On The Up

by Claire

Sitting in A&E on Christmas Eve was possibly the nadir of a life of many low points. 10:53pm and despite the early optimism of having seen the triage nurse within 30 minutes, Reg Ventricle was now 5 hours in with no end in sight. A cast of characters had been waiting with him since he had arrived and they were all still waiting. The extremely fat man with blood trickling from his nose, an elderly lady with matted hair and skin the colour of the tiny blue bag of salt from “salt n’ shake” crisps, a young man holding up his own hand swathed in what looked like underpants, and two women hugging each other, both dressed in sparkly flares.

Reg had thought that this Christmas would be good, at last. He had believed that just for once he might enjoy the day like normal people, that he wouldn’t be lonely or ill or desperately sad or in hospital – again!! This year, for the first time ever, Reg had someone who actually gave a shit about seeing him on Christmas Day, for whom he had made strenuous efforts to select and purchase not just one, but several gifts from Amazon. He had, foolishly of course, dared to dream of Terrys Chocolate Orange segments being shared in front of his gas fire, whilst small children laughed merrily in the street playing with their new iPhone.

This sense of approaching festive bon-homie had dwindled sometime around a quarter past his 3rd can of coke from the vending machine. The fat man caught his eye and beamed a huge toothless smile in his direction, to which Reg could only, against his better judgement, respond with a weak watery upward curve of his thin lips. The fat man spoke.

“I’ve got a tiny plastic zebra stuck up my nose. My daughter got over excited when we were playing zoo. What brings you here?”

Reg hesitated. Speaking to strangers was so full of jeopardy. However, on November the 4th, whilst buying sparklers, in an unheard of fit of human interaction brought about by a lethal cocktail of sexual desire and a warm fuzzy feeling he now identified as love, he had spoken to a stranger, with whom he was going to share his chocolate orange.

So for the second time in a blue moon he responded.

“I heard screaming coming from a flat upstairs and rushed up there in my bare feet, as I had just been treating my fungal toenail. The door to the flat was open so I went in only to see that the screaming was from a film on the telly, but in my rush I stood on a child’s stickle brick, which caused me to jump in pain to the side, whereupon I landed on the upward facing pin of a Batman badge, which is now lodged up to the hilt in the ball of my foot.”

“Ouch” said the fat man.

“Reginald Ventricle – room 3” called the voice on the tannoy.

“Your turn” said the fat man “ good luck and Happy Christmas”

“Happy Christmas” replied Reg as he limped tentatively towards his new future.