Monday, 31 May 2010

Fantastic Voyage :: Chapter Eight :: Life Begins At 42

My mum wakes me up with a mug of tea. I’m in my old bed, in my old bedroom, on the 13th floor of a block of flats in the centre of Sunderland. Unlucky for some.

It's May 31st again. I don't know where the time has gone.

‘Happy Birthday, Karl,’ she says.

I sit up and take the tea from her. I thank her. Both of her hands are bandaged, on account of her arthritis. She's not sure the bandages help.

‘How are you feeling?’ she says.

I nod. ‘I still can’t remember anything,’ I say.

I know there was an accident. I know I was unhurt, pretty much. And I know nobody was with me in the car. That’s all I know. Everything else is a blur wrapped in a fog marinated in a long lost dream.

But I remember this place. I remember these windows through which I peered from the age of 13 to 19; beadily and greedily through big clunky binoculars I peered at the people of the city going about their night business, and I saw things you people wouldn’t believe. I tossed potatoes at urinating drunks on the shoulder of Parker's chip shop. I was hung from my heels by drunken friends at my own behest. And I remember all that like it was last week. Last week, however, eludes me.

‘But apart from that,’ I chirp. ‘I feel full of beans! I feel positively reborn, like today is the first day of the rest of my life. I’m 42!’ I cry. ‘It’s a magical number! It’s like, anything can happen.’

‘Silly sod,’ says my mother. Then: ‘Ooh. A thing came for you.’ She shuffles out, returning seconds later with a thing in her martyr’s hands. Is it a gift? It looks like a large card. She hands it to me.

It is a sign.

I take it in my hands...

...and all at once, it all comes flooding back.

I remember everything.

And I feel sad. And frightened. And excited.

I am alone.

'What is it?' says my mother.

'This is a keepsake from a dear old friend of mine,’ I reply. I look into my mother’s face. There is confusion. ‘Some guy I met on the road,' I explain. 'He really knew time, you know? He was like a saint, but crazy and with a big old heart. He set me straight about a few things.' I nod significantly. 'I guess you could say he pointed me in the right direction.’

‘Stupid bugger,’ says my mother. ‘Drink your tea,’ she says, ‘it’s getting cold.’ And she trundles out.

I put down the sign and get out of bed. I pick up my tea, open the window and take a deep breath. The city used to stink of brewery fumes. Now there's nothing.

It's cold. But May is almost out. As of tomorrow, clouts may be cast with alacrity. I smile, nervously. It's scary, but I look forward to casting them.

I’m 42.

It's like, anything can happen.

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Anonymous said...


boggledclumpf said...

double ??

Catofstripes said...

Clearly life begins once more for our hero, but what is his name now?

I'm lost.

Carnalis said...

Happy Birthday.

I was 42 forty days ago. Do you think it might need a kick start?

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday....Keyser Soze!
Uncle Did

justrestingmyeyes said...

"I think..." he murmured at last, from deep within his corroding, rattling thorax, "I feel good about it."

It's someone's birthday somewhere, so happy birthday to them. said...

I am more lost about this hitch-hiking malarky than I am about the finale of Lost, and that's really saying something.

CarolH said...

Oh no, its like the end of 'The Road' all over again. I don't cope well with these things. I'm worried.

Windypops said...

Happy birthday!

Have to confess, I'm a tiny bit confused myself, but I'm sure all will become clear.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to your blog post-Stan because I know the real you is infinitely more magnificent. And that's saying sumfink!

A Twitter Friend

I love the way it has all unfolded. Congratulations

Hope you've had a magnificent day today.

isabelle said...

Bloody hell, it's all happening over at NotKeith's place too. I feel a bit lost for words.
( Happy Birthday though , just in case it is x)

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday. :)

Catofstripes said it for me.....what happens after June 4th you still have a Sunderland accent?


Beleaguered Squirrel said...

Happy birthday!

Anonymous said...

Stupid bugger.

Happy birthday. Life, the universe, and everything.


Anonymous said...

I really, really don't know what to think.
Is there more?

Anonymous said...

What the hell is going on, Stan/Karl/Whoever? Do you mean to say you're merely the writerly equivalent of a ventriloquist? I'm disappointed. I cried at some of your posts, you know.