“She winked at me.”
Stuart stared at their reflection facing out of Burtons shop window. Haloperidol had done few favours for Brian’s looks. His fingers twitching, tongue rolling, excessive blinking due to Tardive Dyskinesia.
“Don’t be daft, it’s a mannequin,” Stuart plays it down. Brian often sees things.
“That’s me,” says Brian looking now at the male mannequin dressed in a three-piece suit and fedora. In the crook of his arm is the hand of a female dummy in a formal coat with a black cloche hat.
Brian looks at his suspended hand. “That’s as real as my thoughts.”
Stuart looks at their reflections. He’s been worried about Brian lately; the things he sees and hears, only now he doesn’t look fearful. What he relates is not the scary stuff the depot suppresses; he’s smiling. Until recently, a winking mannequin would have triggered shouting at the window, threatening structural violence and being arrested.
The next morning Stuart wakes early and knocks on Brian’s room door to give him his pills. When there is no reply, he enters the empty room. Now he’s worried. Dressing quickly, he sets out on their usual routes that keep them both occupied all day, every day. Through the park, embankment and shopping arcade he goes searching. At Burtons he notices the mannequin. Only the male now, in the nude. They must be changing the window dressing.
By evening, there is no sign. Outside the Café Royal where Stuart is resting, a taxi pulls up. A dapper looking couple step out. He is wearing a three-piece suit and looks for all the world like Brian; a “normal” Brian. She wears a cloche hat and holds the crook of his arm. Stuart stares at them as they pass, mouth agape, when she winks at him.
© Steve Goodlad