With the hood

With the hood of his raincoat over his head, some camomile tea, two lemons, bottled asparagus in his pockets or hands, he walks towards his reflection in the glass door of the institution. With his bearded face dark under the hood he looks something like the traditional depiction of death. Flying to this part of the world was a drain on his immune system.

His room is no. 10. It is austere. There is no TV or radio. The couch can be folded into a bed. Then there is an art nouveau bed light, zinc washing basin and fridge into one and then a shower.

Outside there is a constant white miserable grey overcast. In this weather and with a cough coming from deep within his chest, his ribs feeling like breaking, he feels completely isolated. Is this death? Am I ready to die? And his mind returns again and again to the innocent tropical nipples offered to him a few nights ago, the nipples of a woman more than half his age. His lifestyle has been a constant gamble with death.

And now in this austere room it is only he and death. He coughs deep with pain going through his ribcage. He does not mind death. He had a good life. He does resent not being able to breath due to the synthetic material in the carpet. He came to deliver a paper on cannibalism, actually that is in Poland next week. Here he is in transit. He tries to read, but cannot concentrate.

Slowly the grey day transforms into night. He has no appetite and cannot sleep. Every few minutes he wakes up and moves to the fridge and drinks some water and then coughs. The building opposite fascinates him. It looks like a neat hotel. A TV is constantly on in the one window: someone is watching tennis. He cannot quite determine the shapes in the other windows. It does seem threatening somehow – somehow out of this world. And then suddenly there appears a fat man, like a butcher, with white on and his back is turned and another man appears on the other side of him and it seems as if there is an operating table between them and then they fold fragile plastic legs under a blanket and it comes to his realisation it must be a place where the aged waits on death. The TV in the other room obviousl