“I’ll just need to take down a few details, Sir” said the lady behind the desk, a little formally. She was neatly dressed in understated, carefully chosen pieces of clothing, fitting for her unclear age, soft tones of mauve and beige, unseeking of attention.
“Nothing too onerous, just one or two questions so that we can process your membership.”
“Sure, of course” he said, smiling “Whatever you need.”
“Thank you Sir. It’s just that…well…you’d be surprised how some people object to being asked the most straightforward of questions…..but without your name, where you live, these kind of things, how could we get a measure of you, Sir?”
“Yes, quite….I do understand completely (though he didn’t quite), please….fire a way!” he offered, a little perplexed by the lady’s lengthy preamble.
“Right then. Let’s start with your name, shall we Sir?…not too difficult for you?” she chuckled, a little too much to herself for his liking.
For some reason he found his throat tighten a little and he had an awful feeling he was about to have one of his spells.
“Ahem…yes of course, Charles…Charles Neville” he said, hesitatingly, feeling as if he was making it up.
The lady held her pen still, just at the top of the “C” she was about to write down, and looked up, quizzically. “Are you sure about that, Sir…It’s just that, well, you seem, a little…doubtful?”
His throat thickened further and his head began to feel foggy all of a sudden.
“Would you like me to repeat the question, Sir….No, better we come back to it later and go on to the next one shall we? Where do you live, Sir?”
“England” he blurted out, a little uncontrollably, sweating steadily now around his neckline. “Oh sorry, ha ha…what am I saying, of course England…ha ha….yes, London, here in London.”
For some reason, he couldn’t seem to remember his address properly. His mind was awash and the lady seemed all too aware, as if she’d seen this reaction before. She put her pen down on the form, laying it across diagonally as if to bring this painful process to a premature close.
“Sir, without these pieces of information I’m afraid we can’t proceed.”
She got up from her chair and walked around to face him, her small, shiny shoes a few inches from his.
“Who are you Sir, really?”
“Charles….I said Charles.”
“No, no. I don’t think you understand the question Sir”
“I don’t understand…I….”
“Where are you, Sir…..Where?” she pressed, her voice growing harder. “Where are we now, Sir?”
“Where?…Now?…What do you…?”
“You don’t know where you are, do you Sir.”
“You have come in here, if you don’t mind me saying Sir, a little too sure of things, haven’t you?”
“I just….I just wanted…..”
“Please Sir!” she interrupted. “I’m afraid you don’t know. You don’t know and that’s the end of it.”
The room begun to spin as his thoughts raced at the undeniable fact of it. He didn’t know. He grew fainter and fainter as the walls weighed down on him. He sat down on a chair that appeared behind him and closed his eyes tightly, hoping forever, senses all gone, clinging to the feeling of himself inside his chest, the only thing that was left.