Hospitals are all about fighting—people fighting for their lives, fighting to stay alive; the doctors fighting to save people’s lives; the battles against Cancers; the bouts of Malaria; the final Blow of death… And they are also about dying—people dying to stay alive, or just dying; the doctors dying to go home to their families; families dying to go home to their beds, or go outside for a smoke, or a smooch; nurses dying to fall in love, their feet killing them… Fighting and Dying, that’s all it is.
On the TV, Tyson and Holyfield are fighting. Tyson is dying. There is blood allover his iron face, everywhere. (I don’t know why hospitals are so stingy with their tellies—the things are sooo tiny, and turned so low like the voices at a funeral! Maybe they’re just jealous there’s more fighting and dying on the telly than in them; more bigger fightings—Iraq, America, Iran, Liberia, Congo, Tyson/Holyfield… and plentier dyings—millions in plane crashes, billions in car bombings, grillions in famines and genocides, etc… So they try to make all these big fightings and dyings seem less important and less relevant by squeezing them all into these their toy tellies and killing their sounds…)
Dare beside me is dying for a fight; he has been punching me lightly (yet unplayfully) all evening, all over my body. I haven’t punched him back because he swallowed a needle, and I don’t think he has the stomach for a fight right now. Yeah, I’m usually nice like that, like Christ.
We have been waiting since Genesis. They are supposed to give him something for him to drink, or eat, so that he can shit the needle out… I think it is something to eat, because if they give him something to drink, he’ll have to piss the needle out instead, and that would be difficult, almost like trying to make a camel pass through the eye of a… well, a needle.
Dad doesn’t really give a shit if Dare eats or drinks—he is busy watching the boxing, with some of his eye; and watching the cute-bottomed nurses pass with the rest. Mum is still in the village, and Dare’s mum. That’s why Dad doesn’t really give a shit; there’s no woman around to make him give it.
Dare doesn’t give a shit too—so the doctor says they have to carry out a minor operation on him, to retrieve the needle. The old doc gets to beaming like a bastard, his eyes glittering insanely behind his glasses, rubbing his palms together, and licking his lips like the devil at supper. These docs, they just love a good cutting-up of the stomach anyday! It made their boring jobs of poking chests with stethoscopes more interesting; like they were really saving lives.
At the news, Dare stopped punching me. His happy face collapsed into itself, the smile falling off it to the floor. I added my smile to the doc’s. I imagined Dare spread out on the doctor’s desk, his stomach cut open, like a chicken’s, screaming his lungs and heart and liver and kidneys out, and the doctor not finding the needle, so they can’t stitch his stomach back… so he dies.
Why Dare swallowed a needle:
(i) Because he is Stupid;
(ii) Because he fancies himself the King Clown, and said Dad’s jokes couldn’t have him in stitches, not even if he swallowed a needle! (well, it turned out not to be funny);
(iii) Because his mum and dad are not married to each other, like real parents; so he has only a mum; it’s like a person having only one arm, or only one leg, or one eye, or one part of the brain (that must be why the boy is a half-wit the whole time.)
The fight is over—Mike Tyson has eaten Holyfield’s ear.
And now everyone is fighting on the telly—the referee, the reporters, the photographers, the spectators—every body, fighting in the small ring, inside that small, tight telly, crowding my eyes. Dad’s mouth and eyes are wide open.
Holyfield is weeping into his corner like a grandma, holding where his ear used to be. There are some people consoling him, putting their anonymous hands on his big shoulders—he doesn’t know them; but they have touched the real Holyfield, the real deal, and have touched his sweat, his earblood, his granny-tears, touched the hem of his shorts, groped further up (to confirm if he was really a no-balls boxer…)
Tyson, on the other side, is fighting the crowd. They are swarming allover his body, wanting to kill him, crying for his blood, for his tears. They can’t touch him like Holyfield; they are content with hitting him with hard questions, cameras shooting him from all sides… He is the Winner. Because he is not crying, and he has an ear in his mouth to show.
Dad looks as if he is crying, not out like Holyfield, inside, like a man, swallowing his tears, while Tyson chews on an ear…
The doc comes out—he couldn’t find the needle; but he found two screws, one 1-kobo coin, a wedding ring, about 5 keys and a red Coca-Cola top. He asked us to come and identify the items. None of them was related to us; we didn’t recognize them. And none of them belonged to Dare. Well, except the screws, which must have dropped into his stomach after they had got loose in his brain. And the keys were from the five times he locked me in the kitchen store and “threw away the key” (swallowed the key, i.e.)
That night, Dad found the needle in the livingroom. He didn’t find it; he sat on it, during the Network News. The thing went straight home, far into his ass, the right cheek, like a bloody injection. We had to go back to the hospital. They had to cut his right ass open. Dare and me didn’t give a shit, or two. In fact, we were happy—we could stay up late to watch Wild Rose on the hospital’s matchbox telly. All the nurses were watching it too, and talking. While people were dying and fighting for their lives all around them.
I hadn’t really intended to tell him, but you know how when there’s a Burden on your chest and it doesn’t let you breathe, and it gives you a cough, so that you think you’re going to die. I did not want to die with this Thing on my chest. I did not know what It was but I just knew It was there; just sitting there and growing everyday like a Tumour. And I knew I had to get it off my chest; I just did not know how, or whom I could get it off on. A doctor? A lawyer? Or A manofGod. Three people that had been trained, and were professionally qualified, to receive people’s shitloads of secrets, and who were imprisoned by a responsibility of Confidentiality .
A doctor?—I hated hospitals; apart from the chloroquinestink and tiny tellies, the doctors were just a hard pain between the eyes, with their bore-ing stares and probing questions and fingers…
A lawyer?—I hated lawyers: the lofty legal lingo they chewed and spat down on you, the lousy learned looks they wore below their dirty wigs…
A manofGod. I don’t hate God. I can’t say I don’t love Him… Well, I usually just met Him halfway, at the intersection between sin and sundayschool, and gave Him my offering and Our Father, and went along on my way, and every body was happy.
So it was only natural that it was a manofHim I would go to. (I couldn’t have just gone straight to God like that, directly, like just barge into His Oval Office with a stupid tiny confession, when there were bigger files like The Gulf War, The Liberian Civil War, The SAP, sitting on His Massive oak Desk.)
The manofGod made me comfortable. His eyes, they were nice, like Jesus’s own, moist and soft, they would dissolve easily, into sweet tears. His wife’s hair reminded me of Mary’s (or is it Martha?), the way it poured into my glass with the malariapiss-coloured drink she was serving me; but when she looked up and sat down, she looked like Jezebel again, and my Adam’s apple got stuck in my throat. I swallowed.
The sickly juice tasted like poison… I waited. To die.
The manofGod and his Woman were waiting too, opposite me. Waiting for me to come out of my mouth. I swallowed five hundred times, until I had only one drop of saliva left. I lubricated my tongue and cleared my throat with it.
‘Can we be alone, sir.’
‘She is my wife! This is my house…’
‘It is my confession, sir—‘
—and I will choose who I want to confess it to. There are more menofGod in the city than there are demons in hell, you know. The man saw in the slight shift of my buttocks on the chair that I was slipping away between his fingers with the juicy prospects of my confession. He whispered something in his Wife’s ear. She smiled all her wicked teeth at me, but she didn’t move. It was her manofGod husband that did; he stood up, ‘Come, Follow me—‘ He sounded as if he was recruiting disciples at the edge of the sea. I followed him, like Simon Peter. Into his office. But we were still not alone—Jesus was everywhere!—on ancient calendars; in clocks’ sad faces, the clocks’ lifeless hands on His own face; on the faces of books; nailed to one million crosses everywhere you turned, looking at you; seeing your sins; sad, unhappy, unsmiling, unmoving/unmoved, (unchanging—holy, white, blonde, in all the pictures and on all the crosses); praying, dying, resurrecting, ascending; water-walking, healing, flogging; everything, everywhere, omni-Present!
I sat down. The office was as tight as a fist, and as small as a confessional, and all the Jesuses were just closing in on your poor soul all the time, in that small space, each with His own salvation. My Claustrophobia set in, and my lungs shut its doors.
‘Please. . . can. . . we. . . o-pen. . . the. . . win. . . dows. . .’
The manofGod laid hands on a dead fan in the corner. It came back to life with a groan and a cough, and just stood there nodding and blowing its thick sadness upon a single spot.
My Claustrophobia only became tighter, as the room grew smaller, its walls squeezing my chest, a billion Christs pressing in on me from all sides like fans on Michael Jackson.
The fan in the corner moaned its pain on us and didn’t do anything else.
To come out of this hot Claustrophobia I closed my eyes and tried to picture the sky, white blue grey… clouds birds kites… angels mansions…
‘… A-men. Let us pray…’
I opened my eyes. His own eyes were closed, his forehead like an open bible, wide, with scrawled lines on it.
‘Lord, our Dear Lord God, Maker of Heaven and of earth, The Father of our Brother, Jesus Christ; our Father, Your son has come with his sins to—‘
‘They are not mine!’
‘—to You, The Father and Forgiver of all sin, great and small; Father, Your son’s sins may be—‘
‘I said they are not my own!… They are my father’s sins!’
‘—Father, You have said in Your Word that the sins of the father will be visited upon the son, unto the seventh generation; as this Your son has recognized this and has brought his sin… his father’s sin, to Your feet, Father, have Mercy upon him… and upon his father, and his father’s father, up unto their seventh generation…’
I watched his praying lips; they were not going to stop. That is how menofGod are—when they get going, it is hard to stop them; they just go on and on and on and on about it… and he hadn’t even heard the sin yet…
Well, since he wouldn’t stop, I just began laying my confession over his prayer, on top of it, in a missionary position. That stopped his lips. He began listening. By the time I finished, the vicar’s mouth was hanging open, prayerlessly, just open—empty, dark, like a Christless tomb. And something had happened to his nice, holy eyes; eyes that were supposed to dissolve, or melt; they looked hard-boiled, hot-red, like hell-fire.
‘Is your father a Christian?’
‘I don’t know… He doesn’t know…’
‘Are you a Christian?’
I didn’t know there were types of Christians. Like bloodtypes.
‘A good type,’ I said.
He smiled. ‘Anglican?’
‘Oh. I am a… uhm.. I go to this… the Sword of Fire Bible Ministries Church…’
‘Oh, a neo-pentecostal.’ He sounded like a racist. A white one. Angli-can. ‘Hm.’
After a long, bigoted silence, during which I could feel a crucifix crawling up my ass, he said, ‘You can go and sin no more; your sins have been forgiven.’
If the bible hadn’t said we should Touch not His Anointed and do the prophet no harm I would have touched this vicar’s jaw with a proper blow. I was angry! The reasons: Who was he to for-give me of my sins!; They were not even mine—they were my father’s bloody sins!; and I expected him to flare up and go mad and threaten to kill Dad!, but he just smiled and forgave me of my sins, and that was all(?).