By mark p
Handwritten story by James Watson found within his personal effects.
Transcribed for digital preservation by Jamie Watson.
I watch the squirrels and rabbits scampering in the grounds of the hospice and my fellow patients shuffling around while they still can...
I think a lot. My brain is all that still functions as it did forty odd years ago, with my eyes coming a close second. I am still sound of mind.
I am constantly tired from the effects of the regimen of drugs , the palliative care that I receive daily from the wonderful nurses in this place.
I am a religious man and have been so all my life. I am eighty one now. I have never married. I came close once, but it didn’t work out. Broken engagement when I was in my twenties, disgrace to the family, not that it matters a whit nowadays. Different times. I suppose I sometimes felt lonely when I was a younger man, but that’s all a long time ago, in another life, my other life, before the cancer.
I was a teacher all my working life, an English teacher. I have always loved all the old poetry of people like Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Keats and the novels of Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene. I have also a special place in my heart for the macabre and supernatural, especially M.R James, when told by the fireside at Christmas.
Words have always been important to me, words and ‘The Word’- the word of the Bible.
I have always believed in God and all his works and feel that I have always done what I perceive to be the Christian thing to do, and I wait the moment when St Peter stands there to receive me at the Pearly Gates of Heaven.
I pray that the Lord will bless and keep me unto everlasting life once I get there.
I wonder what he’ll look like, God that is; will he be an old man like me, with a long white beard?
I guess I will just have to wait and see.
It won’t be long though, it won’t be long, they tell me the cancer has spread into my bones and that palliative care will soon be all that’s left for me, to keep me as comfortable as possible for the rest of my time on Earth.
Jamie, my nephew, has been to visit me every day since I was admitted here.
He was a real worry to me and his parents a few years ago, having lost his direction somewhat in life with alcohol featuring heavily. However, he has turned into kind caring young man with a wonderful wife and lovely little daughter called Jenny.
Just a few years ago when ‘in his cups’ he was obsessed with the idea of vampires residing in the area in which he lived and near to where I lived before coming here.
Prior to his marriage, he saw himself as something of a writer, fancied he was going to be the next big thing.
He always seemed adamant that what he was writing about was fact rather than fiction; I had always put this down to his drunken bravado rather than honesty.
He had kept a ‘vampire diary’ since leaving school in the early 80s.
Jamie is an intelligent lad and I feel that he is wasted spending all his working life in the civil service literally banging his head against the wall in frustration as he has seen less intelligent people than himself climbing the career ladder.
He could have done so much better for himself, perhaps gone to university, studied English and become a teacher, something of actual worth to society.
Christine seems to be a good influence on him and has encouraged him to apply for Open University Courses, that’s a start and it’s never too late.
He’s almost 50, but I guess he’ll get there; sadly I won’t be here to see it.
His folks aren’t too bothered though, but everyone’s different as my old mother used to say back in the 30s, and they’re both approaching 80.
I read his ‘vampire diary’ a few years ago; he had a limited number self-published and distributed copies to family and friends. He gave details of his vampire sightings in the environs over the last 30 years, and dressed these tales up as fiction, but he could tell you who the real people are behind his characters, whether living or dead. Some of these ‘sightings’ did strike a chord with me from my days teaching at the Grammar School, Jamie had clearly done his homework, but most strange, apparently supernatural happenings have rational explanations.
Maybe my mind is clouded by the drug regime I am on, but I swear to God I have seen cowled or cloaked figures outside in the grounds of the hospice. Maybe I am ‘high’ like youngsters said back in the ‘60s, and I am seeing things because of all the drugs in my body, but I swear by Almighty God that those figures were in here, not just out in the garden, but inside, in the ward with me, the other night.
Mary my nurse assured me that she and her colleagues had been the only people in here during the night.
Jamie described figures in black cloaks in his diary, led by a ‘creature of repellent countenance, sort of a cross between Nosferatu the Vampire and the stereotypical image of Dracula as played by those old masters Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing’.
Every evening, I read a passage from the Bible after Father Colin has been to see me; I enjoy reading the letters of St Paul to the Corinthians and savour the power of the language there, especially in the passage where he writes about speaking with the tongues of men and angels.
It really makes me feel at the root of my faith, and at one with the World.
I have an old prayer book, it’s The Scottish Prayer Book published in 1929, and my father gave it to me when I was a small boy.
My bookmark is placed at page 22 -‘The Third Collect for Aid Against All Perils’, which goes as follows, ‘Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night.. .’.
I read these words over several times before sleep takes me and hold my crucifix tightly in one hand …. For protection...
The nurses have laughed at my request for some garlic bulbs at my bedside, but have obliged me thinking that the cancer is eating away at my mind.
Hopefully this will keep them, the vampires that is, at bay until my time on Earth is over…………………. For I fear th….
My Uncle’s writing comes to an abrupt end at this point. (Jamie Watson 12/12/15)