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Mind Damaged- Chapters 3-4

by Sarahll 

Posted: 22 August 2005
Word Count: 3384
Summary: AMENDED: If the world continued in the same direction for the next 25 years as it has for the past 25 years, how would it be? Marg & Pam partners in cynicism & oddity are two of London's only rebels left, but they've got their own issues... Why did Pam’s fiancée leave, what is Marg’s problem and just how did Bob Geldoff get to be Prime Minister? This comes out best in a word file because of formatting & the odd table, so shout if you fancy an emailed copy.

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3. Pam, spam and an interesting man

‘I’ve just seen Freddie!’ Pam bounded back into the house, ‘he’s just out there in the stitch work shop.’ I blinked at her. This needed to be dealt with sensitively.
‘Did you speak to him?’
‘No, but look, he’s there, you can see him through there’ she bounced to the window and leant to the implausible angle that gives you full view inside the shop across the road. She was positively hyperventilating. I looked through the window and did indeed see the broad shoulders and short black hair of Freddie.
‘Ohmygodohmygod it’s him.’ She raced to the cupboard, grabbed her hat, flicked out her pocket mirror, took the hat off, played with her curls, pulled on a neck scarf, took it off again. The mirror snapped shut. ‘I’m going to go speak to him. Marg, shall I go speak to him?
‘No, I don’t think…’
Too late. The door was already swinging on its hinges Western Saloon style.

Scattering my knicker and vest wearing self across the road, I caught up with Pam just in time to witness to the unfolding scene.
‘Fred.’ She choked to the figure crouched down by the wall of thread, ‘Freddie, I’ve really missed you. And I know it’s partly my fault, well, a lot my fault, but you’re in the neighbourhood anyway and you must know we live here now and, well, I was wondering if you were thinking of popping in for a bit.’
Freddie stood up and turned round and Pam realised with horror, that ‘Freddie’ was in fact an impressively well built lesbian. Pam turned and fled, upsetting a promotional cart of beads and needles. Bewildered, the lesbian turned to me and shrugged. I shrugged back, doing my best to inject some much needed ‘cool’ into the situation. She looked me up and down, noticing with continued confusion my attire of choice; a lemon pink vest and rather forward knickers that were intent on exposing still more of my charm to Friar’s Street. Still winging for the cool approach, I bent down to start tidying the beadle mess on the shop floor, until a cough from the shop assistant notified me that perhaps I should just retreat back into my little shell.

Back in the shell, Pam was furiously stitching. Things together.

The carpet to the sofa to the curtains to my bag to the remote to herself. That girl’s like lightening. She was shaking, red with rage and her knuckles were shining raw. Electrical clouds filled the room.
‘Why’d… he… have to… go… Marg?’ She gulped for breath, ‘why’d… he…’
I stepped forward to stroke her hair and hush her.
‘I know love… I know…’
‘Rghhhaaaaarrrrr’ Pam swung away from me and made a break for the stairs, dragging her stitch work with her. ‘Ngaaaaaaaaaaarrr.’ Phew, quite strong, our Pam. With one final howl, freed of her stitch work and her jumper’s left arm, Pam darted upstairs. A door slammed.

That was a howl I’d often endured since the night we discovered he’d gone. The single suitcase, an empty house and the phone call.


‘Freddie, I miss you.’ Pam rested on his chest in the thin morning sunlight
‘How can you tuffy, I’m right here.’ He swung a giant arm round and planted his lips in her hair.

***<HELP!! This will be the scene where Freddie & Pam have a massive argument, which results in him leaving. She never sees him again. Haven't yet worked out how to do it!>

***<passage below is meant to be in a table; doesn't display properly here, but you get the idea?>***

Norman Mathers Log 21140

Assignment Ref FFX0001, 00021 hours

Personal Status: Unusual. A little chilly

Subject’s Status: Seems a tad uptight

Exercise Attempted Details Result
Love Ritual
: Performed at 00000 hours with supervision of Mr. Waverley & Wembley brothers & sisters. Ms Muggleton seemed comfortable if a little distant. Love chant #12 a favourite with crowd, so oaths went well. Elated to have new sister!

Bonding Game: Performed at 00002 hours after debrief. Used Q&A to establish contact and trust in the partnership. Ms Muggleton sceptical that this technically a ‘game,’ argued that game requires winner and or loser. Point to investigate. Note: potential alcohol problem.

Trust Exercise: Broached at 00002.5 hours, suggested blind fall and catch exercise. Exercise refused. Ms Muggleton failed to give reasonable explanation, but assertive eye contact shows promise. Partner not afraid of enforcing opinion through instigating physical contact.

Living Space analysis: Performed without partner’s presence as recommended, at 00006 hours. Home for two females. Unsure of chosen design theme. Unusual wall hangings & pointy floor decorations.

Spinning circle of love: Planned for 00017 hours to consolidate bonded relationship. Felt that spinning would generate positive energy before referring to the programme. Exercise abandoned due to change in status to a code 127LL. Partner exhibiting signs of anger & remorse. Re-entry to living quarters now a priority.

Emergency retrust exercise: Will report back on progress.

4. Call in the cavalry

Pam was still sobbing, I could hear her stifled cries from downstairs. As I sat filing down a newly ‘borrowed’ shot glass from the Fox and Hound, I realised that whatever the particular evils of Tag Waverley’s Life School, I’d made the right call in getting Pam involved with it. Freddie had been gone almost two years now and she had to accept that he was never coming back. I’d exhausted all my ideas, from nights out speed dating, to my own special take on aversion therapy, to presenting her with alternative dark haired blokes called (or slipped a tenner to be called) Freddie, but each attempt inevitably led to the situation I now found myself in.

Yep, definitely time to call the experts in. And there’s none so respected as Tag Waverley, as people insist on telling me. So the method was no problem, but this unfortunate side effect, as I suppose there are with all treatments, was a problem.

The side effect rapped on my window for a fifteenth time, trying to duck into my eye line. He’d been there nearly half an hour.
‘Marg love, I’m afraid I’m locked out,’ the voice muffled through the glazing, ‘look, we’re already quite far behind…’ I continued filing ‘And it’s… well… a bit drafty out here…’ I glanced up and realised with a smirk that Norman was still in my pyjamas, grappling with his modesty.
I caught his eye, feigned surprise and, hand to ear, mouthed and shrugged that I couldn’t hear him.
‘I LOCKED OUT. YOU um… YOU SQUIGGLE ME IN?’ he acted out each word. I reciprocated the game of charades ‘I THINK YOU SMELLY WEIRDO…’ he scratched his head, ‘WEIRDO. WEEEEEIRDO’ all Norman could perceive was a demented female whirling her fingers about her head, bouncing from wall to wall on one leg. I changed approach.
‘I THINK YOU SMELL. YOU GO’ He glanced over his shoulder in the direction of my “GO” and back to me.
Dumbass. I whipped what was left of the curtains over the windows, sat back down with my shot glass and cracked open a can of fudge.
At least Pam had stopped.


I had always admired Pam's ability to take a room, nay, a whole city full of potential love interests, separate out the respectable, normal, ruggedly dimpled men with excellent employment prospects and good breeding potential, and mentally combust them, leaving an assortment of hippies, no-hopers and guys with excessive nasal hair in the potential boyfriend pool. As normal as she might look to the outsider, (and that’s not necessarily overly normal) in her prime Pam enjoyed expressing her uniqueness in the form of a personality extension, otherwise known as Hubert the manic depressive, if you thought Thursday was a barrel of laughs, just wait for Friday; Jimmy-Jo-Ray Phillips the novelty country act stripper, ironically, they met in a clothing store and Frodo the over-zealous Tolkien fan. In fact, in those days she'd hardly ever been seen without some kind of male company, eagerly, or depressedly padding beside her.

She would put on a romantic candle-lit supper and they would turn up with a bottle of bleach and a clump of turf from our front lawn as a present.

She would woo them with red wine and finger food and sooner or later they would insist on at least two rounds of Suicide Tequila Slammers- snort the salt, down the tequila and squeeze the lemon in your eye. To her it was dating bliss and to me, well, it was happiness I could only aspire to.

Pam was plop in the middle of one of these joyful relationships when she first started the chain of events that would lead to her and Freddie’s betrothal. And ‘plop’ was indeed the way to sum up that particular joyful relationship, from where they met- a flirtation over the walls of a unisex toilet, to his profession- a Fertiliser Redistribution Executive, to the unfortunate way it all ended. If this guy could have been christened Ploppy McPlopperson, driven a Porsche Plopster and lived at number ploppy plop, Ploppersville Avenue he would have. Enough of the plopping already, I think you get the message. This was all a lot more tender in my head- Pam’s first meeting with her one true love and here’s me jabbering about Tequilla, bleach and excretion.

So, let’s start at the very beginning. Pam and Plop (sorry, I am trying, but I really can’t remember his name) were off on their first holiday together and they had chosen the delights of Bogotá for their getaway. Convinced he was off on one of those ‘Cocaine Smugglers Reality Adventure Holidays,’ Plop packed a GI style weapons belt, an empty suitcase with removable lead weights – for all the cocaine?- enough black and green face paint to camouflage a blue whale for a week and a discrete, stick-on Colombian moustache. Needless to say, they didn’t get much further than a glance from the guard at Heathrow’s x-ray machines before being frogmarched into a cell.
‘Care to explain yourselves?’ a stern looking officer towered from above. Pam thrust her breasts forward and tried her best angel smile.
‘Please sir, we were just off on our hols.’
‘NOT. GOOD. ENOUGH.’ He bellowed, blasting Plop’s ‘Always Coca-cola’ cap onto the floor.
‘Ploppy McPlopperson,’ Plop said (I should imagine), holding out his hand ‘And your name is…?’
‘Now then officer,’ Pam was still doing her best to be pleasant. After all, the officer did have very yummy looking teeth, ‘we can sort this all out amicably, I’m sure. Ploppy, tell the man why you were trying to get a hand gun through security.’
‘We were going on a cocaine run,’ he deludedly chirped. Pam rolled her eyes.
‘No we weren’t Ploppy. No we weren’t officer, he’s just gotten a little bit confused. But if we could all just step out of this cell and back into the line for the flight which is leaving in twenty minutes, then I’m happy to call it all quits.’
‘Missy,’ he waggled a latex covered finger, ‘you and your idiot boyfriend are going nowhere.’

‘And just why,’ Pam demanded as Plop pulled up his khaki pants ‘would he bother to smuggle a charger, into Colombia, when he voluntarily handed a grenade to the guy at the x-ray?’ The office blushed and scratched his stubble.
‘It’s just protocol madam.’
‘Well, protocol this,’ she swung her fist at his chest, but it bounced like vitamins off a Big Mac. As she caught an amused twinkle in his eyes, the Death look across her brow deepened.
‘Look, madam, boyfriend here is in very deep doggy doo. I’m afraid he’ll have to go away for quite some time. But as for you, you don’t appear to have done anything wrong, other than to be going out with a complete idiot, so I’ll let you off with the confiscation of your ticket and belongings.’
‘Sorry madam, rules are rules. But since you’re such a nice young lady you can have this as compensation.’ He passed her his card with a wink, glancing back outside the cell to the two other grinning officers.
‘Awww…’ Pam looked lovingly at the card, then pressed it to her bosom ‘That’s so sweet of you to think of me all on my lonesome as my boyfriend…’
‘… rots…’
‘…in prison.’
The officer crumpled to the floor.
‘You. You are a horrible little man, with not very sexy teeth and you are everything that is wrong with men in the world. If I never, ever see you again that will be too soon.’
‘Fine by me,’ he gasped.
Pam stepped out of the cell, aided by the officer’s chuckling comrades and turned round.
‘Oh and Ploppy?’
‘Enjoy prison.’


A keypad rustled at the door. Laughter spouted through the letterbox.

Brain pussed into action just in time and I threw myself against my last line of defence.
‘Kylie Blake how dare you.’ I screeched ‘That keypad is for emergencies only.’
‘Hunny,’ the plasticity of her voice always made me shudder ‘I’ve got your fella out here. He told me that he’d locked himself out.’
‘He is not my fella’
‘I’m her partner’ Norman explained
‘He is not my partner’
‘We’re doing this Life School Programme together’
‘We are not doing anything together’
‘We’re just having a few confidence problems’
‘The only confidence problem is the once stopping me from getting out my shotgun and blasting two giant holes in the door.’
‘And some anger management issues’
‘Don’t you dare try and blame me for this you complete and utter freak’
‘You see what I was saying,’ he murmured to Kylie, ‘lots of issues, tread very carefully,’
‘Tush, I never realised,’ she offered symprosthetically. ‘You should let him in hunny, you need some help.’
‘Kylie, I woke up and he was in my home. He’s completely raving bonkers.’
‘Hunny, I don’t think it’s him,’ Her voice dropped to a whisper ‘I saw you just now in the street…’ Norman hushed her and manoeuvred her aside.
‘Marg, look, I know this can take some coming to terms with. And whilst I had hope we’d talk about this, I’m happy to give you a bit of space if you need it.’

Most noble.
‘But in the mean time, I’m a little… um, stuck out here. Could you please at least pass me out some clothes and my oPod?’ Ah the oPod. The modern man’s best mate and the lady’s most faithful companion. The phone, camera, music player, internet, ID, cash card, season ticket, life organiser, entertainment system, car keys and arse wipe all rolled into one. I must have been the last person in London still resisting its charms.
‘Ah yes, you would be a bit lost without that,’ my smirk was rapidly conquering my entire face,
‘They’re next to my bed.’
He has a ‘my bed’ now?!
‘Tell you what, this ought to help you. It should help you keep the important bits warm anyway.’
Norman sighed as a single tube ticket fell through the letterbox.
‘Oh, and by the way Kylie? I got a letter for you. Enjoy your evening hunny.’

Still buzzing from the familiar glow of being mean, Pam and I rummaged through Norman’s belongings.
‘A suit of course, very proper’ Pam giggled with glee.
‘Look at his little knickers!’
‘There’s a book here,’ Wow, he can read.
‘And a phone’
‘His oPod!’ Pam snatched it from me and started twirling buttons.
‘Do you know how to use it?’
‘Can’t be so difficult. Look, he’s got popups.’ I wedged my face next to hers. ‘New product report…’ she read, ‘The single use cab, now even more compact and travels for up to 3.2 hours. Need a lift back from Dad’s, but can’t find a taxi? Fed up with getting clamped outside work, like last week? Stock up on the single use cab. Special introductory price offer of just £149 for three. It’ll save you time and money Norman. ORDER?’ a flashing tab came up.
What the Bob Geldof? ‘Click next.’ I urged.
‘Rachella’s birthday in 52 hours. Recommended product choice, the Make Your Own Hobbernit’s Jacket Giftset. Perfect for ladies in High Fashion High Income, this jacket set neatly combines fulfilment and fashion. It impresses without implying romance. This product is still available for Rachella, but a popup will go to Derren Richley in 2 hours. Pick another gift? ORDER? Marg, this is crazy.’
‘I know, think of all that waste, all that brain power it’s corroding…’
‘Let’s order something’
‘Hell yeah!’
We sat there for seconds and seconds (ah, the modern attention span), flicking through the catalogues of gifts, houses, pets, appliances, services, colour schemes, clothes and trips.
‘Let’s get that one’ we said in mischievous unity as soon as something we couldn’t resist clicked up.
‘WARNING, this product is not in your lifestyle range. Are you sure you wish to continue? Continue. GO BACK.’ Pam clicked Continue.
‘WARNING, this product is not in your price range. Are you sure you wish to continue? Continue. GO BACK.’ Continue again.
‘Checkout. Authentication required. Place thumbprint on screen’
‘Bugger.’ I sighed.
‘Unless…’ Pam grabbed my thumb and pushed it to the screen
‘Order authorised. Your order has been dispatched. Thank you for shopping with Stile & Robs.’
‘Yaheee! The deluded idiot’s put me on his oPod’
‘Of course he has Marg, he’s your FFX partner’ Pam said, suddenly becoming very earnest, ‘Where is Norman anyway?’

Many miles away, a red light blipped on the desk of Big Jeff.
‘Bro, we’ve got one.’
‘Who is it?’
‘It’s Norman Mathers’
‘Yes! We pegged him finally. I knew he wouldn’t resist for too long.’
‘Careful, you know what the boss says Big J, once is inexcusable, twice is executable.’
If Big Jeff was nervous, he didn’t show it. He massaged his overgrown stubble, bleary eyes focused on the screen.
‘I told you we wouldn’t mess up, right?’ he growled. ‘What’s the big man want us to do with him?’
‘It’s a bit weird…’
Big Jeff looked at the screen and shuddered. What will these sickos think of next?
‘Needs to be handled discretely.’
‘Have you got everything we need?’
‘Right here.’ Big Jeff shook a keypad. ‘Mr Mathers, we will be with you shortly.’

‘You told him to leave?’ Pam was doing her best to remain calm, but she was already turning machine-gun pink.
‘Of course I told him to leave Pam, who do you think I am?’
‘I think you’re an idiot that’s who.’ Ally has switched sides, I repeat, switched sides.
‘Well cheers for the support, mate’
‘Support? You just won yourself an FFX partner, don’t lecture me about support, when all you do is push it away.’
‘But I don’t need him, you…’
‘…do? I do? Is that what you mean Marg? I need a Life Coach, but you’re perfectly alright? Like I must be completely gone in the head, but you are totally fine? I’ve seen you lying awake at night Marg, don’t think I haven’t.’ Damn it, evasive action, pull out, pull out.
‘No, that’s not what I mean,’ I white flagged, ‘If you’d let me finish, I was going to say that I don’t need him…. yoodling around the house all day, so I told him to go get me some food for tonight.’
‘And he did that?’ downgrade to code yellow
‘Yeah.’ That’s it, diplomacy always wins.
‘Even though he’s got an oPod?’
‘Erm. Yeah?’ Come on, squeeze it through.
‘Oh my God. I don’t believe it.’ Uh-oh, peace talks crumbling ‘What an amazing guy. He’s got an oPod, but he’d go all the way to the shop to get you some food?’
‘And he walked’ I smiled, climbing back into relieved civilian clothing.
‘He walked? Marg, this guy is some kind of saint.’
‘So when’s he coming back?’

‘When’s he coming back Marg? I don’t understand.’ Pam exhaled, exhausted from the tears.
‘I don’t know sweet, I don’t know.’ I held her head in my lap, stroking her head until I fell into an uneasy sleep.

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Comments by other Members

Luisa at 10:06 on 25 August 2005  Report this post
I think you have a very interesting main character here and a good premise for a story. I also like your writing style and found myself being quickly drawn in.

I like your humour a lot (or rather, Marg's humour), and I especially liked the parts about the spectacles at 'diagnostic level five' and the 'civil servant-in-a-box'.

I did have a couple of problems reading your story, though. One was that (and please forgive me for this) the main character was bordering on annoying at times. I think this is fine, because that's clearly Marg's character, but I wonder if you need a stronger sense of the story/plot before (or during) her initial monologue, so that the reader thinks 'Not sure about this person, but I'll keep reading because I just have to know what happens when...'. I hope that makes sense.

In the second part "Straight to the Norm", I found Marg a lot more sympathetic. I think that's because I got a better sense of why she had this attitude. I loved her observations about school. She still kept having a dig at anybody and everybody, but I was starting to understand where she was coming from.

The other thing I picked up on was that I felt the story didn't 'move' enough. I think it could be tightened up a bit by leaving out some of Marg's descriptions where they don't add anything to the story. I've just gone looking for an example and I can't find one, so sorry if this isn't very helpful. It's a general impression I got when reading your story, but as I can't find a specific example, I may be wrong!

Phew, I hope there's something useful in what I've said. Please feel free to ignore it all, of course. I may have got totally the wrong end of the stick!

I loved the ending. I am intrigued and I would definitely want to read more!

Good luck with your writing.


Sarahll at 12:14 on 01 September 2005  Report this post
Hi Luisa,

Thanks so very much for your comments. I really appreciate you taking time to read my stuff!

I've shifted a few things around now and spread out the chapters over three uploads, so I'd be interested to hear your opinion on how the rest of the plot is panning out.

Thanks again :0)


Luisa at 12:22 on 01 September 2005  Report this post
Hi Sarah

With pleasure - I'd love to have a good read-through later. Sorry in advance if I don't get around to it for a while, things are busy right now, but I am looking forward to it.


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