The door is opened by a late middle-aged man holding a wet flannel on his forehead. The call has come in as the lowest category of call, the infamous Green Call that can be anything from a back ache to a dizzy spell, from leg pain to a nose bleed.
"Come in boys, take a seat. I'm just turning the gas off and I'll be with you."
We follow him in, his shuffling footsteps making a marathon of the short corridor until he points us into the lounge and we take a seat. The room is stuck in a time warp, the furniture and fittings in the enormous semi-detached home harked back to the 1970's and were all immaculately cared for, but dated nonetheless. Greg, my partner for the day, whispers as we're walking in that he'd bet a month's wages that the toilet is avocado green.
"I can't afford a month's wages. How about a tenner? I reckon it's pink."
"How can we help you today, sir?" Greg asks, after the gas is turned off and our patient collapses with much drama into an armchair.
"Well, first, you can call me Ray. None of this sir nonsense. I've been having these stomach aches for a couple of days now. Having to rush off to the loo every few minutes. If it's not one end, it's the other. I just can't take it any more."
"Have you seen your doctor?"
"Went this morning. She told me to sit it out. I complained at the turn of phrase." All three of us rolled our eyes.
"Have you managed to eat anything? Or, more importantly, drink?"
"Water, yes. Food, no. Just can't keep it down. Or up. Depending on which way you're looking at it."
With that, he apologised, told us to make ourselves a tea or coffee, got up and went back to the bathroom under the stairs. I'd noticed it when we came in, a sign on the outside reading "Harry's Room" with a cartoon of a boy flying on a broomstick. Two minutes later, having been left to our devices, we'd decided what we could do to modernise this house, how much it would cost and how much we'd sell it for.
"We'd make a fortune!" Greg announced.
"Just one problem. It isn't ours."
"Well, a man can dream, can't he?"
The second those words left his mouth, he regretted them. We were snapped out of the dream by a crashing noise and a grunting sound that could only mean one thing. Ray had either fallen or collapsed. We both jumped up, tried to open the door and discovered it was, unsurprisingly, locked. Greg runs out the front door to the side of the house to see if there's any access, only to discover that the window was no bigger than a cat-flap.
"We'll have to kick it in!"
"He'll be right behind the door!"
"Well, what other choice do we have?"
A muffled voice comes through the door. "Don't kick the door. I'm alright. I'll be up in a second. Just slipped, that's all."
Greg and I breathe a sigh of relief. Allowing a patient to go to the toilet is always risky, especially if they're already weak or particularly if they're suffering with a heart condition. Hearing Ray's voice put both our minds at ease. Until there was another thud.
"It's alright lads. It's just me sitting back on the seat again."
Finally, the door unlocks and Ray tries to walk out. There's a small cut on his eyebrow and some blood on the floor but nothing too worrying. I make sure he's stable as Greg steps back out to the ambulance, both of us noticing the colour of the bathroom before he walks off with a shrug of the shoulders.
"Stay there Ray. Greg's just going to get the wheelchair. Don't want you walking anywhere else."
"Probably a good idea, but I don't want you lads going to any trouble."
"Oh, don't worry about that. It's no trouble. Besides, you just won me a tenner!"
"How'd I do that then?"
"Your choice of bathroom colour. Pink was my bet."
"That's only just gone in. It was green until last week. That awful avocado colour. Been like that for years. Couldn't stand it any more, so just went with whatever my sister suggested. She said that pink would be more attractive when I came to sell the place."
"Green, you say?"
"Do me a favour, Ray. Don't say a word to Greg, will you?"
The wheels of the chair clatter against the floor as Greg reappears, opens the folding contraption and sets it up. Ray sits in the chair, we wrap him in the hospital blanket and secure the seat belt, keeping him warm and safe.
"Can you wheel me out via the kitchen? I need my keys and phone. Oh, and I've got a present for you Greg."
Confused, we head backwards before going forwards. Ray picks up his keys and phone from the worktop, then asks Greg to open the fridge. I put my boot on the carry-chair's footplate to stop it from tipping as Greg does as he's asked.
"What am I looking for?"
"It's there. In the door. Second shelf down - little shelf with the lid-type thing on it."
Greg lifts the plastic lid and takes out his prize.
"Funny, gentlemen. Funny," Greg laughs, as he places the avocado in Ray's lap.