Oct 31st – The Haunting of Harold Hemmings

October 31st – The Haunting Of Harold Hemmings

Harold Hemmings hated Halloween.

To be fair, he hated a lot of things, but Halloween always seemed the worst. American, he used to say, whenever the subject came up. ‘American nonsense’, or something stronger, depending on who he was taking to. Harold Hemmings didn’t talk to too many people, and even fewer wanted to talk to him.

If he had anywhere to go, Harold Hemmings would have gone out, but he didn’t have anywhere to go, and he wasn’t going to walk the streets, so he was in, alone, sitting in his armchair in front to the television, on Halloween. The only light was the light in the back room. The rest of the house was in darkness. Harold Hemmings wasn’t going to open the door.

As the night drew on, he remained untroubled. No one knocked on his already darkened door. ‘Trick or Treat’ was unheard. Harold Hemmings relaxed a little into his chair.

One thump on the door. Slow, and heavy, and hard: a large hand.

Harold Hemmings ignored it.

Another. Slow, and heavy, and hard. And then another.

Harold Hemmings ignored them both.

Another. And another. And another, louder, growing in intensity.

Harold Hemmings had had enough. He got out of his chair and stormed to the front door, fully intending to give whoever was disturbing him a piece of his mind.

In front of a flickering fire, Harold Hemmings’s armchair grew slowly colder. The front door swung loosely on its hinges. The street was quiet, and dark, and cold.

And the street was empty.

The Haunting of Harold Hemmings

He wouldn’t let it lie. He could have let it lie, but he wouldn’t let it lie.

He should have let it lie. He might have let it lie, but he didn’t let it lie.

A scab. A scab that was spread over the inflamed, red, angry, soft flesh of skin knitting to skin, the magic of invisible antibodies and plasma and reconstructing cells building walls and carrying on their pre-programmed business, beavering away. The temperature of the area of flesh was heightened, betraying the furious action going on underneath, the itch another symptom as the nerves transferred to the brain the knowledge of furious action, repairing and fixing and mending. Things were being made better, beneath the surface. But on the surface, it was a scab. An ugly scab, yellow and brown and dry blood black and even, around the edge, a hint of pustulous green. Its surface was uneven, misshapen and irregular. It sat over the healing, a mockery of the fine and natural processes going on underneath. And it was strangely stiff, unyielding like a carapace, but this was unnatural. The very fact that the scab was hard and nasty meant that it could not flex with the skin beneath, and this mismatch was what made it irresistable to the touch.

Time and again his hand went back to the scab, picking it, rubbing it, moving it from side to side and feeling the unpleasant hot itch-pain of the tug on the damage that was hidden.

He wouldn’t let it lie.


The Haunting of Harold Hemmings

To write for exactly, and only, ten minutes every day, as exercise. Helped by daily prompts by “M“. Today I wrote from 14:02 to 14:12 with the prompt …..

The Haunting of Harold Hemmings

Waking up again. Another morning, another day. The initial trained burst of optimism, “Today will be good; I will have a good day” is soon gone; evaporated quicker than the purest alcohol, the alcohol Harold has eschewed now for so many years.

Thoughts. The thoughts come.

He lets one or two in, I can handle these, I can think about this, surely? After all this time. And briefly he feels he can. By the time his feet are on the floor, however, he is licking over these painful thoughts as one might flick one’s tongue against a rotten tooth; yes the pain is still there.

In the shower it is all he can think of. “Why? Why? Why?” a million times the same questions, the same hard rock of the same answers, the same circle.

Harold Hemmings cannot recall the taste of morning tea without fresh tears in it. By the time he leaves the house he is on the floor. His head is stretching to hold all these circular never-ending miseries in them. Time will help, yet his haunted head continues to ache and burst at the seams as he never can seem to lay these things to rest. He never can exorcise the disappointments, the humiliations, the pain and the despair.

Finally at the end of the day – a good day, his brain was only on fire for most of it – he takes his pills and he can sleep. The haunting nightmares will not begin again until morning.

My other writings are on Dead Deer Blog.