Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A Heartless wizard of Oz parody (Because no-one's ever done one of those before)

Tin Woodman.png
He's all like, "Arrgh! I haven't got
a heart!" Image via wikipedia

 The hospital was bleak, dull and ironically lifeless. An attempt at Christmas cheer had been made, garlands in brightly-coloured bunches hung from the walls, moulded plastic decorations grinned at us from walls of grey breezeblock. With Christmas long over, it would have been appropriate to take the decorations down, but no-one had done so. A thick coating of dust had settled on the icy iconography, a testament to the cleaning staff of the hospital. The decorations themselves, dust aside, were disturbing on their own merits, and regrettably, I locked eyes with them.
 I looked into the cold, dead eyes of a Snowman, looking back at me with the emotionless grin of a psychopath from beneath a warn top-hat. Stick-arms gripped a broom, his twigs curling around the handle in what I took to be a dark parody of hands. His coal eyes fixed on me, following me around the room, burning with a hatred I found frankly surprising. I wasn't even sure why a snowman needed a brush. He couldn't move, for one thing, and what was there to sweep away in winter but snow? His body was made of snow. It would be like us sweeping human flesh from our driveways, making small mounds of the stuff and laughing happily as our children threw it at each other, if snowmen were allowed to sweep up snow. Probably.

 With time, my gaze rolled away from the snowman, returning at last to the only occupied bed in the ward, in which my friend slept. His face to one side, his hands put together as for prayer under his head, he looked peaceful for a moment. Better to sleep, I supposed, than sit here cold and alone, and contemplate Christmas decorations.

 Dully, a CD looped behind us. Christmas songs are one thing, acceptable in their place and so on. But the CD was stuck on Wham!'s Last Christmas, repeating over and over again. And besides the insanity-enduing monotony of the whole thing, the song wasn't entirely appropriate. As I mulled this over, the sleeping figure stirred. Seeking to spare him the musical hell, I leapt to the CD player, and tempestuously switched it to radio.

 "What's happening?"

 I looked to the bed, "Nothing Nick," I replied. "Go back to sleep."

 "No, why're you jumping around? Are there flying monkeys?"

 "No, don't worry." I replied, patting my friend's outstretched arm. A hollow echo reverberated throughout his tin limb, "I was just fiddling with the radio, that's all."

 "Oh, right. Any news on a donor?"

 I shook my head sadly. Despite the assurances given to my manly tin friend, it turned out in the long run one cannot live without a heart. I mean, he didn't need it for any emotional reasons because that's not how biology works, (Yes, I'm objecting to the idea of emotions coming from the heart, but not the idea people can have their bodies replaced with tin and keep on living) and he didn't need a heart to pump blood or anything. Regardless, he needed a new heart for some reason I didn't understand. I'm not a tin man doctor, leave me alone.

 We sat in silence. Truth be known, I didn't really know the tin man very well. I'd met him a few years ago at a counselling session for the survivors of flying monkey attacks, and when I heard about his medical troubles, I'd come to visit out of sympathy. However, he didn't have many friends in the area, so I'd continued to visit regularly, a grim experience which out-of-season decoration did little to improve. (I met a tin man once before. Clearly, it was a different guy. If you wanted a consistent narrative, you've come to the wrong place)

 Behind me, the radio blared on. My mind drifted, then centred on the lyrics. Tina Turner's, What's Love Got to do with it?, just arriving at the chorus. My mind focused, and my eyes widened.

What's love got to do, got to do with it? Asked the lyrics.

"So, Nick, want to get out of here?"

What's love but a second hand emotion

"I'm in a hospital." He replied. "I haven't got a heart. Where would we go?"

What's love got to do, got to do with it

Too late, I thought to myself. Desperately, I tried to think of something to say, hoping to drown out the next line. But it was too late.

Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?

I panicked. Nick Chopper, his mind elsewhere, didn't even hear the line I was so worried about, but I didn't realise that at the time. Instead, I threw out the first thing that came to mind.

"Why do you rust? You're made of tin! What's wrong with you?"

 The tin man cried. Small, oily tears streamed from his eyes and streaked his face, staining his exterior and dripping onto the bed linen. This continued for a few minutes, an unremitting sadness carried out under the watchful eyes of a stern Santa head you wouldn't let near your children. Time passed, and so did the tears. The tin man addressed me thusly:

  "Why are you my only visitor anyway? What happened to all my other friends, and where are my Winkies?"

 But his question remained unanswered. Visiting time was over, and I was too busy laughing at the word "Winkies" to offer any reply.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The time I met Hitler's cat

There came, with eminent foreboding, a knock upon my door. Nothing new there then.

 Upon opening that dreaded portal, I fount 'twixt my door-frame a small cat. I could tell he was down on his luck, because his suit was rather worn and tattered. It was an unusual suit, resembling the kind of thing you might see on an 80s business man. A grey jacket adorned his shoulders, a white collar on a blue striped shirt affixed with a yellow tie. As he bowed down and his arms parted back and pulled, I even made out braces. Red, burgundy perhaps. But his suit was worn, torn and unloved. And, suit or not, he was a talking cat; that's always worth a laugh or two.

 I smiled politely at him. A cold light shined on us from the sun. Probably a little bright, if I'm totally honest. He spoke:

 "Hello. May I come in and have some tuna? Perhaps a little warm milk, or even some clean water?"

 "Well," I said, "I don't know. Have you had all your jabs?"

 "Please sir. I used to be Hitler's cat, you know."

 He left that piece of trivium hovering in the air between us, shimmering in the early sun. I looked down at the cat.

 "Oh" I said at length. "I didn't know Hitler had a cat."

 "Well no." He replied. "I try to keep quiet about it. I am ashamed."

 I nodded wisely.

 "What's your name?"

 "Mr. Socks." He replied abashed.

 I let him in, and he ate some tuna. After 2 hours, he had even taught me how to use a tin opener. Then he left.

 Later, I discovered him to be nothing more than an illusion, a fiction I had dreamed in the midday sun as its gentle rays caressed my face and affected my brain. Cats don't live to 70 years old, and Hitler didn't have a cat. But if he had done, imagine what new light Mr. Socks could have thrown on the Third Reich.
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