He made his excuses and left

This was in the dark days of my incarceration in The Lakes, in 2014. I was approaching 2 months inside. To say I was going out of my mind would be an understatement. I had already lost it.

The sole reason for being in The Lakes was to stop me killing myself. But that was a joke. You just had to say you wanted to go for a walk, and off you went. One day, I got the bus to the station, got the train one stop south west, to where I wouldn’t be noticed, crossed the lines on a pedestrian bridge, and waited. The first train came past. I didn’t jump. The second… I didn’t jump either. I KNEW I wouldn’t jump, and therefore that I wouldn’t kill myself. But still, I carried on pretending, and it took another 3 1/2 years before I rid myself of that suicide ‘ideation’. I caught the third train back to Colchester, got the bus back to The Lakes, and no-one even noticed that I’d been gone…

I think it was my last day in The Lakes. I knew they wouldn’t let me out because – well, I just KNEW it. I almost didn’t get up for the meeting. But at the last minute I did. I may be conflating meetings, but at this one were (I think): my mother (not K, I think, who always felt I wasn’t in long enough); the doctor; a short, angry woman who T had put me onto who was an advocate for mental health patients; the head of Headway in Ipswich (whom I took an instant dislike to); and a bloke from Essex mental health services, NQ – a big Irish guy, about 40, with a shaved head. What order they arrived and left in is anyone’s guess.

The upshot of it all was: I was released, into my mother’s custody. It turned out I could have said all along that I was going, and they couldn’t have stopped me. But where would I have gone? I didn’t want to be around my family, feeling this way. I’d convinced myself – in spite of knowing I hadn’t been sectioned – that I was abandoned there.

A week or two later, by which time K had taken me in again, NQ came to see me at home. I’ve looked him up on the internet, and Facebook tells me his interests are Harley Davidsons and Guns N’ Roses. We sat in the kitchen and I tried to act normal. He asked me what I’d done before I had the stroke. I said I’d been a screenwriter, and had intended to introduce a film I’d written that night, but I’d had the stroke at 4pm…

He confessed to being quite a film buff, and asked me what it was. The Liability, I said, with Tim Roth and Jack O’Connell. Whereupon he blushed, right up to his bald head. It turned out he had seen the film the night before (I want to say, though it was possibly earlier that week). And (given his interests, not surprisingly) he’d liked it! He was suddenly – for all his shaved head and 6’ 4” frame – ‘a fan’.

We never recovered. He made his excuses and left. I never saw him again. And – I reckon – he’d watched the film illegally, on the internet. It might explain his confusion: he was being the ‘good guy’. And yet he’d committed a venal sin. I like to think he was a lapsed Catholic. Maybe he even went to confession?


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I had a stroke on July 26th, 2013. I was a screenwriter. Don’t do that anymore. But have found another way to write.

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