Another one! Am I going mad........:
‘How did your brain end up in the allotments?’ Annie, his sister, sighs.
‘You wouldn’t believe me,’ says Sam. The doctor sucked it through Sam’s ear during a syringe procedure and planted it in his plot. Sam had seen the doctor at the allotments, digging up carrots and tending to cabbages.
‘Are you taking your medication?’ she demands to know.
‘No.’ He never lies.
‘You need those anti-psychotics to keep you well, stop the delusions’ she says with a strain in her voice. ‘Start taking them again, today.’
A silence hangs on the airwaves between them.
‘Okay?’ she says.
‘I will check back in with you later.’
Annie lives in London, so she can only call him, for which he is glad, as he has no desire to tidy his flat. What does she know anyway? The anti-psychotics are the lie. He is sure about his reality.
He ends the call and sits looking at the phone with an eerie feeling creeping through him.
His brain is giving life to flowers and vegetables. The organ is useless. Roots thread through where synapses should fire allowing neurons, those intelligent cells, to pass knowledge. Something he never possessed. He’s thick, empty, a non entity, sucking up nutrients like any other plant. But without giving anything back. Did he offer pollen or sustenance for an array of life? No. Expel oxygen back into the atmosphere? No. Possess beauty to lift a heart? No. Rise and fall and rise to the ebb and flow of the seasons, this life?
So the doctor tried to lay him to rest. Sam considers it a fitting tribute to his lack of intelligence.
So why isn’t he at rest? Sadness ticks in a tedious stream for him. If he existed he would say it grips his heart.
He needs to lay himself to rest. Burying his body with his brain should bring him peace.
He has a couple of hundred Euro saved in the Credit Union. He’ll need to find his savings book. His bedsit comprises a small bedroom /living room in one and a bathroom with a shower, toilet and sink. Sitting on the edge of his bed, he glances around. His eyes pause on the photos on the wall. Once, at a birthday party for his nine year old niece he came dressed as Darth Vader., but she saw his eyes, ‘Ha, I’m not scared. It’s you, Uncle Sam.’
‘Ah, but who is Uncle Sam?’
‘The kindest uncle in the world – and the funnest. No stupid costume will change him.’
When he lost his job as a technical support agent for a software company he refused to sign on for benefits – the staff won’t see him in any case. He’s not sure the Credit Union staff will see him either, he’ll have his book, but they’ll look right through him. He lost Jenny shortly before he lost his job. She said she was tired of the hours he worked. His hours were long, the pay poor; the management said he was too soft for promotion. She worked as a nurse, shifts too, but he worked more shifts, for her house, her children to come, for all that was good in her, because he thought it the right thing to do. She encouraged him in his ‘softness’, his biggest cheerleader when he spoke up for others. Ultimately, she was right: the hours put distance between them.
He rises from the bed, ruffles through clothes strewn like heaps of blown leaves across every surface. Throwing shirts and jeans that he hasn’t worn in months in the air to land on more shirts and jeans that he hasn’t worn in months, he searches for the savings book. He will need a shovel. Needing a wee, he goes through to the toilet. A film of dust becoming scum lines every surface. Hardly a dribble of urine hits the toilet bowl. Returning to the bedroom/living room, he checks the counter. A half loaf of green bread and rancid butter is all he finds. He opens the fridge – there is nothing in it. He checks the top of the fridge and finds the book.
At the Credit Union he stands a while gazing in the door. All those people existing, putting money aside for the house, the holiday, the children, or the car. Or they take out loans for everyday existence, a Christening, a Communion, a wedding or a funeral. He walks through the door, his feet too heavy to lift, forcing him to shuffle.
‘Look at the raggedy old man,’ calls out a child to his older sister. ‘Shhhh,’ rasps their mother, a young woman about the same age as Jenny but with blond hair that curls under her ears. Jenny is plump in any case and she would never glare at him the way that mother glares at her child, her eyes soft like a baby’s and as blue.
So he hears the words, but he doesn’t know who they talk about. He is neither young nor old, for he doesn’t exist. . He approaches the counter, careful with his steps and clutching his savings book in his ghostly hand, not at all sure the assistant behind the counter will see him and hand him his money.
The woman behind the counter examines the book and slaps the money on the counter without looking at him, confirming his non existence. He turns, exits to the street and walks carefully towards the hardware shop two streets away in a square of shops. The man behind the counter takes his money, without a word, and lets him take the shovel.
With the shovel over his shoulder, he plods back to the main street and finds the dirt road winding down towards the allotments beside the river.
At the allotments, he quickly locates the doctor’s plot; he has watched the doctor many times. The doctor smiles and whistles and blows his brown floppy hair out of his eyes, as he tends to his vegetative brain.
The allotments are quiet. A woman is bent over some shrub in a corner plot. There is nobody else about.
He digs into the centre of the plot. The brain should be here. He digs down a foot, feeling dizzy with exertion, following the roots. The roots peter out and there is no sign of his brain. He digs around the centre of the plot. He digs and he digs. There is nowhere left to dig. He’s wheezing, there’s a fluid on his skin.
Why the film of fluid, he shouldn’t sweat? He’s a much bigger man than the doctor, a foot taller and thickset as opposed to thin. Why is there no brain? Sitting himself down on a heap of earth, he sinks into it, lies back and looks at the sky. Logic, what would the doctor’s logic be? What would the doctor have done with the brain? A silver pin crosses the sky leaving a ghostly trail across the gas-blue. He hears its distant thrum. An aeroplane. Of course, the doctor has sent the brain for analysis – to see how a brain becomes so corrupted.
Rising, a cramp in his arms, he drags his feet out of the allotments to the dirt road back to the main street. He must find the doctor. Thankfully the doctor’s practice is situated on the main street, one side of the street a row of renovated cottages from the previous century used for various trades, split by a modern two-storey supermarket and the Square beside it. The other side of the street is a hotchpotch of buildings, small clothes shops, hairdressers, gambling shops, pubs and apartments. He enters the practice and hears the receptionist on the phone explain that Dr. Cronin is at lunch. It strikes him as fortunate that he overhears her, for she may not hear him if he asks.
He leaves the surgery and treks towards the Square. A few lunching establishments to choose from there, he knows the doctor will be in one of them. He takes the shortcut and turns into an alley. A mewling cry draws his attention to a bin set against the wall. He looks around the bin and finds a cat, shivering and shrinking into the wall. A gash splits her side, the fur about it caked in dark dry blood. He lifts the cat, despite her hissing and presses her against his chest, smoothing the fur on her head. The alley opens onto the Square and he continues towards the lunching establishments in pursuit of the doctor. A poster on a lamppost catches his attention. He swings around. The same poster is on every second lamppost and the two street bins. In a large picture on the poster a healthy cat in a young girl’s arms looks right at him and the caption underneath says, ‘Lost Cat. Sadie. Much loved. If found please contact me at 087928745 or bring to No.2 Station Road.’ The girl in the picture is about the same age as his niece. His phone has no credit and he left it at the flat in any case. Station Road becomes the new destination.
Weary, his feet as heavy as cannon balls, he rings the bell at no.2 Station Road, a cottage painted blue with a white door and white window frames and waits. A woman with tight curly black hair answers.
‘Sadie,’ she exclaims in a distant accent. He has no idea where she is from, a mild curiosity takes him, but he says nothing.
‘Thank Jesus – oh my, what happened. Poor Sadie, how can people be so cruel?’
It does look like a knife cut. He has no answer and begins to walk away.
‘Wait, wait – thank you. I want to thank you. For your kindness, kind man, come back.’
He doesn’t exist. No need for thanks.