|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.
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.