Sport 27: Spring 2001
Geoff Cochrane — Hospital
It's a Saturday evening. Jones and his wife will soon be going out. He closes Underworld and pours himself a second Scotch and soda.
Emanations permeate the home. Frilly microwaves waft through tables, chairs. Jervis too absorbs invisible streams of quanta (Jervis is the easily wounded dog).
‘Snap out of it,’ says Shura.
‘I'm thinking neutrinos and stuff.’
‘And I'm thinking stir, there's a taxi on the way.’
‘Quark quark quark,’ says Jones.
‘You're not a bit funny. And take your feet off that.’
And so to the Bradshaws’. They live in what used to be a foundry. Their apartment consists not of rooms but shelves. These lofty platforms are sustained by wires—albeit ones as thick as bicycle spokes. Girders and bricks abound, gloomy drops besides.
Dinner is excellent. Concluding it, the friends linger at table. A bottle of cognac gleams; issuing from small cuboidal speakers, Vivaldi toots and chimes. ‘And where are the kids these days?’ Colin asks.
‘Simone's at Scott Base still.’ This from Shura.
‘Cody's in India—or was.’
‘He forgets his own kids’ names.’ This from Sue. ‘More cognac, David?’
The Bradshaws tend to knock it right along. The Bradshaws have smoky histories, bohemian credentials riskily acquired. Jones however page 41 is not without credentials of his own. ‘Bring it on,’ he tells his hostess.
‘I'm warning you,’ says Shura.
‘I hear you, hon,’ says Jones.
Colin is rolling up some bhang. With his shaggy moustache and smudged bifocals, he looks like a certain German novelist. In fact, he directs a popular soap—not bad for a guy who once spent time in an infamous Peruvian jail. ‘Come clean, Jones. Just what egregious stunts are going down in the courts this week?’
‘I'm defending an elderly party who smothered her husband.’
‘Good for you.’
‘Good for her,’ says Sue.
‘For myself, I'm at war with my producer. The bitch has got it in for half my cast.’
‘Selwyn Grove. Who needs it?’
‘We do, Sue,’ says Colin.
The joint has been lit. The joint is passed to Jones. Resinously, sweetly, it pops and flares like a thatch hut afire.
‘I dare you.’ This from Shura.
‘Watch me.’ This from Jones.
Antarctica is melting. India is riven by earthquakes. Shura remains handsome, provocative, delicious. Jones feels replete with comedic resources.
Colin breaks out his squeeze-box. ‘I'll sing you a shanty Arlo Guthrie taught me.’
‘Whatever happened to Arlo?’ Shura asks.
‘Perhaps he opted for beekeeping.’ Colin's words are shapes, fridge-sized glyphs in a range of pastel hues. ‘My song concerns the good ship Vancouver and a young tar as sweet as a barrel of apples.’
Just render unto me this creamiest of cheese dips, thinks Jones.
Shortly after two on the Sunday morning, Jones and his wife leave the Bradshaws' apartment intending to walk to a taxi rank nearby. As they're swaying arm in arm down Foundry Lane, our plot achieves a somewhat dismaying spike.
‘What are you toffs doing in my alley?’
‘We go where we like,’ says Jones, ‘at any hour.’
‘You'd better give your riches over here.’
The kid limps forward orthopaedically. He brings the cleanly reek of strong adhesives. ‘I think you should surrender up your cards. Your cards and pin numbers.’
‘Here's ten bucks. Now move aside.’
The miscreant is wearing a leather cost like Rommel's, a tall woollen hat created by Dr Seuss. His sawn-off shotgun points at the ground. ‘You're going to have to make a less insulting offer, hombre.’
Shura's holding one of her stilettos. ‘For two pins, my lad, I'd fetch you such a crack.’
‘I'll handle him,’ says Jones. ‘I'm used to dealing with troubled types like Junior here.’
‘Yeah. Right. Then handle this, you fucker.’
The gun goes off with much pneumatic force. A narrow blast of air is what Jones feels. A narrow blast of air is what destroys his shoe.
This guttersnipe has shot me in the foot.
‘I hopped about a bit? Before falling over?’
‘You hopped. The villain fled.’
‘And what did you do then.’
‘I remembered my dinky lady's cellphone. Summoned the appropriate services. Counselled my fretful spouse to lie where he had fallen.’
‘I married a lion,’ says Jones.page 43
‘You married a lioness,’ says Shura.
Some tiny bones in his foot have been splintered. Morphine's icy juice tinkles through his veins. The hours pass in dreamy alienation from pain.
Toward dawn, Shura goes outside to smoke a cigarette and watch the sun come up. In his wife's absence, Jones is visited by a chap in saffron robes.
The monk's head is shaven, his specs purple-lensed. ‘I hope you like barley sugars. I myself am partial to them.’
‘You have the advantage, sir.’
‘Forgive me. Some many years ago, you saved me from incarceration.’
‘I don't remember.’
‘No matter. I sensed you to be an enemy of hatred and delusion. And I think you remain a friend to the four virtues, the Palaces of Brahma.’
‘Tell me, worthy one—Is it wise to believe that all actions are symbolic?’
‘To shine one's shoes or drive one's car or frame one's closing argument in a spirit of prayerful optimism—This is wisdom indeed.’
‘And my daughter? Safe at last? Persuaded to forsake the frozen sterility of the South Pole?’
‘Even as we speak, Simone is flying home aboard an RNZAF Hercules.’
‘Did you know, arhat, that Ice Station Zebra was Howard Hughes's favourite movie?’
‘It kinda figures, Dave.’