edward the endless

With his basin haircut curling under his ears, Edward wouldn’t look out of place in a stained glass window – the Patron Saint of Neglect. He hasn’t shaved in a while, but his beard is still only a few wispy sprouts;  he seems to have paid more attention to his eyebrows, though, plucked into delicate arches, giving his slack face the expression of a man used to disappointment. His flat is filled with porcelain fairies, plastic orchids in brass urns, alabaster cherubs, prints of Victorian scenes – everything covered in a thick layer of dirt, half dust, half nicotine.
‘Would you mind not smoking, Edward?’
He grunts, but pinches off the end of his cigarette.
‘Thanks very much. I won’t be long. So – how are you feeling today?’
‘Bloody awful,’ he says.
‘Oh? I’m sorry. In what way awful?’
‘Me feet, me legs. Me back don’t half hurt. I’ve got pains in me sides, here and here. I’ve got these shooting sensations into me chest. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. My head’s all woozy and stuffed up. Apart from that, I’m fine.’
He gives another little grunt, jerking back a little and resting his eyes on me just long enough to check that I got the joke.
‘Well I tell you what, Edward.  How about I run through a set of obs, and then we’ll have more of a chat about what’s going on? How does that sound?’
‘You do what you like,’ he says, and rolls up the arm of his dressing gown. ‘You people generally do.’ Amongst the blurry old tattoos, the outline of multiple ECG dots on his skin.
‘The intercom don’t work,’ he says. ‘When the council come to put a new door on they cut through the cable. My phone don’t work, neither. That was nine months ago.’
‘Nine months? Have you told them about it?’
‘They don’t want to know. They give me this number to ring. BT or someone. But I said to them: How am I going to ring BT if I haven’t got a phone? They didn’t have an answer to that. Well, Gerald, this so-called friend of mine, he came round and he said why don’t I lend you my phone and you can call them on that? So I dialled the number, and I explained the situation. And they said it’d cost a hundred pounds to get it re-connected. How am I supposed to get hold of a hundred pounds? I said. You might as well say a million. So then Gerald, this so-called friend of mine, he said he’d lend me the money to get a mobile phone from Tesco. They only cost a tenner he said. You could have it on you all the time. But I said to him, I said How am I going to get to Tesco? Well, he said he’d take me on the bus, but I said with these legs? What was he trying to do – kill me? So then he said he’d go over and get it for me. So he did. But when he come back, I didn’t have nowhere to put it, and anyway, the buttons were too small, and I kept losing it down the sofa. Gerald, this so-called friend, he ended up buying another one, but then it turns out you’ve got to keep it charged up, and I’m not made of money. Not that anyone calls,’ he sniffs. ‘Specially not Gerald.’

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