Did you realise that a prize-winning sausage can be a brilliant psychiatrist?
Let me explain.
One of the nicest things about Sally, my new girlfriend, is her kindness and endless consideration for others. As a result of going out with Sally, I found myself accompanying her to evenings helping at soup kitchens, stints working at charity events, visiting people at old people’s homes, and even giving generous donations to beggars in the street. While I was with Sally, seeing her spread her goodwill and cheerful good humour, I felt as if her decency rubbed off on me, as if I was a better person.
So it was that I agreed with alacrity to Sally’s idea of going for an evening meal with her friend Rachel and Rachel’s husband Guy. Guy was a soldier, in every way a tough guy, the archetypal macho man. Unfortunately, Guy was currently suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following a particularly terrible tour of duty. Due to his mental problems he was on extended sick leave, and he was in such a bad state, that there was even some question of whether he’d be able to re-join his unit at all, or indeed if he’d ever be able to work again. Guy, currently, was under psychiatric care, taking all kinds of antidepressant drugs, and he was apparently completely locked into his own world of gloom and misery. Rachel assured us that before his illness he’d been a friendly, chatty, lively happy-go-lucky sort of character, and it broke her heart to see him so troubled, in fact as she described it as a ‘different man from the man I married’.
But Rachel had Sally’s ‘can do’ attitude to life, and she remained upbeat and hopeful that he’d soon recover from his apathy and depression. Rachel explained to Sally that “Guy’s mental problems mean that he isn’t really easy company. But if anyone can cheer him up, you and Jack can.”
The four of us went to a new restaurant in town. As we sat around the table, looking at menus, the conversation between Sally and Rachel was bright and chirpy and I did my best to join in. Guy had so far responded with nothing beyond grunts, but I managed to pique his interest when I told him about my enthusiasm for old cars and, as he hesitantly began to tell me about his old Ford Fiesta, the lost hopeless expression in his eyes seemed to vanish, and he relaxed as he began to chat. I could tell that Rachel was pleased at the way things were going.
Half an hour.
All of us were hungry, and the conversation that had been so hard to conjure up was beginning to vanish like morning dew. There were long awkward silences.
I complained to a waiter, but to no avail.
Fifteen minutes later there was still no food.
I cursed to myself. Everything had been going so well! Sally and Rachel and I had managed to jolly Guy out of his sad state of mind earlier on. But as the minutes ticked by and we got hungrier and hungrier, a strange kind of tension seemed to be building up. Instead of the friendly replies, Guy’s responses were becoming curt and snappy. His eyes took on a dark expression of grim malevolence and he rarely met my glance.
The meals finally arrived. My sausages-and-mash were underdone, the lasagnes ordered by the girls were wet and disappointing. And Guy’s mixed grill was pretty lamentable, with limp bacon, soggy chips, an inch block of leather-hard steak and a revolting lamb chop, which was mostly blackened bone.
Guy stared at us, then at his plate. “It says on the menu that my mixed grill should have had a prize-winning sausage,” he said quietly.
“Yes,” I agreed. “It does.”
“And it’s not here.”
“Well, it’s not the end of the world—
“But I like sausages,” He said grimly. “And I was looking forward to that sausage.”
“Have one of mine, Guy,” I offered, spearing the banger on my plate.
“No, Jack. I want my own sausage. Where’s the kitchen?”
“No point making a fuss, Guy,” Rachel told him, “You’ve got a nice dinner—
“—that not the point!” Guy muttered darkly, shrugging off her placatory hand on his arm, his face flushing dark and angry.
“I DEMAND MY SAUSAGE!” he yelled at the top of his voice.
Someone at the other side of the room tittered.
Then to our astonishment, Guy stood up, knocking his chair to the floor. He put his hand inside his jacket and pulled out a large black automatic handgun, and brandished the weapon in front of him. Then he fired a shot into the ceiling, so that a shower of paint fell on our heads.
Sally screamed. Rachel burst into tears. The people nearby dived under the table. A waiter dropped a tray and ran outside.
Before I could stop him, Guy marched off and charged through the door marked Kitchen, Staff only.
We all heard the five loud gunshots. And the screams.
Ten minutes of pandemonium later, Rachel was hysterical, Sally was trying to calm her, and Guy, in handcuffs, was being led away by police, muttering, “I only wanted my sausage.”
A week later, I drove Sally to the prison where Guy was being held on remand, pending the court case. We’d turned up as a surprise to collect Rachel, knowing that she’d need plenty of support after her first visit. His solicitor had apparently been fairly upbeat: luckily, no one had been hurt in the shooting, and there was ample evidence of Guy’s fragile mental state, so he thought there was a chance that the judge might be lenient with him, even though a custodial sentence was on the cards.
To our astonishment when we met Rachel at the prison gates, she was in high spirits.
“He’s cured!” she announced, grinning from ear to ear as she clutched Sally’s hands in delight. “He’s the old Guy that I loved, just as bright and happy as he was in the old days! Much more of the doctors and the therapy and the drugs and I reckon he’d have ended up a basket case! He actually likes being in jail. He’s made a lot of friends, says most of them are really nice guys and very good company. It’s a year since I’ve seen him so cheerful and positive!”
“You reckon he’s over the PTSD?” I asked her.
“Absolutely!” Rachel nodded enthusiastically. “I really think he is.”
“But what can have cured him?” I asked.
“Well it certainly wasn’t the doctors.” Her smile became wider. “I reckon it was the sausage!”