Electric wheelchairs are a sinch to drive. John used to make a big deal of it, but essentially there is one speed, one switch, one toggle and one brake. A handicap could drive one! It took me all of ten minutes to master a 360° turn, and that was with an excited dog chasing me around and trying to pull my socks off.

The remainder of the afternoon I spent contemplating how best to dress up so I could, from not too far a distance, pass off as John. Knowing I'd also need to be thinly disguised for the return journey home, I opted for a pair of unassuming, regular-fit grey trousers; John's leather shoes; his white Italian cut shirt; and to stave off the autumn bite, his black hooded duffel coat. Accessories were (of course) his Elvis Costello type glasses and covering my legs, the tartan blanket which John always used when out in public. Dressed up and in the chair, even I had to do a double take when I first passed the three quarter length mirror in the bedroom.

In most circumstances the bulk of the spare battery and charger would have posed somewhat of a problem, but it actually fitted quite conveniently into my plan. I would quite simply take them out in a travelling holdall which would be slung over the back handle of the wheelchair. In that way, anyone witnessing John (me) leave, would also testify that he left with a large bag full of clothes. With most my preparations made, and satisfied there were no obvious flaws to my scheme, I dressed back into my own clothes and sat in the kitchen with Marlowe until the evening came down. Before leaving, there was one final bit of preparation I had to do, and it needed to be done as Tristram Spencer...

At 18.55, almost an hour past sunset, I closed Marlowe in the kitchen, ruffled my hair, took a deep breath, and rushed out into the street.
“Fuck you, you can't keep threatening me like this!!!” I screamed. “I love you and need you and I've sacrificed my whole fucking world to make you happy.... you can't leave... You musn't leave.... I don't want you to go!!!! John McManus, I FUCKING LOVE YOU and I don't care who knows. I want you to stay... Please, please say you'll stay!” By the time I had finished I was really quite hysterical, holding my head and screaming unscripted. Behind me, I could feel the Neighbourhood Watch getting down to work; appearing at their windows with notepads and spite. After a moment I charged back inside, making sure to barge the front door into the wall so it appeared that John had been blocking it the other side. With all the mayhem going on, Marlowe was then jumping up, trying to unlock the kitchen door and knocking all manner of things over in the kitchen. It was perfect! Crashing/smashing sounds floating from the apartment and obviously not of my doing. I gave another scream then slammed the front door closed.

Back inside, I tore around the apartment randomly flicking lights on and off and breaking the occasional object. With the street awake and the evening proper now upon us, I quickly slipped back into my 'John disguise'. Allowing just enough time for the majority of prospective witnesses to rejoin their supper tables, I, John Aaron Baptiste McManus, powered out the door, down the yard and out into the street for the very final time.

Oh, it really couldn't have dropped any better! As I turned left and headed in the opposite direction of the highstreet, Mr Bartholemew was just making his way down the road, rattling an empty dog chain and calling out for Marlowe. And not just him, the Garbo Tranny was also out, standing there looking like a playwright with no play.

“Er, excuse me? Excuse me?” Mr Bartholemew called after me,“have you by any chance seen my do....” But before he had even finished, I was turning the bottom corner, just a hunched black shape driving off into the night.


  1. Tristram, you clever bastard.

  2. Simon, oh, the best is yet to come... X

  3. How impressive that you know so much about John's wheelchair.

    I am ashamed to admit that I've never tried out my nephew's wheelchair to see what life is like from his point of view.

    I have a terrible lack of curiosity about other people unless I believe the information will further my cause.

    Which is of course Our Lord's cause, so really it's not terrible at all.

    I hope there's nothing visibly incriminating lying about - what with Marlowe in your kitchen (stupid! ) and Mr. Bartholemew on the prowl...


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