An Ambiguous Tale

By Andy Berry

"Hi, I saw two murders yesterday."

"Oh, that's interesting." I said, suppressing a yawn.

"Yes, One was in Kosovo and the other in the States." My friend said, obviously wanting to say more.

"Oh, what, you didn't actually see them?"

"Yes, the taboo about TV showing the actual moment that someone dies seems to have gone - at least if you're a foreigner or disabled".

"No, I meant - you didn't see them with your own eyes?" I said, then realising that a joke was coming.

"Well, I certainly didn't borrow yours!" He said, and quickly turned serious. "No" he continued "they showed a Serbian being shot by German soldiers and some disabled bloke being murdered by 'Dr Death'."

"Well, the first was surely self-defence and the second, well, he probably, wanted, you know, to end his suffering." I said, not sure where this was leading and feeling vaguely uncomfortable.

"Yes, that's one of the things that worries me," said my friend, obviously settling down to a long chat, "who wanted to end whose suffering?"

"Oh, come off it! Everyone knows that being disabled is terrible - it's hardly surprising that half of them want to die." I said.

"'Everyone knows' do they?" My friend had guessed I was asking "Do you want to die?"

"Actually," he said calmly, "I'm happy with my life."

"Oh, come off it. You can hardly walk, you sound as if you're drunk all the time, you can't get a job and I know that you're always going on about your aches and pains." I said, reeling off all the negatives in his life.

"But, I have a full life, I enjoy writing stories and I have a wonderful relationship with the person I love." He said, countering with just some of the positives that occurred to him.

"Look, mate, you can't tell me that you're happy," I said, getting annoyed that he was talking nonsense and knowing, just knowing, that I am right. After all, I always am, aren't I?

"Do you know, that's just the attitude that 'Dr Death' had," my friend replied, "He's right and anyone who contradicts him is wrong."

"Well, there you go, typical doctor!" I said.

"Ah, ha! Everything is not so clear cut after all, is it? You're as confused as everyone else, aren't you?"

"Look, mate, I know what I think!" I said, starting to lose my cool.

"Yes. That's it! What do you think? Do you think that 'professionals' are always right or do people have the right to get support from whoever they choose? What happens when two 'professionals' disagree?" He paused. "What do you think?" He paused again "And, by the way, 'Dr Death' isn't licensed as a doctor any more."

"All right, all right. I don't actually know what I think. I thought I did, but now I'm not sure. I'm sure you know, don't you?"

"Do you know what," my friend said, "you've just crossed the Rubicon, moved onto a higher plain, now you're really thinking!" He paused, gave a gesture and nearly knocked our drinks off the bar. "Now you understand!"

"Understand what?" I said, getting a little peeved.

"That you must really listen to US and not to anyone else!" My friend said.

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