Story lines that appear like magic

I’ve just re-entered the real world after four days in hospital. For those few interested it was a foot operation and the brilliant surgeon has, in my humble opinion, created something worthy of a Turner Prize – all re-shaped digits with prettily curled wires coming out of each one!
But being on what is kindly termed ‘bed rest’, but actually means confined to a bed for 72 hours with no escape even for the most basic reasons and needs, does tend to concentrate the mind.
Coming out of a general anaesthetic, it takes a few hours for the ‘little grey cells’ to return to their inquisitive, enquiring, probing and delving selves, but on Day 2 I felt my limited surroundings bringing new life to a writer’s starved brain.
Opposite me was Cecil (obviously not his real name). He’d downed his barrow and retired many years ago. There are few public buildings in Leicester that have not felt the keen touch and scrape of his trowel; few young architects who have not been brought back to earth by his unwaveringly accurate input into their florid and fantastical, and ultimately unworkable, designs.
Cecil is in his 80s with near retired sons and a battalion of grandsons who dutifully visited their sick granddad in his hospital bed and made the small Ward resemble a rugby club changing room – thankfully before the sweaty game began. Great grandchildren stood in awe as they saw the colossus that presided over family gatherings laid horizontal and suffering hiccups: he was, after all, a normal man, just like everyone else, but a bit bigger and a bit grander. Hiccups aren’t funny when you’ve just had a new hip.
Next to me was Robert (another name I’ve plucked from the ether). Now Robert was also a big retired man with a faint, but imperious and clear voice and carefully coiffed, swept-back silver hair. He had no immediate family. Instead he had the occasional distant cousin visitor, and a constantly ringing Smartphone, which was sadly used to cancel a flight to southern Germany in a few days. No reason was given for the flight, but I imagine it was to meet some incredibly good looking lady of similar age, or perhaps to slip some secret documents to a secretive banker about to drive back across the Rhine to Zurich.
Robert’s problem was, initially, his knee, which he’d had successfully replaced with a new, modern, high-tech materials work of surgical art by a brilliant engineer who should’ve been a car or suit salesman: ‘It’ll see you out, Sir. Any problems, just bring it back and we’ll fix it while you wait, Sir.” However, after a general anaesthetic, it is possible for the bowel to dislike the intrusive surgery and, in protest, shut down and go on a few days holiday. The result is projectile vomiting of deeply unpleasant bile, and a tube to drain it off that has to be inserted in the nose, swallowed and pushed down the throat, and fed into the stomach (I know, dear reader, I’ve been there several times – it’s horrid).
To complicate matters, Robert’s new knee was infected: not the mechanical bits, you can’t ‘infect’ them, they’re not natural body parts; the bits around it. He was not just going to miss a clandestine or romantic flight: he was going to be on an NHS ward in the Midlands for a few days or even weeks. Reality is sometimes a cruel force.
So I’d lie there and hear short, pained and strangled conversations from my right; and hiccups and moans ahead of me.
Hovering, almost at the touch of a ‘Call Button’ were the angels of Ward 14. They administered professional help, but mostly they smiled, and chatted, they gossiped without being nasty, they performed tasks on – comparatively – ancient blokes that wives and girlfriends will never be asked to do. When I do eventually pop my clogs: if on my final flight I am accompanied by a nurse from Ward 14 I’ll know I’m in good hands.
So I’ve got the characters, but I write murder thrillers and I don’t want any of these to die. The violence has been perpetrated by loving caring professionals while they were asleep, so who am I to pervert reality? There is then only one clear solution. The prying guy who overhears and stores others’ conversations; who lusts after girls in uniform younger than his daughter; who thinks that all pain and suffering is for others, not himself; is going to have to be a victim.
Damn. I’ve just killed myself off in the first chapter. Who’s going to finish the book?

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