I find it easier to believe that at the beginning of mankind, we gazed up at the stars and felt very small and lonely and created the need for a universal parent, leading to the creation of Gods. All that other stuff just seems way too far-fetched. But there I believe is something there, and I think Laughingboy has something to do with understanding it.
So many times have strange things happened like this perfect wee house, like the time in the church with Vivaldi, like the strangest feeling in his bedroom as I stoop over his bed performing a myriad of Laughingboy related things; I often feel a presence behind me and I look around and I’m surprised that there’s nobody there, the feeling is that strong. Maybe it’s that vulnerability of having my back to the door, maybe it’s my dead Granny, maybe it’s my overactive imagination.
Did I ever tell you the story of the prophets?
It was when Laughingboy was but a handful of months old, a wee blob of a child who had spent most of his new life in hospital being poked and pricked, and watched by experts of seizures which zapped his tiny brain and made his baby body convulse like the victim of a taser gun forty times a day and all we could do was watch. That was a strange time, most of it has erased itself from my immediate memory, pushed out by new less nightmare-inducing memories over time.
One memory that does stick out however, is that of diagnosis day. Laughingboy’s neurologist had laid it out straight and ugly, the whole truth of Laughingboy’s condition and future, and all about how there would be not much of either. They took Laughingboy away to give us space to think. That hurt.
But what could we do but go to the pub?
Outside of the hospital, Laughingboy’s daddy and I walked in a melted marshmellow haze of unreality, not knowing what to do.
A ringing phone.
It was in the explaining of the whole sticky mess to a third party that made my final resolve break and smash all over the fag-butt-littered street. Ugh. Crying in public is scarletising. I dived into the pub and made a bolt for the jacks in order to score some toilet paper and that was when my shoe fell off.
I can’t remember what shoe I was wearing, nor why it fell off, but I’ve a feeling that if I’d been wearing Converse All-Star runners laced up to the knee at the time, the shoe still would have fallen off. Either way, I found myself fumbling around a dingy pub loo with one wet sock all of a sudden, and grew confused.
The shoe had fallen into the hands of two men who sat directly outside the toilet at the bar, they each had several shots of amber liquid and pints of Guinness in front of them. An aura of spuriousness surrounded them as they leered with gappy teeth at my state of affairs, the man on the left, an emaciated red-faced chap with a cigarette tucked behind a cauliflower ear… he waved my shoe over his head. The other chap made a strange backward laugh and stared a hole through my eye sockets and through the back of my face. His lips moved.
“Howyeh gorgeous!” he leered.
“Ohfafuc..sake, lads. Now’s not a good time, y’know?” *snif* “I’m having a bad day, can I’ve my shoe back please?” I looked pathetic, puffy faced and clogged with hospital air, pretty far from gorgeous.
“Giz a fookin kiss an I’ll givit back tyeh” the first bloke slurred. I sighed, and schlepped away. “Ah c’mere I’m on’y messin’!” he called after me. “What’s wrong wityeh? Smile, sure it may never happen love!”
I hate that expression.
“I’ve a little baby, across the road in that hospital.” I pointed and scowled and bared my wolfmammy teeth. “They just told us that he’s going to be a little retard, a sodding vegetable for the rest of his life. He’ll never go to school, never say my name, he’ll never get better but will probably get worse so he’ll be in that hospital a lot most likely… you and I will be neighbours, are you sure you want to keep tacking the mick out of me?” The venting of innermost cancerous thoughts made me feel a lot better, straight away.
“Haha! Fuck, is thar’all that’s wrong wityeh? Sure isn’t he still der? Can’t you pick him up if yer want teh and cuddle him whenever yeh want? I’d say you’re pretty fuckin’ lucky missus so shurrup and c’mere and giv’z a kiss!”
I felt a bit stupid all of a sudden.
“I would, but me fella might object, he’s sitting over there.” I pointed to a battle-worn heap of lover.
The two men (it transpired that one man was on a day-release from the Joy to celebrate his birthday, the other a newly retired police-officer) invited themselves over to our table and sat next to us, much to TAT’s dismay. TAT shot me a look of warned desperation and looked like he needed a drink. Sure enough before we knew it, several pairs of pints decorated the table and what could we do, but drink them?
The next four hours were a blur of strange inyourendos, inappropriate jokes, and glimpses of divine wisdom… it took me the best part of the following week to assemble a loose jigsaw in my head of what was said, and why. They told me that we are each given only what we can handle, that there will always be somebody worse off, and that love (or at least a good rattle) can cure everything. Pretty cheesy stuff I know, but they phrased it slightly differently and it was exactly what we needed to hear at that exact moment in our lives.
…the most divine thing of all about Laughingboy, is this.
He uses four nappies a day. Anybody with children will tell you that nappies are risky business, changing them requires swift agility in order to dodge the probability that the child will choose that exact moment to empty their bladder (or worse) towards your face.
Laughingboy is nine years old.
That’s roughly 13,140 nappies that we’ve changed since he was born, and not once has he hosed us down, which means there is a force at work that’s even stronger than Murphy’s Law. The sad thing is that when I extend my thanks towards it, I don’t know who I’m talking to, nor if they can hear me. An odd frustration for a cynicist like me.
It’s a weird kind of faith I have, one without an ism, it seems. Tell me I’m crazy? I probably wouldn’t object too much.