I left Spiggy watching over the exhausted and sleeping Mook. I put all the medical stuff away, saving anything that was still usable and bagging the rest up for disposal.
I needed to play the piano. I went for the Grieg. I needed something energetic to play. It didn’t go well. After having someone’s health and well being in my hands like that, I got the shakes. After many errors, I just sat on the sofa with my head in my hands. I think I just shut down for a while. When I came round, Spiggy handed me a cup of tea.
“Looks like you need one,” he said.
I took it from him with no real enthusiasm, although I wasn’t unappreciative. Something was niggling me. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Jeff the ginger jumped on my lap and I rubbed him under chin. As he squinted his approval, it hit me.
“Shit! The animals! It’s dark!” I jumped up spill bothe the cat and the tea onto the floor.
“Don’t worry . . .” he said,
“They’ll be ripped to shreds. Oh shit. Shit SHIT!”
Spiggy grabbed me by the shoulders, fixed his eyes on mine and in a soft but persuasive voice, he told me not to worry.
While I was in my personal limbo, he’d been out, put the animals away, locked up and put the UVs on. I felt myself start to shake again. I shook and shook until I felt myself unable to stay upright. Spig, hands still on my shoulders, pulled me to towards him and hugged me until I stopped shaking. Well, he said I’d have to get used to them.
When I stopped shaking, I sat down again and Spiggy went and found the Jura.
“Here,” he said with a wink, “don’t spill it.”
From there on, I don’t remember much.
I remember waking up to an alarm at 3:00am and checking in on Mook. He was a little restless, but that stopped when the painkillers took hold. I think we’ll start him on lesser painkillers. I need to wean him off the morphine.
Spiggy was in my bed again. Although come to think of it, he was there when I went to see Mook. Whatever. I went back to bed.
When I woke, I was on my own again. The cats had left, Spiggy had gone and most disturbing, it was 10:18. I’m usually up with the sun. I threw my bathrobe on (now getting some use as I have guests!) and stumbled into the living room.
I walked back to find Mook and thankfully, he was still there.
“Good morning, Mook. Are you . . . ?”
“I’m fine. Spiggy gave me some tramadol, so I’m very, very happy. I’ve eaten, had a shit. It’s all going well!”
“Umm . . .” was the best I could manage.
“It’s fine. Everything is fine. The animals, the gardens; Spiggy is looking after it all. He said that after last night, you deserved a lie in. I’m inclined to agree.”
“Do you play chess?” he asked.
I lied and said no. Truth is I used to when I was at school, but I was terrible at it. I was never good at game strategy and planning six moves in advance? Nope.
“I’ll have to teach you. Do you have a set?”
I lied again. Then admitted that I didn’t have an accessible set. There are a couple of sets in the library, but I’m not opening it up for a game I don’t want to play.
“No problem. Spig says there’s a woodwork shop. He can make one.”
He must have seen the look on my on my face.
“You don’t play poker, either, do you?” he chuckled, “Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.”
I grinned and sat down next to him. We talked about other games and he filled me in on a bit of the missing years. A lot of it, I didn’t really understand. When I left, the top range computers were along the lines of the Amiga and the Atari with the PSX being the height of sophistication. Now watches seem to have even more computing power than that. Can’t get my head around it. Not that I need to.
We talked about rehabilitation and how we would make sure his leg worked properly. I mentioned that there was a gym here. It was locked up and barricaded, but I’d always hoped something could be done with it. If rehabilitation was to be the thing, it might be worth opening.
He seemed to like that idea.
He wondered if I had architectural plans for the building and I said I thought they might be in the library, but again, I was reluctant to open it.
“Mostly because of the threat of chess.”
Mook laughed at that.
It’s so nice to hear laughter. Purring is fine, but laughter. Wow.
It hadn’t occurred to me that I’d not eaten or had anything to drink. The novelty of intelligent company had overridden any feelings of hunger. With excellent timing, Spiggy arrived with lunch.
Mook popped some more tramadol.
They talked together and made a lot of references to things that sounded utterly bizarre to me. New technology mostly; TV, Movies. I feel old and out of touch. I think this is going to be the most difficult thing, but at least we’ll have something to talk about, I suppose.
Mook began to frown and looked around the room.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“I had a bag when we got here. Where is it?
“I don’t think we brought anything back but you,” I said.
Spiggy agreed, “I didn’t think, we just got you out and safe.” He looked agitated and Mook looked annoyed.
“Damn. That had some good stuff in it.”
“We can always go back,” I suggested. “It’s not far and we could go on a scavenge while we’re out there. It wouldn’t be a problem. We could do it now, before nightfall.”
“That would be brilliant.”
“Wait.” I said.
“Is there a chess set in the bag?”
Mooked roared with laughter.
“If you’re going to be okay for a while, we could go now. We’ve got maybe five hours before things get weird. You coming Spig?”
Something seemed to have put him in a bad mood. He gave a surly
“S’pose” and said no more. I went and washed, got dressed and picked up some bits and pieces for the afternoon out.
Spiggy said nothing until we were almost at the building where Mook had been locked up.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“C’mon, man, talk to me.”
“It’s . . .”
He stopped. I raised an eyebrow. He continued, faltering.
“It’s always . . . Mook doesn’t talk to anyone. It’s always been me and Mook. He hides from people. He was . . . happy . . . with you and . . . it wasn’t me and Mook. He never talks to other people and . . .”
“You needn’t be worried. I’m not taking him away from you. I’m looking out for him.”
“I know. But I couldn’t . . . We’ve always looked after each other and I couldn’t do it. You could.”
Tread carefully, I thought.
“I did it with you. I couldn’t have done it without you. Mook is alive because of you. I just cleared up.”
To my mind, I sounded like I was being patronising and I winced. It was all meant but . . . well, I’ve forgotten about the mechanics social niceties and the politics of group dynamics. I may have been worrying unduly.
He looked me and moved the hair from his eyes. He was crying again. (Dear God!) I reached to comfort him and he pulled away. For someone so tactile, this was a bit of a snub and I got an inkling of the depth of his feeling.
We reached to spot where we found Mook and stepped out of the van, I got out but Spiggy stayed where he was. I walked around to his side of the van and opened the door. He said nothing, but lowered his head further and his shoulders started to shake.
“This isn’t really about Mook, is it?”
I gave a deep sigh. I think the reality of the situation had finally hit him. With everything being focussed on Mook and with Mook being happy, we hadn’t really dealt, or even acknowledged Spiggy’s loss and fears. They were mentioned briefly and he said he wanted to talk but didn’t know what to say, but I should have noticed that he was struggling.
He began to talk, stuttering.
“I don’t know where I am. I’m scared. I nearly lost Mook. I couldn’t talk to him because he was unconscious. And I couldn’t talk to you because . . . you were . . . with Mook . . .”
“And you felt left out?”
“Yes. I need . . .”
“I’m sorry, Spiggy. I truly am.”
“You didn’t notice me. You noticed Mook and . . .”
I explained that I understood. I tried to tell him that we all experiencing strange times. I’m having to get used to people and feel defensive about how my house had been invaded. They are, of course, welcome but I was scared that they might try to take it from me. I was scared that he would get violent if Mook died or if he had to lose the leg.
I was scared that I was expected to be the font of all knowledge, a nurse, a surgeon and the grown up. When there were people here before, I was always looked after. I had ideas, but not much in the way of responsibility. Not really. It was overwhelming to have that kind of responsibility thrown at me, especially by two people I didn’t know. I understood the bewilderment and disorientation he felt. If he let me, I’d help and talk and support him too. He slipped off the seat and stood in front of me. His face cracked in anguish threw his arms around me and hugged me. No. Not hugged. Held on to me like a drowning man hangs on to driftwood. As the sobs died down, he stood up and said,
“We have shit to do” and strode towards the shattered building, not looking back.