Saturday, 9 May 2009

MULTIPLY Writing Prompt #17: What a Character

The doorbell rung and Mrs. Smith opened to see a policeman standing there, in full uniform complete with pistol.
“Can I help you officer?” she asked with a worried voice, after all it is not every day that the law is at the door.
“Perhaps madam, we have had a complaint and have to ask all the inhabitants of the apartment house. You have a balcony overlooking the road?”
“Yes officer, all the apartments in this house have their main balcony on this side of the street. It is a bit of a nuisance as the traffic lights are also there and we have a continuous stream of traffic stopping and starting.”
“We have had a complaint. It seems that this morning a car was waiting at the stop light and suddenly his front car window was covered with egg.”
“With egg?”
“Yes raw eggs to be exact, and from the count of the yokes, it was three eggs exactly. The eggs seem to have been thrown over one of the balconies. The driver was very annoyed and was probably lucky that an accident did not occur. He managed to be able to wipe the egg away with the windscreen wipers before driving off. We are now trying to find the source of the egg attack.”
Mrs. Smith was not exactly fully surprised, but told the police officer she knew nothing of this attack. He thanked her and went on further business, although she noticed a slight smile on his face.
“Digby” she shouted in the voice she reserved for annoying occasions and an eight year old boy appeared.
“Do you know anything about throwing eggs over the balcony?”
“Throwing eggs over the balcony” was the answer
“Yes, Digby, they were in the fridge.”
“Yes, in the fridge” answered Digby.
As usual Mrs. Smith was getting no concrete answers from Digby, but that is one of the problems she had with Digby. He was autistic.
She was used to things happening unexpectedly with Digby. She remembered his love for ice cubes. Just eating them was a delight, but then one day he decided to lick the ice off the ice box in the fridge. What happened? Well Digby’s tongue got stuck to the ice box and with presence of mind she poured water over the ice box which released the grip on his tongue. This time it was more serious than a tongue stuck to an ice box. She went to the fridge and had a quick look at the egg container. Yes, of course, three eggs were missing.
“Digby did you throw three eggs over the balcony?”
“Throw three eggs over the balcony” he answered with a smile on his face, avoiding looking at his mother in the eyes. That was no surprise; he never looked direct in the eyes.

It seemed that the problem was now solved. It was definitely Digby that threw the eggs. Did Mrs. Smith do something more about it? Not really, she just crossed her fingers and hoped that the nice police officer would not return. He did not and probably had more important things to do. There was an aftermath when Mrs. Smith’s elder son returned after training with the local junior football team telling the story of the trainer that was parked with his car and someone threw eggs on the car while waiting at the traffic lights in the road. “Coincidences just happen” thought Mrs. Smith.

Yes life was not easy with Digby. She had got used to him not eating anything green, which more or less excluded all healthy food such as salad and vegetable. She never really found out whether it was the taste or the colour, but Digby was not able to give a clear answer. Mrs. Smith went to the doctor with Digby as she was worried about a vitamin deficiency. Funnily enough, Digby was completely healthy, his blood tests were perfect, although the doctor found he should eat more salad. Mrs. Smith decided to use some psychology.
“Eat your salad first of all Digby, then you have it behind you and you can eat the rest of the food.”
Somehow it worked. Although Digby is today almost forty years old, he still eats his salad first.

Of course there was the holiday spent in London with the grandparents. Digby did not like his routine being changed, but Mrs. Smith had given up asking Digby what he wanted. A clear answer never came anyhow. So the day came when they arrived in London and were staying with gran and grandad. They knew of Digby’s problems, but grandmother always had the feeling that everything would turn out all right eventually. Mrs. Smith no longer bothered explaining to her parents that with Digby nothing would probably turn out all right. Digby soon got used to living in another house, although he stopped eating. He had his plate of food put in front of him every day, but just left it. All his favourite foods were provided, but of no avail. Of course grandmother started imagining Digby dying of malnutrition and did not sleep for at least three nights. Mrs. Smith just gave up and decided as long as he was drinking he would at least not dehydrate and they would soon be at home again.

One day Digby’s parents went out in London on their own and left Digby with the grandparents. When they returned grandmother told Mrs. Smith with tears in her eyes how Digby started eating again. They gave him the food on the plate and left him alone in the room, but of course grandmother was peeping around the door now and again. First of all Digby looked around to make sure no-one was there and then started eating. This seemed to have been a breakthrough as from then on Digby ate.

Then came the day when the excursion was made to Buckingham Palace, where the Queen of England lived. Of course, Digby knew that the Queen lived in this big house, but his expectations were not met with and he actually wanted to see the Queen in the palace. Digby screamed from one end of the Mall to the other. It was a very embarrassed Mr. and Mrs. Smith that decided the visit to Buckingham Palace was not a good idea. Even the promised ice cream and hamburger showed no result. Digby wanted to see the Queen.

Digby also went to school. Of course it was a special school. Not all children were autistic, but each had a learning problem. The children were picked up by a taxi in the morning and brought home for lunch and after afternoon school. This was quite a good arrangement, and it seemed to work with Digby, although his mother found the eternal backwards and forwards was not so ideal. One day it happened. The taxi driver was on his way to deliver Digby and noticed there was no Digby in the taxi. All the other children were there, but not Digby. The school called Mrs. Smith, whether Digby had arrived home alone and then the alarm was set. Where was Digby? In the meanwhile Mrs. Smith’s other two children had arrived home and departed again immediately on their bikes to see if Digby was anywhere in the area. He was not. It was then that Mrs. Smith received a call from a bus driver.
“Do you have a son called Digby?
”Yes, I do, but he is missing at the moment.”
“Well he is in my bus. I thought it was strange as he was sitting in the seat and travelled to the bus destination and then stayed in the bus and now we are in the garage. I noticed he had a small bag with him with his name, address and telephone number. You can come and pick him up at the garage.”
In the meanwhile the police had been alarmed and Mrs. Smith called the police to tell them where Digby was. They said not to fetch him, they would do it. So Digby was a proud little boy when he arrived home in the company of two policemen.

Yes Mrs.Smith went through a lot during the childhood years of Digby. As he got older, he got more manageable. After spending five years in a weekly school where he stayed during the week and came home at the week-ends, life did get easier with Digby. He became quite independent, although he still had his “strange” habits, but who are we to say what is strange.

Digby now works for his living, a simple job in a factory. He has a collection of more than one thousand records, pop music of the sixties and seventies. They are all carefully sorted in his cupboard. He knows where each one is, who is singing and when they were recorded. After all if Rainman could play poker so well, then Digby also has his talents. Another part time job is roadie to various local pop music groups in the town where he lives. He just loves pop music and everything to do with it. The musicians like him as well and they take good care of him, bring him home to Mrs. Smith’s house in the evenings/early mornings when the “gigs” are finished.

There have been many theories set up about autismus. When Digby was born it was not such a well known illness, today it is something everyone seems to know. Whether a cure will be found is doubtful. There are all sorts of investigations being carried out. Is it to do with certain foods, could it be in the genes, does it already exist in the womb etc. etc. but Mrs. Smith is just happy when her son is happy. Of course, she keeps up with the latest discoveries, but has little hope that a breakthrough will be achieved. Mrs. Smith found that even as important as her son being looked after, she too had to look after herself. If she was ill then would be of no help to her son.

Writing Prompt #17: What a Character

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