Tuesday, December 15, 2009

half past five

It’s a blessing to sleep, but sometimes waking up is better.


Ona is the mother of two boys: Jaime and Yossi.

When the boys were growing up, Yossi had been the warped, slightly comical tail on an otherwise perfect dog, dragging along behind the body golden as it grew strong through endless hunting and fighting games in the fields and ditches and dilapidated barns around the village. People loved and trusted Jaime, but Yossi - that febrile, fuzzy-edged boy – Yossi they preferred to keep at a good stick’s length. Yossi they saw as the lumpen weight you need to measure the riches in the opposite pan of the family scale of happiness.

Jaime and Yossi both went off to fight at the same time, but whilst Jaime won medals, Yossi was medically discharged and sent home early.

I am a stranger, but somehow I know this story. I am here in an ambulance to drive Yossi to hospital.

But he’s missing.

‘Please find him,’ says Ona. ‘I know he’s round here somewhere.’

I drive round the village. The place is deserted, raked with heat, a monstrous kiln piled full of baked white bricks and dusty dogs and streets of impacted sulphur. I pass an abandoned field, so blasted the hedges are just clumps of grey wire. Someone has been digging in a corner; by the edge of the hole I see a pile of suitcases. I wonder what that could mean?

I drive back to the house empty-handed. As I approach I see Ona standing talking to a man in blue scrubs, his surgeon’s mask pulled down below his chin. As I jump down from the cab and walk up to them he smiles and hands me a plastic DHL envelope.

‘Here. We operated, but it was too much. I’m afraid that’s the best we could do.’

There is something sloppy and warm in the package. Is this Yossi’s heart? But it’s so small? I gently press the top of the envelope. The contents slip from side to side beneath my fingers. It’s like rolling the knotted veins in the back of an old man’s hand.

I feel a pulse.

‘He’s alive!’
I put the envelope down on the floor and begin pressing up and down on the top of it with my index finger. The surgeon stands over me and laughs.
‘It’s pointless,’ he says. ‘It’s a blue heart.’
So I put my face to the top of the envelope and gently blow into it.
The beat inside the envelope gets stronger.
I carry on with my these micro-compressions, furious the surgeon won’t take me seriously. Doesn’t he care?
The thing in the envelope jumps and twitches. Finally I stand up and hand the envelope back to the surgeon.
‘There’s got to be a chance,’ I say.
He takes the envelope and shakes his head.
‘Do you think hearts are like memory sticks? Do you think all I need to do is find a new body, plug this thing in and send him on his way? You are seriously confused, my friend.’
I look at Ona. She shakes her head, and draws a finger across her mouth as if to say: Enough. No more.


I wake up. My mouth is dry and my lips are glued and ripped.
I wonder if I’ve been calling out in my sleep. I unfold my arms and struggle to sit up. The air is a stew. There are dark shapes in the chairs around me, but no-one else stirs. I raise the dial of my watch close up to my face and read the time: half past five. I’ve been asleep for twenty minutes.


lulu's missives said...

Hi Spence,
Isn't it strange how different siblings can be? I'm an identical twin and we are vastly opposite, yet very similar.

Spence Kennedy said...

I bet identical twins must have interesting dreams... x

lulu's missives said...

I sometimes remember dreaming but usually not. I think I sleep too soundly!
What about you?

Charles said...

Those few minutes of falling back to sleep always seem to produce the strangest dreams. For me at least, the last dreams I have always seem to mix real life and the bizarre and stick with me the rest of the day.

Prayingmedic said...

There are some important messages in your dreams, Spence. Most people have dreams that are symbolic messages; though some are literal. The symbolism needs to be de-coded to find the meaning. I'm not into psychoanalysis, but interpreting dreams is a fairly straight-forward process. Let me know if you're interested.

I discuss dream interpretation a bit in one of my posts:


I love your writing style. Very unique, with excellent use of imagery. That's a rare gift, these days.

You're a blessing,


Spence Kennedy said...

Jo - I recently started writing my dreams down again, and it seems as if they get more powerful towards the end of the month. I have to write them down fairly quickly, though - they fall to pieces and disappear as the day goes on. x

Charles - It is interesting the way you do mix up the everyday and the bizarre. And accept in the dream the logic of what you're doing, no matter how wacky. It was perfectly normal to me in this dream to be doing a resus on a heart in a bag...!

Dave - Thanks v much for that. I'll def check out that page you link to there. I'm very interested in dream symbolism. Not so much the 'dream dictionary' approach, but more for a personalised dream vocabulary, mixed in with a bit of Jungian collective unconscious.

Thanks for all your comments!

lulu's missives said...

Your dreams sound a bit like me at the moment....falling to pieces as the day goes on.
I'm so desperate for the alarm NOT to go off in the morning!!!!

Spence Kennedy said...

I know that feeling! Especially when the early mornings are so dark and so cold.

Hope the course is going okay. Soon be Christmas! x

lulu's missives said...

The course is going really well, just struggled with finishing an assignment, couldn't grasp one aspect of it. Very frustrating.
Ok, lights out!!

Terri said...

Ahhh...to sleep perchance to dream?
Beautifully written.

On a sideline, thought this story might interest you from over here in Australia. Might make your job look not so bad?


Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks Terri!

I read the article. I wonder why they didn't allow the 'graduate ambulance officer' to make a first, or the crew from Wangaratta to drive on lights & sirens? It sounds very odd. How reliable is that newspaper? If it's like ours, you have to take the description of events with not just a pinch of salt but a whacking great shovel!

Poor woman though. I wonder what injuries she had? :/

Tales From An Adult Store said...

Hi Mr Kennedy :)

It was actually a true true story, and The Herald is one of the "better" papers out there. It is absolutely no reflection on the emergency services out here, more a fact that we are such a HUGE country and how thinky spread our emergency crews are. All I could find out about her injuries is that she was impaled in the groin area OUCH. As for the no sirens or lights........no darn idea...stupidity on behalf of the powers that be?

Still loving your blog :)

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks TFAAS!

No wonder she couldn't get up! Eech!

The vast distances you have to cover must be a real problem. Do you think it tends to make people in those less accessible places more self-sufficient? I suppose if you know there's going to be a long delay getting to hospital, you learn to cope with more things on your own / in your community? Let's hope so!

I remember reading about a local doctor who performed a craniotomy with a power drill (under direction from a neuro surgeon on the phone) because by the time they'd have flown the patient to hospital they'd have died of compression. Did you see that one?


Terri said...

Yeah I saw the craniotomy one, mind blowing. I don't think the distances make us more self efficeint out here though :)
Unfortunately we have a lot of "taxi ambulances" though, much the same as you, but worse here where I am as we have an indigenous population and it IS their right to use ambulances however they please, and for free :(.

p.s. Didn't mean to sign it as my blog name on the last message, sorry.

cogidubnus said...

Merry Christmas Spence, and thanks for all the wonderful posts...hope you manage some decent time out!

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks Cogi! Merry Christmas to you, too. Thanks very much for all your support through the year. I hope 2010's a good one for you & your family.

cogidubnus said...

A family, which incidentally, includes two sets of girl twins!

Spence Kennedy said...


Do you know I'm the only male in the house here? (Me and the dog - and he's been done). I love it, though. King of the Castle (when they let me).

Have a great holiday, Cogi!