DANDELION Chapters 23-38

No more searching in the goddamn cars. No point you see. No, them cars has got their own goddamn agenda. What to do? Just forget it. Okay, I’ve forgot it. Forgot what? Who you kidding? This is true, I do, I remember, I remember everything. That’s my problem. Turn your problem into a pleasing predicament. Think positively. Self-pity belongs in the trash. That it does. That it’s easier said than done is a fact too. In times of confused clarity I choose to visit my parents. Not that they clarify the confusion, if anything, they exacerbate it. Both suffer from dementia. Married forty-four years and neither knows who the other is. At the home, the home for the elderly, mother/father can pass by father/mother in the corridor without so much as a nod and a wink. On my arrival a nurse unites them in front of me. “Who are you?” “I’m Aldred.” “Who’s this?” “That’s John.” “Who’s she?” “She’s Arlene.” “I ain’t Arlene.” “You’re not?” “No.” “Oh!” “I ain’t John neither.” “Who are you?” “I’m the joker.” “Who am I?” “You’re the postman.” “That’s nice.” “No it ain’t.” “Why?” “She’s your wife.” “My wife?” “I’m your son.” “Whose son?” “Derek’s son.” “Whose Derek?” “He’s an idiot.” “Derek?” “No, him.” “Me?” “The postman?” “Yep.” “I’m your son.” “Yeah right.” I look left and all around and I wonder, whose reality is the truth? In their universe I suspects I’m demented too. Dribbling and drooling, rocking and tap-toeing, gurning and sighing, here a tic, there a tic, everywhere a tic tic. Are these folks permanently in the places that I fleetingly frequent? As the body shrinks does the mind expand? Is it possible for me to find my utopia with Laura Esposto and see out my days (I’d have said Bernadette but bizarrely a fantasy too far so it seems) in Milano with my 33 Stradale? No wonder these dribblers and droolers don’t fight to come back. I’d gladly lie down and die with my prosperosa bellezza in paradiso than suffer paralysis of mind, body and spirit in the armchairs of death’s waiting room in Nelson, Lancashire. I’d say this is perhaps one of the saddest places on the planet. I look at these folks and they are simply waiting to die. Each night they pray, not for survival, but for death.

 

#

 

Three hours outside of Andalusia and I start to get the jitters. I calculated fifty minutes to go. My refrigerator was running low on provisions; that is beer, so a detour to the supermarket was a necessary torture. Supermarkets are grotesque. Granted, they are convenient, but grotesque you cannot dispute. Fortunately I should be in and out. Out in the sunshine. Out on my grounds, slouched in a deckchair, with my companions Heineken and Superking pondering my privileged position. I am, I’m back to thinking, I’m back to thinking I’m a lucky man. For one, I get to experience the English summer, especially the evenings. Stepping through the corrugated fence I enter no-man’s land. Being out on the edge of town Andalusia is surrounded on most sides by fields. A mile or so through the wheat and the barley I come to the River Spoon. Sitting on the bank as the sun sets I see a Tawny Owl sweeping and circling and scanning, a nervous Dragonfly switching direction suddenly, Grayling sucking down innocent invertebrates. Yellow Flag Iris’ sweeten the air, the sky at once Cadmium Orange, Violet and Cerulean Blue. Theodore Lukits would do it justice. And I say it again, and again, and again, I say it again, to all of you, “I’m a lucky man.” The checkout girl had me paralysed. I’m a lucky man. I got one hundred and forty-four cans and beauty like I’ve never seen before. I smiled and took my change and I said, “Thank you.”

 

#

 

Here I am, as anticipated. Lit, not with light that has travelled ninety-three million miles, but with a tungsten filament star twenty yards above my head. What is present and correct though are my comrades, my brothers-in-hands as it were, alcohol and nicotine. Joining us al-fresco is CB. The night is still and I am hypnotised by the sidestream smoke that rises up from the burning tip of the cigarette, winding and slithering its way yonder to Blunderbore’s domain: Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a pathetic man. Be he ‘live or be he dead; does anybody care? Thought not, I’ll just stay in bed. I squeezed the trigger on the microphone. “Bernadette, tonight I’ll say goodbye. Tonight I got to accept that your spirit is free. A caged tiger ain’t but a zombie and I ain’t into the habit of zombiefying anything. As much as it saddens me I believe it’s time to leave you in peace. Peace, love and respect. Take care of yourself. Over and out.” I let go of the trigger. Static. Fumbling. “Thank Christ buddy! Maybe we’ll all get a little peace around here, night after goddamn night, ““Bernadette, where are you? Bernadette, come on home.”” Mary mother of God! Frankly buddy I ain’t surprised one iota that Bernadette ain’t fucking coming back! I feel like running away myself...” Channel thirty-eight was silent. “Switching to thirty-eight ain’t gonna help. I’m wise to your tactics buddy...” Thirty-nine. “Hey buddy, take your weeping ass to the moon...” Forty. “I ain’t Einstein, I don’t need no Einstein to figure out your methods, stupid. Listen, I got some advice, I know a place on Anderson Street where a man can explode his canon...” One. “You ungrateful pussy. I’m trying to ease your pain...” Two. “Hello Aldred.” I stopped breathing. Had I heard that? Or had I heard, “Motherfucker, if I eye-balls you I’m gonna kick your fucking ass to Kingdom come...”? Then I heard it again, “Aldred, speak to me.” 

 

#

 

The cock crows. Not that I have a cock. A cock that crows that is. What I got though is an old-fashioned alarm clock, one that strikes a hammer against a bell. I showered. I shaved. I presented myself to the best of my capabilities. Hair combed. Teeth brushed. I acknowledge that this routine element might be somewhat presumptuous. Shoes polished. Suit flattened. I do not own an iron but I own a board. Underneath my mattress, ‘cos of a slight issue with sciatica, I got a three foot by six foot piece of plywood. The cock crowed again. This time though from within the GPO 746 rotary dial. I picked up the phone. “Sorry, I ain’t open for business today.” I then waited. Whilst waiting I wondered what the weather might be offering up this afternoon. I wondered for approximately four seconds. My brain wasn’t interested in no small talk. It was only interested in one topic of conversation. But chatting about that topic caused me to sweat and sweating was the last thing I wanted to do having just spent a bar of soap eradicating the previous weeks’ worth. Instead I sang a song, “Tooling down the highway doing seventy-nine I’m a twin pipe papa and I’m doing fine...” My vocal chords continued to throw out the lyrics but my brain had chosen to occupy itself with something else. That all of a sudden both voice and thought collided was no act of fate, “I jump in my rod about a quarter to nine I gotta make a date with that chick of mine...” Bernadette was due at a quarter to fucking nine begorrah! I open at eight thirty but she said I’ll come about a quarter to fucking nine! Ain’t the brain a crafty character? He’s the boss. I have a little under fifty minutes to go but I retreated. I succumbed. I raised my hands in supplication and I shouted out, “You win! I’m all yours!” My freshly groomed hair became lank, my pampered complexion magenta, my pristine shirt stained. I ran my clammy hands under the cold tap to ease my suffering and this seemingly inconsequential act of defiance was indeed inconsequential. With five minutes to go I looked like a roasted pig.

 

#

The cocks barked. I knew it was coming but I spun around in alarm regardless. Levitating through the gates was my angel, Bernadette. The mayhem from the kennels simply faded away, ears pricked, spittle flew, fangs bared, jaws snapped, legs sprang and chains snatched but all in silence. Bernadette smiled at me. I don’t believe there is a prettier sight in the whole of history. Whether or not this was my brain rewarding my complete compliance previously I do not know but either way it was much appreciated, for this incredible entrance appeared to me in slow motion. My brain had bestowed upon me a moment so sublime, so heavenly that I found myself dropping to my knees in gratitude. I could be wrong, I could be right, but I think my eyes were about to give away my vulnerability, then, before I burst into tears, Bernadette mirrored my gesture. The two legless gunslingers faced each other twenty paces apart. I had the disadvantage; the low morning sunshine silhouetted my opponent and shone directly into my sight. I bared my teeth, not in snarl, but in overwhelming joy. My vision now clearer my eyes radiated happiness. Bernadette started to crawl towards me; her eyes locked on mine. The drummer boy in my chest was pounding those skins like a jackhammer. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. BANG! My heart rate must be one hundred and eighty beats per minute. The kimono dragon was ten yards nearer but still ten away. It too bore no menace. I could see she was as happy as Larry. Then again Larry couldn’t be happier than me. Okay then, Bernadette was as happy as Aldred. Oh-oh! What if she ain’t? What if she’s only sixty percent as happy? What? What you talking about Willis? I ain’t interested in doubt and negativity, shoo! Git! Five yards. My Lord! I hadn’t forgotten, but here I’m reminded, what stupendous eyes, emeralds the size of the Lesotho Promise. Her red hair back-lit confirms her halo. Then it happened, finally, face-to-face. Hallelujah! From afar it looks a frozen frame. Both motionless/shaking/nervous/excited/deaf/mute. But I plucked up the courage. I tentatively lifted my hand to caress her cool skin and she moved into it, eyes closed. I leant forward. My lips hesitated, they knew the consequences, they knew that this moment was God granting his creation bliss; they were savouring this for eternity. I kissed Bernadette.

 

#

 

And so began the courtship, a vessel that I’m naïve at navigating. Attendance of an all-boys’ school was the cause of my inability to interact with girls. I believe I was nineteen before I had what could be considered a conversation with a girl; the tally has since quadrupled. Bernadette got class and intelligence so I began talking about what I know, the automobile. Yet despite walking and talking and dilly-dallying through the yard I got to thinking about those four occasions. I certainly recollect the first; it was to do with negotiating a price. The second was to do with crabs; I found the nurse to be very informative. The third involved short back and sides and the fourth a trip to the trichologist; I was prescribed an insecticide. Standing back I noticed a recurring pattern developing so I backed off further, I retreated from the ladies for quite a few years, hence the miniscule amounts of tete-a-tete with womenfolk. Okay, I hold my hands up. The small figure mentioned is of course a slight underestimation but believe me now, it ain’t far from the truth. “Is it true?” asked Bernadette. “Indeed it is. They live over by that mountain of tyres. Been coming back here for five years. I’d like to tell you Bernadette that I’m as loyal as a fox.” She smiled and kissed my cheek. I’m thinking twice about thinking about this again but here goes; I nearly pissed my pants! Not ‘cos of laughter or fear but ‘cos every goddamn muscle and sinew in my entire body succumbed; it was like some dude cut the strings. My head lolled, my arms dropped, my knees buckled and I collapsed. Actually I didn’t collapse. Fortunately Bernadette took hold of my hands and steadied me. This time she kissed my lips. This time I did collapse.

 

#

 

The scene was set; the scene was al-fresco. Bunting and Chinese lanterns created a magical vibe. The decorative tablecloth decorated the candle-lit table, which awaited its meal. “Aldred Manson, I want to make certain that you know that this situation isn’t one-sided. I too am as happy as you.” “You are?” “Are too. I see what it is, not what it isn’t. It isn’t hollow. It isn’t brittle. You shine the light Aldred; you shine the light. You heal my fractures. I know it’s been but hours but my bones is healing. And as far as I can see...” Looking about the yard. Then nodding at me. “It’s down to you. You’re doing that, doing that with the person you are. “I am?” “Yup.” She lifted her glass. Thank you Aldred. I says, “Thank you Bernadette.” She says, “No, thank you.” I says, “My pleasure, thank you...” Thankfully our meal arrived. Pizza Boy slided them pizzas right out of the box onto the plates. I thanked Pizza Boy. Then slid him a tenner accompanied by a wink. Pizza Boy appeared uncertain what had just happened. “Ain’t it on the account?” “It is; that’s for you.” “For me?” “Yup.” “Really?” I smiled at Pizza Boy. “Err... thanks.” “Don’t thank me. Thank Bernadette.” “Thank you Bernadette.” “No, no, no, thank Aldred.” Pizza Boy backed his way back onto his moped and fled the scene. I’d say he flew out them gates but his moped was screeching doing fifteen. I thanked the Lord for what we were about to receive. Amen. Bernadette lifted a glass once more and I lifted mine. Right there and then I knew she would do for me what I would do for her. 

 

#

 

Eventually I was told the reasons why. I did not coerce nor did I question. But at the conclusion I empathised. In fact I was distraught. I should have been consoling Bernadette but I was inconsolable myself. I know that sadness and heartache abound in our world, most of it caused by man, but when nature is the culprit the combustible rage has no fixed target, no place to explode upon, leaving two unjust sentences to suffer. Hard to believe I know but Bernadette ain’t been married. It’s hard to explain why the stars stay put in the universe yet harder still to explain why a woman cannot conceive. Rejected by nature and rejected by love. Bernadette adopted, adopted twins, conjoined twins. By their eighth birthday it was deemed vital to attempt separation. The boys – Matthew and Mark - shared the heart. Bernadette knew both would not survive but both didn’t survive. The heart could not be split. It could not support the two but neither could it cope alone. Although the procedure physically set them apart Bernadette decided that the boys be buried as one. The anniversary of this dark and depressing date was the day my dear Bernadette departed. 

 

#

 

Burning bright the flames illuminated the night. Bernadette and I sat round the fire. I had unchained the mutts who were now sleeping at the heat, dog-tired from doing nothing. One mutt was dreaming. Was I? In bed, but not asleep, I had often dreamed of such a moment. Lying together, my loved one and I, we listened to the haunting, chilling cries of the Andalusian foxes. Through the dirty window we peered as ma and pa prepared for gathering and killing. “Do you know how many pups they got?” “Somewhere between two and four I’d say.” “They make a beautiful couple.” I thought so do we Bernadette, so do we. Bernadette hugged me tight. Breakfast in bed. She was a gorgeous sight, sleepy and puffed-up. It was only tea and toast but a better meal I’ve never had. I’m a lucky man. 

 

#

 

Bernadette took the Audi to go get some things. Things: an object that I need not, cannot, or do not wish to give a specific name to. But I say why? Not that I wish to keep something back it’s simply me being bone-idle. Okay, Bernadette gone to get a change of clothes and a toothbrush. That thing says something don’t you think? Things is also often used to illustrate a man’s predicament. For instance, I am happy so one thing I feel like doing is tap-dancing. Not that I tap particularly well but as an expression of my feelings it does a damn fine job. If I was to start hootering and a hollering at the same time then this thing would accentuate those feelings further. A person or thing such as Mole Digger could walk onto my plot and know instantly that I am a joyous man. “You look like a joyous man Aldred, what’s taken place?” At which point I could, whilst still tapping, tell him that I have finally found something real. No more fantasising for me. What I got now is REAL, real pretty to boot... But I’s got to be a little sensitive at this juncture. Mole Digger’s secret finally deserved some respect. I hadn’t known but Mole Digger was a polygamist; he shared his wife with four other men. Despite being the first, the one and only, he was now the last in line. By the time Mrs. Mole Digger’s attentions turned to him she was beat. She’d also discovered the delights of having Mole Digger watch her make love to one of the other husbands; apparently she found this quite a turn-on. Despite loving his wife dearly he decided to move out. He said that if he stayed he’d kill her. I suspects this is what they call hyperbole; I mean Mole Digger couldn’t kill an ant.

 

#

 

The shrill ringing tone of the old GPO 746 rotary dial could not upset my rhythm. Unstoppable was I. My syncopated movements were hypnotic. I eased my way on over to the phone still hootering and a hollering. Yeehaw! I picked up the receiver and I hootered and hollered down the line, “Andalusian Automobiles, how may I help you?” “This is Sergeant Smith we got us two wrecked vehicles situated on the old Staining back road, head-on collision, both vehicles written-off. Three fatalities. The vehicles need to be shifted.” Despite the macabre consequences I was still tapping away like billy-o. Some twenty percent of my stock comes from such horrific incidents and I have learned over the years to pay my respects by respectfully treating the cars back on my plot. “What type of vehicles Sergeant Smith?” “An ‘03 Saxo and an ‘87 Audi 4000.” So, although my feet were still shim-shamming, two-stepping and flea-hopping the thing on my face that adds to accentuate the illustration of my inner emotions, that is, my expression, changed. The beaming smile slowly slid away in slow motion. Other facial muscles began twitching. The thing being communicated was becoming confused and chaotic. Then, unpredictably, tears strolled down my cheeks. All the while, ladies and gentlemen, I kept dancing.

 

#

 

So here I am. Floating, floating above the fields. Where precisely I don’t rightly knows. My vision seems a little blurry, up in the clouds I appear to be. But I begs your pardon. What I said there ain’t strictly true, no sir. For I knows exactly where I am. Judging by the sun’s situation my bearings reckon I’m just about hovering above fifty-three degrees forty-eight minutes and fifty-two point nine six seconds north of the equator and two degrees fifty-eight minutes and fifty-three point seven two seconds west of the Prime Meridian, that is, to you and me, the old Staining back road. But I’m bullshitting about those bearings, bullshitting not about their accuracy angels and demons, for they do position me correctly, how I know I don’t know, but I knows it’s the old Staining back road ‘cos down below, through the haze, I vaguely sees the aftermath of a head-on collision between an ’03 Saxo and an ’87 Audi 4000. My visibility improved. From this lower altitude, I now clearly sees, the smoke and the steam having dispersed, a teenage corpse, bloodied and mutilated lying lifeless on the concertinaed bonnet of the Saxo. I felt no pity for that motherfucker, no pity at all. What I did feel though was the jitters. The thought of Bernadette’s body would normally be a jubilant sight. But the jitters got me all jumpy. I expect, back home, that my body is no longer jigging and jiving, having collapsed from exhaustion; a man can only tippety-tap for so long. But here, my mind was jibbering and jelly-like. Focussed yet petrified. I descended with trepidation. My omnipotent eye took me down, down to eye-level. I did not need to peer through the window as there was no window to peer through; shattered the instant the cars collided. Nevertheless I peered, frightened at what I’d find. And then... And then I saw my Bernadette. Eyes open but seeing nothing. She was pinned to her seat. The engine had been pushed back forcing the steering wheel and column into Bernadette’s chest. An ’87 Audi 4000 don’t have no air bags. Bernadette’s smashed rib cage had ripped and punctured her lungs. I believe she drowned on her own blood.  

 

#

 

Imagine Giant Haystacks daintily grasping pawn betwixt middle finger, forefinger and thumb and gracefully sliding it up to e4. A colossus has the capability to be dainty. Sat in the cabin of my crane I gingerly eased the fingers of the hydraulic grab around the roof of the Audi and plucked it from the back of my wagon and placed it down akin to a feather falling from the heavens. Amen. But what were praying upon my mind were my intentions, I intended to do this but should I do that? What is the correct ceremonial procedure? I absolutely refuse to allow this corpse to be ravaged by carrion. That’s why I’m thinking about cremation. Where the fuck has my luck gone? Contentment to rapture to desolation at the speed of light; light-headed was I. Staring at the wreckage made me thirsty, not for water nor for knowledge. No, I had a thirst for the good life. Unfortunately I was dehydrating. How to rehydrate? Time to ponder; I ignited a cigarette. Flip. Zip. Tsssss. “My red corpsuckles are in mass confusion...” I smiles and shakes my head disbelievingly. Aldred Manson’s existence seems to be entwined within that song. My pondering concluded; like the mortician I decided to prepare the deceased for final viewing. Who’s viewing in particular it don’t matter; it just seems the right thing to do. I stripped the other Audi of all its good parts and transferred them over to Bernadette’s car, including replacing the broken windows. There weren’t much I could do with the caved-in front; cosmetically I had done what I could do. Night fell. Beer in hand I lit my ceremonial smoke. The foxes sang a lament on my behalf. I appreciated that. I ground the spent butt into the dirt and stood. Inside and behind the wheel was a tight fit. Preparation is paramount at this juncture. Filling the tank with the correct stimuli, as previously repeated, can help foster a fulfilling fantasy. I closed my eyes. Did I close them for one minute or one hour? I don’t know. But when I finally lifted the lids I’d jumped back in fucking time. The Panzerfunkwagen SDKFZ 261 was bouncing across no man’s land. I myself was like a pinball inside this metal tank. Arms and legs akimbo I managed to twist my head to see who my commandant would be... Sat beside me was The Desert Fox! “Schneller! Schneller! Fahren wie Teufel hat einen feurigscharf-Poker in Ihrem stinkenden Arsch gesteckt.” Just in case you didn’t quite figure that out he said, “Faster! Faster! Drive like the Devil has put a fiery hot poker in your stinking ass.”

 

#

 

This morning the sun rose majestically. The dawn of a new day once again symbolises fresh hope for all those ready to receive. In the lapel of my jacket I placed a China pink, itself symbolic of my aching heart. I’d buffed up pretty well considering. Well-to-do I looked. “Whose head you put a gun to?” Mole Digger would have mocked if Mole Digger had’ve been present. My best man would have straightened my tie, decorated with the Bristol insignia, the 412 is sublime, but I straightened it myself. Outside I slid the flexible plastic piping over the exhaust. Clunking the door shut I checked the duct tape sealing the window. Without too much procrastination – for my tank is full – I turned over the ignition. The 4000 grumbled. To my left the carbon monoxide began spilling into the cockpit. I took a deep breath. Despite the glorious morning a mist had begun to creep over the yard. I inhaled proudly once more. The sun started to set. The mist thickened.  Nightfall fell. WHOOSH! I was thundering through a forest, the car was flying down a dirt track. Crowds lined the embankments. This time though I played it cool. I reached into my breast pocket, a little clumsily I’ll admit, and pulled out a soft pack of Lucky Strikes and tapped up a cigarette, popping it between my lips. The fire extinguisher threw out a golden shape and via the cigarette I sucked hard on the flame. Casually I exhaled. I’d have blown smoke-rings if I could, then, Fonz-like I turned to face my passenger. The co-pilot was wearing a helmet. Muffled navigational instructions were accompanied by wild gesticulations for me to watch the road. BOOM! The car smashed into a dip and we bounced, once, twice, three times. I grappled with the wheel. I turned to face my co-pilot again. The visor flipped back... “YEEHAW!” I’m not sure how many minutes or hours later it was when Mole Digger clambered over the barbed wire but the Audi was still ticking over. Opening the driver’s side door he looked horrified. I hopes I gets the chance to apologise to him. I hopes we’ll meet again. WHOOSH! KA-THUD! I smashed the car into a tree. Outside we inspected the damage. Bernadette took off her helmet. A big smile resonated upon her face. I mirrored her pleasure. She leant forward and tenderly kissed me on the lips then stepped back and bowed elegantly. Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, good listeners you all, as an expression of her feelings my Bernadette began to tap-dance. TAP-DANCE! Agog was I. I too stood. I bowed, not-so-elegantly and my friends, my neighbours, I followed in beautiful Bernadette’s fumbling footsteps.

 

#

 

Next thing I know I’m being given mouth-to-mouth by Mole Digger. The oil on his hands and fingers was smeared all over my pale puss. My vision was murky but I had a clarity of thought quite unprecedented. One hears stories about those close to snuffing it becoming translucent in mind, body and spirit and I must say that despite not wanting to live I’m suddenly aware that rash decisions can be made under such dark clouds. That spending a day or two weighing up the good and the bad might tactically be a clever thing to do. For I can attempt to kill myself any day of the week, although Sundays would give me the best odds as my St. John’s Ambulance volunteer here would be volunteering elsewhere. But why do I need time to re-think? Surely I had made the right decision this morning and come next Sunday I’ll make the same one again. Would Andy, if given the breath of life once more, opt to pop the pills for as long as it shall take? I don’t know. Maybe that sign in that graveyard might have read something else. Mole Digger handed me a cup of tea. The inside of the caravan felt alien to me; where is my home now? “Now I’m quite happy Aldred to let you go but I has to know the reasons why. It’s a man’s instincts to rescue a friend who’s in deep shit. So I apologise if the reasons you give me are sound. But until I hear them you ain’t going but no place without my permission.” I did, I appreciated Mole Digger’s concern. But try as I did, I couldn’t speak the reasons why. A man sometimes keeps what’s deep inside deep inside. Some kind of electric fence protected the inner sanctum, a jolt of the jitters for even stepping foot close to the perimeter. I suppose it’s this in-built facility that allows one man to perform vivisection on another. Myself I’d be more than happy to have a power cut, which was my intentions. That’s it! Just explain that to my friend. Ain’t that enough of a reason why? I sipped the hot brew. “This is a fine cup of tea Mole Digger.”

 

#

 

I’m sat in the North Yorkshire Moors. I got fed up with the beach at Blackpool. Beneath me is a chair and beneath that is a carpet, a design that’s called AP54017 Hospitality. I’ve reached eighty-eight years old. These old folks’ homes still retain that unpleasant predictability known as death. Where the walls should be I can see the Ribblehead viaduct. Now and again a few of my non compos mentis inmates decide they’ve had enough and set off towards the remote landscape only to bump into the wall. Like a tortoise perplexed by a mirror, they persist in trying to move forward until a nurse repositions them, gently guiding their shoulders in the direction of the chair. I’m not sure if what’s on the walls is holographic or jiggery-pokery but it sure is convincing. Therapeutic theory has progressed a great deal don’t you know… Sunday came and went. Now I’m here. Sane. Dementia ignored me. I look upon with envy those who are lost to lunacy. I too wish to escape, to go on the run. With age my eidetic powers withered away. I have long forgotten what Bernadette looked like. I was never able to share her company again without doing what needed doing. I tried painting portraits from memory but I suspects they ain’t nothing like that beauty that blinded me. Did I make the right decision, each Sunday and every Sunday since? God knows! It ain’t ‘cos it’s the day of resurrection that’s for sure. I know plenty of folks that have disembarked on the seventh (or is that first?) day of the week. No, my listener, my safe passage was blocked by an incredibly inconvenient force, a motherfucker called persistence. That persistence was more interested in persisting in life than in death has, as you can imagine, irked me a little; that I persisted one way and not the other brought happiness to no one neither, not an iota nowhere... No, I apologise, I am wrong about that. To my right sits a fella called Mole Digger. He is oozing and slobbering and twitching but upon his face is a gaze that informs me, that somewhere, my friend and I, that’s right, my friend and I share a beer and a smoke and admire the stupendous contours of Sophia Loren.