Mum’s the Word

Does the big bloke give her a nudge with his huge elbow? The picture is too grainy. I try zooming in again, squinting at the frozen image, but it makes no difference. I fast-forward through the bit where the other patients rush to her aid, whilst the bloke just sits, not moving a muscle. I see the light change to the left of all the action, then another man appears, but his back is turned. Dammit, I just can’t tell.

I pick up the second DVD and poke it into the machine.  This one is too sharp, too close up – I can see the hairs on her old-lady chin, the weave of her tweed suit. I sit back, frustrated, twisting my head one way, and then the other – I’m stiff from hunching over this damned computer for too long. Come on, come on! I need to call in soon…

The last DVD is much better, the angle is just right. This time, I can see the other patients in the waiting room unbutton the woman’s coat, loosen her scarf and lift up her feet, propping them up on a pile of old magazines. She comes round slowly, and they help her to a corner seat and give her some water. They huddle around her, patting her hand, fanning her with a magazine. The big bloke remains statue-still, glued to his seat.

The consulting room door opens a crack – I pause the recording, scan the rest of scene, holding my breath. No, everything is OK – all eyes are on her. I hit the ‘Play’ button again and watch as the doctor approaches the bloke in the chair. They each nod, reach out as if to shake hands. I hit ‘Pause’, zoom in, then hit ‘Play’ again. The big bloke does one of those double-handed shakes, the kind that says ‘I’m the boss’. Yep – the deal is being done. Money passes one way, a tightly wrapped package passes the other.

I hit ‘Redial’ on my phone. He answers right away.

‘Hey, Rico – it’s Marcus. Yep, just watched it. No problem, my man, no problem. All good.”

I hang up, pop open a bottle, take a deep swig. The DVD runs its course. The little old lady, now left to her own devices stares straight up at the camera. I zoom in. She winks, and smiles.

Nice one, Mum.

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