frank_davis4

frank_davis


Frank Davis

Banging on about the Smoking Ban


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Intolerance: Chapter 4
frank_davis4
frank_davis
A serial fantasy.

  Dr Edwin Wilmshurst blinked through his thick spectacles at the next patient sitting at his desk. It was a pallid, mousy young woman, with her hair drawn tight into a bun at the back of her head, her knees locked together. Probably another case of anorexia, he thought. Or maybe bulimia.
  He eased forward in his chair, reaching for the keyboard of his computer terminal, the chair protesting beneath him as he shifted his vast frame upon it.
  'Name?' he asked, peremptorily.
  'Anna Kaminsky,' the mousy girl lied.
  'Address?'
  '10, Carstairs Road, Carstone,' mouse lied again.
  'Birth date?'
  '24 June 1998.' Another lie.
  'Do you smoke?'
  'Yes.'
  'How many?'
  '40 a day.'
  Dr Wilmshurst stopped typing, and took off his glasses, and turned to face his new patient.
  'I really don't know why you people bother coming,' he said, shaking his head. 'I turned away three just last week. Do you realise, young woman, that at the rate you smoke you're likely to be dead before you're 30 years old. What's the point of me treating you if you're killing yourself?'
  He shook his head again, and resumed his questioning.
  'Do you drink alcohol?'
  'Yes.'
  'How much?'
  'About a half a litre of whisky a day.'
  Dr Wilmshurst shook his head again.
  'I'm surprised you managed to even walk in here and answer my questions. Look,' he said. 'Come back and see me when you've given up smoking and drinking. I've no time for utterly irresponsible people like you. Now please go.'
  'Aren't you going to even ask why I came?' the mousy girl asked.
  Wilmshurst subsided back into his chair, which protested once again beneath him, and took a cold, hard look at her.
  'What's the problem?' he sighed. 'Persisent cough? Fainting fits? Delirium tremens?'
  'None of those,' mouse replied quietly. 'I suffer from a kind of mania.'
  Wilmshurst's brow furrowed.
  'What sort of mania?' he said.
  'I keep wanting to shoot people.'
  Wilmshurst stared at her uncomprehendingly, his jaw working slowly.
  'It's all I can think about,' she said.
  'Go away,' Wilmshurst mumbled. 'Just go away.'
  She stood up, and as she stood up she drew out a pistol that seemed almost as big as she was, its long silencer pointing directly at Wilmshurst's head.
  'I keep wanting to shoot people like you,' she said.
  Wilmshurst's mouth opened, and he began to struggle to get up from his squeaking chair, his eyes staring and widening.
  'Antismoking bastards like you.'
  He'd almost managed to stand up when the red dot appeared in the furrows of his sweaty forehead.


  Marta pulled open the car door, and sat down, unravelling the bun of hair at the back of her head.
  'God, my hair is killing me, tied up this tight.'
  'Was Wilmshurst an antismoker?' Steve asked, from behind her. 'Was he the right one?'
  'Yes,' Marta said. 'He was the right one. Now let's go. I need a drink.'


  'Any reports about the park warden?' Marta asked.
  'Nothing at all.' Vin replied.
  'Who's next?' Marta asked, sipping her whisky.
  'We've got a meeting with a hospital administrator next week," Steve replied. 'We're a Concerned Citizens Group. We've going to talk about car parking around the hospital.'
  'And towards the end we'll raise the matter of the smoking ban,' Vin said.
  Marta flipped open a pack of cigarettes, and offered them round. Vin took one and lit it. Marta lit up too.
  After a while an elderly black woman got up from a table further down the restaurant, and began to walk slowly towards them.
  When she got to their table, she stopped and gazed at them.
  'I'm disappointed in you,' she said eventually.
  'Why should you you be disappointed in us?' Steve asked. 'You don't know us.'
  'I'm disappointed you took so long,' she replied softly.
  She sat down at an adjoining table and produced a blackened briar pipe.
  'We black people used not to be able to come in places like this. Until people reclaimed them, by just going in and sitting down. Now we've got a new segregation. This time it's smokers rather than blacks. Otherwise it's just the same. It's just a shame smokers have allowed it for so long.'
  A waiter came walking quickly through the restaurant.
  'No smoking,' he said urgently. 'There's no smoking permitted.'
  'No smoking...,' said the old lady. 'No blacks... No Jews...'
  She rolled her eyes at the waiter. 'Go away, young man. Leave us alone. I want to talk to my friends.'
  The waiter backed away.
  'What's your name?' Marta asked.
  'Angelique,' the old lady said. 'My name is Angelique.'


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Having read a few chapters now, Frank, a few thoughts occur to me. I've written them down, and I'm going to email them to you rather than share them here, because they're a bit lengthy.

I'll encourage you to carry on with "Intolerance" though. It gives us readers of your blog the opportunity to think about these issues while being swept up in a story, and provides a welcome break from the endless mind-pounding point-counterpoint debate.

WS.

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