Missage in a Bottle.

Fretful Mathew was back. He’s been absent of late, mostly. Oh yes, we’ll see him occasionally, when he comes into the shop and he sips and sups in silence. One of Fretful Mathew’s more admirable qualities is he doesn’t like people; that’s not to say that he actively dislikes his fellow man, he just doesn’t like it when there are people around.

So he tends to up and leave if the shop fills up, which it tends to do more often than not. I think it’s an outdated defence mechanism, where a part of his inner psyche is running an old zombie routine which is no longer needed but which his evolutionary history hasn’t quite seen fit to disengage yet, where it thinks that the tribe from over the hill are about to squat in his cave and steal away his women. Only he lives in a fucking great riverside boat house in the Village, which could house the Addams family un-noticed, along with all their pets, friends and relatives, and he doesn’t have any women to be stolen away. His mother’s nurse was the last woman to enter Fretful Towers, and she ran off when he made her sleep on a camp bed in one of the attic bathrooms in case the neighbours thought there was something¬†unnecessary going on, which there wasn’t. There really wasn’t.¬†She’d never have been able to find the fucker for a start, the house is so needlessly large.

But we were having an unusually quiet afternoon. So the Fretful one, upon looking fretfully around the door and deciding that all was well and all was safe, finally came in, seated himself and gave me his order.

“So how have you been then Mathew?” I asked him.

He looked worried. Which is really like saying that rain is wet. “Not good, Graham. Not good. I’ve been seeing my doctor rather a lot lately and he’s sending me to see a consultant.” Here he looked around and lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. There was no-one else around so I don’t know why the fuck he did that, but it all adds to the atmosphere, does it not?

“And he’s told me that I have to take a sample of …something with me. I think I’ve worked out how to do it. I have an old plastic funnel in the boathouse, I can rinse that out and hold it over an old squash bottle. That should do it. Shouldn’t it?” He looked at me, almost as though he were seeking approval.

“Mathew! You’re so wrong in so many ways there,” I scolded him. “First off, you are, are you not, a private, fee-paying patient? Yes? Well that should entitle you to a personalised service from the hottest nurse at the practice. Tell the doctor that you’ve got terrible arthritis in your hands and you’ll need the girl to hold it and aim it and squeeze every last drop out into a very small sterile bottle which, owing to it’s phenomenally small diameter, will more than likely require at least two determined attempts, it’s such a pity they don’t want a sperm sample, looking at things from your point of view, naturally.” Fretful Mathew was looking rather uncomfortable. “And on a practical level, if you don’t rinse your funnel and your bottle out very thoroughly, you realise that you risk giving a very high octane urine sample, don’t you? Or at least one that might taste like an out of date Kia Ora. And that would not be good.”

“Do you know, I’ve got every box set of DS-9, Farscape and the Next Generation. I got them all when they first came out.” Mathew and I looked at each other, aghast. We had thought we were alone, but a man called Andy had come into the shop and was sitting with his mate, another man called Andy who had presumably come in with the first Andy and neither had said anything until first Andy had presumably decided to continue an earlier conversation with second Andy in which they were presumably discussing who had the shittest collection of shit Sci-Fi trash DVDs.

You can’t beat the original Star Trek. James T. Kirk. He’s the man, the one and only. I presumed they were both batchelors, Andy and Andy. I asked if they wanted coffee though. Because I’m professional to the core.