Scruffy

Kill me. This heat! This ridiculous assignment! Better still, let’s kill the editor. The only thing keeping me from bolting is Scruffy sitting opposite me, looking if possible, even more dejected.

“Absolutely mental mate! Should have just quit the assignment and got out when we still had a prayer.”

Scruffy and I are journalists. And because of some idiot editor’s whims, we are having to spend a glorious sunny Saturday morning at the stupid St. Mary’s asylum trying to get a grasp on the falling standards of NHS since the new political regime change. Painfully dull work. Saanvika Mridula Sengupta – I was supposed to be doing great things! I was supposed to be bloody reporting from the war-zone, not drinking watered down decaff out of a flexible sippy-cup! Scruffy has actually started smoking, after quitting for, what is it, the 7th time this year?

For those people who labour under the delusions that psychiatry wards are full of misadventures and bangs and noises, let me assure you, there is nothing exciting about a bunch of folks walking about aimlessly, bumping into each other and muttering rubbish. The most exciting thing is when some poor bastard gets dragged to his room to be force fed medicines by the overbearing grouchy staff.

Scruffy’s real name has been forgotten over the years of bad fitting clothes and a total lack of shower. But he is a brilliant journalist and my best mate.

Oh great! Old Mrs. Harris has peed her pants again. What amusement! I could cry I am so bored. I compromise by yawning and chewing on the end of my pen.

“I mean, if we are talking about falling standards, how about discussing why newspapers are talking about psychiatry wards when the entire European market is going to pot! You can’t stuff things down peoples’ throats when they don’t want to swallow it.”

“You have been watching the news again.” Scruffs is talking to me. “Haven’t I told you it addles peoples’ brains?” Scruffy has given up all pretence, his sheets lying forgotten, and is just staring around the room. There is a TV droning somewhere. News.

Mr. Chip is talking to himself again. Bless him. I haven’t seen anyone come to visit him. Feel a bit bad for him. This quest to prove oneself to be an island is making complete loners out of people. I am not sure who I am feeling sorry for here. Am I not alone? Oh lord! I am making bad poetry now!

“Dude! You heard about the tourist shuttle through space?” Scruffy’s words draw me out of my head. “You know, the day they make the news official, I am buying my seat”.

“Scruffs, you might find your freelance peanuts to be a bit less than the expected asking rate for the trip!” Dear old Scruffs. Always making plans of getting out. Never been able to explain to him that some things, you just can’t ever get out of. Like this bloody assignment. But I guess when you are stuck in windowless rooms where they are trying to fry the madness out of you… Why the hell is the air-con not switched on? Maybe Scruffs and I should write about that. I could already see the head-line: NHS cuts lead to sun strokes. Sub-heading: Air-con cuts to save hospital budgets. It’s like a conspiracy to make you mad if you aren’t already there. What’s with the buzzing? Oh God! I am allergic to bees. I hope it’s not bees. Scruffy has dozed off. He is wasted in this profession. Brilliant imagination! No idea why he is forever stuck in this dead-end job. Must get out.

“Come along dear.” Uh oh! Nurse, 12 o’clock! Should probably wake Scruffs up, you know, just in case. Not sure about visitor rules around here. Do we qualify as visitors? “Scruffs! Oi!”

“Come along dear. Just leave your toys. Time for your medicine.” Why does she have to speak to people like they are idiots? How utterly condescending! Who is she talking to? Really need to wake Scruffy up.

“Mate, wake up. The orderlies are coming over. Damn it!” Is it illegal for people to sleep in this ruddy place? “Seriously Scruffs, stop snoring and get up.” What’s going on? Why are they coming towards our table?

“It’s alright dear. There is really no need to cause all this commotion everyday; now is there? Oh just strap her. Jeez! Every single day! Get that dirty old teddy as well or she’ll make a racket. And throw that filthy scrap of paper. That disgusting chewed up straw too. Saanvi dear, just relax. Just open your mouth like a good girl and swallow your medicines.”

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