74. Apples and Grapes

YESTERDAY WE WERE SENT a box of fruit and vegetables - such a thoughtful gift. I took some apples and red grapes with me into the hospital today, as A was having his surgery. Poor thing - I don't think he realises yet how severe his injuries are. I haven't the heart to tell him. I'll let the doctors do it on their rounds tomorrow. They have given him a room to himself overlooking the west of the city. Of course, he thinks he got lucky - he doesn't have the kind of mind to suspect they only give individual rooms to the worst cases. The view is magnificent but in the afternoon the sun floods in and the effect is not unlike that of a greenhouse. A was very groggy when he opened his eyes, but he perked up when I fed him the apples and grapes, which he ate with surprising gusto - understandable I guess, given they'd made him fast for over a day while assessing the injuries. He said the apples tasted floral. He was in no pain, if anything he said he felt wonderful on account of all the drugs they have given him. He was being attended to by a young nurse who, when she wasn't listening, he described as saintly. He said you can tell a lot about a person from the way they work. Of course men like A are suckers for nurses. By contrast, he said that morning he'd been knocked about terribly by a most unsympathetic agency nurse who'd told him she'd just graduated from journalism but was finding it difficult to break into the industry, as obviously no one is hiring. She even asked him for tips for breaking into the industry while she sponged him with cold water! He said he told her to be persistent. In his place I would have told her she ought to stick to nursing, as there'll never be an end to people who need care. Before I left, A asked if the police had found the assailant. I had to tell him they hadn't. Once again I didn't have the heart to tell him they've stopped looking - he's a needle and the city is the haystack, as Detective Roland said to me yesterday when I called. On the drive home, every male face I saw on the street was the face of the stranger who attacked A for the fun of it, like a visitation or an evil wind - to the point that I drove straight through a red light. I could easily have been killed myself. I had to stop, and I stayed like that by the side of the road for God knows how long, shaking uncontrollably, until a round-faced cop came and asked me what was going on. I just unloaded all the events of the past few days on him and, bless him, he guided me home, driving ahead of me all the way, lights flashing.

Author's note: I was being operated on this day, so I didn't get a chance to write a story. Instead, I wrote up this mock diary entry the following Monday.