Our Gerald was 6 when the doctor diagnosed him with a condition for which, he said, we would have to boil him every Saturday. My wife took it worst I think. I mean, we were both rather shocked, and I guess at that precise time we'd not realized how our lives had changed for the worse, but she just went bonkers anyway, shouting that she'd never put her child in boiling liquid and that the doctors could all get stuffed and whatnot, until the scientists had to give her injections. Then the brain doctor gave me these pills which they said she would have to take once a week. Best, they said, to take them one day before boiling Gerald.
Now, you may not know this, but boiling your child is an expensive business. Well, boiling him and making sure he stays alive through it, that is, cause it's all for his own good, it is. The first thing to do is wipe his memory after each session, which is really expensive, probably the most pricey bit of the whole lot really. Thing is, if he remembered what he'd just been through each time he'd go mental and then he wouldn't go along to the Therapy Center again now would he? In fact, the doctors said, it was probably best for us to get our memories wiped after each session as well, but being working class people we figured we would have to re-mortgage the house a second time, and bloody hell, it's been a hell of a time trying to support one mortgage for 20 years now. Besides, when Gerald grows up I want him to have a place of his own without debts so he can bring his own children up without having to hold back on presents and days out, so they can all have the things that poor Gerald didn't. Cause he got stuck with the effin' torture chamber didn't he. Though having to pay for his memory wipes is hard enough - I've never had more baked beans in my life, but God bless, it's for a good cause.
But it's really hard on us. Well, Gerald too, obviously, he's the one who has to boil every week, so that's hell, but he doesn't remember it later, and see, they do all those scientific things to his skin, after the boiling, and he's right as sunshine by Monday, and goes to school and nobody asks anything because we say I have to work in the north on the weekends, so they think he just comes with us then, and Gerald won't say anything because he knows that it’s better not to ask about what happens in therapy, and we all have ruddy skin anyway, so he doesn't look funny or too different from the rest of us.
The one it's all the hardest on, really, is his mother. Poor Marge just can't stand it - she never came to the Therapy Center after the first session. She just waited for us at home drinking bloody gallons of tea and watching Surprise Surprise and trying not to have a stroke. Then I'd come back carrying Gerald, and he'll be all oily and glistening from the Medication Cream they smear on him when they take him out of the boiler, looks like mayonnaise it does, and she'd look at his lips all purple and hear his breath rasping, and she'd just go mental. Sometimes she'd follow me upstairs and wait until I'd put him to bed and then she'd start beating my back saying things like "How Could You" and "You're a Monster", but after a while she didn't wait anymore, she'd rush us at the door, and some of her punches would land on Gerald and tear his swollen red skin open - like huge paper cuts - but that cream they put on him heals everything after a while, you know? Every bloody Saturday night she'd do that, then she'd fall into a bloody sobbing heap. I'd come down from Gerald's bedroom and grab a lager from the fridge and sit and watch the side of those old worn dresses of hers bob up and down. What's there for a man to do at a time like that.
Funny thing is, the bloody economy went to hell so eventually we had to get the second mortgage anyway, and we had some leftover money so I've started paying for the memory wipes for Marge now, but not enough to get any for me. I just get drunk a bit with the lads, bloody right it is too, cause you know it really hurts to put your child into a bloody pressure cooker and, yeah, you need to tell someone, 'cause I don't care what fancy medical name they give that effin cooker mate, I know thick steel when I see it, and I know pressure valves, and I know electrical elements, and no matter how much metal and glass there is, no matter if you're in another room, or miles away, or tens of years away and you're the only one to remember.
You can hear it, know what I mean, you can hear him whimpering and then the begging and then its the screaming, and it doesn't fucking stop does it, you're at the local with the mates and watching the match, and you look at the bubbles in the lager and the fucking bench is screaming under it, it's like the wood and the bricks and the whole stinking pub are made of effin screaming inn'it. It's like at the beginning was the fucking word but the word was a scream, and the pain was so thick it fell from the bleedin' sky and made the stinking world, and now we walk in it like it's safe, but that's cause we ain't seeing that we're made of fucking screaming pain and that's all there is ain't it, everithin' made of fucking pain. The world's a ball of pain floating in the endless dark inn'it.
Ah, I fucking hate Mondays. Get us another pint would ya luv, ta.