Saturday, 24 September 2016
In Cassidy's Care: 2: Last Monday
2. Last Monday
It had been a tense and testing week for Cassidy. 3 a.m. early last Monday, his neighbour’s latest lover (in a long line of latest lovers) had threatened him with a butter knife. Cassidy had been awoken by Monty’s screams.
“You fucker. You’ve fucking killed me Claude, you fuck”
Armed with a single leather slipper (left foot) and an early morning erection, Cassidy charged upstairs into the darkness with only his dressing gown for cover. As he reached the communal landing, a hooded figure blundered past before turning on him.
“Want some? Want some?” lisped the livid stranger, apparently Claude.
Cassidy hit the light switch and his bleary eyed bravado evaporated. It might have been but a butter knife but Cassidy definitely did not want some.
“Come on big boy, you gonna frisk me or fuck me?” drawled Claude, eyeing Cassidy’s now gaping gown. His eggy eyes popped and then narrowed; there was a smell of whiskey and stale sex. Cassidy pulled himself and his gown together. He felt naked and vulnerable without his glasses.
“Just go”, he said in a voice that was an octave higher than it should have been, and stood impotent, squinting as Claude’s sorry hooded ass stumbled down the stairs. Cassidy tied a double knot in the belt of his dressing gown and tentatively pushed open the door of Monty’s apartment. Monty sat bolt upright on a sofa, clutching at his right side.
“The fucker’s killed me”, he wailed.
There was an odd gurgling sound. Cassidy thought of his boys with plastic straws, clearing their coke bottles of that last holy half-inch.
“Hold it together Monty, I’ll call an ambulance.”
“I am holding it together. Literally. Look”
Monty raised a bloody hand from his satin pajama jacket. Even without his glasses Cassidy could see an ugly gash leering up at him, pink and frothy.
“Did you meet Claude? Isn’t he a charmer? From New York… one of yours Peter... I mix him a Manhattan and the fucker stabs me”
“He did that with a butter knife?”
“Uumphh” Monty started to roll onto his side.
“Stay with me Monty” Cassidy’s mind raced. He searched out the bathroom and returned with a towel, rolling it up into a ball.
“I want you to press this against the wound, Monty. Pressure’s the thing here.”
Thank Christ for compulsory first aid classes he thought and reached for the phone.
“Is your phone working Monty? I’m getting nothing from 911?”
“That’s because you’re living in London you prick” guffawed Monty before dissolving once more into that ghastly gurgling.
Cassidy reddened. He always knew he’d be found wanting in an emergency. Amelia had always maintained that it was a blessing he’d led an uneventful life.
“You’ll be crap come the revolution”, she had said just before testing her theory.
I love you, goodbye…
Cassidy; crying out loud again...
“Up yours” muttered Monty.
Later that morning Cassidy sat at his desk in the lower school lab, eating a stolen doughnut. Second graders were easy pickings. He liked the kids, liked the school. He was ‘Head of Department’ now, admittedly a department of one, but the title was worth an extra eleven hundred a year, even though it did come with a few extra curricular responsibilities. He also got to teach Daniel and Archie daily, so that was good.
“Teaching’s good” he said to his reflection in the monitor screen and heard his father’s voice. He pictured him on the porch of the family’s beach house in Cape Cod, poking at his plants with a rusty trowel.
“That’s good. Teaching’s good”, Harry had said when Cassidy showed him his college application forms.
“One more teacher means one less delinquent.”
His father could be an acerbic old ass but Cassidy recognized his approval.
As he prepared his first class of the day his mind fixed on the early morning’s events. An ambulance had arrived 17 minutes after he’d finally hit 999 and with Monty en route to hospital (and after changing into a more supportive jogging suit) he’d started making his statement to the police; a statement that he finally signed at the local station in Maida Vale four hours later.
It transpired that Monty had met Claude the week before “somewhere in Old Compton darling” and after a couple of dates had invited him home “for nookie and a nightcap”. Monty had caught him rifling through his drawers.
“He only got the Rolex, my worthless inheritance, all that my father left me. Tight arse.” Cassidy had walked beside Monty as the medics stretchered him down the stairs, towards the ambulance. “Lovely crocodile strap but never kept time.” He grasped Cassidy’s hand tightly. “Over wound, beautiful and useless. A bit like Claude really” he guffawed and then grimaced. “Sorry Peter, you Americans don’t do irony, do you?”
As Monty disappeared headfirst into the ambulance his bluing feet hung pitifully over the edge of the stretcher and Cassidy hung his own slippers over the clawed toes of his injured friend.
“Thanks old boy.” Monty’s voice echoed dolefully from the darkness within, “You’re a good egg. My extremities were beginning to feel rather chilly.”
He’d wondered if he’d ever see Monty, or his slippers again.
Finishing his doughnut, Cassidy brushed sugar from his tie and eyed his emails, noticing one from his oldest brother Tom. “Urgent. Ring home. Dad not good.”
“Dad’s had an episode; a stroke they think. He’s gone into a coma”, explained Tom two hours later when Cape Cod finally awoke. “They don’t think he’s going to make it.”
“Jeez. How’s Mom?”
“Annie’s OK; sitting by his bed, shouting at him to wake up and stop milking it. Keeps asking him what he wants for supper.”