Toby’s in bed. He fights sleep. His memory remains vital, his memories many. He recalls childhood, the episodes and chapters that authored his life, as if yesterday. He recollects the time he listened to Badjelly the Witch on the large-buttoned cassette player. How the “ding-ding” of a triangle heralded an exotic foreign accent which instructed him to “Turn the page…now.” And how Mother, vanilla-perfumed, had cradled him, held the book in front of him and offered “Would you like me to turn the page, dear?”
Toby remembers a fever: he’d hallucinated Sesame Street puppets which crawled out of the television to attack. He remembers, too, he’d not told Mother that earlier he’d swallowed the bottle of banana-flavoured medicine in one delicious swig. And, with ever-present Catholic guilt, he recalls a day he played hide-and-seek. Paralysed with fear of discovery, he’d stayed rooted to the spot and pooed in Mrs Lockhart’s bushes. The stinky mess had smeared warmly, shockingly, down the back of his thighs.
From this bed, which roils senselessly in past and present tense, Toby reviews his edited, now abridged, life. Forty is too abbreviated. Reminiscence narrates reality. Morphine induces horrific visions. Faeces leak disgracefully from his colostomy bag. The triangle-like “ding-ding” of his heart monitor heralds – what? He barely contemplates the book in front of him. A pine-scented nurse places an antiseptic hand on his shoulder, asks “Would you like me to turn the page, dear?”