“I struggle to remember what it was like being that big bad Buddha—before the hair went. Before the divorce and the kids and that job and the woman…”
“In that order?”
“No, hell no—I can’t even think of the order anymore. But, God-damn those days were something—I remember driving without seatbelts—rolling down that road—scenery just passing by—shoom, shoom, shoom like one of those old movies. The old movies had some kind of movie projector thing behind the actors. This was before green screen and Star Wars and all the new CGI stuff where the superheroes are actually believable. Have you seen that new Superman? If I saw that movie when I was 15—I’ll tell you what, I would have believed that was the real deal, you know?—The real deal.”
“Yeah, I saw that movie. It was good…”
“Yes. It was. But the best thing is, something new will come out that will topple that one—Godzilla. Did you see that one?—Well same shit. I remember when it was some little puppet, clay, stop-animation thing. Whatever it was, it was not CGI. But where was I?—”
“Big bad Buddha.”
“Damned straight. But with a full head of hair—going down to Newquay— surfing, drinking, meeting girls—it was great.”
The Care Worker struggled to follow the conversation so decided just to be carried by it that afternoon. The Service User sat and cheerfully ate the breakfast and went on to talk about how he had it all, lost it all, got something different and then walked away from that. Today the Service User was in a good place and the Care Worker just wanted to enjoy it. There were days when it did not feel like work. Today was that kind of a day—to people getting to know each other and enjoying a day out.
But it had not always been this way. The Service User almost got arrested at the weekend after he tried to kill The Care Worker. It was down to a mixture of prescription pills and ADHD pills that belonged to a Guest of his. The Service User tried to understand what had happened that night but The Care Worker and The Guest were not talking—at least they did not say anything that remotely crystallised what happened that night.
It was a cool morning. The sky was bright but grey clouds seemed to rim the horizon like sheep dogs worrying sheep.
“You think those clothes will be ok on the line today?”
“I hope so. It looks a bit grey over bill’s mother’s but the BBC didn’t give out any rain.”
The Service User looked outside at the cars and people passing by. His eyes began to well up with tears.
“I say! You think I should have had one of those big breakfasts? It looks really good. I can’t believe I didn’t order one when you did!”
The Care Worker had seen this before with his Service User. It did not always go in a negative direction. Sometimes the change was subtle and sensory things often brought him back to a cheerful disposition. Tentatively, the Care Worker started to evaluate the café making note of what he would have to do if it all went terribly wrong.
“Maybe we should go back. Maybe we should bring them back in.”
“If you like—we can go—sure why not? We can have a cup of tea at yours, eh? I can nip down later to that bakers and get us a nice Viennese Whirl—or a vanilla slice. What do you think?”
Together they moved—the steps were familiar. The Service User followed a silent command as The Care Worker fluidly moved to the changing situation. Without touching The Service User, he moved smoothly, crouching—finding the balance point—strong-eyed– directing The Service User to the exit.
Once outside, The Service User smiled. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a packet of cigarettes.
“I think you are right. It will be ok.”
“Yes. Where do you want to go now?”
And they headed off down to the post office to buy some envelopes.