It seemed to taunt me: “I am the eternal abscess. I have been your companion through the ages, adorning both knight and burgher, proud and red and ripe and rampant. Shakespeare immortalised me as ‘imposthume,’ and I inhabit the deep, dark, most private and tenderful recesses of your body; look on my works, ye mighty, and scratch and despair.”
But the sin of Hubris is always punished by Nemesis, just back from a long weekend with Sappho in Lesbos.
“I think we’d better lance this,” I’d said, although this was just foreplay, because our nurse was the true connoisseur.
“Things growing are not ripe until their season,” she murmured, half to herself, eyeing it keenly, fondling it a bit (a bit too much, I reckon; certainly more than was entirely decent), like Ernest and Julio Gallo checking out their grapes. “It will be pointing in, I would estimate,” she mused, “about three days.”
And sure enough, three days later, “Macbeth is ripe for picking,” she said, purring with anticipation, her lips moist and wanton and come hither. The vorpal blade went snicker-snack, and the laudable pus came spurting out, like wandering water gushing from the hills above Glencar.
“Goodnight sweet prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest,” she said, in an almost postcoital tone, after which we felt compelled, for some inexplicable reason, to nip out the back for a languorous smoke.
But this unusual consummation was only the prologue; she also took extreme offence at any pus that remained unexpressed, so she returned to combat, put Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries on the CD player, and squeezed and squeezed like her life depended on it. As the abscess was out of the patient’s eye line, she gave a running commentary to keep the patient informed and the rest of us entertained.
“You should see the stuff coming out of it now, what a rich and glorious colour; earth has not anything to show more fair; such a vibrant and unforgettable bouquet; it’s amazing; it’s incredible; just one more squeeze; don’t worry, we’re nearly finished now; just the last wee bit; gosh, can you believe it, there’s loads more, buckets and buckets of it, where is it all coming from? Ah, look, there’s another abscess; that one’s not ready yet: you’ll have to come back next week.”
And then, aside to the audience, “Always leave ’em begging for more.”