by Clark Nidaserialised here by permission of the author.

The record came to an end. Alan unclasped Leslie’s waist and held her at arm’s-length by her two hands, giving a short bow. She put her head to one side and smiled. Alan loved her freckles – far more than she loved them herself. He thought they made her look cheeky and available. He noticed that her freckles didn’t extend down her throat, which was smooth and white.

Momentary Alan had a vision of yellow teeth biting into that lovely throat. 

“Something wrong?”

She had noticed the flicker of revulsion pass across Alan’s face. Although she found his attentions embarrassing, especially with John around, she would have hated it for Alan to show signs of going off her. 

Alan lowered his eyes and shook his head briefly with a nervous grin. “No. Just something that crossed my mind.”

“Let’s take a break,” said Daphne, lifting the scuffed 45 off the turntable.

Alan accompanied Leslie back to the bentwood chairs lining the walls of the hollow hall. He liked waltzing with Leslie. The two-step was a bit too much like square-bashing. In the waltz you really could imagine that you were sweeping a girl off her feet.

“Are you one of those people who can’t turn off?” she said. 

“I never used to think so,” replied Alan. “But it’s been a hard day.” 

“You didn’t have to come along tonight…”

“Then I’d have missed seeing you.” 

The job had made Alan bolder. Or rather it had given him a different sense of proportion. Formerly the fear of sudden death and the dread of seeing disapproval in a pretty girl’s eyes hadn’t brooked comparison – the latter was by far and away the more distressing. 

“Have you ever had an uncooperative patient?” he said.

“Yes, often,” replied Leslie scornfully. “There’s one old buzzard in the corner of our ward who simply won’t do what she’s told. You can’t get it into her. She won’t put the top back on her spittoon and the cleaners knock it off onto the floor.” 

“You’ve not had to use paraldehyde?”

She looked at him as if he’d said “you’ve not have to bean them with a plumber’s Stilson?” 

“Never seen it used,” she said, making it clear she never wanted to. “Never heard of it even being prescribed.”

She re-crossed her legs, pulling her dress back down over her knees. “You just have to be firm with them. If they see you mean it, they’ll do what you want in the end.” 

Alan didn’t anticipate a lot more mileage in this conversation. John came and sat himself down with a bump the other side of Leslie. He thrust his arm possessively around her shoulder. 

“Alan’s talking shop,” she murmured. 

“Well – tell him to give over,” he growled. “He’s not at work now.”

it’s been an upside down sort of a day

the alarm went off this morning and you should have seen them run poor kim was left spinning round and round in circles 

mr hall just went off and left him but at least it gave him the peace and quiet to get his pants on straight 

the staff were back in a minute or two taking their time heavens knows what they were doing down there some poor sod getting jumped on 

anyway mr hall seemed a lot easier with mr pye than he’s been all week maybe it broke the ice or something so i took my chance to call for a bedpan

mr pye nudged mr hall to bring it and he wandered off as if it was the biggest chore in the world

 i don’t know what’s the matter with him i’m doing him a favour aren’t i else he’d only have to change the fucking bed 

it was a bit lonely when mr hall went off duty it was like the sun going in 

it gets like that these days 

mrs wirral came along and made me comfy for the night then sister came along and gave me my largactil 

peanut i said and sister laughed and said hee you are a card 

later i tried asking mrs wirral what mr hall’s first name was i thought i’d surprise him with it in the morning but she wouldn’t tell me 

she said that nurses don’t give out their first names 

but it’s not as if we’re strangers how can you be a stranger to someone who puts you on a bedpan…

…to be continued.


What’s the book about?

Buy the book