The patient is as upside-down as his name, but his friends help me out.
‘Is it John Jackson or Jack Johnson?’
‘Well, it’s not Jack Johnson. Jack Johnson’s a singer.’
‘Just Jack as in the singer, or just Jack, as in it’s just Jack?’
Frank spreads his fingers and mimes Just Jack from Will & Grace.
John is hanging face down into a bucket over the edge of a crumpled double bed, both arms stretched forwards ahead of him to the floor: Superman down, ditched in a squat, steamed not on Kryptonite but cheap supermarket vodka, his super pants a tatty and washed-out pink. His girlfriend, as perfectly made-up as he is wrecked, kneels at the business end hooking his straggly hair out of his face and ripping tissues from a roll.
Two of John’s team mates offer encouragement from the subs bench on the other side of the bed. They groan as he pleads with us to kill him or make him sick, whichever’s easiest.
‘We’re not going to make you sick.’
‘Not intentionally,’ says Frank, studying some film posters on the wall.
‘Put your fingers down my throat.’
‘That’s not the best invitation I’ve had all night.’
‘First of all you need to turn yourself over and sit up on these pillows so we can get a proper look at you.’
‘Come on John,’ say his mates. ‘We’ll help you.’
‘Well if you won’t turn over, at least I can get a few details. How old are you, John? What’s your date of birth?’
He shakes his head.
‘You don’t want to tell me?’
For some reason, he turns his head and whispers to his girlfriend. She laughs, and then says the date out loud. We all laugh – but I’m not sure why.
‘You’re really going to have to try a little harder, John,’ I say to him, pushing a space clear amongst the DVDs and books on a packing case and propping myself up. It’s four o’clock in the morning and I’m looking for comfort wherever I can find it.
‘Make me sick!’
‘Okay. Let’s see. I took the dogs for a walk yesterday, and Lola the whippet ate the maggoty corpse of a rabbit.’
‘Well I nearly chucked. All those little bones. Crunch, crunch, crunch.’
The room seems to ripple and shrink. I’m in danger of falling face down on the bed next to John, cracking out a twelve hour coma right there and then.
I push myself away from the packing case.
‘John. I can say with almost complete certainty that you are not dying. What you described as chest pain is actually pain in your epigastrium – just here – where the top bit of your stomach is. From drinking too much vodka and then straining to throw up. But we’d need to get you out to the vehicle to make absolutely sure. Will you come outside with us?’
He shakes his head.
‘Will you sit up so we can look at you?’
‘Come on, John!’ say his friends.
He shakes his head.
‘Then our work here is done. One of you sign the paperwork.’
The two friends follow us to the door in their bare feet, folding their bare arms close to their chests and shivering in the early morning chill.
‘Thanks for coming out, guys. Sorry to waste your time.’
‘Just make sure someone’s with him so he doesn’t pass out on his back and choke. Give him water, maybe the odd Paracetamol – nothing Aspirin based. Keep an eye on him. Something.’
We all laugh, me slightly out of sync, and loudest.
They carry on smiling, but hug themselves a little tighter.
Am I really that crazy?
Oh my gosh......thank you.
Nothing like a chuckle on the bus on the way home from a long day.
Did you manage to get some rest?
I slept really well, thanks (ear plugs - the greatest invention ever).
BTW - I think I'm getting phone envy. Everyone seems to have phones with internet and email and apps of this and that; mine just seems to overheat and cut off in the middle of conversations (when I can get a signal). Bah! x
My boyfriend's parents' dog has got a taste for anything mangy and rotten. Whenever we take her for a walk, she dashes off straight for the smelliest, most mouldering dead thing she can find. Then she whines when we plonk her in the bath when we get home :) You think she would have learnt by now... but then she is quite possibly the dippiest dog ever.
Silly boy for drinking too much nasty vodka - I get so sick when I drink cheap vodka - shaky and sweaty. Nice!
I don't understand how dogs can have such super-sensitive noses, but still find rotten old corpses such fun to eat (or roll in). Euch!
Vodka's good, but I prefer Gin (Plymouth / Beefeater). You can't beat a tall G&T - especially if you keep the gin in the freezer for extra crunch. Not too many, though. That shaky/sweaty thing's def. no fun! :8) x
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