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BETTER LATE THAN NEVER Some things are better left unsaid… I think That hour between 9 am and 10 am. That hour of agonising consciousness. Wishing for the morphine, is no good… they won’t let her go that easily. She’s a battler! They say. “I won’t go without a fight,” comes as a weak…
|BETTER LATE THAN NEVER|
Some things are better left unsaid… I think
That hour between 9 am and 10 am. That hour of agonising consciousness. Wishing for the morphine, is no good… they won’t let her go that easily. She’s a battler! They say. “I won’t go without a fight,” comes as a weak whispered promise. She says it aloud as much to prove to herself that she is still alive, as it is to show that she’s still brave… still courageous… still ‘of this earth’. This was the hour,this hour… 9 a.m. to 10 am I won’t die until he phones. I won’t die until the damned phone rings. I won’t die until I hear his wretched voice on the phone. David had emailed him first. ‘Hi Dad, Vera (never called her mum these days)has about one month they say. Here’s her phone number. She said please call. It’s cool. Love, Dave. It was a mistake to call right then. Maybe not a mistake. Maybe just fateful. Maybe a cosmic street pole. Maybe he was driving too fast down the highway of life and…well you never know. Whether Jackie had turned into a hard cold bitch, or whether her reaction was reserved purely for the sound of his voice he could not know. That conversation was short and bitter. Vera was asleep. Jackie was not going to wake her. It’s extraordinary how much bile can be excreted in just one minute and 32 seconds, for that’s exactly how long the telephone call lasted. Danny should never have tried to engage Jackie in friendly conversation. He should never have assumed that after 12 years, Vera would have let the truth be known. After all, in the end, in the final analysis it was only down to Danny and Vera. And David, because David had been the one Vera used. It was messy, bitter, disgusting, dirty and cold. Cold, calculating, ruthless. David knew the truth, Danny knew the truth, Vera knew the truth. Vera though, had perpetuated the falsehood. Even embellished it, refined it, spat-and-polished it until it glowed with the awful brightness of truth. Through the years, as it is wont to do, the falsehood blossomed into a stinking weed,deeply rooted in a rich soil formed with a careful mix of truth, half truth, downright lies, and popular fiction. Why he had ever imagined Jackie would even be civil to him, given their history, was laughable. After all, Danny had been no knight shining armour any more than Vera had been Snow White. Over a 25-year marriage Jackie had been just another one night stand. One of less than 10, and more than six. The actual numbers weren’t important. Vera had at least matched those figures. Danny hadn’t counted. Whatever… “Tell her I love her… always have… always will. Tell her when she wakes up Jackie.” “I don’t even think you enter her thoughts you fuck up! You’re fucked up and you are a fuck up… you should have thought of that at the time …” For a full two seconds Danny thought he could explain. “One day the truth…” then he knew that there was no point. Anyway, why did it bother him so much that he wanted all of them to know. Every last one of those ex-friends, and ex acquaintances who had followed the money and exempted themselves of any need to know the truth… and even if they did, they wouldn’t care. “Oh fuck off Jackie!” One minute and 32 seconds. He hit the end button, and threw the handset on the bed. It was 3:17 PM, just three minutes later. He fired off a sad and sorry email to his boy. Waking at 8am, Danny at least cast away the demons of the night. Visitations that began at the moment Dear Morpheous penetrated, and dispersed like the cowards they were, as soon as the shroud of sleep departed. In their place an empty, nauseating hole in his stomach. Depression, where dread had so recently gnawed. 9am. Danny’s hand hovered over the talk button. 9.10am. 9.18am.9.29am.9.31am… in the final half hour he stroked the talk button too often to count the time between. Prowling. Trying to find things to do. Things he could do with one hand and not have to set down the handset. David emailed. “Dad. I spoke to Jackie. Mum wants you to call. It’s cool. Love, Dave.” That was the second time David had said LOVE, Dave. Not something he was brought up with. Normally he would write…’catch you later’. That had been his standard since… since as long as Danny could remember. For all these years he had thought he had forgiven her and moved on. Now, all Danny knew for certain was that he loved her to……Death? How horrible it is to realise that one can only forgive in the rational mind? Damn it! No, he had never forgiven her in his heart and soul. How could I do that! Rationalise? Pretend? Even as that thought slammed his synapses, a second one followed. Angel and Devil discussing humanity! But which one was which? The Devil wears a Kind Demeanor. Because what she did was unjust! She was ruthless and she wanted it ended. You can’t forgive injustice until the injustice is undone! Can you? CAN you? Danny had thought he could. Was refusing to call again, her punishment, before the cancer and the morphine chewed away her body and mind? If so it felt more like self flagellation. Just who was being punished here anyway… if punishment was what it was. Vera battled her way through the Morphine, stretching. She had recently developed a little trick, one that was getting harder to perform, because the tiny hole of consciousness had begun to close so quickly now. She no longer denied the agony of the parasite inside her. Instead she embraced the pain, held on to it like a long, long, rope. One she could climb. Hooking her right foot around it just the way she had been taught back in those long ago athletic days. Holding herself steady with both feet when her arms got tired. All that way ago she could shin up a rope like a monkey. Like a monkey on one of those ages ago plastic toys she got as a child, for Christmas. Now she embraced the pain. Went into it. Became it. And she climbed, and she climbed and she climbed. An ironic thought spun through her still drugged mind and she thought an ironic grin. Damn you Ralph! You make it so hard to get to heaven! Ever heard of a ladder? At exactly 9am Vera’s eyes flickered open. She was drained, wrung out and wrecked. But I’m here! Ring phone ring! She would be too weak to hold the handset. Jackie would have to do it for her. Then she would have to find a voice somewhere. How exhausting it’s going to be just to talk now! Help me Ralph. Please let the phone ring. Tell that bastard to get on the phone. Please…pretty pretty please… I only need to say two words! Danny flipped open the clam shell of his notebook and hit the start button, opening up his DragonNaturally Speaking, he watched the little happy red dragon load his user files. He used the microphone to write when he needed it to be raw and lacerating. While he waited for the files to load he wondered how many novelists like him used voice dictation these days. How could Dean Koontz and Stephen King turn out work so prodigiously without it? Or maybe they could. The spoken word, so different from the stuff that drips from the fingertips. How different is the perception process, and can the reader…ah the Constant Reader, tell? Over years Danny had mastered what came best from the lip and what came best from the fingers, and so he mixed a little of this with a little of that, and then edited with cut, copy and paste. Shifting sentences and paragraphs and single words up, down, and all around. The final cut being blended as a painter would work on a canvas. “Open Text Document” He ordered. “Click New Story. Click Open.” And then the work in progress appeared on the screen. For ten minutes Danny neither spoke nor typed. He edited. Slowly, meticulously, from the beginning to the part sentence at which he had stopped last night. Another little artifice he had made for himself. Always end the days work with a sentence only part written. After all, it might not be the same sentence he had intended last night or the night before, or whenever he had last worked that piece. That part sentence might even change the whole work…. or not. “What happens,
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