The Inanimate Me: Fiction by Martin Shaw

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The Inanimate Me

There’s only one rotten apple in this hospital, an old-school homophobic male nurse who’s pheromonic orchestration of testosterone is thwarted by the stench of Hugo Boss aftershave. He throws daggers at me when administering my medicine. I swallow hard.

My brother doesn’t visit me much, nor does my dad, not in spirit anyway—it’s flown to the local pub, or to a football match. Mum’s the only one who sits by my side all day waffling about chocolate and perfume: my favorite subjects. She stops talking as that horrible male nurse enters and puts my half-filled urine bottle on his trolley before he leaves. He is rather nice looking though: small bottom and a body shaped like the victory-v sign of Sir Winston Churchill.

Mum’s just finished talking about fruit bases and honey, another favorite of mine. The door huffs open. Surprise-surprise! My dad slopes in with my brother behind him dressed to watch a football match—it’s the boys in blue against the boys in red. How heterosexual. Dad tells me, everyone sends their regards, even the cat and dog, just like that David Bowie record: love Bowie.

Oh, that male nurse has just come back in. He changes my saline, my Celine Dion I call it, although ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” is a proffered local anesthetic on my personal stereo.

My brother and dad leave with more of a robust goodbye than their hello, and now mum gets up to leave, too. She wipes my brow and kisses me, saying she needs to feed the dog. I listen for the click of her flat heels on the polished floor in the corridor and imagine her strides to the carpark below my window. ‘Love you mum,’ I say to myself.

That horrible male nurse comes in again! “Need to take your temp,” he says.

I smile and open my mouth ready for the thermometer. He places it on my tongue and pretends to fiddle with my Celine Dion, waiting for the mercury to rise.
“Don’t worry, I’m not dying on your shift,” I say, when he takes the thermometer out and reads the scale.

“Pardon?”

“Me, ‘not dying’—on your shift.”

A few moments of quiet makes the air even more stifling.

“How’s the Freddie Mercury doing?” I ask.

He gives me a wry smile. “And, another one bites the dust,” he says.


Martin Shaw, fifty-two, has been writing for around ten years. Born in Luton, Bedfordshire, he then grew up in the Lincolnshire fens before moving to Cleethorpes. After being published in many ezines, he now has his printed word appearing in the traditional press.