I was lying on an eighteenth-century fainting couch. They had seven such pieces of furniture dotted strategically around the apartment. I was grateful for this, as I usually felt nauseous when I saw them. Toby and Samantha that is, the couple who owned the apartment I found myself in. Samantha was fussing over my contorted body. I had my head between my knees and was mewling like an injured Prussian whilst rocking back and forth from my waist axis. I wanted to tell her that her actions were actually making things worse, but I couldn’t for some reason. I raised my head and looked at her face. She seemed a worthwhile person. I wondered if I was in love with her, and that’s why I couldn’t say that her mere presence made me sick. I put my head back between my knees and thought about this concept for about 14 minutes. I drew strength from its paradoxical nature and felt slightly better.
Toby then rolled into the room like an egg. Although a young person, his face consisted entirely of jowls. Jowls. It’s as if they’d had a fight with his cheek and jawbones and the cheek and jawbones had not only lost, but had been so traumatised by the experience that they could no longer function as anything useful anymore, whilst the victorious jowls descended lower and lower until they resembled two empty scrotums hanging from each side of his face, like a grotesque pair of drop earrings.
Toby was standing over my body. He looked moderately concerned as he asked Samantha what was wrong with me.
‘His intestines have gone to sleep.’
‘Ah, of course’ said Toby.
I was surprised at this swift diagnosis from a person untrained in medicine, as well the casual ‘matter of fact’ acceptance from Toby. In actual fact, it felt the exact opposite: my intestines were wide awake and looking for ways to leave my body. I groaned like Geoffrey Chaucer, or how I imagined Geoffrey Chaucer would groan after a night drinking strong ale.
‘Listen to him’ said Samantha. ‘He’s groaning like the Venerable Bede after eating chips.’
She’d misdiagnosed me again, but I let it slide. Toby suddenly crouched down to my bent over frame. I noticed distractedly that his jowls took slightly longer to reach the same level as the rest of his face. Some kind a lag effect, presumably. For want of anything else to say, I repeated this observation out loud to him. His slapped-arse-of-a-face looked sad, like Droopy Dog’s after being told his family had just died in a house fire. Frustratingly, however, it soon cheered up. He went on to say that my rudeness – or was it candour? – was down to the delusion he thought I was suffering. This was not the case; although I was in physical discomfort, I felt shockingly lucid in my thinking.
Samantha and Toby clearly didn’t think so, as they were now talking about me as if I wasn’t in the same room as them. I heard them say I was socially and mentally retarded and incapable of sustaining a relationship with a real live woman, as well as being a compulsive masturbator and bed wetter. Most of these accusations were half truths at best. Granted, I often combined the masturbating and bed wetting, (two birds with one stone, etc.) but there was nothing compulsive about it. And all the other allegations are just hearsay.
I decided I had to do something to have them notice me. In keeping with the traditional etiquette of such a situation, I pretended to clear my throat loudly, hoping to alert them of my presence, and thus persuading them to discontinue their character assassination, which had now moved on to me deliberately pushing a shopping trolley into a toddler’s face in Waitrose. This, again, was another slander. What I’d actually done was push a shopping trolley over a toddler’s face in Waitrose. There’s a subtle difference, and they really should have acknowledged it. This is what happened: the child was lying in one of the aisles colouring in some pictures of tigers, and, feeling surprisingly confident, I tried to ‘bunny hop’ over him. I’d often practice this trick in my spare time, of which I had quite a lot. Unfortunately, I didn’t factor in the weight of my groceries in the trolley, and this meant I was unable to perform the manoeuvre. Consequently, the right front wheel and the right back wheel of the trolley ran over the child’s jaw, nose and forehead (in that order).
I looked back at what I’d done and felt a bit guilty. But I believed there was still time to retrieve the situation. Fortuitously, all this had happened in the stationery aisle, so I opened a packet of post-it notes, wrote down my details, and stuck it on top of the boy’s head. That way the owners could contact me to sort out any insurance issues or other problems. I then left the supermarket feeling quite altruistic.
Later I realised that instead of writing my name and address on the post-it note, I’d actually drawn a picture of a duck. I don’t know why I did this.
I’d been narrating this episode out loud, in the hope that Toby and Samantha would acknowledge me. It didn’t seem to work, as they had now started to have sex. Toby mounted her like a sweaty warthog. Samantha looked like a praying mantis only bigger. I declared it weirdly anthropomorphic in my mind, and added an Attenborough narration for effect. I watched them for a while, and listened somewhat inattentively as Attenborough described cross-species coitus. There was then a disjuncture and things became quite turbid. When I looked again Toby was lying dead on the floor. Or perhaps he was sleeping. I couldn’t tell the difference.
I then turned my head and saw the words ‘change’ and ‘permanence’ lying on the floor next to a crowbar. Excellent, I thought. I’d been looking for those things. This story is now complete.