Thursday, September 06, 2012

Anything can happen in the next 50-minute hour


TRACY ISLAND – I've complained about the swimming pool again. It's forever drained and, god, it's a health and safety nightmare the way they just leave this massive hole in the ground. The whole island is a disaster. I got hit by a palm tree yesterday.

And I don't know where this island is – literally, it's a secret, that's its big selling point on TripAdvisor – but wherever it is, it's on one hell of a flight path. I was having afternoon tea in this lovely elevated building, a circular restaurant with the most gorgeous views, when the whole place shook from a jet's sonic boom. I tell you, it was so loud I would've believed you if you'd said the jet had taken off underneath me.

As it was, at least five windows shattered. You'd think they'd do something about that but the one guy here who seems approachable has this almighty twitch. They call him Brains, which I think must be a cruel joke, he's probably a bit, you know, and they dumped him here. I suppose he can just about cope with serving cream teas but plainly he's not got it in him to phone up the airport and complain.

I should probably help him there. But, dammit, I'm on holiday. My first holiday in seven years. Can't say I'd planned to take one just yet, some of my patients really need me right now, but the practice did insist. They're paying for everything, too. It's a really generous firm.

They're so generous that I feel a bit bad wondering if there is more to this than they said. I keep passing people who plainly need some therapy but maybe that's the curse of the job. Give it a few more days here in the sun, and I'll stop thinking of everyone as a patient.

It would help a lot if there were more than one bar here, though. I could murder a drink now but he'll be in there again. General Scarlet.

I bought the line last night, I asked the question he wanted me to: "How did you get that name?"

"Started as Captain, rose through the ranks."

Fine. A comedian. He did have a good taste in Scotch and I didn't spot it was going on my tab. So we drank on and he does tell some terrific stories. Really wild things, like war stories but with a hell of a twist. I asked if he'd been in Iraq but no. I couldn't place his uniform. NATO in Afghanistan? "Sometimes," he said. "My fight is not with other humans."

I was starting to like him then: here's a military man with a humanitarian outlook. I was going to stand him dinner when – seriously, you can't make this up – he got out a razor blade and ran it over his hand. Cool as you like. And not kidding. Not a trick. He meant to cut and he did it. Blood everywhere.

"Are you mad?" I yelled.

"I self-harm," he said.

"Apparently so." I reached over the bar, grabbed a towel rag and tried to bandage him up. "Why would you do that?"

"If you'd seen the things I'd seen, done the things I'd done -"

"Yeah, right, yeah, lots of army guys have problems. Don't worry, the bleeding's stopped. We'll get you to a doctor."

"Plus, I'm indestructible."

Well, I ask you. I think I nodded encouragingly, maybe said "that's the spirit", you know the kind of thing. And I got him to the island's sickbay before getting the hell out of there. I feel for him, but these weirdos can suck you down.

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