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Posts Tagged ‘short story’

….is the door code for all the wards in the hospital. Easy to remember-my age and my aspiration. Just don’t let me be fifty and still here and trying to remember what age i was when i started this damned job, the door code a constant reminder of how long i’ve been doing this damn job.

So here we go. Another a day of wiping poo off of disfigured fannies. Shit and sores and bed washes galore.

There’s this one patient i have to wash. She’s eighty seven but she looks good. Pale and a little jaundiced, after all she is very ill or she wouldn’t be here. But shes doesn’t look so bad for eighty-seven. I ask if shes okay with me washing her and she says yes. “Not often i get a young man washing me” she says. Rueful smile.

I get all the stuff together, blankets sheets pillow cases counterpane papier mache bowl hot water soap towel patient wipes dissolvable pink plastic laundry bag. As she’s taking off her top, she says sort of sourly: “i bet you’ve seen hundreds of female bodies.”

I’m a bit thrown but i smile and i start soaping her tits. They’re not so bad, droopy but fleshy. I say “i don’t have to wash you  anywhere you’re not comfortable…you can do as much as you like, yourself.” I’m trying to be respectful but to my sadness she says “not your cup of tea?” and looks a shade more desolate. Bless her.  I want to say, honestly, your not so bad, grandma.”

She says “its not a young body.” Again her voice is suffused with ache, immeasurably lonely, immeasurably lonely.

i want to say, really, you seem a nice lady. I feel such a chewing pity for her that i almost think i should to offer to touch her, show her her body is really not so repulsive. In a an insane moment i find myself wondering if she will get aroused, proposition me. Now I  WANT to see what she looks like from the waist down.Her legs, her arse, her cunt.  Haggard but soft. That have seen so much, birthed babies and taken cocks like any other woman. What would i do, if she said “lick me?” So close to death, but still yearning.. I’d have no moral complaint. Id do it for her.

Of course, id lose my job if we were discovered.You cant lock these doors. What if someone walked in?. How would i explain when they  found me  with my face between her legs?  Maybe if i just brought her off with my hand? Clamp the other over her mouth to muffle her cries…

It would be a strange joy. Perhaps to be the author of the last orgasm of an ancient lady! I’d do it. Yes, id do it. Just say the word, grandma. Say the word, and i’ll suck that haggard cunt for all I’m worth. Even if it tastes bitter, it would e such a sweet experience. And get hard and get off myself while I’m doing it. Just for you, sweet ancient lady who’s lived through so much. Child of the war and the world. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even get carried away and fuck you. Shove it up between those spaniels ear buttocks, plunge it into that saggy anus. Hld oyou gently, do you deep. Make you drool. Why not? Aren’t you a woman, like others? Say the word, granny I’m yours.

” i don’t think i want to wash any more of me.” she says quietly.

“you sure?”

“yes.”

okay then.”

I hand her the towel i, she dries her body, slips sadly under the nightgown. I pause at the door. “can i do anything else for you?” “no, thank- you.” “okay….” I leave her, staring blandly at the TV, some daytime soap wittering away…

……………………….

Outside the hospital. Getting on my bike. The ward sister said sky news are about, filming smokers outside the hospital, so look out. No sign of the guttersnipes now though.

There’s a white guy with his family, watching three guys in head scarves get into their cars. Those white turban ones with the extra length of cloth hanging down the back. “Look at that ” says the white guy. “They look like three members of the Taliban! Why would you dress like that?”

I’m not having this bullshit. “That is the most offensive thing you could come out with!” I shout. Incredulous. Why do people need the basics explaining to them, over and over?

“Yeah?” he says, a little surprised.

“Yeah! its just three blokes i  their traditional head gear is what it is.Visiting a hospital And you’re calling them terrorists. Do I say you look like a Nazi, cos you’re dressed in black pants and a shirt t and a buzzcut? You cant SAY stuff like that!”

“i can” he counters, logically enough.

“Well you shouldn’t!”.

He’s bullish. “i didn’t say it to their faces.”

“No, behind their backs like a coward! And in a public place, and i have to come out of work and listen to your racist shit!”

“You shouldn’t swear in front of kids” says his wife. Children are playing around her feet. “Yeah!” says her man. The moral high ground is his- i swore!”

I’ll not be derailed. “YOU shouldn’t shoot your mouth off saying stuff like that about people!” storms i. “In front of a HOSPITAL!”

“shouldn’t be listening to our conversation” says she “You’re saying it LOUD outside a HOSPITAL!” I cry, parrying the blow. And now, the coupe de grace: DISGUSTING!”

And off i zoom on my bicycle of righteousness, that razorblade saddle slicing my arse in half with every pedal.

Fuck it. I’m not standing by while this creeping fascism gets normalised. Prick needs to know he’s out of line. Who knows, maybe he’ll think again. Maybe he’ll  respect another crop-haired, gobby bloke calling him out on his shit.

L’esprit de l’escalier: what i should have said was, those guys probably take better care of their sick relative than you or I could dream of dare.  Face the rigours of tending the dying up to the last like you wouldn’t have the guts for, and maybe neither would i. Because I’ve seen it many times. Where the white english families shed tears and suffer and then need to rush off to the pub to drown the horror of a dying mother,( im sorry, i have work in the morning, i’ll be too tired…I’ll try and visit, me or another family member…)

 

These guys will work a twelve hour day and still turn up to sit by grandmas bedside all night. The  whole extended family gathered round for days. Do personal care when the staff let them down. Mop up shit and wipe away tears and mutter prayers and dress the body at the end. Because that weird, turban wearing culture you find so baffling and laughable, has instilled them with a sense of duty that us spoiled, selfish Anglo-saxons have never known.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not into Islam or any other religious mindwash. Its all fucking fairy stories as far as I’m concerned, and church decreed identical hats are my idea of hell. But I’m not having the paki-bashing.  Because i know this guy. We’ve just met, but i know him. This is the same nobhead would have teased me for my long hair when i was a kid. Called me for being a hippy or a a faggot. Takes the piss out of Indian waiters or effeminate kids at school. Starts fights in pubs with people he knows dont stand a chance. In short, a bully. A nobhead. And that’s what I’m taking a stand against here. Nobheadism.

Because bullies are getting way too fashionable, way too ‘out’. And between silent bitter acceptance of the rebranded xenophobia of post brexit britain and trumpamerikkka, and blazing at strangers like an avenging psycho Victor Meldrew:  I’ll take the later.

***************

Mum is snoring in my bed and i’m breaking my back on the sofa, writing this from a duvet cocoon. Time to log out and shut down. 3.48 in the morning and we’re up with rose at six. school run, then back to that hellhole for the evening shift. Tending the crumbling fannies of the clapped out super-sluts and chaste married ladies of a bygone age. Like watering a garden of failing flowers. Or something.

I wake up at four thirty and go to snuggle up next to Daisy. Ellison the toy elephant coming between us and the glo-stars on the ceiling fading as their phosphorous runs down.  To be finally lulled to sleep by the strange symphony of the rain, nanna’s snoring, and the tweeting of one of those funnily little  birds that stays up and sings at night.

 

 

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I sit in the little waiting room watching ‘homes under the hammer’ until i’m called through.

It’s a nice lady. It’s always a nice lady and they’re always gorgeous, why is that? Maybe they seem more lovely because of the situation. Their manner, the power of their job, their no nonsense attitude and warm, worldly wise understanding of everything they hear.

“I’m going to have to ask you some questions.”

“It’s okay.”

“How many sexual partners in the last six months?”

“Er…”

“Double figures?”

“Yes.”

“Male or female?”

“Yes. I mean, both.”

Oral sex?”

“Yes.”

“Penetrative vaginal sex?”

“Yes”.

“Anal sex?”

“Yes.”

“Giving or receiving?”

“Both” (blushes now. From me,)

“Protected?”

“Usually.”

“Protected with strangers?”

“Always.”

“Protected for anal?”

“Yes”

“And oral?”

“No.”

“Even with males?”

“No protection for oral, no.”

“And the unprotected penetrative sex, is that with a regular partner?”

“No”

“Someone you know?”

“Does ex wife count as someone I know?”

a wry, indulgent smile.

“Yes.”

“Multiple partners simultaneously?”

“Uh, yes”.
(I’m not sure she really asked that one, but it seemed like she did. Like she turned me inside out like a piece of fruit and saw everything there was to see.)

She smiles, folds away the paperwork.

“Well, you definitely meet the criteria. Your are entitled to a free Hepatitis vaccine.”

“thank god. The cost of all these vaccines is something else.”

“are you training as a nurse?’

“I wish. Well, maybe eventually. Right now, care support worker.”

She looks sympathetic. “do occy health not do them?”

“What occupational health?  Its an agency. They tell us its our own responsibility. It’s been a real slog to get them all. T.B, you can only get free if you live in cheetham hill, for some reason. Plus they told me I was too old and it wouldn’t work on me. Which isn’t true at all. I had to get it done at a travel clinic. And I had to threaten my G.P with P.A.L.S to get my MMR. Then again, he didn’t bother giving me the second dose.”

“Well, you’re alright here. You definitely meet the criteria for free hygiene.”

“Thanks.”

“Its OK. We hear all sorts. You’re normal.”

“Thanks. Actually, I’m special.”

“Sorry?”

“That’s the job title. Working one-to-one with a single patient, using skills gained from my experience in mental health. Confused or aggressive patients, in a general hospital setting. I’m a ‘special’.”

“Oh I see. Well, good luck with your specialing.”

“Thank-you”

We go through and she gives me my shots. She gives me a leaflet about PREP too- the new pre-exposure prophylaxis. She explains, in euphemistic terms, how you can now dose up on drugs and then go out and get filled with the spunk of the rugby team. No protection needed, 99.9% success rate, and no unpleasant side effects.
“But i’m sure you don’t need that. That’s for if you’re going to parties, with dozens of people, and…anyway, here’s the leaflet.”

“thank-you”.

***********

Woo-hoo! Its off to my new job in the glorious NHS- complete with anti-social hours payments- time and a half for saturdays and night shifts, and double pay on sundays.

I’m allowed through the doors of that fabulous institution, the Manchester royal infirmary!  I work now for the mighty NHS, not some carpet bagging private firm mopping up the ongoing disaster of care in the community. I’m an NHS worker, and I can hold my head up  high!

******************************************

They start me off gentle on an easy ward. I’m sat outside the door of a side-room, where a lad with terrible brain damage sits all day, rocking back and forth. Every now and then he gets up and ambles down the corridor, then out the door to smoke the dimps off the ground at the smoking shelter. He has a huge hole in his head, like someone took a bite out of it, big as your fist. His fingers are yellow with nicotine, he smells like an ashtray, and there’s always a sparkling silver string of drool hanging at his mouth. There’s no conversation, but I talk to him pleasantly, I feel, about the weather and the soaps and the price of fish and so forth. The ritual is repeated throughout the day.

He’s actually waiting for his mum to come and get him. Twitching with nervous expectation. She keeps not answering her phone, she’s getting later and later. We start to worry she’s playing him for a fool. The end of the day comes round and its clear she’s not coming. Who can blame her? He shuffles sadly back to his room, drooling the while. Then at the last moment, when my shift is just about to end, she comes crashing through the doors at the end of the corridor, arms wide. “Hey, son!” The traffic was terrible! C’mere, darlin’!”

He shuffles down the hall towards her at double speed, and my first day ends on a sunny note.

Day two, will be a whole ‘nother ball of wax. Two weeks in, you’re gonna need all that dirty time you told the nurse about in the clinic.  Just to keep your head exploding from all the things you’ve seen. And smelled. And touched.

*****************

I’d heard that you could get your vaccines for free if you told the clinic you were promiscuous. I told everyone at work that i made it all up, and they said i didn’t look the type to say such things. Well. ‘There’s no art to map the minds construction in the face’ said Shakespeare. And he should know.

They don’t ask everything at the clinic. No need to know if you take it up the arse from several big hairy, ugly men in a row, if you like two dicks in your mouth at once,e if you let me hit you and spit at you sa thank-you sir and beg for more. No need to enquire, whether the women you let lick your arse, do it in a room full of strangers, all high as kites on vodka and pills. It’s not relevant to your medical history, if you’ve fucked a twenty stone woman while he husband watches, smiling.

I’m 43 years old, divorced, father to a two year old,trapped in a human body, trapped in manchester, trapped in the year 2015. Trapped in a job a trained gibbon could do, because i’m too proud to get my head down and study for something better. Because I still think i’m a writer. Well, write about this, smart arse: you’ve traded in the mad and the dangerous for the ancient and the demented. Mopping up the shit at the last gasp saloon. Gently stroking the papery hands of  beings who are frightened and confused, because their mind is being stolen away, a little piece at a time.

Its all flesh.Various flavours.  This morning you’re wiping an old lady’s bum, tonight you’ll have a younger arsehole round your cock. At work, Death works right beside you, leaning over your shoulder, breaking off a few more crumbs with his fingertips. Dementia, brain damage and madness, all steal  life in instalments, like a higher purchase sofa. God instilled the divine spark of consciousness in the brain of an over developed ape. Some kind of joke i guess. I understand he moves in mysterious ways.

So dear Venus (40) and Penus (42) please may i come to your party? Its been a hell of a day and I’m looking to let my hair down. I promise you’ll be glad you asked me.

I got a lot of nervous energy, to work off.

***********************

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