I was stupid, but there you are. Haven’t touched a drop in years, mind.’
‘Yeah! He’s good,’ says Isaac, fiddling with his outsize headphones, signing the care folder, getting ready to go. ‘Sorry Clance, mate. I’m late for my next appointment. You’ll be all right with these guys, yeah?’
‘I’ll be fine, thank you, Isaac. Thanks for everything you do.’
‘No worries. Sorry I couldn’t pick you up myself.’
‘Quite right. You have to take care of your back, Isaac. I wouldn’t want to lose you now. But look at me. Look at the state I’m in. What’s to be done? Hmm? What’s to be done?’
Clancy’s obs are okay, but he can only just weight bear and would fall again if we let go of him, so Rae goes out to make the truck ready and fetch the chair.
‘Four men came into the room last night,’ says Clancy, just as Isaac picks up his bag.
‘What four men?’
‘I didn’t ask their names. I was too afraid. They were quiet, serious men, and they wouldn’t look me straight in the face. I told them to get out but they just ignored me. They forced me down on the floor, and then stood around watching me for hours, like it was some kind of game, until eventually they got bored and left me to it. Who do you think they were?’
‘Bogeymen, Clance,’ says Isaac, shouldering his bag. ‘I think you’re away with the faeries, mate.’
‘Am I? D’you think so?’
‘Well I’m not the medic, but what else could it be? There’s no sign of any break in. I had to use the key safe to get in this morning, and everything looked okay.’
‘What do you think?’ says Clancy, turning to me. ‘I couldn’t just imagine something like that, could I? They were standing right in front of me, as real as you are now.’
‘Have you suffered with hallucinations before?’
‘Never! So you definitely think I’m seeing things, do you?’
‘I think it’s the most likely explanation, Clancy. It’s another good reason to take you down the hospital.’
He puts his face in his hands.
‘But I haven’t touched a drop!’ he says. ‘Why would I start seeing things now? It doesn’t make sense.’
He moans a little, then eventually straightens up and looks directly at me again.
‘Who sent you?’ he says.