If drunk driving with a manual gearbox is a form of art, I’ll need a lot more practise before calling myself an artist. Reversing into the dock shows all the grace of a crashed race car coming in to pit. I’m lucky to avoid whiplash when the braking distance is misjudged. The load shifts rearward with a heavy slide of unsecured items.
I stumble out of the truck to shut the gates, digging in pockets for keys.
They aren’t on me.
Before a complete mental breakdown has me running in ever tighter circles, I see the lost keys hanging forgotten in the gate lock, left from last night.
In fact I discover the place is wide open all the way to a self-locking door on the second level. Anyone or anything could be in here. There’s no need to rely on death by overdose, complacency surely would get to me first.
When the back trail is secured I walk on, gathering a black mood. Its cloak holds together bits that shiver and shake. The key clatters around the lock plate to our quarters. It’s Morse code, tapping out a message, telling of a shabby condition.
I enter quietly, the stereotypical errant husband sneaking home late from the pub. The door eases shut, aiding my sneakiness. The kitchen is a wonderland, filled with temptations a very empty stomach yells for. Pills and alcohol are in reach of eager hands.
Resisting their charms show the alchemy of strong affection over base need. Shit can turn to gold on the rarest of occasions. The kitchen door closes on bottled revelry.
The substitute of checking for a living breathing flatmate while anticipating bloody slaughter frightens me more than a Queen Parasite.
Kristine’s bedroom door is ajar. I peek around the doorjamb.
Instantly my mind sees the gory insides of the maintenance shed instead of Kristine pale blue walls. The red streaks fade with concentration and I know she sleeps intact.
Her beauty is washed out by underlying discomfort. Pain furrows a brow above closed, rapidly shifting eyes. On awakening she’ll feel everything earlier masked. I should be ready to shorten that period to the minimum possible.
The luck that conceals my blackout antics from her is probably due more homage than the shrug and careless acceptance I show it. Returning to the kitchen is on lighter feet, I seek materials to fill an empty cavern.
The intently watched microwave’s clock raises a question.
How long have I been away with the fairies?
Calculating numbers is difficult to nut out. I don't know for sure what day it is. We’d returned here at dusk and it’s morning now. That makes around fourteen hours by that reckoning. The arithmetic is backed by the rasp of stubble on a rubbed chin. It was shaved just before our town trip.
Is that enough time to recover from attempted rape? Should I allow Kristine to sleep on? Better have a shower before she does wake. If confronted by my grungy exterior I will have wasted fortune's rare smile.
After showering, eating and cleaning up, I check on Kristine again.
Then every fifteen minutes.
A Death Metal CD fails to wake my sleeping beauty.
I can’t stand the waiting.
I kick the bed gently.
I hold her hand and slap a wrist once. Then again, harder, more urgently.
“Wassamatter, Sam. Why you hitting me. Is the stereo broken?”
Her sense of humour is intact even if her husky voice is strained. I switch the music off with the remote clasped in one hand, her finger in my other.
She doesn’t pull away.
“Not really. Throat hurts. And everything else.”
She grimaces and falls at an attempt to rise.
“You’ll be okay. I got you some more pain killers.”
“Yeah. Gimme. Hurts too much. Don’t knock me out again. I want to be awake. But I don’t want to hurt.”
“Don't take that one then, its Hydromorphone. Use this Actiq stick. It’s the best lollypop you’ve ever had, guaranteed.”
She smiles and reverts to childhood as the drug works its magic. I take it away when she starts to hum to herself.
“That’s enough for now.”
“You can have more later. You need to use the toilet?”
She considers the complications of my question hard.
“OK. You be right to take care of that yourself?”
Once again I wait patiently. There’s a long gap and studious thought. She’s reordering my words to work out their meaning.
I’m sympathetic. I’d been there plenty of times.
“Right, off you go. I’ll make you some din-dins.”
The baby talk is accepted by a slippery mind. Oblivious to her nakedness she stands and heads for the bathroom. I wince more than she does when the sheet peels from her back. She forgets to shut the bathroom door so I leave her some dignity and busy myself preparing food.
She’s back in bed when I return. The toilet flush hadn’t been flushed. She must be pretty out of it to forget her pet hate. I see the water’s clouded pink when I push the button. Kidney damage? Maybe she’s menstruating. Either way I have no skills to correct the damage. Her body will have to take care of itself.