The Memory Cafe

Knees up. Mother who?

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Another poem, from my growing collection inspired by living with someone who is living with dementia.

 

THE MEMORY CAFE

by Kevin Bonfield

 

 

Knees up. Mother who?

 

The songs, and posters, the

 

Jokes and the jokers

 

For just one minute they

 

Bring back you

 

 

 

My old man. He said

 

Ahhh the mini van. I

 

Remember the plate

 

The eyes for that minute

 

Aren’t so dead

 

 

 

So when it’s my turn

 

Will Oasis and Blur

 

Or The Who and Kinks

 

Be my memory prompts

 

That I should learn

 

 

 

But Every nice girl

 

Sure loves you, sailor

 

As you stir from the back

 

From black empty holes to

 

An hour in this world

 

 

 

And yes, you still do

 

Like to be beside the

 

Seaside, beside yourself

 

Perhaps you don’t

 

But the sea air IS you

 

Work, Rest & Play

sound like Donald Duck ordering a croissant

Below is a 1000 word short story, set in a bizarre future……..

WORK REST AND PLAY

by Kevin Bonfield

 

The shaking is uncontrollable, I can feel the sag in my cheeks slamming against my dentures. I’d shout for help but I’d sound like Donald Duck ordering a croissant. Of course, even if I could shout, there is only me here, shaking and slamming inside the bubble of this stupid buggy.

Schlopp, schlop schopp, like wellies in deep, muddy puddles my cheeks exclaim with every involuntary toss of the head. I try and move my hands to press my cheeks in but they are shaking so involuntarily it must look like I’m trying to swipe a swarm of violent wasps off of them. My arms making ballooning shapes in the air as I barrel around inside the cabin. It’s starting to look like I’ve been dropped from a great height in here, pieces of the futuristic, highly technical controls just shearing off and shooting at me from all directions.

The Marskart started so easily after I’d climbed aboard but it seems now every button I press just makes the vibration worse. The whole thing is vibrating out of control, bouncing like a slamming motor in those one of those vintage films from the turn of the century, when petroleum was all the rage. And the noise, the grinding, the squealing, the buzzing, the alarms, the almighty crash every time the kart hits the hard rock of the surface of Mars. Slam, slam, slam. It feels like there’s a block of platinum crushing each of my internal organs in a completely random pattern with each lurch of the out of control machine. I don’t know whether I’m coughing, gasping, screaming, retching or reeling, but I wouldn’t hear anyway amongst what is starting to sound like a purgatory of white noise.

One of these controls, it’s one of these controls. One of them makes the damned thing hover, I’m sure I read it on the instruction glass on the way here. Maybe it’s this one. Maybe it’s not, we’re rolling now. Space, rock, space, rock, space, rock, too fast for me to register which way up I am now. The last nutrient infusion is becoming increasingly likely to reappear. Oh, this is crazy.

What other eighty-year-old gets bought a solo trip to Mars? By his parents? Just because they’ve always thought I lived on another planet. I could have stayed at home I suppose, to be honest, they’re nagging me so much about leaving home, I thought the break would do us all good.

Well that was over a year ago, and quite frankly I think I’ve had enough of a break now. If this lunatic machine doesn’t stop hammering me into the walls, floor, ceiling and control panel the breaks will be all over my body.

Apparently, Dad wants to retire next year, and they think I should get a proper job now I’m eighty. Not be such a drain on their resources. So, he’s going to start taking it easy at a hundred and ten years old. It’s crazy, like me being here on this forsaken barren planet, that he’s working at all since they won the Galaxy Gazillions Lotto. Fair enough the implants have given us all a new lease of life, but surely, he realises his wealth would support him for another two hundred years, regardless of how many ridiculous trips to space he buys his ungrateful offspring.

If only you could see me now, Dad. Spinning out of control, rolling, bouncing and crashing against the unforgiving rocks on the surface here. Only he can see me, the Eyespy implant meaning he sees the world through my eyes as well as his own. Which seemed like a good idea but the mind controller constantly plays up, meaning the poor guy had the full three-dimensional view of that episode with the two lovely ladies who gave me a rather too thorough physical, er, preparation for this trip. Until it dawned on me to close my eyes. I could almost hear his voice pleading me to open them again, he always was a saucy so-and-so.

None of the preparation ACTUALLY prepared me for this hammering though. Apparently, people used to don gloves, enter a roped off square of canvas and set about punching each other. I’d always thought that boxing sounded rather barbaric. But it’s starting to seem mildly appealing compared to the constant thumping I’m taking as my unwitting vessel hurtles across the surface of Mars at some unthinkable speed. Twisting, rolling, slamming, squealing, screaming, whining with the constant wailing of alarms from what’s left of the console piercing through the cacophony, the industrial, chaotic symphony of noise to drive me to wrap my head in my arms. Although all I achieve is to slam myself in the face with my forearm, slapping the opposite cheek against the floor as we roll towards what can only be my terminal destiny.

I know I should have paid more attention to those instructions, but quite honestly, they were just weird. How hard can it be to drive a Marskart. I’d spent nearly a year on the Planetbus, so really, I could have read a bit more of the instruction glass. But once I found a way to stream that Pacman game, that was pretty much the year taken care of.

Hang on, we’re slowing down, whichever button I touched then has slowed us down. There’s a horizon again. I don’t believe it, we’re hovering. I knew I could do it, how hard can it be, I knew it. There we go we’re passing slowly and smoothly a few meters from the surface.
And . . . relax.

SHORT STORY – OUR DOG

Dave had read it somewhere.

It was there, somewhere in the mess of his mind.
Dogs respond to autistic children. Autistic children respond to dogs.
Standing outside the pen with, what he perceived to be, a cute and cuddly spaniel cross seemingly oblivious to his and Lucy’s presence, he doubted the former. Despite earlier enthusiasm, on the journey to the rescue centre, Lucy’s flat refusal to acknowledge the dog was making Dave doubt the latter.
Patience is a virtue. Dave was fairly sure he had read that somewhere too.
An old mongrel, sad eyes but a lightly wagging tail, sauntered towards them in the next pen. “Hello old boy.” Dave mustered as much enthusiasm as his flagging spirit would allow. Lucy rolled her eyes skyward, not even noticing the grey, limping dog now leaning against the wire fence enjoying Dave’s fingers tickling his shoulder.
Maybe it was in one of those Facebook groups, Dave thought. There seems to be a group for every minority, even single, widower fathers, raising an autistic daughter. Yes, he was fairly confident a fellow parent had suggested the dog idea.
Whilst Lucy seemed unfazed attending a mainstream school, she never appeared to befriend any of her peers.  Dave’s time and energy was largely spent kicking down doors, hoping Lucy might like what was behind them.
But he was tired.
Lucy’s mother had died shortly after giving birth, a consequence of multiple complications in the torturous and excruciating labour. For many years, Dave simply accepted that Lucy would be in some way different. A perfectly natural reaction to her start in life.
He’d initially reacted defensively and, he was ashamed to say, quite ignorantly when a nursery worker had suggested Lucy be assessed. Wandering, meandering through her days, Lucy never appeared distressed but seemed unwilling to engage with the other children, nor, particularly, the adults.
So, maybe a dog. Maybe.
The last pen in the block housed two very energetic terrier type puppies, both rushing to see the visitors. Call the cute police, thought Dave, Lucy is going to love these.
Or not.
“Can I take my coat off?” Lucy asked as she again checked out the speed of the low clouds rolling across the roof tops.
Patience is a virtue.
Dave rolled himself upright, Lucy instinctively taking his hand. They headed over to the second block of kennels. Dave took a stronger grip of Lucy’s hand as he heard the threatening growl. A Staffordshire Terrier or similar, crossed with something taller, Dave guessed.

Padding up and down the front fencing of her pen, Dave was reminded of the worn-down tracks around the tiger enclosure at Paignton Zoo on last year’s holiday. He wasn’t comfortable then. He certainly wasn’t comfortable now.
His discomfort intensified dramatically as Lucy slipped his hand and grabbed the wire mesh of the dog’s pen. As he started to reach for her something made him pause. The dog, Duchess, as her name plaque informed him, stopped pacing and turned to study Lucy.
Dave held his hand up to the kennel worker who, clocking Lucy at the fence, was heading their way. He too paused. The four of them, Dave, Lucy, Duchess and the young volunteer seemed frozen in time.
The first to move was Duchess, her heckles visibly smoothing and her crooked tail lifting as she sauntered towards Lucy. Lucy and Duchess had cocked their heads as if mimicking each other. Dave couldn’t help but smile at this. He was in completely unchartered territory now, spellbound. He felt a warmth inside, a stirring, the love of his wonderful late wife, the love FOR his wonderful late wife.
His stomach feeling like it did after their first date, he blinked slowly, confirming that the scene before him was truly unfolding.
Lucy pressed a cheek against the fence, Duchess following her, leaning her bulk heavily, closing her eyes and sighing with a contentment Dave doubted she’d ever had. Lucy giggled.
Lucy was giggling. Dave started to shudder as he felt the heat rising through him. Tears inevitable now. Lucy giggled again. Dave had never heard anything like it.
Duchess took a step back, sat down and reached forward with her neck, taking in the aroma of an unlikely friendship. Not slavering or lapping at Lucy’s face, just gently sniffing, a few inches of respect and trust between them.
Suddenly not so tired, Dave turned to the volunteer, who was himself fighting a lump in his throat.
“I guess that’s our dog!”