Finding Paradise (chapter 10)
I don’t know how long I had been asleep, it didn’t feel like long at all.
As I woke, I realised that something was terribly wrong. Ray held my shoulder and was shaking it quite violently.
“I know you are not asleep,” he hissed.
I had been, and quite nicely too, and now I was awake and I had to get my wits about me, quickly by the looks of it.
“You had your eyes open, I have been watching you. You just want to go off with Jerry, you were waiting for me to go to sleep.”
I understood it like this. He had just confessed one of his darkest secrets to me and now he was trying to come to terms with it and it wasn’t going so well for him.
“I am not going anywhere. It’s okay. Let’s go back to sleep.”
My suggestion went unnoticed. It was obvious he wasn’t himself. He just rambled on, lighting one cigarette up after another, and he wasn’t making any sense at all. He continued to accuse me of wanting to leave him and go to Jerry.
I just wanted to sleep!
I sat up — I had to face this. He held me close to him and started to rub my arm again, as he had done the previous day, only this time he was more forceful. He rocked back and forth as he held me close to him.
“You’re nervous.” He said to me. “ It’s okay, you couldn’t take the pressure of it all. I understand.”
I rubbed my eyes and tried to ease out of his grip, but I couldn’t. He let go of me, lit me a cigarette and told me to smoke it. As he put it to my lips he told me that I was nervous and I should smoke; that is what nervous people do. At least he had stopped hugging me and rubbing my arm!
He looked at me, his eyes dark and void of reason.
“You are getting hysterical,” he told me calmly.
I really wasn’t, I was too tired to be hysterical. I was very calm considering the circumstances, even when he said:
“I am going to have to slap you. That’s what we have to do when people get hysterical.”
The first slap across the face was hard and hurt, the second also. I could taste blood in my mouth. He threw in a few more and then embraced me. I spat on his shoulder to see if there was any blood, there was.
He stopped embracing me and continued with his anti-hysteria technique. The slaps were not as hard now, only every so often he would throw a good one in. I lost count. I was not sure what to do. He didn’t hit me in a brutal way but it was consistent. I thought it actually might help him as he was obviously projecting all he felt onto me, denying his own feelings and in a sense, he was telling me what he felt by saying that I was the one feeling it. I thought that if I let him slap me, it might calm him down and he might be able to think straight again. I got onto it very quickly, this was the night I majored in my practical psychology test.
Between slaps and his ramblings, he made me chain smoke. Before I had even finished one cigarette, he lit up another, and another. He kept telling me that nervous people chain smoked. Maybe he thought this would justify his own chain smoking. This went on for about an hour. I started to feel sick because of the cigarettes and I told him I wanted to throw up. He ran around the room looking for a container for me to be sick in, and returned with a cup.
I wanted to laugh so hard. I really wanted to guffaw and roll around the floor till my stomach ached, but it definitely would not have been the most appropriate time to do so. I wasn’t even sure whether it might have been insanity trying to get a grip on me the same way it had a grip on him. He said he wanted to close the shutters on the window. I told him not to.
No! He couldn’t block out the night sky, and the stars. He just couldn’t. I had to keep my wits about me, I had to think...
He didn’t close the window in the end. Instead, he just stood there and looked out of it.
“Look! The fishermen are going to sea, it is a fishing village” he turned to look at me.
He stated this like he was narrating a documentary for children. He continued to ramble on about this and that, and the dogs barking. He said that the dogs hadn’t stopped barking since we had arrived and tonight they had stopped! Like it was some kind of sign. I wasn’t sure what that meant to him, but he treated it like some kind of revelation.
By this time I was getting a little scared, shouldn’t he have calmed down by now after all those slaps?
I had no idea what to do next; if I could just get to the door, but he had locked it. I had to seize an opportunity, I had to think, but it all seemed so hopeless. I had no way of predicting his behaviour. So I got back into bed and covered myself up. He sat down next to me and lit up another cigarette for himself. At least he wasn’t making me smoke them anymore.
My shoulder was showing and every so often he would slap me on it and my face, anywhere he could get a bit of skin. I just wanted to die by now and I thought at this point that there was no hope and if he was going to kill me, then he should just get on with it. I didn’t care anymore. I was a thousand miles from home with a stranger, a stranger I thought I knew, in an even stranger land.
I lost track of time as I slipped into my own thoughts to escape from his. After a while he got my attention when he said that he wanted to close the shutters again.
My eyes opened wide and I sat up. I had an idea!
“Okay, you can close them if you like.” I said calmly.
I had a plan. I remembered the Coca-Cola bottle sitting by the bed. Not just any Coca-Cola bottle but an original 1 litre old-style thick glass Coca-Cola bottle.
The plan was unravelling in my head as he walked towards the window. I jumped to my feet and grabbed the bottle, I stood poised behind him and he didn’t even seem to sense me. I held the bottle high with my right hand, ready to strike his head, but as I did my conscience got the better of me and I weakened the blow, but I still hit him.
He turned to me shocked, his dark eyes questioning my actions.
“What are you doing?” he slurred as he took the bottle from me with great ease and staggered back a little.
‘Now I am going to die’, I thought.
What happened next was nothing short of a miracle.
“You are very bad…” he stammered, “you…you need help. We need to get you to a doctor.”
I played right along with him, this was the perfect opportunity!
“Yes! Yes I am! Take me to the hospital! Please!”
He ran around the room in a frenzy, got our passports and some money and then what he did next made me feel very sad; he put on the jumper his mother had knitted him. It was nearing the end of June! You wouldn’t even wear one in England in June never mind Morocco; I thought that it obviously held some sentimental value and maybe gave him some security. He idolized his mother.
As soon as he unlocked the door, I ploughed straight through it and down the stairs to Jeane’s place. I banged on the door frantically. It was almost daytime.
As soon as Jeane opened the door I threw myself into her arms and sobbed. I told her what happened, but it mustn’t have made much sense at all. She sat me on the bed and John ran out of the door and up the stairs to see Ray.
Jeane put on a robe, she had been totally naked when she had opened the door; I had just embraced a naked woman! I calmed down and managed to tell her what had happened. She listened to me carefully and said that they would help me.
John returned in a state of shock and said that Ray had smoked about 10 cigarettes just while he was talking to him, lighting one up and throwing it down after just a few puffs. He said he was making absolutely no sense whatsoever.
We were unsure how to handle the situation so I suggested to Jeane that we kept up the idea that it was me that was going to hospital and maybe that way we could get him some help. She thought it was a good idea.
They got ready, then John went and got Ray and we all went to the square to get the bus to Agadir. Ray, of course, was thinking that I was the one who needed help, I felt that any other way would have been impossible to get him help. He was completely out of it.
While we were on the bus John suggested that maybe it would be best to buy tickets and just go straight back to England. This was a great idea! Just leave. It was the most logical solution. I was happy with it and so was Ray. We looked for a travel agent as soon as we left the station and found one almost immediately. So far so good.
We still had over 7 690.27 Dirham and were sure that should be more than enough.
The travel agent calculated the cost.
“Two teekets to England, that will be… 8 971.99 Dirham”
We were about £100 short, we couldn’t believe it!
We asked if they had anything cheaper, but that was the rate for Royal Air Maroc at the time. No cheap flights to England, no internet bargains with sneazy jet.
We had to revert back to plan A. We reluctantly made our way back to the same hospital we had taken Nigel to a few days earlier. We had to wait a while and when we finally saw a doctor, they said they would not deal with any mental health issues. Jeane asked them if they could at least give him a sedative. They refused point blank and told us to go to the ‘Hospital Mental’ which didn’t need any translation.
So, we had no real alternative but to make our way there.
In the waiting room, I walked around the floor following the patterns in the tiles. It was my way of keeping myself in control. As I walked, I thought about the situation. It helped me to focus. I wandered so many things, like how come I hadn’t been told all these things about Nigel beforehand? Why the hell were they even still friends?
A man observed me and shook his head at Ray as if to say, “She’s a gonner mate.”
The doctor finally saw us. I entered first with Jeane, as her French was much better than mine. I tried to tell the doctor what had happened, the first question he asked was if there were drugs involved. I said that Ray hadn’t smoked for about a week. I also told him that he had hit me and kept me in the room against my will, and that I was scared to be alone with him.
Jeane translated and added some bits of her own. As she spoke I looked at the doctor’s desk, he had a beautiful ornament in the centre. The three wise monkeys.
See no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil.
Jeane turned to me and told me not to mention drugs at all. When he questioned me again about the drugs, I said Ray hadn’t smoked for months, and that I had misunderstood him before as I was so tired.
The doctor called Ray in and another doctor joined us. For appearances sake I asked Jeane quietly if she could ask them if it would be possible for them to give me some kind of placebo so that Ray would be under the impression that I was getting help, because he was overly concerned about me and kept insisting with the doctors that I needed something to calm me down.
She asked them in French and Ray understood her!
He started to accuse us of conspiring against him and understandably got a little uneasy about his situation. The doctor asked him what day of the week it was.
“Sunday,”He said, without showing any signs of uncertainty.
It was actually Monday the 6th of July. I was glad the doctor didn’t ask me! Because I would not have had a clue either. They decided that he needed to be admitted, whether the decision was based on his not knowing the correct day, I will never know.
They asked him to go with them, but he refused. A nurse entered with a needle and Ray’s eyes widened. He hated needles. The doctor said it would be best if we left. Outside the room we could hear them struggling and Ray called out to me a few times. It was awful. The nurse said it would be best if I just left now without talking to Ray, that he needed to rest now and we should come back tomorrow, and more importantly, that we dealt with the repatriation process as soon as possible. As we walked out of the main doors, he called out to me.
“Don’t turn around!” Jeane said.
I couldn’t help myself. It was an image that stook with me. He was holding onto the bars in the windows, shouting out my name.
“Don’t leave me here! Don’t leave me!”
It was one of the worst things I have ever had to do. Jeane assured me we were doing the right thing as he was very unstable and we had no idea what he could do. I didn’t feel assured but I didn’t want to be with him either.
The British embassy was based in Casablanca, the best thing we could do would be to phone them from here. So we set off to try and find the telephone number. We went to the post office, which we thought was the most logical place but they didn’t have the number. They didn’t even have a telephone book we could consult. In fact they were of no use at all. We went to the police, again no luck; it was almost like they were happy to see somebody in trouble. Then we decided to go back to the travel agents. It was closed for the afternoon!
Jeane told me that I would probably have to go up to Casablanca to the embassy. I could not bear the thought of that, travelling all that way again, and alone. She assured me it was not dangerous travelling up there. Maybe not when you speak fluent French and look like a 5ft9 model. I didn’t want to go though.
Finally we went to a hotel, they were much more helpful. They told us that in one of the main hotels there was a diplomat and he could help us with anything we needed.
We went to the hotel and asked to speak to the manager. The manager greated us and informed us that the diplomat was on holiday for a week. He was very helpful though, he gave the telephone number of the embassy to Jeane and said that we could use the phone in the hotel. All this time my eyes were streaming with tears. I made no sound at all, just tears. One of the receptionists in the hotel said to me very kindly;
John blew a fuse.
“Leave her alone. She can cry if she wants!” he yelled. He was feeling the stress too. They say insanity is catching, and there seemed to be an epidemic that week. Jeane made the call.
“Hello, I am calling about the repatriation of a British subject.”
Jeane was amazing. I could never have said that. My phone call would have gone something like this;
“Err, my boyfriend is in a mental hospital…I put him in there. What should I do?”
Like I said, invaluable.
The embassy wanted information about Ray’s parents so they could contact them in England and let them know the situation. I gave the number and they said that they would contact them as soon as possible and that we should return to the hotel the next day at 9:00 a.m. to find out what the next step was.
I felt some relief, not much, but some.
We went back to the village and it was strange not having Ray around. Nobody had seen any more of Nigel, he had simply vanished. Jeane and John were great. They invited me to eat out with them, they bought all the ingredients and the local restaurant cooked it, spaghetti bolognese. I couldn’t eat though. My stomach was in knots. I could only think of Ray in that place. They kept telling me I had done the right thing, but it didn’t take away the guilt.
I chatted with Jeane and John for a while, they were very sympathetic. We went back to the house and I thanked them for their help and went to bed.
Tomorrow was another day, and possibly a long one. I would have to be at the hotel at 9:00 a.m. and then I would have to go to the hospital to visit Ray. I didn’t reckon it was going to be an easy visit either.