The House Of Mr Moses

Strange characters – Mr Superbus, Mr Bermuda, and others without names – sit around a communal lounge swallowing various tablets, comparing them, exchanging … until someone brings a new and bigger supply. Some are pure white with designs on them, others are capsules with multicoloured contents, yet others are huge unswallowable things that have to be inserted elsewhere.

One man seems to grind some of these tablets into a crunchy paste… Another seems to be satisfied with a simple nose-spray. They look forward to the arrival of Mr Superbus’s daughter who always visits on Thursdays. She is bosomy and chiffony but they have to refuse her gifts of tablets as they are not prescribed ones. Tablets lent and borrowed, yes, but the tablets need to be officially prescribed by a doctor in the first place at least prescribed to someone in the lounge. Well, that’s the story being stuck to, despite what comes later.

You must just concentrate hard on not annoying Mr Moses (who’s in charge) and await the arrival of Mr Superbus’s daughter any time soon.

The big problem is that by telling you about the House of Mr Moses at all, I am certain to annoy Mr Moses himself.

I was one of those to whom I’ve given no name sitting around the lounge with Mr Superbus and Mr Bermuda. My own tablet chart was kept religiously and I very rarely dabbled in the medicine chests of others who lived there. In fact, we rarely had access even to our own medicine chests, because Mr Moses kept the only keys. It was just his lax care policy that allowed us to picnic on medications Mr Bermuda ordered from abroad, brought here by men in hoods. (This was in pre-Internet days.)

I keep telling Mr Bermuda that such tablets are not prescribed ones. But he assures us all that we are merely supplementing/mixing our official prescriptions with creative ones, home-cured ones – a bit like with the old-fashioned toy chemistry-sets that we all so much enjoyed during our childhood in the Forties and Fifties… and I suppose it’s this sort of information that would get Mr Moses into trouble, should it get out. He should have a more rigorous hands-on policy for one so much in charge of things.

Oh, I’d better shut up. Here comes Mr Moses right now. Judging by his look, he is the bearer of bad news. I watch him whisper something into Mr Superbus’s ear. I reckon Mr Superbus is his favourite here. Oh dear, Mr Superbus’s skin has gone deathly white. As Mr Moses slouches from the room, I watch Mr Superbus literally cram his mouth with a handful of ready-mulched tablets, to such an extent its surplus amounts become tantamount to a white facepack.

Mr busy-body Bermuda strolls over. Trust him. He’s probably got a really special tablet or two for Mr Superbus to swallow. Yes, I can see one of them is bigger than a horse-pill. Bloody hell, I couldn’t even take that one up my back passage by the look of it!

The next night, I dreamed about Mr Superbus’s daughter. Mr Superbus himself, I understand had once been a Member of Parliament … or had I got that wrong? Perhaps he had only been a Council representative in Hastings town where we live. Ms Superbus often told me about how her father was big on conservation and had arranged the recycling of recent years, rather than depending on landfills. I myself used to work on the rubbish dump in Hastings in the Sixties when all the Mods and Rockers were about.

In the dream, I saw that Mr Superbus’s daughter was in trouble. Quite nude, too, but, for shame, I can’t see her clearly enough because the whole dream itself seems choked with the chiffon blouse she usually wore on Thursdays when visiting us at the House of Mr Moses.

I now dream of standing on the hill looking right down over the sloping expanse of houses reaching distantly towards the sea below. The nearest house is the light blue one, the House of Mr Moses itself.

But I haven’t seen it for many years from the outside as I don’t walk about so much these days. I’m usually housebound for medicinal purposes. My whole prescription regime is strict for each minute of the day. My armchair neighbours in the lounge, similarly.

Only Messrs Bermuda and Superbus usually have the width needed to get out for breathers. They go to the pier, they say, to play on the Amusements, gawping from side to side like the clowns’ heads whose yawning mouths we once aimed balls into for cheap prizes.

I suddenly see an insect-sized speck in the distant sea. It is intuitively Mr Superbus’s daughter. She’s screaming. I’m sure she’s drowning. But I can’t do anything about it, because I know that I’m still in the blue-painted house below me, and this is only a dream of me standing above it in the open air.

But how can I hear her screams? Even in real life, I wouldn’t be able to hear the screams from up here. In the old days, I couldn’t even hear the Mods and Rockers motor-biking or scootering along the prom from up here.

“You should keep taking the tablets,” said Mr Moses with a jokey laugh. I had evidently woken the whole house with my screams. I looked up at his benighted face. He didn’t often joke.

“How’s Mr Superbus … after the news?” I asked. It was uncharacteristic of me to think of others before thinking of myself. But here I was showing concern for someone else. I secretly admired Mr Superbus and all he had done for the local council.

“He’s taken a sedative,” said Mr Moses. “He’ll be OK.”

Despite his earlier jokey comment, I could see he was annoyed about having to get up in the middle of night.

He lifted a glass to my lips after crushing the multicoloued contents of at least six tablets into it. I swallowed like a gurgling baby, plaintively smiling to assuage any further annoyance.

I wanted to get back to more pleasant dreams of mermaids .

Strange characters – Mr Superbus, Mr Bermuda, and others without names – sit around a communal lounge swallowing various tablets, comparing them, exchanging them. All of them increasingly drippy.

The men in hoods haven’t been here for ages. We’ll be running out of tablets soon. Even Mr Moses is taking a low profile these days. It’s Thursday again. This is a nice day. Mr Superbus’s daughter usually visits on Thursdays. She always has a kiss for each of them.

Dreams are quickly forgotten. One unnamed lounge-lizard hopes to be off medication altogether soon and then – who knows? – they may allow him out for walks on the cliff.

Meanwhile, I look through the window and see a figure looking down at me as I sit here in the House of Mr Moses. Oh, to be like him. Sixty is no age at all. Some people start a new life at sixty. Never too late.

I simply need a suppository or enema to get me fighting fit. One that can clear my whole system out, hoover out all life’s rubbish. Shoot me up with a motor-bike tablet to the upper bowels.

Last Thursday, I watched Messrs Bermuda and Superbus looking into their empty pill-boxes with consternation. And then I heard the gentle flip-flop of Ms Superbus’s footsteps outside the lounge door. Flip-flop, drip-drop.

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