Sandy Jackson climbed down from his loft with his mind buzzing. Could it be that simple? Was he now an angel? He certainly slept like one that night and arose late the next day feeling rejuvenated beyond the scope of normal constitution.
In his kitchen, he sat in the crumpled Queen T-shirt he’d slept in, with Jill’s fleece still tied around his waist, and poured a sugar heavy coffee. As its warmth cut through the cobwebs, he claimed a cold, hard Mars Bar from his fridge before moving to the mail waiting behind his door. A guitar catalogue, wrapped in polythene, topped the slush pile. Sandy received them almost daily, constantly subscribing to magazines and trawling the second-hand sections, in the frail hope a particular instrument might seem significant on the page. In the remaining mound, one envelope’s off-brown shade set it apart from the usual unsolicited junk. He ripped it open and realised it was from the hospital. Sandy had attended a month ago after suffering a couple of mild dizzy spells whilst driving. One line of text stood bold from the rest.
Diagnosis: Type 11 Diabetes Mellitus
He looked at the Mars bar breakfast in his hand and was without excuse. They had scheduled him a review with his GP and a dietician.
I don’t have time for this shit…I’m perfectly healthy.
He moved, preoccupied, to his small fish tank sitting on the wall cabinet and sprinkled in some feed. Sandy’s diet had been poor since getting his own place. He went for convenience over nutrition every time and nothing from the ground was good enough. Most things that crossed his lips had been tampered with, in some manner denatured. His favourite fruit was the strawberry cream from a box of Cadbury’s Roses chocolates.
Chocolate had always been Sandy’s kryptonite. It stemmed from a childhood accident that claimed the life of his friend Anthony. The boy had been picked up early from Sandy’s eighth birthday party by his father; he’d not even cut the cake yet. Anthony’s father had been keen to get back to the pub this duty had called him from. When they removed the bodies from the twisted car, the man’s blood-work revealed him three-times over the limit.
Sandy had kept Anthony a slice of cake and it sat waiting in his kitchen to be delivered to his friend the next day at school. He never arrived. In the black days that followed, Sandy’s mum tried to deflect his thoughts and console him by offering various distractions, only to find him inconsolable. He ignored each one; his default child logic blaming himself for putting his friend at that party and in need of that lift.
Easter was three days after Sandy’s birthday and his mum left him a Mars Bar chocolate egg by his bed, fully expecting him to snub it; he ate every bit and emerged from his room voluntarily for the first time in three days in search of more. That had been the start and chocolate had filled many different shaped holes in his life since, although none were in his belly. His one sweet abstinence was cake; he had never eaten another slice again. Another thing he had never done again was go to mass -- to worship God. Simple as it sounds he had left his faith on that kitchen worktop with that slice of cake; the eternal question of -- how can God exist and allow such things to happen? -- had rendered him instantly, an eight-year-old atheist.
He re-read the letter, checking the name and date of birth, then his eyes settled again on the box marked Diagnosis. As he stared at the words -- Diabetes Mellitus -- they began to blur and he feared he was having another syncopal attack, like the one which drove him to this Dr’s door. Then, out of the fog, another image appeared in front of his eyes. It was the symbol his imaging equipment had revealed in the Telecaster, clear and focused and it forced the worry from his mind.
This emblem was constantly in his thoughts, as if its shape had been burned behind his retinas, there seemed no escape from it. He looked back to the letter and its words were clear again, although they no longer held such weight in his mind.
Sandy dropped the letter on the phone table and claimed his iPod from its cradle, sweeping it into his jacket pocket. He glanced in the hall mirror on his way to the door, only then realising he still had Jill’s tan fleece tied around his waist. He started to remove it, but then had a change of heart and left it there, knotting it more securely. His reflected face was unshaven yes, but still if he didn’t know better, Sandy could have sworn he looked…younger.
He knew what he must do and set off to the Perfect Chord with something Sandy Jackson often feared he’d lost over his nine year search…purpose.