It enters the bedroom without a sound, brushing the shadows, enjoying the delicious voyeurism of the undetected, wound tight, feeding off the itchy hot suffocating tension, watching and waiting. It slips onto the bed, sensitive to the warmth of the occupant, careful not to reveal itself just yet. A finger unfurls, its long nail closed over the tip like a shell. It flexes, almost ready now. Rudely the finger pokes deep into the ear of the person in the bed. That ear belongs to me and I awake with an “Oi!” The finger retreats before I can swat it away. I feel a weight pressing down on my chest. Tilting my head forward I make out a disembodied hand. It begins to waggle its index finger disapprovingly at me, like a snake poised to strike, then it jabs me hard. “You really thought you could get away with it, didn’t you? The Guinness, the sambucas, the carousing, the gallivanting, the merry making, the revelry, the raucousness, the rock and roll, the japes, the gags, the snatched shuteye, the sunrises, the heady brew, the quick ones, the ones for the road and the absent friends, the bright lights, the illicit neon, the doners, the extra chili, the stag nights, the club nights, the backstage passes, the snifters, the chasers, the ones on the house and the ones back at home, the Dr Peppers*, the-” “You know about the Dr Peppers?” “I know all about the Dr Peppers. And you seriously imagined you’d get away scot free, laddie? How sorely mistaken you were, how sorely mistaken you were. You brought it all on yourself, no one to blame but you. It’s payback time.” “Who are you?” “I’m The Finger of Blame.” “Bit literal, isn’t it?” “Don’t blame me, I didn’t come up with it, you did.” The hand fades before me, those final chiding words echoing in my mind. The Finger of Blame is a figment of my imagination, the bastard offspring of a niggling doubt that somehow, in some way this whole ulcerative colitis business is my fault. I pull the covers up around my ears and try to let myself sleep…let myself off the hook for another night.
*Dr Pepper: fill a large glass with half lager and half Coca-Cola, drop in a shot glass of amaretto and down it in one.