Crankwood Chapter 8 The Coldroom

Albert had opened the door and seemed to spend a long time looking at Tom. Why this should be intrigued the Curate who was becoming increasingly uneasy himself. The Doctor could be seen within, treating the young boy who was lying as one would expect, pale and wan on a small cot in the back of the room. A smell of strong liqour permiated the muggy yellow atmosphere created by a single cobwebbed bulb high in the centre of the ceiling. Whisky had obviously been used for medicinal purposes. In confirmation the boy coughed violently, pale cheeks turning a ruddy flame colour, sitting up slightly before falling back sweating and exhausted.
The Doctor turned to welcome the Curate and pointedly and obviously ignored Tom. Albert took Tom into a corner and a whispered and conspiritorial conversation took place. Simpkins worries became all the more urgent.’ what have they done to the boy?
His attention was drawn back to Doctor and boy who was trying it seemed to speak. Ignoring him the Curate asked the Doctor directly, “How is he?”
“Ah”, was the reply. simply that nothing more. A wealth of medical terminology must have been transmitted and Simpkins instantly felt that his lack of understanding was a fault that should be rectified. Or actually should have been rectified prior to this situation occuring.
“Ah?” he repeated as a query.
“Yes” said the Doctor turning back to his patient.
This rather slow development of diagnosis was fortunately, from the Curates point of view, interrupted by both boy and Albert trying to speak as one.
“Ashes” said the boy
“He’es alreet” said Albert.
Concerned on who to answer first Simpkins went for his usual middle ground, " Excuse me?"
Albert then answered, “Ah said” with a hint of exasperation,“that Ah think his alreet. Ee wuzn’t much to start wi, nowt more than a scrap of a thing, but there’s nowt wrong a good sleep an mothers care wont put reet”. Flat cap was actually screwed in hand when he said this. A fact that did not go unobserved
The Doctor seemed to accept the layman diagnosis. He looked directly at Simpkins from beneath incredible bushy eye brows and over gold half glasses. " He is fine, in body, at least. Which is as far as my remit takes me in this case. Perhaps his mental or soul lacking is more your country than mine at the moment. I am afraid I am at a loss to know what ‘ashes’ may mean" Again Simpkins wondered at the strange turn of phrase. ‘Soul lacking?’
“Egg” said the boy weakly.
“Or Egg, for that matter” the doctor continued giving every indication of a lack of interest now that his medical tasks seemed complete. “The Pastor has been informed?” he asked as an afterthought, considering a statement as good as a question.
“Of course” Simpkins replied with a certain amount of irritation. For all the good that does, he continued to himself.
“Ashes, name and he had an egg. I wanted to touch it” said the boy
Both Albert and Tommy continued to look nervious. Simpkins turned enquiringly.
“What is the matter with you two?” emphasis on the second word. both had the good sense to look guilty.
Simpkins pleaded heavenward and turned back to the boy just as he began to thrash out of the chair and onto the floor.

Crankwood Chapter 8 The Coldroom


Joined January 2008

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The Coldroom

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  • Sean Farragher
  • whisperingruth
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