I recognise the song now, it's called Intervention. The singer is nearing the end, and he sings words that resonate oddly with me. The microwave pings, something's done, and the singer sings:
"Been working for the church/While your wife falls apart...."
I puzzle over that for a moment, then I roll over and lift the covers to check. Sure enough, he's right: my wife has fallen apart and there is a jumble of limbs and jigsaw-pieces of torso in the bed with me. Her head is missing.
"Do you see? He responds to stimulus." Dr. Verfuegbar points to the patient who is strapped to a table. He is trying to turn over, and his lips are moving as he mouths words. "Did you find the lip-reader yet?"
"All our lip-readers are dead," says the nurse, straightening surgical steel instruments on a movable trolley. She tsks as she realises that she cannot get the forceps parallel to both the left and right hand sides of the tray. "The war is proving costly."
"That's a lot of lip-readers," says Dr. Verfuegbar sounding a little shocked. "Are we getting more?"
"We've put in a requisition," says the nurse. Dr. Verfuegbar nods, his white coif bobbing up and down and he does so, and he pops the collar on his white coat. He has an orange fake-tan. "Form 7C," says the nurse.
"Oh no," says Dr. Verfuegbar. "I've told you before, form 7C is for the naughty children."
"Do you see? He responds to stimulus," says Miss Snippet, pointing at the twitching child on the square of carpet in the nursery's naughty corner. The headmaster looks worried and scans the room hastily, wondering if Miss Snippet has been tasering the children again, but he can't see anything incriminating.
"What stimulus?" asks the headmaster, his face ashen. After the fiasco at the Christmas play he can't afford for any more children to be hurt at the school, or they might take away his right to select students by competitive entrance exam.
"Coffee, in this case," says Miss Snippet. "His mother spilled some on him. She's in the cloakroom now, trying to sober up where she can't inflict third-degree burns on her child."
"We can blame the mother?" The headmaster's face lights up.
"Possibly," says Miss Snippet. "I still don't understand what set him off in the first place."
"Isn't he epileptic?"
"Not that I was aware of, and anyway, we didn't have the strobe lights on."
The headmaster pauses, aware that he should ask Miss Snippet what possible educational use strobe lights could have, why she should have any in the classroom, and where she's hidden them, but he decides that any answers to those questions would only mean more work for him.
"So what were you doing?" he asks.
"Listening to the radio," she says.
Working for the church/While your family dies...." I don't really want to get out of bed, but the lyrics of the song are explicit, and besides, the microwave is humming again. Do I have any family any more? I'm sure I just found the remains of my wife, but the more I think about it, the less I can remember anything about her. I don't even remember getting married.
Every spark of friendship and love/Will die without a home....
Well, isn't that obvious?
"Dr. Verfuegbar? Dr. Verfuegbar? The lip-reader has arrived, only... well, he was caught by a landmine. Well, actually, he kind of caught a landmine. I suppose, if you want to be pedantic, a landmine caught him. Well, he's in a few more pieces than we were expecting. Dr. Verfuegbar? Dr. Verfuegbar?"
"Do you see? He responds to stimulus!"
"Yes, Miss Snippet already said that." The headmaster is feeling worried, because the boy won't stop twitching. Miss Snippet looks altogether all too innocent. "Stop kicking him will you?"
"I'm his mother! I'll do as I please!"
The song is playing on the radio again, and I'm half-listening to it, half trying to fall asleep....