Wednesday, April 15, 2009
What a lamb is.
A smashed skull off Via Dei Mille, another drunk has fallen from their chair. Sprawled, the fool lies on the ground motionless, cap saturated in red, a small pool of blood slowly forming around his head. It poured for some time before he woke up, then the feeling of being pinned down grabbed him, he stood up-right, fast as a bolt of lightning and grabbed the table to steady himself.
O, Olaf: what joke have you played on yourself? Quick assessment: burst egg shell skull. Minor pain. Plenty of war paint. Olaf rushes to the shower to wash off the blood, but it pours, trickles down neck and all through his clothing, outrageous! another anonymous unremarkable human, bleeding. Olaf doesn't feel right - unbalanced on his feet. Olaf berates myself. He has blood down the left side of his face: a clown paint - half red, half white. A sharp pain and letting throbs from the back of his head, and the neck is stiff and slightly twisted: look at this farce. Out of drunk concern, he decides on a shower, he fumbles in the bathroom, strips bare haphazardly, arms and legs entangled in clothing, struggling. Olaf holds onto the side of the bath, like an frail man, stiff and incapable. Slowly he stands up right, hot water pouring over his thin white back, a soft acid, stinging the flesh wound, he lets the water pour over his body, sighs with relief.
This is useless. He turns the shower off, dresses again - cautiously. Out of selfish concern, he knocks on the door of Mr Bianco, a reader of latin, maybe he can rescue. But he has passed out on his bed, drunk and debauched from the previous night. No waking him now. Dead to the world. He has found immaculate sleep and dream. Olaf knocks on young Pasquale, a student of physics. He is usually in his room with his lover, Donatella. The room is empty. Olaf decides to call an ambulance and in terrible pidgin Italian makes his ridicuous demand. They come, luminous orange knights of God to tend to his open wounds. They set to washing the wound. Are they thinking, tiny nick, what a time waster! They wrap a white bandage across his forehead and round his skull. A Rab C Nesbitt halo, he plays dumb, as they chaperone him down the stairs into the ambulance.
Italian hospitals are quiet and bare. Clinical white. Is this necessary, olaf asks, sitting giddy in his precautionary wheelchair, goggle eyed, glazed over, a doughnut of chance and foolery. People die here in private final rooms. Some one has throat cancer. A young girl with ginger spice hair is going in for surgery in three hours. An elderly woman is praying with her Rosary. Something serious is affecting them all. Life has brought out her weaponry to unbalance the scale on their soft, typical unassuming lives. They have long devastated faces. The lines are sharp, eyes moist, sober seriousness haunts them.
He shouldn't be here. He should be in bed. Drunk, sleeping it off, waking up to an Easter holiday week. But no, he is the invalid, Don Quixote in a wheel chair, where is his Sancho Panza? Now for the stitches. Only three, thank god, a pathetic trinity, at that. Five last year was enough. In and Out, In and Out, minor pain, Doctor weaves pin point miracles, tough on the last one. Nothing special. He deserves some pain. Someone mentions Braveheart, Olaf thinks of the word cretino. His heart is neither brave nor emotional.
Back into the waiting room. The death termius. Olaf, giddy, still drunk, sits and considers wheeling home, but he doesn't know the direction. How can I help you? Asks a male porter in pure white. (Do you know a good psychiatrist? Olaf should ask.) No grazie, he says, I'm okay. (The flesh wound is obvious but the real problem is unutterable. Olaf has a head problem.) Ok, he says, the Doctor will see to you soon.
Twenty minutes pass, then he's pushed to the radiology department by a male nurse. They want photos of his skeleton. The bare bones of his structure. Left, right, front, back, Open Wide. Olaf gets a look at the pictures and he sees only a horrible thin skeleton, not Olaf, not Poetica but a thin breakable, fragile web of bone and muscle, blood and microbiology. The jaw line like a permanent scream. He studies the evidence, the spine. The neck. The skull. The Doctor advises: Buy a neck brace. Go to sleep. Be watched over closely while you sleep. Return in a week to have the stitches removed. This will cost you money. Do you have a European Health insurance card?
Olaf lectures himself: learn control, not this self inflicting malady, this head trauma woe is me break dance. Tom Foolery, class clown, fractured psyche, tortured mooncalf of the genus homo eructus. Take a good look at someone else. He walks home, spaced nervous, a sterile sun warms the city bleach, his eyes strain through the white glare, his head reels. He wants to lie down, to reverse tactics from the previous night, to be reborn, start again, a clean slate. What disturbs him is private and unutterable. A problem of the head. He walks into the morning, away from the hospital, back to the apartment to sleep in a quiet corner.
Mr Bianco is awake, bloodshot eyes and a look of confusion at the door, as Olaf enters with a head bandage, tired and gaunt, like a sodden rag. Bianco asks: 'What has happened to you, all the blood on the kitchen floor?' Preoccupied, he continues 'Have you heard the news? L'aquila has been hit by an earthquake, 6.3 on the scale, the city has been pulverised, hundreds dead! Maybe more. Think of it! An entire city, not far from this city. Incredible!' They agree the situation is devastating. They sit down to watch the T.V. in the kitchen, the news transmit dismal tidings on the grim fatalities. They both agree, things are bad, things could have been a lot worse. Tectonic plates shift. Everywhere around the world people are awakening to different tragedies. We should count ourselves among the lucky.