Saturday, 7 July 2007

Chapter 115

While Danny Longhurst’s mind was performing genealogical gymnastics, Dacre Lawrence’s wasn’t any calmer. If he’d been there longer than a few days, he might have realized that the Sunday afternoon routine at Northallerton Hospital didn’t alter much. Some of the beds in the ward had emptied for the weekend, as relatives collected their loved ones and took them home, planning to return them on Monday.

For Lawrence, there was no such joy, and not even a visitor to break the figured monotony of the day. A mind locked in a body that can’t be moved, a voice all but stilled by a tongue that only vaguely forms the words it wants: it leaves the mind only to play its fevered tunes. The good doctor had had plenty of time to reflect on things as he lay in bed over the past few days.

His professional knowledge of how a stroke can affect someone led him to realize that it might be some considerable time before he recovered his missing faculty. He wasn’t even scheduled to see the consultant until Monday: he knew who it would be, and had never liked the man – and, he realized now, the feeling was most probably mutual. Lawrence’s sense of vulnerability was growing, by the hour. Even after seeing the consultant, he knew it might be some days before they began any meaningful treatment. So much of the care afforded to people in his situation consisted of watching, and waiting.

What had his life been, he wondered, to come to this? Years wasted in the pursuit of money – for what? He had no family, nobody who truly cared, one way or another, what happened to him. His colleagues at the practice would doubtless be speculating about his return, and had maybe even already organized things on the assumption that he wouldn’t be back.

That was it, then. Staring at the closed door to his room, listening to the sound of nurses chattering as they passed along the corridor outside… what had he done, after all, to deserve this? He wrestled with the problem for some time. What he had learned, in such a spectacular fashion, was that he hadn’t honoured his parents. They’d brought him into the world. Had lavished their love and attention on him, had sacrificed much (he now realized) so that he could make his way in life and repay them by … turning his back on them.

His mind traveled back to the day he had so wantonly discarded all his father’s papers, without even a second thought. At the time, it had seemed the sensible thing to do – all those books, all that ephemera stacked in boxes: who needed it? Certainly not Dacre Lawrence! There was nothing about his father, the retired factory worker living in his tiny house in Thirsk, that had suggested he was anything other than a hoarder of worthless papers.

The galling thing was to know that it had been Cyril Galloway who had forced him to reflect anew – the same Cyril Galloway who, he sensed, was double crossing him in his time of need, who might have been the closest person he had to a ‘friend’, but who had – Lawrence suspected – taken advantage of him, even before the stroke.

Now, he wondered whether the letter to Laurel McFry had been enough. He hoped she heeded his warning, kept a watch for Galloway. Had he redeemed himself, in some small measure, by writing to her? He could only hope so.


the domestic minx said...

Oh I do hope so too...
How horrible to be so impotent!
What has one done indeed!

Lord Likely said...

There is nothing wrong with being important. I am very important indeed.

Oh, impotent? Sorry, I misread that. I blame the whisky.

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

To quote a dear friend, 'It's a brave man who admits to self-impotence'...
I doubt anyone would ever accuse Lord Likely of that!

70steen said...

So glad that Dacre has felt some remorse (and so he should) I did wonder what would be going around in his head whilst his body is held captive, a life threatening scare does focus the mind some what!!.... excellent as ever Tom

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Thank you, 70steen. I'm still not sure I like Dacre - how could a historian forgive him for dumping his father's precious papers?


70steen said...

he probably doesn't like himself too much now either by the looks of looks of it!! (know what you mean though as a fellow historian .... throwing away papers and history... makes me go all goose bumpy)

Theresa111 said...

I feel sorry for him. Trapped like this and having to watch and wait. Not being able to communicate and realizing his folly in his past treatment of others. Forgive the sinner, so you too will be forgiven. I cannot help it. This stuff was drummed in my head from day one. I suppose it's not such a bad thing to do …forgive one another. So, I hope he has learned his lesson, snaps out of it and recovers to do good for the remainder of his days. Empathy. That's what my Mother gave me. God bless her! Now I need a drink. It is after all still Saturday night, and it's way past my bedtime. Warm milk? Yuck.