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From the moment i set eyes on her, i knew i was in trouble…

of course we’d already been in communication for some months. The stream of gags, ideas, dirty talk, cleverly chosen gifs and pictures and other file sharing foolishness…I deleted the whole messenger thread, which is a terrible thing for writer to do…but the first time i set eyes on her real, three-d, fleshly form…well..

I can’t write this right now. Why tear the new flesh from a barely scabbed wound? Life-threatening until mere days ago…be glad the pain has eased to a dull throb, with occasional searing blasts still soaking the bandages scarlet and drawing your lips back from your teeth.

instead, lets do some comparative study. Think back, to the last time I felt this bad. So long ago, now, that I can look at it truly dispassionately, and say “hmm. look at the pain that poor slob was in, over that particular dame…some watery bint, seemed like the centre of the universe back then… fascinating, fascinating…”

 

SANDRINE

Our eyes met, across a riot. Even now, when its all burned away into the distance of time, and the final judgements in, I still recall it as a unique and cinematic moment. We’d been nodding acquaintances for years, and I hardly gave her a thought. But she looked at me in a way that seemed to contain knowledge of future events. Fascination, and it seems now, pure loving lust. I was with someone else. It was 2001, and we were there to protest the evils of the worlds most powerful countries, or something. The G8 summit..the Genova police were getting ready to charge us, and it was over a year before we met again, had our first unremarkable sex, six months until the same non-event…and inbetween, i didn’t think of her at all. And yet by the time three years had passed and i was with Beryl, when we got together for what was to be our third casual, pointless canoodle….we had somehow developed and overwhelming, intoxicating, brain-buggering desire for each other.

She was overweight. She had a funny haircut. Weird slanty eyes, lashes so pale as to be invisible…and yet, flipping heck. Even now, torn up as i am over the Elf and what a lie that all turned out to be…even as images flash into my head, unbidden, of her drooling face contorting in pleasurepain as she fulfilled every fantasy in my great big book; as i bitterly brood, on promises made, and abandoned with such ease;  and on the smiles, and the tears, and the arsefucks, and the cuddles, and the  lies of love she poured from that faithless, inconstant gob and into my gullible, never-learning ears…

Even so, if ol’ Sandrine was to walk in here right now…walk in now with her wobbling-coquettish walk, flash her bashful-dirty smile and immediately begin to explain that the last ten years had been a terrible mistake and it’s of the utmost importance than i lob it out and stand it up and shake it til i spunk in her grateful-adoring face- here, even in  this very library where i type, everyone watching and cheering us on (this is, after all, MY daydream…)then to snog the jizz from that most beautiful wonderful face, and lick up her grateful tears while I’m at it, tongues dancing and hearts entwined like mating snails… Well, I’d say yes. And as the other adult-learners applaud this glorious scene of true romance, I’d sweep her into my arms (even though I AM still in love, with the heartless fucking Elf…) Id whisk her away and marry her at once- and then the fun begins in earnest…once more to waste wonderful days laughing and drinking and eating and fingering and  smacking each others happy faces red. Oh, I wouldn’t mind at all the time thats passed since last time! I’d bite her bum her, spit at her and worship her. Tie her up and offer her holes to many many black guys, weep with joy that miracle of miracles she loves me still.  I’d beg for her forgiveness for all this time wasted, to have and to hold, til death do us part, tits and smile and arsehole and heart…

Yes. I don’t need the Elf at all. So long as I have the last woman that made me feel that way…a decade back, and counting.

Which just goes to show, i suppose, that love is really as simple as locating one of the finite number of people with whom you share sufficient compatibility factors to trigger a mutual hormonal response that causes mutual infatuation.

Plenty more fish in the sea, i guess. Even if the fish you seek, is a rare one….and the granules, of course, are rushing to the bottom of the hourglass.

Yes, I’m a scientific man. I know that consciousness is located in the brain, and that your psychology dictates your internal reactions to events…but when lady love tells you where to stick it and leaves you snivelling in the mud outside of her door, well…

Its your heart that breaks, is it not?

Go ahead and tell yourself its located in your head: even as you clutch the ol’ blood pumper on the left  like it just took a javelin, blood pissing between your fingers as your knees fail and your face turns white and the life-force gushes from your body…

Damn these women. Damn them all to hell for making such a fool of me.

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

Meanwhile, on the Manchester vascular ward…the cue for the surgeon is growing. I watch men plead for their painful legs to be amputated, and he duly obliges. Somewhere in this building, severed limbs are wheeling t’ward the incinerator, obsolete appendages whose blood supply has failed beyond saving…and they who still long for release from their pointless limbs watch, stoical, as the flesh turns black. Toes snapping off, larvae having failed, eaten away the necrosis but the rot still spread…gangrene, pulling at your flesh.  Where dementia first dismantles your mind, this beast takes your body, by installments. Dying a piece at a time.

“Hey, Doc. Post these parts of me to the great hereafter will ya? I’ll pick them up when I get there. ”

The afterlife will be a blast, I’m sure. I just hope the almighty is good at jigsaw puzzles. ‘cos he’s really got his work cut out, piecing everybody back together.

Postscript:

It has come to my attention that some readers have perceived in the above story,  the hand of some sort of obnoxious self absorbed misogynist. To these readers, I can say only that the fault must be with my writing. I had intended to create an unreliable narrator, whose crude broadsides at a series of women- first idealised, then hated- would paint a picture of a man so heartbroken and lost that he has fallen back on these dumb swipes. It seems, alas, that while our hero cannot fool himself, he has fooled others- for of course, ‘Gene’ knows only too well where the fault really lies.

No matter. I’ll let the story stand. Let Gene Even-Wilder rage and rant against his lost loves, for now. I’m sure all will come clear in future installments.

 

 

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….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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