Tommy lay in a hospital bed, feeling with his tongue the place in his gums which a day before hosted three teeth. His smile would never be the same again. Nor would his left side, though his broken rib would eventually heal. That’s what the doctors said.
But his heart, oh would his poor heart heal? He realized now with a bitter pang how idealistic, romantic, naive he had been to chase after this sudden dream. Emma just wasn’t the same person anymore, or at least not the person he had imagined she would be. And her husband, that psychotic beast that had left him in this condition, had been even more unimaginable, and painfully so.
Tommy was now so deep in the dregs of depression, as he lay there like a dead eel, that when Emma’s face appeared and hovered before his, he attributed this apparition to the medication he was given – it couldn’t be anything but a hallucination.
But it wasn’t. Emma was truly there, standing by his bed, holding his hand, tears streaming down her cheeks in little transparent rivulets.
‘It’s him,’ she said. ‘He has turned me into a raging alcoholic. I never wanted my life to be this way. This… this criminal that I married is the root of all evil.’
Tommy couldn’t believe his eyes and ears.
‘When you came calling,’ she continued, ‘I didn’t recognize you – only much later. Hell, I don’t recognize myself these days.’ Her voice faded. ‘And this,’ she spoke again, looking at his bandaged body, ‘how did I allow for this to happen, how did I allow my life to become what it has become.’
Now she was crying uncontrollably.
‘I… I just wanted to tell you…’ Tommy started to say, but he couldn’t finish his sentence. The tears were choking him too. His or her tears it didn’t matter, because now they were mingling in a pool at his lap.
But her eyes burned bright behind the veil, the waterfall, the cataract of tears, and gave him courage.
‘…that I love you,’ he breathed.
‘I… I love you too,’ she said back, invoking the song they’d sang as children. ‘And I’m ready to leave with you whenever you want,’ she whispered.
‘R… really?!’ Tommy muttered, waves of happiness traversing his body one after the other, growing and growing until they became a storm and a hurricane that lifted his soul to the heavens. ‘Really?’
‘Nah, I’m just kidding. MAHMUD!’ she shouted.
The door to Tommy’s room now opened slowly, revealing Emma’s psychotic ex-convict of a husband, the 280-pound-heavy ox. This time he was carrying a baseball bat.
‘Shit,’ Tommy muttered. ‘No, no no no, not this again!’ he shrieked.
Mahmud entered the room leisurely. He closed the door behind him and locked it.
‘No, NO PLEASE NO! HELP, SOMEBODY – HELP!’ Tommy screamed.
Emma turned on the radio. It was playing Gangnam Style.
Mahmud fell on Tommy like a frantic, demented bull that has been fed 2 kilos of Viagra, has been made to snort 1 kilo of cocaine, has been forced to consume 10 litres of rum, has been released into a room full of people stabbing him with heroin needles, before being released into another room where his bull balls were chopped off with an axe, before lastly being released into Tommy’s room at the hospital.
To say that he ravaged Tommy would be an understatement. He devastated him. Had him done, in fact, or, more precisely, let’s say he painted the room with Tommy’s blood in the style of Pollock before decapitating him with the baseball bat.
In the 30 seconds during which the human head retains its conscience even though removed from the body, the 280-pound-heavy-ox leaned over Tommy’s face and whispered:
‘Didn’t I tell you to stop reading Mills and Boon shit, you fuckbag?’