9. Ring of Fire


Sytex didn’t do hygene.
That stuff was for lasses.
And puffs.
He used to come to work day after day with the same bits of selotape stuck to his arms.
He would come in with the same docked tab behind his ear.
He’d slept on it.
He smelled gamey.
He looked gamey.

One time, he looked to be in pain.
“Here, Genuflect. What’s wrong with Sytex?”
“It’s his piles, Lucifer. You can always tell when it’s his farmer’s playing up.”
“How?”
“He’s going for his drawer. Watch what he gets out.”
Sytex rummaged around, and pulled out a big, grubby pot of Vaseline.
Then he ambled across the studio like John Wayne, heading for the toilets.
“Pretty grim, huh, Lucifer?”
“Pretty grim, Genuflect.”

Later on, I needed the toilet.
Not really.
I just wanted to get out of the studio for a bit.
I’d forgotten about Sytex.
Not for long.

I’ve never seen anything like it.
There was Vaseline everywhere.
It was all over the door, the toilet, the bog seat, the flush handle.
On the wall was a big, bloody hand print.
Oh God.

“Genuflect! Genuflect! You won’t believe what the bogs look like…”
“I know. Blood everywhere? Vaseline everywhere? I’ve seen it before.”
“How did you know?”
He nodded towards Sytex.
I looked.
He was bent over the light table, working.
He looked like someone had shot him in the arse.
Dark blood seeped through the back of his jeans.
“What the fuck…?”
“His piles have burst, Lucifer. It must really hurt.”
“Why doesn’t he go home? Or go to hospital?”
“I’ve no idea, Lucifer. I’ve really no idea…”
He stayed at work all day.
He left blood wherever he sat.
Arse blood.

Years later, Sytex had a heart attack.
They fitted a pacemaker.
He had to stop working.
They sent him for loads of test, but couldn’t work out what was wrong with him.
After a while, they worked it out.
He had been bleeding from his dirty arse for so long, his blood pressure had dropped dangerously low, giving him heart arrhythmia.
The doctors sorted his arse out.
He was cured.
I didn’t envy the doctors who got that job.

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