Ben woke up and felt great. He’d not felt so good for ages - not since being demobbed from the army a couple of years ago.
But times had not been kind to him. Of late he’s lost his glamorous minder job for the White House for turning up drunk for work on several occasions.
He’d even been on friendly terms with the President. Now all that was gone.
Who’d hire a drunk in a security job? It was on his home security file and would be there for good - game over.
After that his life spiralled out of control, finally ending up as a homeless bum, out on the streets panhandling for coppers with a fellow ex-army buddy – Smiler Sam from his own troop, who’d taught him about the life of the road. Smiler was like the brother he’d never had. They were inseparable, and his winsome trademark smile could open any liberal's purse or pocket, giving them a huge advantage over the rest of the bums both in the broiling heat or the glacially cold highways of Washington.
Ben scratched his arms, they were sore and felt like he’d caught the sun again.
He finally opened his eyes and in the semi darkness, tried to make out what was wrong with his ‘guns’ but just saw angry red patches all over, like when he’d first had all those fake Thai style tattoos applied in a sweaty dive on the side of the river Nile at Luxor.
He was still too stoned to realize that the tattoos had all been expertly erased with many laser treatments during the time he’d been out cold, the final skin peel was just cosmetic. After it had calmed down his arms and shoulders would look like new.
He’s also been dried out and cleaned up, he’d had an angry stomach ulcer removed and a one inch section of bone had been keyhole surgically removed from his long muscular legs, giving him a slightly more chunky look than his previously impressive 6’4” lean height.
Ben went back to sleep - the sleep of the just.
Next time he awoke he was hungry, Veterans aren't good when they're hungry and need constant refuelling, dagnabit! He was Lee Marvin!
His feeding tube had been removed and he was now on a drip between treatments.
This time it was daylight, the sun was pouring in through luxurious white wooden blinds.
To him it was like being inside a rich architects house, though he knew it was some kind of posh clinic with the double doors and round viewing windows.
A tall vase of sunflowers sat on the side below an oil painting by? He couldn't quite place it. It was a creepy dark image, and looked like a big lump of butcher’s meat on a meat hook over a round table with a chalked ghostly barred tent frame around it, making him shiver.
Then it occurred to him, how did they get sunflowers in winter?
He looked down at his arms, remembering the sunburn pain as if it were last night, he held them both up, looking at each arm closely as his focusing still wasn’t 100% from the drugs they were feeding him. But this time he suddenly realised these arms were not his!
His expensive tattoos had totally disappeared, the new blemish free skin was without his myriad moles and his poor bitten down nails were beautifully manicured, long and polished. Upon his pinky finger he spied a large gold frat ring with an impressive ruby.
The red jewel went perfectly with the blood spots on the freshly laundered white sheets perfectly, Blood? WTF!
An urgent buzzer began to ring above and behind his head, the side doors opened and a trolley of instruments bumped its way through, pushed by a bearded Italian Doctor.
“How are we today, Ben?”
“I’m fine thanks, but I’m a little confused?”.
“Do you feel well, Ben” the Dr asked with a concerned head tilt.
“I, I must admit I feel very hungry, actually. Am I in some sort of drying-out clinic or something?”
“Or something, Ben?” he flashed a mischievous almost diabolical grin at Ben and continued:
“Please don’t worry about the hunger Ben, we'll get your drip tube reattached immediately, that’s why you woke up hungry. You need your sugar and med drip and without it your body craves the carbs and protein, it’s all in these bags above your head it’s very expensive, a bit like the ones they have taken to Mars with them.”
“This is 2028 and I’m sorry, you’ll not know any news from the past year, but a rocket with six astronauts took off in the spring, they’ll be in suspended animation for a year, I pioneered the brain cooling technique they have used and we’ve also used it during your treatments, the President has spared no expense for you Ben and he visits you constantly and even stays the night in your room sometimes”… “That pinky ring you’re wearing?
He put that on you the last time he saw you”.
“Ha, the nurses even joke that he’s married to you!”
“Jerky, the Pres, in my room?”
“Yes, he’s taken quite a fatherly shine to you my boy, he always admired your physique and said you were his favourite in his security team during his last term.”
“I’m going to be really sorry to lose you, Ben, you're a magnificent specimen and have been one of my nurses' most popular patients” he said, as he quickly and easily reattached the drip needle into Ben’s impressively pronounced forearm vascularity .
Ben immediately began to feel better, the Dr smiled down benignly upon him, and he started to drift off into a delicious sleep, whilst twisting his pinky ring, thinking the Pres wants me back on his team but not before he heard the Dr ripping a strip off an ugly asian female nurse for not keeping Ben fed properly.
This final jarring note to his sleep caused Ben nightmares for the first time, as his subconscious was now onto something fishy going on…
Ben woke up again, now there were large hybrid Michaelmas daisies on the side in the vase. The muted tones of the flowers made the painting stand out more and he instantly recognized it this time or perhaps his head was clearer. It was a British painting by Sir Francis Bacon, he’d majored in Art and was fascinated by the Screaming Pope images when he’d first seen them. Later used by Isis to great effect to mock Rome after they had assassinated the Argentinian Pope a few years back..
He’d always remembered the purple Michaelmas daisies on the tutors front desk in the autumn term at high school, his tutor was a wild flower fresh air freak, and a card carrying pinko vegan hippy to boot-plastic boots!
He remembered her fondly but had made her life hell from the back of the classroom, jeering at her relentlessly happy outlook on life and her love for the double term Hilary Clinton who had done so much that had recently been unravelled by the new Bush brothers term in office. Later he realised they had been the happiest two years of his life, smoking pot at lunchtimes whilst listening to antique 45 discs of Bob Dylan, taking life drawing classes with real life nude models, whilst trying to hide his erection from them by crouching behind his easel. He smiled when he remembered all the other guys also sat cross legged during those life classes.
On his final graduation day his tutor looked up at him as he was already 6’4” and she gushed:
“I suppose you'll be joining up too, Ben”?
“Yup M'am, going to whup those Isis Bastards out of Egypt for what they did to Karnak and the Pyramids”.
“It was a dark day for mankind when they destroyed all those ruins from antiquity, but you're joining up won't change a thing and you just might lose your pretty little head if you get caught, like so many other poor souls already have”..
“Ain't nobody getting my head m'am, just my girlfriend! The class cheered him like they always did. He winked at her, and she couldn’t help but smile back this time.
“I do hope not Ben, you’ve been a royal pain in the butt at times, but you're basically a straight up good guy, I can see great things for you if you only apply your gifts?”
“Sure will, M'am!” again another wink and the class filed out. That was the last time he’d seen his tutor. He’d often wondered what had become of her. Who’d know?
All those classroom banters with her had taught him loads about life and even encouraged in him a robust democratic outlook on life that annoyed the hell out of his redneck father, much to his own amusement!
Today the toad of a nurse was back, she was writing his notes, saw he was awake and in her high pitched, broken staccato sentences:
“Ow are we Bengie Boy”?
He hated that name and took an instant dislike to her..
“I feel great, thanks m'am. Look, can you tell me how long I’ve been in here and what in God’s name happened to all my tats?”
“Bengie, you came in here voluntarily. You signed contract with dis clinic to terminate your life. We fully 'intent' to fulfill your wish, but you were chosen out of several thousand applicants to be the most important donor in history.”
“I, I did WHAT?” - Ben shouted.
“Please don’t get 'angwy', Bengie, you’ll get me in trouble again! I was just answering your questions. We loved having you here. You’re so 'andsom' - you are going to break a lot of arts, very soon…
You were in such a sorry state last fall when you arrived, you were at the end of your tether, your face was a mess, you’d lost most of your teeth, your liver was about to give up on you and you were covered with disgusting tattoos, even your face had large tattoo over it! But we fixed all that with our state of art laser treatments. Your teeth aren't false either, the doctor spared no cost, he even gave you your friend Sam’s wonderful teeth. Our ‘il Doctori’ does have a wicked sense of humor! Im sorry about your 'fwend' by the way, but he was nothing special, apart from his smile to the clinic, so his body parts were spread to the four corners of the country.”
Oh my god. He felt vomit rise as his tongue explored his friends beautiful teeth. He remembered, his father had smashed his teeth in with a baseball bat and had thrown him out onto the streets after finding out Ben had spent his stash of rent money on his own beer habit.
The Nurse continued:
“You must have seen our happy 3D posters in the slums: ‘Be at rest for Christmas’? and then dropped into our downtown clinic to sign-up to our state sponsored euthanasia program. It’s been a huge success, with all those ex-service bums that should never have come home. We process dozens every week, just from this clinic alone. Lets be honest, the beautiful rich will always need new body parts"!
He had indeed, it all became clear to him now, he and his friend Sam had dropped in together, frozen to the core after the last of the night soup kitchens had been made illegal. They had been very nice, well - why shouldn’t they? They were getting their body parts already freshly chilled!
They had signed and were given lashings of piping hot coffee and chocolate chip cookies, he guessed the drinks and cookies were laced with sedatives, but they didn’t care, they just cried with relief to be out of that biting cold.
He’d been brought up like a prince as an only child, only the best was good enough for her son, his mother would often say, when he just wanted the same sweet crap all kids ate.
No GMO rubbish for him! His mother spent every penny she earned from the clothes factory on the finest organic food she could find.
The older he got the more handsome he became, he was the organic, pesticide free apple of her eye. At his graduation her heart almost burst with pride and happiness for him. When he announced the next day that he was signing up, she was just as happy for him, knowing that those skinny blonde bitches wouldn’t trap him into an early marriage, and he’d still be her beautiful boy for a year or two longer..
Fate was to grant that his mother never lost her son to a skinny bitch as she died quite suddenly one day from an inherited unknown heart condition. It was a condition that couldn’t be cured when the infarction occurred. It would have been too late unless she were incredibly rich and could afford a transplant on the spot.
He was in Egypt when he’d heard, getting the last of his tattoos with Sam, in that sweaty coffee dive across the road from the Nile. Hell, he couldn't even get drunk to drown his sorrows as the booze shop had been blown up the night before.. So he turned to a backstreet bong and a quart of black resin.
His father never recovered and took to the bottle, but as a proud redneck always paid his God damned bills, that’s why he’d lost it with his son - he’d always been secretly jealous of his mother's diverted love and attention for Ben.
His father was incandescent that night at the little Prince, who had turned out to be a no good, petty thieving son of a drunken bitch - something he’d always suspected of him.
That night he washed his hands of Ben.
“Im Sorry, Bengie boy, your father passed away whilst you were having your treatment, »il Doctori » couldn’t leave any unfinished er, problems..”
His heart sank again, and he gulped down the lump from his throat. He was all alone in the world now. The Nurse had taken great care to tell him the bad news after the needle had been plunged into his massive shoulder muscle, sending its narcotics home. She then felt like she was on a roll, being the good catholic asian she wanted to confess her sins to someone who would soon be dead, in a few hours in fact.
“The President of the united States of America is to go through a total body transplant tomorrow. Your beautiful youthful body will be grafted onto his fat ugly old head. You'll both be sharing the same shoulders until his head has taken root. By the way, you were one inch taller but, il Doctori cut an inch out of your legs, leaving no scars, all keyhole and you’ve undergone a few other minor ‘alterations’ too."
"BUT WHY?" Shouted the now hyperventilating, Ben.
"That no good warmongering President has had it taken out of him. He has inoperable cancer and is expected to die within days, so now its time to harvest your body, that’s why they had to remove your, er, artwork Bengie boy, old wasps don’t go in for those, just the discrete Prince Albert ring you might have noticed in your cock, it’s not only the pinky he wanted to gift you with Bengie!
By the way, we’ve all had a bit of fun with you, darling Bengie boy, not such a boy either! You can do wonders with a Viagra solution in a drip. The president insisted on it every visit he made!
After all, not many guys can truly say they fucked themselves can they"?
She stroked his arm a little too fondly and then squeezed his bulging pec and twisted his left nipple hard. His mind was in meltdown, he’d heard distantly of failed head swap operations a dozen years or so ago - my God - was it the same mad Italian il Doctori that had had to flee Russia after the dead head swap scandals?
He made a soft ‘Huh!’ sound when he remembered his tutor telling him to use his gifts, how ironic. I’m going to be the president's replacement body!
But he secretly knew the joke was going to be on the odious Bush brother as he’d been informed via telephone in Egypt that he needed a new heart, as he had also inherited the same hereditary heart defect as his mother. The Washington hospital had suddenly burned down soon after with all his family records and now his medical history was wiped clean.
A year later in the same Michaelmas fall term the president never knew what had hit him.He was dead before he’d hit the ground, exactly one year after Ben’s euthanasia and the new president's total recovery to rude health.