Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Harrison Abbott

Apparently my uncle had had another of his suicidal drinking bouts and he needed help sobering up. I drove over to his house. And found him walking along the road, raging at the planet like a maniac. I got out of the car. And called his name. He turned around and squinted at me, barely recognising his own nephew.

“Get in the car, Tony.” It took him some convincing but I finally got him in the back seat. And all throughout the ride home he was singing soccer songs and then fuming about the government and then snarling at his ex wife.

The bizarre thing with Tony was that he was ultimately a sweet guy. A good guy, inside.

Anyway. We got home. And I told him to drink a pint of water. And then another one. And then I put him in my spare room. And ordered him to go to sleep. I drew the blinds. And said he wasn’t getting out of this room until he had slept for at least six hours. (This was all in the morning, by the way.) I put a bucket out for him if he needed to be sick or piss or shit. And I said that when he woke up, after the six hours, I would give him something to eat. And we could work from there.

“Is that a deal?” He nodded. And collapsed onto the bed – very, very nearly smacking his head on the wooden frame at the top. I put the covers over him. Would have taken his jeans off, if he were my son, but this wasn’t the case, so I didn’t. I left bottles of fizzy water and a pack of oranges out for him on the bedside table. And I made sure he was lying on his front.

Then left, and shut the door. From the end of the corridor I lugged the bookshelf from its usual place and pushed it down and parked it in front of the doorway. So that he wouldn’t be able to get out. It was a heavy brute and I hoped it would work. And then I went into the kitchen and made a cup of coffee and looked at my phone and read the newspaper.

I had gotten mid way through the newspaper, about thirty minutes after I had locked him in there, when I heard him banging against the door, bashing it with his fists.

“Let me out, Hugh! Why am I stuck in here! Let me out. I’m freaking out!” I went into the corridor and I yelled back at him,

“We agreed on this half an hour ago, Tony. You go to sleep for six hours. Then I’ll let you out. Now get back into bed and shut the fuck up!”

And my aggression must’ve worked. For he did exactly that.

Six hours later I went up to his door, and knocked on his door. He didn’t answer. I worried. So I moved the book shelf away. And then opened the door. It was all silent in the room. I tiptoed up to his bed to make sure that the body was still breathing. It was. Very lightly. He hadn’t vomited or pissed in the bucket. But he had drank a little bit of the water. So I figured I would let him sleep for a while longer. I went through to the kitchen. I boiled the kettled / chopped up some vegetables / as many as were in the fridge as I could find / and stuck them in the pot and added the boiling water and some veggie stock cubes. Healthy stuff. For when he woke up. Tony still hadn’t risen throughout all of this.

Then the night arrived outside. I sat at the main table reading a novel, and eventually heard the spare bedroom door open. Tony emerged into the kitchen. With weak, fearful eyes. We looked at each other. He motioned as if to say something with quivering lips but he failed to say anything. So then I said,

“Come and sit down, Uncle.” He was a bald man, thin, brittle as a piece of chalk. He sat at the table.

“I’m gonna give you some painkillers, Tony. To ease out the hangover. And then we’ll eat some soup that I made. Okay?”

“Sure,” he breathed.

The soup was still hot from earlier so I didn’t need to heat it up again. I poked out two aspirin pills from a packet and one pill of ibuprofen. [I did have paracetamol as well but that was the worst for the liver.] And gave them to him, and then I brought the soup bowl over, and laid some bread on a plate. We ate. In fair misery.

I turned the radio on, solely for some background noise. And just as I did so, the news bulletin began. There was a war on. Of course there was. And the bulletin woman relayed these awful facts and I regretted the radio decision: but then the sports news came on after that, and our football team had managed to win. So Tony said,

“That must be our first win in five matches?” I chuckled. We started talking about footie thereafter. It was something, anything – a little morsel of chat to grow upon. He ate the soup carefully. He was obviously ill. But, still alive. I didn’t judge him at all. I suppose I was a bit angry with him, that he’d spoiled my day – because I’d had various plans that he’d made redundant.

“This is real nice food, Hugh,” he said. I thanked him. And then he shrivelled up and he shuddered and he clapped a hand to his face. I thought: Please don’t start crying on me. But he whispered, instead, through his fingers,

“I’m so sorry, nephew.” I told him it was no hassle. Was glad to help. Many of us have issues and we need somebody else to give us aid, now and then.

“Don’t worry about it, Tony. Here. Let’s try and find some highlights of the game. Our crap football team managed to win: we should savour the footage.”

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