‘Only Here For The Ride’ is the unsympathetic voice of a young man escorting a manic depressive/tinnitus sufferer to a chemist and this is followed by ‘White Noise’, a poem about tinnitus.
Only Here For The Ride
Outside it has started to rain. I’m inside the motor. Waiting. For Kathy. The truth is, I’m only doing this right now as a favour called in by a good mate of mine. He was busy this morning and wanted me to hold her hand on the way to the shops. Told him what I’d expect to get in return and he saw no problem with any of that. Sounds easy enough.
But nothing comes laid on a plate and Kathy’s always hard work. There’s something wrong with her. She complains, cries and begs for sympathy about her invisible misery, her punishment from God – the ringing raging in both of her ears.
Kathy claims she once had a brilliant career as a DJ that spanned from
Ibiza in 1987 up until just before any of us first met her. Won’t touch a turntable though when we ask her for a demonstration. Says she is tormented by her past now that she has the constant ringing in both ears, how she can never sleep, think coherently. Last thing she needs is to go near the decks.
But I don’t believe her. About her past and her present. It’s all a show. Attention seeking.
It’s now starting to really piss down heavy and even though I’m under cover, in the passenger seat, I’m gonna get soaked when she drops me off later. If this keeps up. For some reason I’m picturing myself already back home, out of her car and getting wet as I jog up the lane towards the house. These idle thoughts get dislodged when I spy Kathy coming out of the chemist doorway. She pauses, regards the rain and disappears back inside.
It may have been only a couple of minutes, but it seemed like I was well into the next day by the time she reappeared. Having now appreciated that the rain had eased, she makes a bandy-legged run towards her car, the one with me inside, looking bored, hopeless, but watching her, watching Kathy skip round the puddles while clutching at a large green chemist take-away bag. I reckon she must dream about a perfect world with a 24/7 Chemist Drive-Thru.
“Sorry Gordon,” she says, getting in the motor, trying to sound like she means it.
“I’m only here for the ride Kathy,” I say back, because after all, that is the truth. “Get anything interesting?”
“Just the usual, you know, the usual.”
Just the usual is her funbag packed with antidepressants and sleeping tablets. This person is a vessel of pills. Shake her and she’d rattle all right. No wonder she can’t sleep.
“Still experiencing trouble with your sleep then?”
Her eyes sparkle to life for a brief second, no doubt what with me having just fooled her into thinking I am generally interested in anything but her body.
“Yeah, yeah, no improvement – even with the sleeping pills I still spend half the night wide-awake trying to cope with the noise.”
“I’m not sleeping too well these days either,” I tell her because I am sleeping appallingly right now. Don’t know why that is, just is. But typically, she hates any form of competition and immediately goes on the defensive.
“Well, I’ve haven’t got any pills to share…I mean, I’ve got none spare…they’re my prescription, Gordon; I have to have them all. That’s why my doctor prescribes me them. I can’t share, I’m not allowed to – ”
“Kathy, I was only stating I’m not sleeping well. Don’t worry, I don’t want what your doctor said you must have.”
She is clutching the big bag of pills tightly to her chest, her posture stiff and upright having just turned herself into an ice pop about to crack. She is fucking mental.
“Yeah, I know, I know,” she then says, with that slight smile. She begins to thaw some more and puts the bag behind us on the back seat. “Gordon, listen if you ain’t sleeping too good you should try taking Kalms. That’s with a K. Johnny Munn and Billy Compton, they use Kalms. A few beers Kalms and you’ll be out like a light. That’s what they reckon.”
She puts the key in the ignition and the car jumps forward aggressively and stalls. Kathy freaks out like we’ve just ploughed into the car in front. Which we nearly did. I was already braced for action. Kathy is a bad driver. She will regularly turn off the engine as she reaches a standstill with her foot still on the clutch, leaving the car parked in gear. She’s does this all the time; she’s a fucking nightmare.
“Kathy, there’s no need to cry, you left it in gear again. It’s no big deal. Calm down for fuck’s sake.”
Five minutes later and outside it’s stopped raining but Kathy is still a tear-stained mess. I wish I could drive. But I can’t so I have to sit waiting for her to relax, which really can take days sometimes. In moments such as these she should try taking fucking calming pills or something.
Wake up with the white noise,
in the middle of a black night,
like a jet plane taking off inside your head,
ears continue to ring long after take off,
suitably replaced with the unforgiving hum,
of some hellish long wave radio station,
out of tune to the usual whistling ghoulish shrills,
volume set on full, dial broken
There is little fun to be had,
when you wake up with the white noise,
in the middle of a black night,
tired thoughts paint a bleak picture,
of the lunacy that will prevail,
into the coming of another day,
as the piercing ringing continues to scream,
that familiar soundtrack
Best be friends with your white noise,
don’t fight the invisible host,
(no one else cares but you)
conserve all energy to accept,
a true part of your being,
go cradle you sub consciousness,
let it command you,
to suffer gracefully in silence or perish soon
© Joe England 2011