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Continued from The bullet

I began to wonder what had happened to my bag. Though I’d yelled from the golfcart for someone to get it, it wasn’t in the clinic. John was sure however that it was in the custody of Rosalita, the lady who runs the dive shop opposite the crime scene, so I didn’t worry too much.

After the wound was cleaned out, the really painful part began – testing for serious damage. The lungs part was easy – I just had to breathe in and out sharply while John stuck a stethoscope at various points on me. I could feel that my lungs were fine. I was pretty sure my spine was fine as well – the fact I could move my fingers and toes was a fairly good indication – but to be sure this involved a lot of poking me in the back to see where it hurt most. We came to the conclusion that the bullet had very possibly taken off a spinous process, the pokey-out bit of bone on the outside of each vertebra, but otherwise, incredibly, had left nothing but muscle damage.

After all the fluid from the IV which had been going into my arm for some hours, I really badly needed to pee. I hadn’t moved from my front-laying position since entering the clinic, so the logistics of this were going to prove a challenge. John nominated the newly inaugurated Nurse Jane to help me accomplish this. Most of the muscles in my upper body were out of action, so to get off the table I had to shuffle downwards, still lying face-down, until my legs were hanging off the edge, and tip myself over until my feet reached the ground. I was incapable of standing upright, so had to remain bent at an unfortunate angle, resting somewhat painfully on my forearms. Jane and I were provided with a special bonding experience as I was unable to undo my shorts. At least I was able to hold the pee jug myself, but morale took a blow as visions crept in of what my life might be reduced to for the next few weeks…

John re-entered and asked Jane for stats on the urine. “Yellow”, she replied, to the Doctor’s hilarity. John liaised with the police and relevant authorities throughout the night, and found out that Magenta and Steve had to leave to go to court on the larger neighbouring island of Roatan at 6am that morning, having been up all night. In Honduras, a report has to be made and statements of two witnesses taken within 24 hours of a crime for it to be prosecutable. We were all caught in a ridiculous cycle of guilt, me feeling bad that they had to go through all this because I’d been shot, them feeling bad I’d been shot in the first place. We wished them the best of luck, nervously laughing at how the huge blood stain on Magenta’s top blended in with the pattern, and away they went, leaving me and Nurse Jane alone.

Jane fed me electrolytes through a straw. We looked around the room, covered in smears of my blood, and reflected on the utterly bizarre circumstance in which we’d found ourselves. We laughed at the ‘nose drawer’. There was an eye drawer as well, but that wasn’t quite as amusing as an image of a drawer full of noses. Dr. J returned with coffee, cinnamon rolls, and banana cake and decided it was time to get me up. Unable to use my arms to raise myself, the two of them had to prop me into a sitting position. I immediately felt dizzy and nauseous and had to lie down again. John said it was because I’d lost so much blood, and only then told me that I actually didn’t have a radial pulse when they first got me to the clinic. I looked pale and like shit. I was wheelchaired into a room with a comfy bed, where I scoffed a banana cake and some more electrolytes and was allowed to sleep. It was 9.30am.

John returned three hours later, having been in touch with the Mayor, the Policia, the British Embassy, everything. I was able to sit up myself now and he couldn’t believe how much better I looked. When Jane returned a short time later he told her he’d never seen such an amazing recovery –  a total turnaround after nothing more than a three hour sleep and a piece of cake! To mine and Jane’s great relief, I could now take a piss by myself as well.

Jane had been down to Paradise Diver’s to get my bag from Roslita. It wasn’t there, and it soon became apparent that some crackhead fuck had seen me bleeding to death as a prime moment for an opportunist theft. I was absolutely livid. The sad thing was it wasn’t at all surprising. For those of you that don’t know, and think that living on an island in the Caribbean must for sure be some sort of idyll – it is not. I suppose that’s already been established by the fact I got shot. But a random incidence of somebody losing their mind and brandishing a weapon can happen anywhere. Somebody seeing a person gravely injured as an opportunity for robbery does not. Utila suffers from what I’ve heard referred to as a ‘cleptoculture’.

So that was the ipod gone, my aloe lip balm (which had survived a previous robbing actually), a book I’d only just started reading and was really enjoying, and my notebook. Ironically enough, I’d just written an entry about all the crazies on that island and how they were driving me mental.

After a visit from Scottish Mike, the British Honorary Consul for the island, phone calls from the British Embassy, and enough getting up and down and doing things for myself to prove I was suitably recovered, I was allowed to go home about 4pm. Doctor John packed me out the door with copious amounts of antibiotics and paracetamol, bandaged up like a hunchback, a can of Salva Vida in my hand (local beer, meaning ‘Lifesaver’; John insisted that not being able to drink on antibiotics is a myth), and we all piled into Chris Muñoz’ (one of my aides from the night before) golfcart for what was somewhat of a victory lap through the town, past Cueva, waving at well-wishers, John looking smug with his freshly-saved patient…

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It was late on a Tuesday night, tripping on mushrooms on the upper deck of Tranquila bar; a not-unusual Utilan weeknight. Unexpectedly, the plague of pishy pop came to a halt mid-song, and was replaced by Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd – unbelievably apt. That soon got rid of the poppy-pish customers, but of course we lingered on, spending some hour or two giggling, making patterns in our heads of the trees and the ripples on the water.

At closing this little hobbit-sized fellow, a bandana tied round his shaved head in the fashion of a 50s housewife, came up the stairs collecting empty bottles. He instantly singled out the DBA as a gullible tourist, suggestible tourist, fellow miscreant, I don’t know, but made a bee-line for him and launched into a fervent and animated story about a shootout that afternoon over drugs and money during which he was wounded (he pointed at his arm  – there was nothing to be seen). As soon as he was done with all the gangster talk, the little chap walked over to the stairs, mounted the banister, and slid down, grinning inanely, like some insane Mary Poppins, the bow upon his tiny gangster head completing the look. Jane and I cracked up.

It transpired that the guy was fresh out of jail on Roatan, the neighbouring island, and was working off a 62 Lempira ($3ish) debt to the manager by tidying up the bottles. The true extent of his crazed nature was revealed as we tried to leave, when he began, with the fervency of the guns ‘n’ money story, proffering sex with 14 year-old girls to the DBA and our newfound miscreant, Justin. At some point during the incessant flow of filth, Mary Poppins mentioned his ‘two apartments’, with satellite TV, that all of us would fit into – for only $500! (It was unclear whether this included the underage hookers or not). “But I have my own apartment, with a TV and everything, why would I want to go to yours?” I could no longer hold it together and turned away in a fit of laughter.

Somebody brought up the need for rum. “We can go to La Pirata”, Mary Poppins chimes in, “and get rum, and then we can all go on my ‘mopeds’ to my ‘apartments’”. There was not one moped in sight, certainly not a fleet of them. Justin also burst into laughter. We turned and faced the wall together.

At the mention of La Pirata, a heinous bar filled with flashy lights and crackheads but the only one open that late on a Tuesday, Mary Poppins embarked on a new tact: “Come to La Pirata, there will be 13 year-olds dancing on the pole, like this” – he requests that somebody hold his hand so he can demonstrate. Jane joins the cracking-up now too; we’re all hysterical except for the DBA, who has had a look of dumbstruck terror on his face the entire time.

Since no-one would hold his hand, Mary Poppins proceeded to launch himself onto a nearby wooden post and execute a move which he called ‘the sledgehammer’, complete with sexy sound effects. Good gracious.

It had been a good quarter-of-an-hour now that we had failed to escape the insane Mary Poppins, and I was fearful of him following us home. I realised the only means of shedding him was to follow him to Pirata – and then flee! We needed rum anyway…

As we walked along the road, Mary bounding about the place beating up rubbish bins and the like, I began to wonder if in fact he knew exactly what he was doing – if it was every bit his intention to emulate Poppins, with his head scarf and his banister-sliding, and the joke was in fact on us

The only other occasion Jane and I had entered La Pirata was the night we unwittingly consumed space-cake – not an enjoyable experience. Now we were about to enter, with incredible reluctance, under mushroom influence. At least this time we had our sense of humour to get us through.

It was every bit as horrific as we had feared – unnecessarily flashing lights, teeth-grindingly bad music, Tony Red-Hat malingering in a corner (the crackhead who the previous week had threatened to beat all our heads in with a lead pipe). Much to our surprise, the minute Mary Poppins had seen us inside he pointed out his friend who was going to ‘look after’ us and take us to a house party, and promptly left! Job done! When it became apparent that the bar weren’t going to sell us rum for anything short of extortion, we could at last make good our getaway, and in a true Monty Python style dashed for the spiral staircase and fled, crying “Escape! Escape! Run away! Run away!” as we went.