Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Monday 30th August 1943

Midnight drama: It was just before 12 last night when someone lurched along the dark ward and sat down on the next bed but one to me. Presently an orderly carrying a storm lantern, and two “trusty” patients, also came past and stood looking at the man who had lurched.

“Where have you been?” asked the orderly. The man – a tall, ugly Greek with a newly healed scar on his forehead – looked back at them in silence, half sleepily dazed, half sulky. Nothing more was said. After a minute, the orderly gave the lantern to one of the “trusties”, stepped forward and grappled with the Greek.

They struggled silently. The Greek broke loose and again sat, sullenly, on his bed. The orderly adjusted a button on his shirt which had come undone, then after a few seconds attacked again, getting a neck and arm hold. All this was savage and yet soundless. No speech, no heavy breathing, no stamping of feet. The Greek was a tall man but the orderly was well over 6 foot and heavily built. The lantern was held low; their grotesquely huge shadows sprawled across the walls and part of the ceiling.

I saw the Greek's arm being slowly forced behind his back, higher and higher.
Suddenly the Greek screamed sharply. And again, more loudly. He staggered. One of the “trusties” stepped in and twisted the other arm. They dragged him towards the door. “What's the poor bastard done? Nothin'?” asked a cockney in the next bed. The man with the lantern turned and said, “He's just slashed someone in the next ward. With a razor blade.”

Outside, the Greek's screams became continuous; then, gradually died away in the distance.


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