heavy duty medication

The two most startling things about Morris are his height and his baseball cap. The cap is for the Toronto Blue Jays. I only know that because when he turns round the name is printed in big letters on the fastener. That bold splash of red, blue and white seems to draw the colour out of the rest of him – a great, stooping stalk of a guy, dressed in brown slippers, grey slacks and a leached, off-white shirt.
‘In here,’ he says. ‘Follow the bear.’
We go through into the lounge. It’s orderly but lonely, the kind of place that doesn’t have much but what there is falls easily to hand.
Morris takes his cap off and points to a scabbed wound a cinch above his left eyebrow.
‘Ouch!’ I say. ‘How’d that happen?’
‘I fell,’ he says. ‘It’s a long story.’
‘But you didn’t go to hospital.’
‘Nah. What would I want to go there for? It’s full of sick people.’
I have to nod at that.
I go through the usual questions, with a slant towards someone with a head injury. Everything seems fine. He’s getting over it. The doctor adjusted his meds. Things are happening.
‘Everyone’s been very kind,’ he says, slapping the cap back on.
I start the examination.
‘Tell me a bit more about this fall,’ I say. ‘Was it a trip kinda deal? Or did you have a funny turn?’
‘Neither. I fell outta bed and cracked my head on the side table. It bled like a bastard so I called the paramedics. But these things bleed a lot. So. Apparently you need a lot of blood up in your head to keep your brains afloat. There was just one paramedic. He was very, very good. Surprisingly cheerful, even though it was the middle of the night. I said to him, I said: How d’you manage it? Being so cheerful n’all? And he turned round to me and he said: Morris? I love my work – but I’m also on some heavy duty medication. Which I thought was a good answer.’
‘I like that!’
‘Heavy duty medication. That’s what I need, I think.’
‘You’re not doing so bad.’
‘I suppose you’ve got to have a sense of humour in that line of work.’
‘Have you fallen out of bed before?’
‘Never. This was my first time. But I won’t be rushing back to repeat the experience.’
‘What happened exactly?’
‘Promise you won’t laugh?’
‘I’ll try.’
‘Okay. So. I was having this dream. I was playing at Old Trafford, I was running up the pitch with the ball at my feet, taking them all on. I could see George Best making a play for it way over on the right. And I was just about to cross when some bastard came studs up from nowhere and took me down. And when I woke up I was lying on the carpet  covered in blood.’
‘That’s a red card, right there.’
‘When I told the paramedic what happened he laughed and said he’d seen some bad tackles in his time, but never one that knocked someone sixty years into the future.’
‘I wonder who he was.’
‘What? The paramedic? I don’t know.’
Morris sighs and straightens his cap.
‘The way things are these days, I probably dreamed him, too.’

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