Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Keys to the Asylum

The council estate is a maze of rat-runs, dead end roads and multi-storey buildings. There's no logic to the numbering, and most of the buildings are unnamed, just to make it all that more exciting. The computer must know something I don't, as I turn into yet another alley and a disembodied voice from the sat-nav announces You have arrived. I drive around in circles, zooming in on the digital map trying to locate the tiny alleyway that was given as the address I was looking for, and try to find the man with the broken leg.

With no luck at finding the patient, I leave the blue lights flashing and give a couple of blasts on the siren. It's not too late at night, but still late enough that some of the neighbours, particularly children, may have been tucked up for the night. A few minutes later the crew follows me in to the multi-tentacled cul-de-sac. 

"No idea where this alley is, and no-one's come to find me." 

"We went up the other way first, no sign there either." 

After a few more minutes of searching up and down the same tiny roads, a figure appears at the top of a fire escape. "Oy! He's up here! Come on! Hurry up! What took you so long?" 

Not lying half dead in an alleyway then, and three flights of stairs up, probably not nursing a broken leg either. Nevertheless, between the three of us, we take all the kit we might need in case the call really is all it was stated to be, including a carry chair. As we reach the top of the stairs, Neil is sitting on a picnic box, his legs intact but his left arm bowed right in the middle of where it should be straight.

"How'd you do that then?"

His first words engulfed us all in a haze of alcoholic breath.

"Fell over, didn't I? Down that stupid alley. I told 'em someone was gonna get hurt, didn' think it'd be me now, did I?!"

We stabilised his arm in a splint and cleaned up a wound that he'd opened up on his eyebrow. It looked like it was an old scab that had opened up again.

"Do you fall often?"

"Nah, not really. Just a bit unlucky the last couple of weeks."

"How much have you had to drink tonight, Neil?"

"Oh, not much. Two, three pints maybe."

"Any other medical problems?"

"Yeah. My liver's knackered. They might have to replace it soon. 'Swhat the docs said, anyway."

"How'd that happen?"

"Well, I used to be an alcoholic. Not any more now though. Now I only have a couple of drinks a night, you know, when I'm at work."

"You used to be an alcoholic, but you're still drinking?" Then it hit me. "Hang on a minute. You drink at work?"

"Yeah. Course! There's got to be some perks to my job."

"Why, what do you do?"

"I'm a mixologist."

Oh. He's got an ology. "A what?"

"A mixologist. I mix all the cocktails at the bar."

"You're an alcoholic, and you work in a bar?"

"You bet. Does it get any better?"

"Well, your arm says it could probably get a lot worse." 


Anonymous said...

aah that brings back the Maureen Lipman quotes :)

InsomniacMedic said...

Sorry. Couldn't resist it... :)

Raindog said...

Great Story.

Anne said...

A tough cure. My great uncle was an alcoholic (so was his brother but that's a different story) and after getting clean he apparently spent the rest of his working life managing an off-licence.. amazing self discipline or glutton for punishment?

InsomniacMedic said...

RD - thank you!

Anne - That must have taken some serious self control - something this patient clearly lacked... Good on him!