PAIN GOOD FOR BRAIN – By @lastwordstyped

By Darius Rodrigues




Another overdue appointment. In so early the cleaner frets. I tell her very coolly, that it’s very cool. Her cue for end of shift is the first uneasy customer. She serves empty spaces. Was she born to be an architect?

BBC ticks on over nothing, badly-subtitled the GP waiting room. Man, the deaf got it tougher than us. This is a different kind of appointment. This is one most don’t think they need or often think of. This is one I asked for.

The receptionist runs up to meet me. She sits me down. I try to write a short poem about England for a John Smith’s campaign.

Swipe the countless breath off the 37 window.

One-legged rushers, just-showered hair, See the shrubbery of this island.

Slow-mo coffee falls, cold-knuckled claws, See how we try to hide them.

The night after the kindling, Free sweets,
Post Office queue swindling.

Red is the closest rhyme
For the new colour called England.

(John Smith’s Green).

‘She’s ready for you,’ the receptionist says, I’m back in the room now, ‘downstairs.’ Either I’m nervous or these floorboards are thin. Maybe this place is made of paper and I was born in an Armando Iannucci sketch.

Hello’s, etc. She tells me she has been in Spain for a week. It was beautiful but she spent too much money. Ah. She has seen my surname. She is creating an opportunity for me to put her back on a plane, if only for twenty-five minutes, or for however long I last. She does not know I am Portuguese and I speak no word of that, but I tease her like a good Catholic. ‘Were you there for Easter?’ I asked. I stopped here. She tells me to raise my hand if it gets too much. Safe word is ‘Alicante’.

Tube first. Is that to dry or to wet? A headlight or a smoke machine? ‘Can you hold this for me please?’ she asks. Alas, the mess we have made. The mess you have made, she says. A self-hoarding regenerative junkyard. Useless musters of unrecyclable rubbers and plastics. Magpies dream of here. A poor life laid out. If only a car would ever come down this road.

‘Do you use mouthwash?’ she asks. ‘No,’ I say. ‘Good,’ she says, ‘mouthwash is marketing’. Here, as clear of shame and doubt as a child yet to cry, I would have liked to make a joke about how she’s putting me out of business. This is the first year I’ve worked in such a relatable industry. The large tube in my mouth saved us both.

Now, I think I’ve got a high pain threshold. I pride myself on taking hot things out of the microwave when people are watching. My Dad always did it and my mum would scream at him. He scolded his hand badly as a child. This must have given him a burning desire to prove the natural law and order wrong. The Stringer Bell of The Garden Centre.

It did hurt, what she did to me. I enjoyed it mostly. If you’ve ever got a tattoo and reached a peaceful state, then you know what I’m talking about. For the record, I’m not some Headspace arsehole, you arsehole. I was talking four noble truths in the early 2000s. That’s right. The JoJo years. Yes, my teenage years were mostly solitary.

While enjoying getting hurt I looked into her eyes and thought, ‘Are you enjoying this too?’ The less I flinch, the harder she’ll hurt? Win-win baby. Win-win. She gives me homework to do. I might not do it. I never knew how far up the gums you could floss.

I left the building. Felt like I’d woken up one day after a day of can’t-move-head hangover. Like my house was clean. Like someone had just died. Like the fridge was full. Like I’d just heard I love you for the first time.

Here, I stand, and I have earned my feet.

Pain good for brain in a sedated century. All sofa, all swipe, all lame. To know the design of our footprints we must sometimes dig the track ourselves.

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