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A LONG SLEEP – copyright Stevie Turner 2019

(you can find Chapter 4 here)


Chapter Five

The café is almost empty at nine thirty on the Monday following my holiday, and I’m able to plonk myself in Kieran’s seat.  I allow myself a little bit of cream on the scone today as well as the jam, as a kind of pick-me-up I suppose. 

It’s rather sumptuous to take a bite and savour the artery-clogging cream.  I don’t care that some of it stays around my mouth, as I’ve got my back to everyone.  However, in mid-bite I’m aware of a waft of fried breakfast coming from somewhere behind me.  A pleasant baritone voice pipes up.

“Didn’t see you last week.  On holiday were you?”

The man who likes to sit in Kieran’s seat is standing by my right shoulder holding a loaded tray, and I have my mouth stuffed full of scone.  I swallow noisily, then take a serviette and wipe the remnants of it away.

“Yes.” I smile and extend my hand. “Do sit down if you like.”

“Thanks. Don’t mind if I do.”  The man’s tray is already on the table. “Wherever you were, you obviously caught the sun.”

“Only Great Yarmouth. “  I sip some tea and hope I look presentable. “It was nice to get away.”

“Ah, Yarmouth.” He nods. “I spent many a happy hour there as a lad.  Lovely beach.”

“Yes.”

It would be rude of me to speak to him while eating, so I just drink my tea instead, which is starting to become horribly lukewarm.  The man obviously has no qualms about etiquette, and shovels in two fried eggs before taking a noisy gulp of tea.

“I must ask a burning question.”

I shrug.

“Fire away.”

“Why do you like to sit in that particular seat?”

I’m reluctant to blurt out all Kieran’s medical issues to a total stranger, and so think for a moment before replying.

“It was always my son’s favourite spot in the café.  How about you?  Why do you like it?”

He chuckles.

“I don’t tend to get bothered by Joe Public if I sit facing the wall.”

I look at him with interest, but I definitely do not recognise his features.

“Are you a rock star then?”

He bites on a slice of fried bread and laughs out loud.

“Not quite, but I do give lots of demonstrations, and people tend to remember my face if they attended and want to start telling me all their problems.”

“Ah, I see.”  I reply.  “What sort of demonstrations?”

The man cuts into a sausage.

“I’m a healer.  A spiritual healer in fact.”

I’ve no idea what a spiritual healer is, and so I decide to mask my ignorance with silence. We finish our food and the man sits back in his chair.

“My name’s Michael. What’s yours?”

“Connie.”  I reply.  “Connie Parrish.”

“Michael Duvale.”  He stretches out his hand. “But call me Mike. Pleased to meet you.”

The handshake is firm, and his grip leaves my fingers strangely tingling.  I smile at him.

“Pleased to meet you too, Mike.”

I feel it would be seemly of me to stand up now that my cup and plate are empty.  I glance at my watch to see that over an hour has gone by in a trice.

“Probably see you tomorrow if you’re around?”

“I’ll be here.”  Mike nods.  “Same time same place.”

***

Bill is even grumpier than usual when he brings Kieran back.

“He’s been really noisy today.”

I look at my son, who is thrashing about in his wheelchair and making animalistic grunts.  His face is screwed up as though in pain.

“It’s that back tooth, I think.  I’ll get the GP to refer him to hospital. They’ll have to take it out.”

As soon as Bill takes his leave I’m on the phone to the GP surgery.  They know me too well now. 

“Could you get Dr Patterson to phone me, please?  It’s Mrs Parrish, Kieran’s mother.”

“Does Kieran need a home visit?”

Sandy the receptionist has a soft spot for Kieran, I’m sure.

“Well Sandy, he has a decayed back tooth that’s giving him trouble.  He needs a referral to the hospital, as obviously he’ll need an anaesthetic.”

“I’ll get the doctor to call you after surgery ends.”

I end the call in the hope I’m not classed as one of those overbearing, pushy mothers.  I just want the best for Kieran, who has had a bum deal in life and deserves not to add being in pain to his long list of medical complaints. 

The doctor is able to visit mid-morning the following day.  He confirms a decayed and infected tooth, and writes an urgent referral to one of the oral surgeons at our local hospital.  Kieran has been a regular patient there for quite a few years now, and I’m happy that they’ll call him in as soon as possible.  As I sit and spoon feed Kieran with his morning snack I realise I’ve missed another morning chat with Mike, but what sort of mother would I be if I didn’t put Kieran first?

Chapter 6 on Tuesday…