Home » Archive » Visiting the Zen Man Al » Page 3

Visiting the Zen Man Al

Page 3

Pavle Radonic

It was strange there were so few complaints from Al. He was middling, he answered the initial enquiry on arrival: wavering, trembling hand to give the indication.  He had had the place, he said later. And the food was horrid. Showering was forced each morning, Al complained later again. But all this briefly and in passing. It was the waning of the energy perhaps, but also Al’s way of endurance and putting up with dreariness. His strongest rebellions had been in teen years. The hunger for cigarettes was the strongest emotion that day, stronger than on the earlier visits. Twice the bedside drawers were checked for an imaginary brown paper bag. Beneath his shirt the nicotine patch gave little and irritated the skin, Al said. (There was a firm promise this time for cigarettes to be brought on the next visit. With some proper planning he could be wheeled out to a garden area. There seemed no point continually denying him.)

You had never watched a man dying before. Finding them in their beds, stretched in front of the toilet; finding them where they had hung themselves and in their coffins was something else. The concentration on the pages of the book brought in briefly resurrected the old Al Pal. Barry Dickins: the name rang a bell, without being able to be placed. ECT could not be recalled either (it’s continued use currently for depression was a surprise, in fact). Unparalleled Sorrow was an excellent title for a Dickins book, we agreed. The intention had been to read Al some of the choice passages. When Al seemed to want to handle the volume himself, one of the segments was found and he sat bent over the pages a full ten minutes. The slits of eyes were narrow and red raw in the corners; there was definite tracking of lines, however, and even a little gleam confirming the matter. Over two pages was covered to the end of the chapter and a page turn involved. That reading was something precious.

Page 3

This edition