Have you shit in your bed recently? No? Believe me, then you really are, ‘Living The Dream’. In between oncology and cardiac care, I wondered if the patient before me watched the same fractals of sunlight pour though the blinds across this bed as they lay dying. The room felt like death the moment I arrived and even when I dowsed myself and the entire ward in Creed cologne, death still lingered. I could not place exactly where death was lurking, but that fucker was there alright. I checked the cupboards for black robes, the shower, the recently bleached drains. I even checked under the bed for a newly sharpened scythe. Nothing.
When I gave up and lay down without dying, death was nuzzling into my neck like a lover you want to leave even though you know you’ll never be free from them in your heart. Fuck off, death. Find someone else. Please, sleep with someone else from work or find another purpose in life. We’re not even compatible. We need space away from each other. I need more time to think, you’re crowding me.
I was agitated until three in the morning. I was angry with my sheets and that’s when I knew. Death wasn’t going anywhere. Death had already taken a massive, toxic shit in the bed. I shifted my body weight again, tentatively, to be sure. Oh yes. The sheets were perfectly crisp and white and clean but any friction between fabric and mattress disturbed the death. I asked the nurse who had died in this bed and she said,
‘No, she didn’t die. She went home’
‘Yes, but she shat in the bed before she went home though, didn’t she?’
The other nurse laughed.
‘In fact, this shit doesn’t even smell human. It’s as if the Grimm Reaper himself lay down in this very bed and took a dump. It’s unworldly.’
‘Is it the mattress?’
‘Fuck yes, it’s the mattress!’
‘Are you sure? They are supposed to be waterproof’
‘Smell it if you like. The groin region’
‘No, it’s okay’
‘You need to burn it.’
‘And all the sheets now too’
The nurses joyfully packed away the sheets in brown plastic bags.
‘Now I know why those bags are brown. Every time I see one of those down the corridor, I’ll know there’s shit in it’
‘Yes, there is a lot of shit here’
‘And puke. You can hear them all retching behind closed doors. How do you cope with the stench?’
‘You get used to it’
‘Are you sure she didn’t die in the bed?’
‘No, she definitely went home’
‘But then she died, right?’
‘Yes, they wanted to put her in the hospice but she wanted to go home’
‘So now I’m sleeping on a dead woman’s excrement, in a pandemic, who was also a former patient of Dr C——?’
There was nothing left in the world for any of us but for everyone to laugh.
One of the nurses confessed that the patient did indeed shit the bed. She had been imprisoned and poisoned alone in this room for five months. Five months of agony, vomiting and shitting her way though toxic and futile chemotherapy administered by someone who liked to play god. After two prior consultations with the oncologist she was under, I realised he was a demeaning, lying, corrupt, greedy little prick. Everyone knew about his lies. Everybody. Nobody stood up to him but me. I also declined the offer to fund his own personal research by paying over £3000 upfront for a serum test that is void from meaningful medical interpretation and the results of which could actually harm the patient.
As I lay awake in his dead patient’s shit, I thought of him sleeping soundly, completely alone, in his detached palatial house in one of the most affluent suburbs in London. A house no doubt paid for by all the deceased patients who had endured expensive and needless chemotherapy as he bullshitted false hope to loved ones and cooed his lullaby lies throughout their harrowing and undignified suffering. I am one of the lucky ones, for now, and I am also currently under the care of a kind, decent, and moral oncologist.
The mattress moved past me as if it was were walking away by itself.
‘I hope the incinerator is big enough for that’
The mattress laughed.
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