Sue Vincent’s #writephoto this week is
Dr Humphrey Mildew stared at Hartley Jombe’s stomach. The image was, frankly, stunning.
‘See, Doc. It’s terrible.’
‘I’d have said it was the work of a skilled practitioner.’ He reached forward, gently wiping a finger across the blazing sun.
‘Sorry, does that hurt?’
‘Not as such. More a deep…’ He swallowed, apparently at a loss for words.
‘It’s definitely a tattoo, Mr Jam.’
‘Jombe. Sorry. Your name, it’s just…’ Humphrey smirked. ‘So when did you get it done?’
‘I told the receptionist. It just appeared. Last night.’
Humphrey Mildew had been a GP for fourteen months. He hadn’t been a particularly stellar student but the one lesson he’d absorbed well was how to come across as a patronising smart arse. ‘Naturally there are people who are disappointed in the results but I’d have said you’ve chosen your tattooist well…’
‘I DON’T WANT A SODDING PICTURE ON MY GUT EVEN IF IT’S GOOD ENOUGH TO WIN THE BLOODY TURNER PRIZE.’ Hartley breathed in slowly. ‘Sorry. See I was abducted by aliens yesterday…’
Humphrey pulled his pad to him and scribbled ‘mental illness’ in small unreadable letters, followed by ‘possible drunk’. ‘Aliens?’
‘Last night. After East Enders. They knocked and…’
Humphrey held up a hand, forestalling Hartley. ‘Sorry. To be clear an alien…’
‘Three. I think. They sort of oozed together at one point, but I’m pretty sure there were three when they knocked.’
‘Right. Three aliens who are capable of cellular integration…’
‘Is that even a thing?’
‘No idea. These three knocked on your door…’
‘Are you here as a prank, because I’m …’
‘No, seriously, Doc. After East Enders finished I went for a slash and there was this knocking from the cistern. I lifted the lid and these three emerged…’
‘What were they like?’ He immediately wished he hadn’t asked.
‘You don’t want to know. Sort of three shades of Piers Morgan…’
‘You’re right. I don’t. So these three, what, things…?’
‘Sure. They climbed out and what?’
‘Asked if I’d been in an accident recently?’
‘You are taking the piss.’
‘No. They wanted to make sure I wasn’t damaged. They then asked if I’d take part in a survey of life-forms. Said they’d been studying humans and wanted a different perspective.’
‘And you said yes?’
‘Course I bloody didn’t. You think I’m some sort of numpty?’
Humphrey mumbled ‘Quite possibly,’ but waved him on.
‘No, I asked what they’d give me in return. They said…’
‘These aliens spoke English?’
‘Course. Do I look like someone who speaks alien?’
Humphrey shrugged. ‘Who knows? Then?’
‘They said I’d get what every human wants. I thought they meant, you know, a plate of fries and a massive…’
‘Quite. You could have asked for a personality?’
‘They said they’d read my mind and I’d get what humans of my age and demographic want, plus my oldest desire.’
‘So, what then?’
‘They made me lie down, sort of covered my head in themselves, while they read my mind .. it was horrid.’
‘Bet it was.’
‘Next thing I knew I was sitting in the kitchen, this painting was seeping out of my tummy, and they were checking an AtoZ for the address of their next call. Somewhere in Ruislip.’
‘Naturally. You’re sure you didn’t just have one tin of something amber too many and got this done on the high street? I mean it’s a pretty far fetched story.’
‘I can prove it, Doc.’ Hartley began to undo his belt.
‘Woah. I don’t think showing me you’re hung like bread fruit will prove anything.’
‘No. They said the tattoo was what all young men under thirty want. Give me a break. No, this is the oldest desire.’ Hartley dropped his trousers and then his pants before turning to face the wall as he bent over.
Humphrey squinted into the glare. ‘Christ, what’s that?’
‘My mum used to say if I was very good then the sun would shine out of my backside. Can you do anything, Doc?’
Dr Humphrey Mildew turned away, his eyesight temporarily absent. ‘I think you might need some Gaviscon. Super strength.’