‘Bye mum, I’m going out’
‘Bye Andy, where you going? Will you be home for dinner?’
‘Dunno mum, no plans as such, just out and about so don’t wait for me.’ And with that I shot out of the house with mum’s last comment stinging my ears. ‘Don’t be late!!’, damn I’m not a kid anymore. How good it feels to be able to get away from it all, to get out of the house and loose that feeling of heavy chains that trap my every movement and thoughts.
There’s a place, far off from civilisation, that I love going to when these moods grip me. A place of staggering beauty, breathtaking views and fresh clean sea air. Best of all though is that it is devoid of any human presence, except for mine that is. I have never told anyone about this place and never intend to as I hope it to remain my secret refuge from the drone of life. The quiet peacefulness of it all, the imposing cliffs, the gorgeous and quite scrumptious sunsets, the caressing sea breeze and the relaxing drone of the surf crashing against the shoals far below are things which I yearn for. Sitting on my favourite rock almost on the edge of the cliffs and gazing out at the sea I feel like I am soaring high above the world free as a bird.
‘Ummph, urgh!’ Oh hell, my legs are soaked… something warm and slippery is dribbling down them.
‘Arrrgh!’ What the heck I was thinking…. There’s a puddle of blood at my feet and I can feel the warm trickle down my legs. I couldn’t move them, they seemed jammed or even disconnected from me and there’s something sticking out of my stomach!
‘Now where did that come from?’
My thoughts were confused, blackness rolling around threatening to overpower conciousness at any moment. ‘Where am I?’, ‘What happened?’, ‘Why do I have a rod sticking in me?’ I was struggling to get my bearings as the last I remember I was sitting on my throne! I felt no pain and that made things all the more unrealistic as my eyes were telling me one thing while my body was not feeling it. Trying to get a grip on my senses I began to explore my surroundings but it was harder than I thought as every muscle seemed to be disconnected from my brain and it took a great effort to get some reaction from them. Slowly I began to recognise things…. There was a dash board in front of me, but where is the steering wheel, ok that dash board looks familiar! Ok, I got it now… I’m in my car, I must have had an accident, but dammit, I don’t even remember getting into the car and driving off. I looked around a bit more, hopefully trying to get a glimpse of the coutryside around me, trying to make sense of it all and my eyes settled on my mobile, snuggling sitting in its holder totally undisturbed. A luagh broke out as I thought of the advert of the holder ‘So the ads were true’ I thought! The overhead clock blinked the time – 6.38pm – hmmm I was meant to be meeting a friend in less than an hours time but I doubt I was going to make it seeing my current predicament. Reaching out for the phone my right arm refused to budge, damn, ‘try the left hand then’ I thought and wiggled my fingers to check if it was going to respond. Oh, how glad I was when I saw them wiggle away, such a basic action which in normal times would go totally unnoticed brought a rush of unquenchable hope in me in a split second. Reaching out was awkward to say the least but I manage to grip the phone and heave it over so that I could squint at the dial. It seemed so much heavier than I remember it to be! It took me a moment to remember what I had to do yet I managed to browse through my contacts and found Ken’s number soon enough and hit dial.
‘Hello??’ Ken’s inquisative and impatient voice rebounded in my head.
‘Ken? Hey listen to me mate, I gotta problem and doubt I’ll make it in time! Had a bit of an accident I’m afraid!’ Damn that was tiring… but I had to get the message across.
There was a slight pause before Ken replied and I was beginning to wonder if I imagined his answer.
‘Andy??’ he bellowed, as confirmation that I hadn’t, ‘Where are you, are you ok?’
‘Ermmm, I dunno’ Yup, I suddenly realised I had no idea where the heck I was and rushing in, almost tumbling over that thought came another ‘was there anyone else involved in the accident?’ I must have taken sometime thinking about that as Ken bellowed into my ears again.
‘Errrm, I dunno’ I said again, ‘somewhere along the west coast road I believe!’.
I think Ken said something after that but soon the line was dead and I decided to look around and maybe work out where I am. I was surprised at the peace and tranquility around me. An eerie silence seemed to have descended on my part of the world. I was quite shocked, surprised at the size of the pool of blood collecting at my feet. ‘There can’t be much left inside me’ I mumbled out aloud! Time seemed to be trickling by, my movements (the little movement I could manage) and my thoughts seemed slow and lethargic, yet my eyes captured the surroundings as if I was watching a movie on fast-forward. It was as if time was running at two speeds concurrently. Time! For some reason thinking about time made me think of Mum & Dad. As frustrated as I might get when at home I still love my family loads, oceans full actually, and I was debating whether to call home or not. I knew, if I did call home, that I would cause a massive panic. In the end, maybe a minute, maybe an hour later, who’s to tell with time bending and twisting as it was, I decided to call and dialed my home number. The phone rang and rang, ages seem to have flown past me while I waited for someone to pick up that phone.
‘Come on Mum, I know you’re home!’ I said under my breadth! All my thoughts were being uttered, better to try and combat the silence which had descended on my world. ‘Come on!!’ I said again, willing someone to pick it up!
It always happens this way doesn’t it! As you’re about to give up on waiting and about to cut off someone answers. They always seem to sense the urgency of such a call.
‘Hello?’ Mum’s quavering voice…
‘Hi Mum, listen I got a problem….’
‘Are you alright, are you hurt, where are you……..’
I could sense her building up the panic as she rattled the questions out frantically but I was impotent at quelling that panic. I just didn’t have the energy to stem the tide.
‘Hold on, hold on… slow down Mum… listen….’ I said weakly hoping she’ll listen..
‘Ok’ a small and weak whisper was her reply which meant she was on the verge of hysterics but was bravely trying to fight!
Attamum, I thought feeling proud of her, but why must you be so quick to panic, I haven’t told you anything yet!
‘Mum, I need you to call an ambulance quick, tell them I got a stomach injury and I’m bleeding bad. I’m somewhere along the west coast road! Will you do that for me mum??’
Mum’s breathing was heavy and in thick and choking voice she mumbled something which sounded like an acknowledgment.
‘Mum?? You got that? I’m feeling tired Mum, and its starting to hurt like hell, I’m going to put the phone down mum, please call the ambulance..’
I could hear her sobbing, gulping down gigantic draughts of air and willed her, nay I prayed I actually prayed, that she would manage the task I asked of her. Strength suddenly drained from my body and my arm dropped. But as the phone dropped I heard my Dad’s voice in the background, strong and clear, a steadying sound that had a calming effect. The phone probably drooped with a splash into the pool of blood at my feet but I didn’t hear it nor did I care, the pain consuming my every thought. The car shifted suddenly, settling into a position more in equilibrium with nature as my Form I Physics teacher liked to say, causing something above my head to dislodge and give me a blow!!
And I woke up! I had nodded off on my perch, my throne above the world! Hell that was a livid dream though. I instinctly moved my hands to my stomach, I couldn’t help it and I just had to make sure I was in one piece. No hole, nor any pole there I thought and giggled hysterically. I must be going mad, really, and one day these dreams of mine are going to roll me right off the edge of the cliff!!
I yearned for companionship, yet I shied away from it when faced with it! I knew an old couple, both passed away now; whose situation really gave me the shivers. The wife, Maria, had suffered a stroke and was mostly paralysed; however her husband Gianni was more than glad to be able to care for her day in day out! It was an example of pure love they shared and I truly admired them. Time and age caught up with Maria though and she quietly passed on to the other side. Gianni was distraught and spent the rest of his life living in two worlds; during the day was his make-believe world where he would wake up full of life and energy and go about the daily chores as if Maria was still there. He would go for long walks after meals pushing his wife’s wheelchair on which there would be her clothes neatly and carefully laid. He would hold long conversations with her and point out some interesting view, all the time turning towards the chair and addressing it as if Maria was physically sitting there! Yet at night, as the sun winks passed the horizon, reality sets in and he would cling to Maria’s nightdress and cry himself to sleep! Day in day out, Gianni went through the same routine of happy make-believe during the day and sad despair during the night! It wrenches my heart every time I think of Maria and Gianni! He’s there with her now though, and I can sense their contentness as they gaze into each other’s hearts! Such passion terrifies me, safer to be alone than to risk such pain!
So, yup, although I am surrounded by friends and family, all a great lot, I am fast realising that as the years pile up on my shoulders I am veering towards being an “Alone Man”. Not lonely, no I am surely not lonely, but I prefer being alone! I yearn companionship yet prefer being alone!! That is what an “Alone Man” is all about!
© Mike Gatt