This is how the knitting began to unravel.
I was on my way home from the studio, on a Thursday evening about three weeks ago. I wasn’t feeling great, but that wasn’t remarkable. We’d been pushing ourselves pretty hard for a few weeks on a big animation project for an Australian client. We’d been doing a lot of late evenings at the office and working most weekends. I for one was running on empty. Tired, stressed out, not eating enough, and drinking too much. Early evening has always been a productive time for me, the office is quiet and the phones stop ringing. I has got into the habit of having a couple of large glasses of Pinot Noir, and settling down to some pressing task that required a bit of quiet and concentration. On this occasion it was tending to the computers in our render farm, setting up animation files for overnight rendering.
Id been feeling groggy and light headed for a few days, but had put it down to fatigue and stress, but this evening was worse than usual. Every time I stood up I felt dizzy and I was struggling to keep focused on the computer screens. Eventually I gave up and decided to head off home. I took the five minute walk to the railway station, and arrived just as the train pulled in. As i sat down, my heart was racing and i was sweating and feeling nasius. I tried to quell the feeling of rising panic in my chest. I’m no stranger to panic attacks, something of an expert actually, but this did feel a little different. I was pretty sure I was going to throw up, and there are no bathrooms or toilets on the Auckland trains. I toyed with the idea of jumping off the train at the next stop for a discreet tactical chunder off the end of the platform, but decided to tough it out to the city terminal only twenty more minutes away.
After what seemed an eternity, the Diesel Multiple Unit ratted into Auckland’s flash new subterranean “Transport Hub”, and I lurched through the electric doors onto the platform, white-faced and belching. I was aware that my breath smelt foul as I wove through the throng of pretty young Asian girls who seem to populate the station concourse in mystifyingly disproportionate numbers. I headed for the escalators, my plan was to get to the toilets which I know where at the top, where I could be sick in the privacy of a Formica lined cubicle, regroup and consider my next move.
From the top of the escalator to the dunny was probably twenty meters across the polished concrete. I think I had made about half that distance, when I felt the blood rush from my head with gurgle like bathwater down a plug-hole. My legs turned to jelly, and I buckled under my own weight. As I knelt in an untidy heap, a couple on scurrying commuters neatly side-stepped me, and I desperately looked around for someone to help me. “Bugger” I thought. “I bet they think I’m pissed.” Let’s face it, how many times have I given the body-swerve to some luckless inebriate weaving his way home from an extended liquid lunch?
Across the concourse I spotted a large Polynesian dude dressed entirely in black – a security guard I guessed. I waved and beckoned him over. He hitched his voluminous pants and adopted a disinterested “Oh! for fuck’s sake” expression and sauntered toward me i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y. Really. In a race he would have been soundly beaten into second place by a glacier. When after several days, he did arrive, I said pleadingly “I think I need a doctor mate, can you help me?”.
He stared down at me for a moment or two, then silently, and obviously with considerable effort, raised a baggy arm and pointed. I turned my head in the direction he was indicating, hoping to see a MASH unit, or perhaps the Wetpac helicopter, but no, there was just a couple of polished wooden benches. I headed for the one not occupied by a brace of texting Asian jail-bait on my hand and knees, trailing my shoulder bag, and under the critical eye of the goon, who made no move to help me. Probably just as well. I could crawl faster than he could walk.
I hauled myself onto the bench and immediately felt dizzy again. And sick. “Here it comes” I thought. I was really past caring, but even then I had the presence of mind to swivel squeakily on the glossy varnish to face away from the passing bodies and puke in relative privacy.
I needn’t have bothered. This wasn’t just any common-or-garden variety pavement-pizza that you might step over on a boozy Saturday night out. This was the up-chuck of a lifetime. It was so effortless it almost took me by surprise. A fountain of bright red blood almost Pythonesque in its force and intensity, hit the white marble tiles at my feet and splashed outwards in an ragged but impressive muli-pointed star. It was graphically rather pleasing – like a detail from a Roy Lichtenstein painting. Too late, I moved my new Converse boots out of the way of the spreading puddle or gore, and studied what looked like little chunks of floating meat with detached interest, wondering if they were lunch leftovers or bits of some vital internal organ. Do you know what the first coherent thought to come into my head was?
It was “Brilliant! Guess this means I won’t have to go to work tomorrow.”
The goon sauntered up, presumably to berate me for puking on his marble. I nodded towards my Technicolor yawn and said quietly but with the conviction of the vindicated, “Forget the doctor. Call an ambulance.”
He reached for his radio.
To be continued…