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My friend Peter

I had occasion this week to visit an old friend. A former business colleague. Lost from sight these many years and only lately back in the land of the living. I say 'the living' but leave others to judge. What disobliging force is it I wonder that can turn a perfectly normal life upside down wrenching happiness and good fortune out by the roots leaving behind a withered man for whom full recovery is beyond a doctor's pen?

Odd too, how a mysterious tragedy reported on TV somehow rings a bell somewhere in the shadows of the mind and is thus kept fresh for years to come. How could I know that the nameless man taken to hospital in a faraway town and discharged within hours as a drunk was my friend Peter? How could I know that this same man who had suffered a physical attack earlier in the day only made it to the hospital gates before collapsing again and lying snow covered for some time before anyone bothered to help him?

Now with a plate in his head and a peg tube in place of a mouth very little remains of my friend Peter. Even the bit that really remembers me felt the lick of an incinerator's flame long ago. And yet for all this, Peter has learnt to accept his fate – unburdened by memory – even a little life is better than none.

© Joseph G Dawson
15/04/2018 and earlier