‘After the meeting had finished the journey to the bar had been a luxurious amble. At least it so appeared in his intoxicated state. He hadn’t felt the approach of Autumn or the pitiful reproachful looks from passers-by. To him they were looks of admiration and respect. As they pulled their jackets tight around them against the October chill so he thrust his bare-chest up and out and basked in his drunken sunshine. He didn’t feel the semen on his neck, couldn’t smell the shame in his mouth. His walk along the avenue was a parade of pride—’ At this point the doctor stopped reading, took her glasses off and massaged the bridge of her nose.
She looked at the wife of the man she had recently interviewed, admitted and, finding to be catatonic, sectioned for his own safety and for those around him. His wife watched the doctor.
‘Did he write this?’ she said finally
The doctor returned her quizzical gaze and replied, ‘When we found him we found this manuscript rolled up and tucked into the back of his trousers. It could be a reproduction of something he’s read, the start of a short-story or a novel or perhaps even a journal.’
The wife of the catatonic man turned her gaze to the nurses passing by outside the office. She looked into the stark fluorescent lighting and thought that the last time she had these thoughts she had been laying next to her husband staring into the sun and she compared the difference in the lights. Empowered by the loving memory of that light she spoke, ‘Is there more?’ she said softly, looking now at the linoleum floor.
The doctor watched her watching the floor. She re-opened the book, ran her hands over the smooth pages and continued;
‘Inside the bar they had welcomed him despite his lecherous breath and rolling eyes. He sat in the same booth every time. Next to a wall plastered from floor to ceiling in photos of pop-culture icons. He liked to drink with Humphrey Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor. The beer. Tall glass, cold, enwrapped in condensation. He took the glass at the rim and ran his grip down the length of it, slowly, softly and watched the bubbles rising in anticipation to meet his lips, he stopped at the base, expecting an eruption. He had learned to touch this way from his best-friend.’
The wife tried to read the doctor’s face as she read that last sentence and, feeling her watching her, the doctor looked up.
‘Who’s his best friend?’ the doctor asked.
‘He’s a lawyer.’
The two women cursed the silence between them, neither of them wanting to be the first to speak.
The doctor broke, ‘This may be difficult to accept or comprehend at the moment but there is a strong possibility that your husband is homosexual and his inability to accept this has provoked a hostile reaction within himself. Firstly, the alcoholism and now the condition the paramedics found him in last night.’
The wife looked back at the fluorescent light noting how the artificiality was an appropriate response to what she knew the doctor would say next.
Looking directly but softly at the woman in front of her the doctor closed the book in her lap and began to recite the final words she had read and re-read throughout the night since the admission of the enigmatic man.
‘To my darling wife. Forgive me.’
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Ryan Green is an English teacher from London who lives in Istanbul. He studied Creative Writing at University and really enjoys writing flash fiction.
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