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Songs of Bliss


Billy gets ready to leave and as he does so he turns to Carol. "Okay if I come back
at six?"
Carol tries to smile, but her eyes are strained and the effect is thin and reedy. "O f
course it is, you stupid man."
Billy walks out of the canteen with a vague wave in the direction of Carol's table
and turns left. He has no idea which way he should go and heads down another light blue
corridor more in hope than with any recognisable sense of direction. The melody in his
head is muted but the disc is spinning. He walks past a man in scrubs who gives him an odd
look but carries on towards the canteen. Odd looks. Why should that bother Billy? He is
unshaven, dirty, slightly hung-over and wearing yesterday's suit, a suit that he has slept in.
Everyone is giving him odd looks.
The volume rises. Lyrics repeat. The loop builds. Billy is vaguely aware that he is
heading in the wrong direction, but he seems to have no control of his feet. This is a
compulsion, an inevitable consequence of his reading of hospital signs. O ne in particular.
Mortuary.
He follows the arrow and comes to a pair of heavy swing doors set in the right hand
corridor wall. There are two round porthole windows, which have been covered over with
rose pattern curtains. Homely. He finds himself smiling inanely at this sweet and gentle
touch. He stands by the door and lets Sensible Billy argue the case for retracing his steps.
Mental Billy laughs out loud and turns up the volume.
A hand reaches out and lays itself flat against the wooden door. Pressure is exerted.
The door holds firm for a second, during which Billy watches his internal conscience make
one last plea for sanity. The panel of judges sitting out in the audience wave the boring little
shit away and insist that the show goes on. The door shifts and then swings open. Billy
enters an ante-room devoid of people. Two trolleys stand empty over by the far wall.
Another set of swing doors are set into a white painted breeze block wall to the left. More
porthole windows, uncovered this time. Billy walks over to the doors and peers in through
one of the windows.
The volume cranks up to overload and Billy starts to sing as he slides down onto his
knees. He is centre stage, in the spotlight, the apple of a thousand eyes, but he sees nothing
beyond the footlights. The only thing that Billy can see is the body in the wings, Leona's
body, laid out on a trolley in the main mortuary room, ready for inspection by the Coroner's
Officer prior to Monday's autopsy.
In Billy?s field of vision, in the image of the world that he carries with him as he
sinks onto his knees by the mortuary door, Leona waves to him from the trolley and starts
to tap her left foot in time to the beat of the music that is thumping through his throbbing
temples.
Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart
 
 
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