O my brothers, things have changed so very much. In such a very short time.
And I know it's all my fault.
Last week I found a tenner on the floor of the shop where I work. I knew it belonged to some kid or other, as the place was swarming with them, there being a match and everything. And I knew the heartbreak they would suffer when they found it missing.
I kept in my pocket for a while, scanning the crowded floor for some red-eyed or anxious-looking kid. There were none, o my brothers. And the tenner burnt a hole against my uniformed skin, stealing by finding. The very thing my First Year teacher used to bang on about. Mind you, the old cow banged on about a lot of things. But I was trying to be sincere, and would return it to the first brat who hollered. But there was no such sounds. Only whinging about all the small balls being sold out.
So, I resolved to put it into some sort of Poor Box, or to the Salvation Army. You know that one who stands outside M&S. Well, did I shite?! 20 fags, 2 packets of Knick Knacks and a can of coke later....
But the memory of this illicit tenner did not desert me and I began to feel the chill of vengence.
On Monday, when my mum didn't answer the phone, I told my brother, who went round her house and had to break in. Finding her ill and helpless, they called the ambulance. Brother then rang me at 4 am to tell me it was a heart attack (and not the suspected food poisoning), and that she was being moved to The Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green, and that she may not make the transition. The chances are that she could die before she gets there!
I lay back in the bed. Did my punishment HAVE to be this cruel? Because nothing could be more brutal than this. The Monkey's tenner had slapped me coldly in the face. I mean, true, mum was 82 and had smoked 60 a day for about the same number of years, but still I felt responsible. She wasn't ready to leave us yet. I couldn't see her not opening the Christmas present I had brought her. Nor could I see her departing from this world the same time as Ken Russell! While a hero to me, he was odious to my mum. It would be insult to injury!
In less than an hour, bruv phoned again, to say she'd arrived there safely and was sitting up. Now you would have thought my punishment ended there. Teaching me a lesson and all that. But no, it has been relentless. Traipsing to Bethnal Green - WHAT a shit hole! How long has THIS place been here?
Then on to Whitechapel and intensive care. Working my way all round the Monopoly board. She seems to make progress, then takes a step back. They have put a pacemaker in, but she had a very bad night. Do I lose my mother the same way I lost my Dad? In a cold institution full of strangers?
In somewhere I had never set foot in before, and never likely to again?
Of course, my wish came true. I am no longer going to that awful, hot Florida (Husband and kids are tho'). But like the Monkey's Paw, I got what I wanted in such a horrible way. Be careful what you wish for, eh?
Thank God I didn't wish for money!
Not allowed to visit mum, because of the bad night and everything. How dare a load of strangers tell me not to see my own flesh and blood! But I am powerless to argue with such a big insitution. They also don't want relatives phoning all the time, they told my brother, but that's tough shit, if they've got phones, they can fracking answer them. It's a hospital, they're gonna have visitors and callers, aren't they.
Oh dear, this is a grim post, sorry.