“I told my GP I was experiencing agonising spasms and pain. My blood-pressure was shooting up when I spasmed. My head felt as though it was splitting apart. I asked for the most powerful medication he had. I’d been through all the usual painkillers: paracetamol through to codeine and tramadol. They were useless, so he prescribed morphine.”
I am hoisted onto the bed, then undressed by two male orderlies. It’s a horrible, undignified process. You’d think I’d be used to it by now. I am not. They plug my sheath into a night drainage bag, which hangs from a clip attached to the metal frame of the bed. No turning back now. I put mind into hospital mode. No point in making a fuss about anything. Go with the flow. As far as I am concerned the future can only happen when I get out of this place.
“Push our beds closer, please Jo … I can’t hold the joint without Malcolm’s help.” She takes the brakes off and moves my bed sideways towards his. The joint is already burning. He takes a couple of drags and then holds it out so I can drag on it, too. There’s me, my arm through the monkey pole and leaning over as far as I can go. Feels good to draw on the joint. I take three or four deep slugs and then fall back onto my pillow, close my eyes and quietly mellow away.
So I’m rehearsing with the band. Kenny is on the drums, Alan is playing guitar, John is singing and I’m also playing guitar and singing backup vocals. Our band is called The Models. We are a rock band and the music is loud.
Lights out at 11 o’clock. Paul starts to scream. He is in terrible pain. His cries go on and on. The ward sister goes to the desk and calls the duty doctor. Nearly an hour later he comes onto the ward, offers Paul some paracetamol. “Can’t give you anything stronger. You are taking too much medication as it is.” But the screaming continues. Patients begin to complain. “We’re trying to sleep here. Can’t somebody shut him up?”
Junior doctor returns. She asked how I’m doing. I struggle to speak. It’s like I’m fighting for life and haven’t got the breath or the energy. “My blood pressure is insanely low,” I whisper. She asks what it is. I tell her to look at the gauge. The digital numerals record a pressure of 62/40. It has risen slightly but not enough to make me feel anywhere near comfortable. “I can’t go home like this,” I say.
I’m lying flat on my back and staring up at the ceiling. Going out of my head here. Traction pins in the side of my skull. Weights attached to a wire and hanging over the head of the bed, keeping my head straight and neck taut.
“I know how to put some heat into your soul,” Mabarak said, a wicked grin on his face. “We’ll fry some infidels. Bang!” he shouted and threw his arms wide, indicating an explosion “We’ll blow them all up. You can warm yourself on their scorched bodies. ”
Charlie reached out and picked up an elastic strap, which he wound around his withered arm. Using his teeth and his free hand, he tugged at the ends and tied a crude knot. On the table among a cluster of takeaway cartons and empty beer cans sat his works — a metal box containing a syringe, spoon and some cotton wool …
It was midday and Mickey sat at the table staring down into his cup of tea. Without looking up he said to his wife, “Can I suck your tits?”