Some start to a holiday…

Blue light of the Italian emergency hospital. Misericordia. Is that the name of the place or a description? Misery record. On-call paramedics in the midnight dark. Flare of a lighter and the orange tip of a cigarette. They consider me carefully as I pull up my trouser leg to reveal the whatever it is. A bite, most likely, now huge and swollen, tracking out the veins like an alien infection in a sci-fi movie. I can’t miss the intakes of breath.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m led inside, to better light, to allow for closer examination but non parlo italiano and non parlo inglese. So kind-eyed Carmine – a ringer for Leland Palmer from Twin Peaks– and I settle on broken German, too broken for me to understand what they are going to do. A hypodermic is produced, an IV bag and a scalpel. Carmine is saying cleaning, cleaning but I’m convinced I’m going to be lanced, here and now, my blood arcing across the room. I mean, I remember what Leland did to Laura Palmer… But it is just cleaning, the scalpel to slice open the bag of distilled water. Clean for the doctor, says Carmine, who I see next, who left her bedside manner in the layby of lost dreams a while back. She dismisses the antibiotics I already have. Might as well have popped jelly tots 4-times a day. She scrawls the code that’ll bring out the big guns.

Carmine comes in the car, guides me through the streets. We cross an empty carpark to a fairground-lit pharmacy that just needs the Wurlitzing music, the building starting to spin, picking up speed now, lifting off… A man in a white coat and reassuring beard rummages for my drug-wares in the air-con chill. I won’t need the hospital, he is sure, and I believe him, after all, he has that beard. And Carmine leads me through deserted streets back to the Misericordia, where my details are entered in the misery record. But I’m smiling now. As is Carmine. An arm around my shoulder in the blue light. Braveheart, he says.