FROM A CLOSE CORNER of the room comes a fractured coughing "help" of a man sure he is dying or dead. Summoned professionals reassure him, but John is not convinced. John is not alright John is dying or dead and every moment that passes by without him in it is another note going to show that no one notices when he chimes with the day. His world is a chair his dictionary is blank he has "help". John is plied with broccoli even when all he can see is a crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to touch not quite, the wrong sort of diction, when a face is a bowl of fruit rotting, he requires the constant attention of the world but still it does not come; and it is always the wrong hour and the clock is hidden by curtains. She reaches into his mouth with a spoon of broccoli, he grabs her hand; steak paste, tea thickened into frog-spawn; he grabs her hand and stares at her. Nil by mouth, please, nil by mouth. She keeps her eyes on the plate and removes his hand, "help", she puts his hand on the arm-rest, and re-loads the spoon, he strains. The chatter of nurses now still the chatter of nurses and then, sex and behind the pale blue, lace underwear. "Help."