“They won’t give me a gun,” moans Dad from his care home bed. A kind of wipe clean pre-coffin. “I don’t think they have any,” I say. Although, you wonder why not, I think. I mean, come on. Who are we fooling anymore? It’s not often you wish you lived in America, but sometimes…
After a month in hospital with Covid — which he somehow survived, unvisited, alone, against his will in the first place — here we are. Ten weeks since they put him here… finally I can finally come inside. In gloves that are too small to snap on and a cheap mask and a senseless plastic apron, like a slaughterhouse boy on a tight budget. “Good to see you!”
What Covid couldn’t do, hospitalization has. The small amount of power, the figment, the dream, the rumour of strength that let him live at home with me and Mum and the carers, has gone. Now he can’t move. Now it takes two people to turn him over, like something on a grill. Now here he is for as long as it takes.
You get six weeks of free care, then there is a kind of online court case to see who pays for this. It turns out swallowing and talking and breathing are “activities” which he is “participating in.” So he is not ill enough by these measurements. Merely old. So we are paying for him.
The bill comes. Christ. Who is looking after him. Paul Pogba?
Dad likes it anyway. At least he did when he knew what was going on. Now a UTI has claimed his mind. He thinks he’s back in the army. Malaya, 1949/50. Hence the gun thing. “No gun. No bullets!” He complains. Suddenly he’s OK. Asks me how I’m doing. Then he’s off again. “We’re sailing soon!” We may as well be. I see the future – floating care homes. Care rigs. Slightly offshore. Only answerable to international law. Credible hulks.
I’m glad the pandemic is easing so now I can finally stop explaining to Mum what it is. Every day. “Was I ill?” Yeah. Just a bit. “It’s quiet here!” “It’s quiet everywhere, Mum”. “Will you see your friends today?” “No.” Etc etc. Amen.
Serious question. If you killed someone within 28 days of a positive Covid test – would it still be murder?
I come home and tell Mum Dad is asking for a gun. She shrugs. “Maybe that’s the answer..?” I laugh. Then she says, “he could fight his way out…” . Like he was poised to escape. Like Steve McQueen. As opposed to being poised for very little, somewhat immobile, like Steve Hawkin. But I know what she meant. I accept the first answer. I accept everything. As they say in New Jersey, “What are you gonna do?”