Doors of Tunis

An hour ago, this morning, last week, I felt safe. Crossing the park on Halloween, the leaves sizzling under the sharp winter sun, I thought: There’s someone thinking of me; fifty miles away, someone thought of me sometimes. Nick would be finishing his visits, climbing back inside the car, locking the door, and lighting one of the cigarettes that he forbade his patients. It was during this time that, once, a half-dressed woman banged on the window, screaming that her baby wouldn’t wake up. She’d given him methadone to make him go to sleep. Alexander, the child was called. Poor Little Alex.

There were other stories, but I didn’t hear them often. Just working, he’d say, when I asked what he’d been up to. Birth, disease and death – the usual. His silence was terrible sometimes. But I told myself not to be scared by the sudden absence in his eyes or by his voice, cold and remote at the dead end of the line – because he always came back to himself in the end. Back to me. For a moment, in All Saints Park, the world kept still, balanced by that certainty.

I tell him: ‘You need someone fat and jolly. Someone to jolly you along.’ I say this because I’m thin, because whatever else is lacking at least I’m slim and waspish.

‘Someone to mother me?’ he says, searching for a parking spot. ‘And what about you, what do you need?’

I need you.

It’s just after six. I don’t start teaching till half past. Time’s slowed down since he turned up, slowed down as it does in those attenuated moments when you know there’s going to be an accident.

When he turned up, I said: ‘Nick! What are you doing here? You forgot, it’s my Cornerhouse class on Tuesday nights. Hey Nick, I’ve got Orphée, we can watch it on Friday after Coronation Street…’

He said: ‘I’ve got something to tell you. I met someone.’

Not someone else, but someone. I felt a coldness bite between my ribs. ‘Well, not met exactly – I met her a couple of years ago – but she was at the garage. I’d just run out of matches and Abdul’s was shut…’

‘What do you mean? I don’t understand. What’re you talking about?’ Putting the kettle on. Getting milk out the fridge. This afternoon, round about five, as the Betterware catalogue slipped through the letterbox, and the ice cream van came round, playing Anchors Aweigh. ‘What garage?’

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5



One Response to “Doors of Tunis”

  1. October 31, 2008 at 2:05 pm, rob said:

    good read!
    im just like nick – mayb all blokes r!


Leave a Reply




Via email: