SA4QE 2013 - Emmae - Argyll, United Kingdom

There’s a doctor who wants to look into my eyes today, 4 Feb 2013.  Strange, there was a doctor who wanted to hold my hands this very day in 2004.  Different town, different stones and oceans, but a familiar blend of coincidence and palimpsest.  Man of the day, Hoban.  Destination, Oban.  Me, ‘lorn and loan and oansome’ at the Lorn and Islands Hospital.  Nothing dramatic but it’s the best I can do in this gale, bag replete with the reqwyrt materials.  Décor is dawn blue, highland water springs from the wall and piped music softly plays golden oldies… Leader of The Pack…  Can’t help thinking about death in these places no matter how fresh and light, but everyone here is older than me, I swear.  Twenty minutes of Kleinzeit, then I’m summoned by Dr. Z-something-old-testament.  Slight and dark, he never smiles as he makes notes and pumps gallons of white light into my streaming eyes, hands me tissues and tells me the bad news.  I’d forgotten Dr. Z. might want to see the birthmark on my retina – by the time my dilated pupils and I stagger back to the waiting room, there are looks of, “What is she on!”  Now, how will I see to complete my 4quation?  How drive to the supermarket?  I can only do what people do here, wait.  The distortions will pass; find a corner, pretend to read, and presently the place is empty; lunchtime.  I spread everything out on the table and take the black pen to the A4 yellow, blinking.  Big block caps.  Fold it, name it, links and hints, plant it in a rack of NHS booklets on Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators.  As I leave, people are starting to arrive again.  A tall sprightly man, wearing glasses and a navy-blue, Joseph Conrad/Russell Hoban cap, says he likes my hat, a fuchsia-pink beanie with sparkles.  He asks if we can swap.  He is walking towards the rack, smiling.  I go out feeling sure he’ll be the one to find the yellow paper and smile some more.

“My mind is subject to fits of strangeness; this morning coming to work I looked out of the bus window at people talking, crossing the road, running to catch the bus and I thought, all this is really only Death dressing himself up as people talking, crossing the road, running to catch the bus.  Ought a doctor to see things in that way?”

Lines from ‘Come Dance With Me’ by Russell Hoban, writer, 1925-2011

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