Sin… the old fart

He was not your usual boring old fart. I wish he had been though. I wish he was an old duffer that wore chequered slippers and smoked a pipe, staring from under his flat cap as he watched the world drift by.

But he wasn’t. He liked a laugh. He liked to wear bright clothes, especially on dark days. Sometimes you’d almost need sunglasses on. And his smile matched the 200 watt wardrobe he insisted on wearing. Brighter than those houses who have Santas and snowmen and reindeer adorning the walls and garden every Christmas, so much so you can hardly see the bricks or grass. The ones where they can probably be seen from space and have the wheel or dial spinning frantically on the electric meter as the units are burned up at a breathtaking rate.

He was sunshine on a rainy day and as in your face as a Tango advert. Whether you liked it or not, he was a whirlwind of colour and clarity and calamity. Some days you wanted a bit of grey. Some days you felt like dipping down a mood and chilling. Some days he was so bouncy he would have put Tigger to shame. And some days you just wanted to slap him in the face and tell him to TAKE IT DOWN A PEG!

And he would.

For a second.

Then the spring inside him would coil almost to breaking point and he’d be off, with three times the energy threatening to blow him apart and cover you with effervescent coloured pieces of him.

And he insisted on being called Daniel. Never Grandad. Not Pops, Gramps or even Mr. Matthews. Always Daniel. That was weird. Calling your grandparent by their first name seemed unnatural, like it was disrespectful. Of course in these days where respect is dead, buried and decomposing nicely, that’s probably not such a big deal. But it always was for me. Hence, I’d always be being corrected. I like Grandad, he preferred Daniel. Not Dan, though. For all his flamboyance, he still had standards. So Daniel it was.

Like father, like son was a phrase that was never further from the truth. Daniel Sr., to give him his favoured name, was as generous and kind as his demeanour suggested. Daniel Jr., who was actually called Paul but was known as Dad, was a toss of a coin different. Daniel’s Heads to Dad’s Tails. How does that happen? How does one take all the decent genes from his progeny? How does the son get the blunt end of the Niceness stick?

Maybe it’s like blue eyes. They skip a generation.

For every bright colour Daniel was, Dad was a dark. Black to red. Grey to orange. Brown – the mucky brown that looks like your cat has left you a message – to yellow. For every smile that Daniel beamed, Dad had a grimace that slapped the happy look from your face. For everything Daniel gave, Dad took.

Granted, even though I see myself as a nice guy, the fact that people have died because of me probably means I’m not, but I have all of the very best intentions. I intend to be decent. I intend to be ‘good’. And, in the majority of cases, my intentions win through, carrying the baton of my nicety across the line to break the tape and take the trophy. The times that it doesn’t happen, that my intentions are squashed by Life’s great big fly swatter… well, I can’t help that. But he could. Dad could have tried to be a proper father. He could have made the attempt to show his son and daughter what a real dad was supposed to be.

But he didn’t.

Maybe he couldn’t. Like I can’t ice skate backwards. And I can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound. Maybe dad was incapable of showing any feelings other than disdain, digust and disinterest. Maybe he couldn’t help it, like I can’t help the things I do – the deaths, the pain, the horrors.

But at least I tried. At least I sought help. At least I shacked up with the devil – a devil in the disguise of Dr Connors – to try and purge the beasts from within me. Dad didn’t. He embraced them. He paid them dues and subscribed to their newsletter.

And I, along with my sister, suffered the consequences.

Parents, eh? Gotta love em.

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Sin… slush, grit and gristle…

Slush, grit and gristle. That’s how she always referred to it. She often had a way with words that reduced everything to its base contents. And slush, grit and gristle was pretty much what the meals they fed us consisted of. All wrapped up in a uniform grey colour that really appealed to the appetite. Granted normally there wasn’t much gristle in there to keep you going – that smacked too much of being a substantial meal, and we couldn’t have that now, could we? Then we’d all end up with bursts of energy and you might actually have to look after us.

Can’t have that. Lethargy was too strenuous for some of us residents. The Institute had a policy of calm and that calm was instilled by regular doses of irregular drugs and meals that looked – and usually tasted – like they’d already been scoffed, digested and excreted. Yummy, scrummy in my emaciated tummy.

She didn’t complain though. Not about pretty much anything, and, being pretty, she would have had a certain amount to complain about. Especially with Jersey being her orderly of choice – his choice not hers. Slimier than a snail on speed with a much harder shell. You felt like a gull caught in an oil spill if you so much as heard his voice. He liked her. Too much. But she didn’t complain. The bruises faded before they were replaced with new ones and abortion? What abortion.

I didn’t find out what she was here for until after she’d gone. She never said and, if you didn’t say you weren’t asked. Mostly, patients here liiked to talk about their illnesses and woes. It was a form of therapy that far surpasses the ‘care’ that Connors and his lackeys provided. A problem shared is a problem halved, so they say. Not so in this place. In some cases, a problem shared iss a problem taken on as your own and escalated to whole new levels of insanity. But still we talked. Still we shared. What else could we do?

But not her. Quiet. Almost camoflagued by her stillness and reticence. Barely moving so much so that your eyes missed her as you looked around the room. She blended in. She was magnolia in a room of scarlets and oranges and puces. Whatever colour PUCE is. Sounds like someone just vomited. But when she was gone, we noticed it. When she was gone, the lack of her tranquility – that you really didn’t notice while it was there – was palpable. She was the eye of the storm. An island of serenity that drew others to it like Lost’s.

It’s not always the fathers. It’s not always the uncles. Sometimes it’s the brothers or the sons or the dad’s drinking buddies. In her place it was the mother. Does violence beget violence like Adam and Eve begat Cain, Abel and Seth? I would guess her mother was violated as a child, or perhaps as an adult, and abusing her daughter was her escape – her vent. But one push, one slap, one intimate intrusion too far and the camel’s back shattered a thousand pieces. And she ended up here. For possibly the first time in her life she didn’t have to huddle in the corner or fear both falling asleep and waking up. She didn’t need to be afraid. Not even of Jersey. Jersey was scum, but he greased his way in, not drove through like a truck.

We don’t know how she did it. We don’t know why, really. Though I suppose we do. But they carried her body through the recreation room like a trophy… or a warning.

R.I.P. Caroline.

Slush, grit and gristle. She always called it that. Not sure she was just talking about the food.

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Sin… needles and pins..

Needles and pins. Prickly little friends that simultaneously bring you joy and pain. Not Joy as in my deceased sister, although she was, indeed, a pain. No. Joy as in bliss and pain as “It’s just a little prick, Sin”.

Yeah. All the jokes come to mind. They shouldn’t be looking, to be honest, but they’re the guys in the white coats with their latex gloves and tired smiles. They’re the ones with the restraints and they can snap them on you and strap you down in a record breaking ten seconds if necessary.

You know they actually boast about that? They have competitions some evenings. Grab a patient, hold them down and start the clock. Tick-tock tie the knot. Well, games like that keep insanity away I suppose. Considering they’re in the asylum with all us crazy people… And if you’re strapped down for long enough, and if those straps are tight enough, you get pins and needles when they finally release you and the blood begins to flow again.

But the flip side of Alice’s mirror. Not so much pins and needles, more needles and pins. In fact, to be more specific, just needles. I never liked them. Once, when I was having blood taken – this was in the old days when everything, including me, was normal and hunky-double-dory – I apparently went so white, the doctor said HE wanted to lie down! It was like, when they sucked out, in their one fanged vampiric way, that few little drops of blood, they took a whole chunk of me along with it. As if the needle was a succubus feeding on my life force.

Of course, it’s not. It’s just a little prick, delivered by, in most cases, a big prick. Do you get the feeling I’m not a fan of the dis-orderlies? Not sure what gave it away, really. I think some of them get a little trigger happy with the medication. Why give one jab when three will do nicely? Why push the needle in slowly when you can ram it home, squeeze it in and yank it out in three-tenths of a heartbeat? Well, administering prescriptions always seemed to interrupt the viewing of some soap or drama or football match that seriously couldn’t be missed!

Priorities people!

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Singularity’s Point

Name’s Sin.

Always wanted to do that but never got the chance. A bit like “Bond, James Bond.” Know what I mean?

No. Me neither really. It sounds good in my head.

Not that I hear voices in my head, you understand. Well, I don’t listen to them anyway. I suppose that counts.

Anywho. Name’s Sin. Ain’t that a kick in the teeth. “Sin-Sin-Siree there’s no place for thee” as my dear old dad used to say.

He’d laugh. He’d laugh until he cried.

I just cried.

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