The Good Doctor Grevaday?
An excerpt from the first book in my forthcoming Dale Pointer, PI novella series!
An excerpt from my forthcoming novella, "The Good Doctor Grevaday?" - the first in my new, (hopefully!) humorous Dale Pointer, Neighbourhood Detective series!
I am many things. I’m somebody’s son. In fact, via the completion of mutual biological yearnings, I’m two people’s son.
I’m a fan; nay, a connoisseur – and as far as I’m reasonably aware – the inventor of apple juice-whiskey.
What I’m not – and rarely have been during my 37 years – is employed. Gainfully or half-heartedly. A vocational vortex that has afforded me constant, optic fibre-band access to my brain’s premier pursuit: rumination.
For if nothing else, I am a ruminator.
This is not to say I am a time-traveling cyborg prone to overthinking life away from its day job of riddling human flesh with machine gun pellets while dispensing sardonic quips and running in slow motion from computer-generated pyrotechnics as they mushroom from exploding juggernauts.
No. For me, the living world has been little more than tacit encounters with incrementally aging bunches of my fellow humans since the day of my birth, a day I recall often.
Many have doubted my ability to recall anything re the opening hours of my life, in which I was cast, suddenly and naked, into Bunton General’s neonatal ward alongside several of my newborn peers. One memory in particular has endured: my father, unshaven and shifty – as was his custom - taking me in his arms for a neo-walkabout around the ward.
As the huge blue eyes in my big red head drank in my surroundings, I remember feeling underwhelmed that we all looked and felt and sounded the same: red, wet and squawky to a tiny little man or woman. My father soon returned me to the care of my mother. Like her fellow mums, she was splayed exhausted in her hospital beds. Unlike her fellow mums, this fellow’s mum received her babe back into her arms with a reluctance that featured notes of despair, futility, and irk.
These notes informed the rest of my childhood. Schools, teachers, classmates.
The people. The cars. The trees, pigeons, lampposts; which I glibly circumnavigated should they walk, drive, sway, strut, or stand almost sardonically inanimate, into (or on) my path through this life. Or road, footpath, market square, etc.
I remain in Bunton, my area of which is served by a few shops. Two cashpoints. No cinema. No bureau de change. Though the post office does foreign money I think. has plenty of roads and footpaths. Follow enough of these for long enough and you’ll chance upon Bunton market square.
One doctor’s surgery.
One Dr Grevaday.
A good doctor?
Well, until the day I first laid eyes upon him, I had very little to go on. But it was a day that would prove to be as important in my life since the day that my mother discharged me. Because once the hospital followed her lead and discharge the two of us, not really much happened to me until the 8th September, 2017.
The day that I met Dr T Grevaday.
The day that I became a detective. A neighbourhood detective.
A secret neighbourhood detective.
It was early. Day had not long been broken, and a night of patchy sleep had been fatally torpedoed by a fuzzy javelin of sunshine that an unseen Olympian had hurled directly through a gape in my curtains at the heart of my head, inducing me into seeking the succour of darkness under my duvet. But the message beeped once, twice. Than again and again. I made a mental note, for the eleven millionth time, to change the phone’s settings so that such messages wouldn’t beep repeatedly.
Presently, I bravely stuck an arm into the light, bright hell of an early morning sun-swept bedroom, and groped blindly about my bedside table for my smartphone, a sortie that lead to further despair when I overreached, bringing about the overfamiliar thud of my bedside drinking glass crashing onto carpet and the subsequent glugging of escaping night water. I pulled off my boxer shorts and, bleary of eye, peeked from under my covers, righted the upended glass, and did my damndest to soak up the spillage. This achieved, I grabbed for my phone, thumbed the dust from its screen, to find that IT STARTED ON THURSDAY, VIA A TEXT MESSAGE that Bunton Surgery’s text reminder service had remotely planted on my phone:
FRI 8 SEPT 2019
DR T GREVADAY
DO NOT REPLY
I spluttered hot breath everywhere, and burst out of my bedclothes, for this seemingly innocuous missive has confusion at its conclusion; leading me to ponder, muse, and finally, murmur:
Who the hell is Dr T Grevaday?
Seeing that the time is 08:23, and that I have less than an hour with which to prepare for my meeting with this mysterious medic, I abandoned my bed, whipped on a fresh pair of boxer shorts and stumbled to the bathroom. As I perambulate, my mind’s eye recalls the brass plaque besides Bunton Surgery’s front door that lists the current line-up of practitioners practicing at Bunton Surgery, dictating, via my mind’s mouth, the doctors’ names to my mind’s ear, as I begin the various scrubbings, rubbings and ins and outs that comprise my morning ablutions and drop-offs.
Prentice, Young. Taylor, Froth, Mulbeck. I think there are two more, whose names may escape me right now, but I’m certain are not Grevaday.
Of the names I do recall a familiarity with each one. My “usual” GP was Dr Chris Froth, a small, taciturn man with a tendency to unnerve me with his usage of unblinking, unimpressed eyes and the tell-tale, undermining facial expressions he would unfurl as I related my present medical woes unto him, complete with my own thoughts regarding origin, diagnosis, and treatment.
The surgery’s ceaseless influx of patients meant I would often have to see another of its assembled GPs. Perhaps Dr Young, who was anything but and addressed me as “laddie” both in and with a thick, Scottish tongue, summoned deep from the mountain of patchy red flesh that comprised his physical being, and piped out from within auburn mess of a moustache, often accompanied by an odour that suggested he held a supply of his homeland’s fiery spirits as close at hand as the ear thermometer probe that he liked to thrust into me given the slightest opportunity.
Dr Mulbeck, whose endless, mysterious cheer countered the plight of whatever malady was troubling me on any day on which I strode into her room.
Dr Prentice, whose dead eyes, scrawny limbs and pale, moist hands would have me telling the receptionist I’d changed my mind should I be told he was the only available option upon ringing in on the lookout for a same-dayer.
Each one were familiar and had become acceptable to me. Even Prentice, should push come to shove and then come again; to satiate an urgent need for antibiotics.
But… Grevaday? A locum, trainee, or completely, utterly, butterly new? I hadn’t been to the surgery in some time, for me – the early spring was the last time I recalled, for a lingering sore throat that, as Dr Froth had eventually barked at me, was not quite tonsillitis, nor was it throat or lung cancer.
Grevaday. Nothing was doing with the name, and so with my bathroom business completed, I check the weather – noting the piercing sunlight of earlier has been inked out by a brooding cloud formation – and dress accordingly. Complementing the undershorts I’d just pulled on – yellow stretchy ones - I picked out a long-sleeve, gunmetal grey, technical hiking shirt, camel chinos, and three season hiking socks, hoping to buggery that I wasn’t donning them in their missing season.
Once dressed I plod through to the front room and on to the kitchen, circumnavigating a fallen and empty apple whiskey bottle en route. Last night’s A.W. session flickered through my mind in several stark, grisly crime scene-like Polaroids which I hurriedly filed away into my grey recesses, for now was not the time for dragging a comb over the beach of the previous evening. Instead, I boil water, assemble my cereal crockery, pour juice and cereal, poured milk on the cereal, make coffee, and pour the lot down inside me whilst finding myself, once again, mulling Grevaday’s appearance into my life.
His name, for one, was getting to me.
I simply can’t make a head - nor a tail - of it. Grevaday. Grevaday.
What the hell does Grevaday mean? He has one grev a day? He grieves daily? He has grievous days? The surname lent itself to nothing of any use to anyone or had much to do with anything, ever. All names should come from somewhere or mean something. I, for instance, am a Pointer. Not a gun dog, nor a member of the popular, soul-singing, sister act. Nor am I a rude person with only the basest command of accepted body language practised throughout Britain and its failing Commonwealth.
The name ‘Pointer,’ a quick Googling confirms, is reputed to hail from a tribe of ‘point makers’ which is something to do with the French tying lace together. This may sound feminine, and what with me being an ice-cold private detective, at odds with my calling, but here’s a thought:
You can kill a man with lace.
My thoughts come in pairs – (don’t we all, yuk-yuk?! Tim Banners would surely splutter) – so here’s the second:
You can’t do anything with a Grev, regardless of a daily regime one would apply said Grevving. Providing you ever worked out what a Grev and its inherent verb were, anyways.
Honestly, Grevaday, I think as I swallow the last of the mush of dried fruits and grains of my cereal. Get over yourself, man.
I harrumph and check the time. 8:48. Time may be eternal but it can also be scarce, and so I pocket my phone, wallet, key; whip a Peter North semi-waterproof cagoul around my shoulders (and torso), and make myself likewise . . .
. . . end of excerpt . . .
thank you for reading this excerpt - I hope you enjoyed it. I would love any feedback as I am still deciding between self-publishing and pursuing trad publishing - Jamie.
JS Harding is a novelist and humour writer who has written for BBC Comedy and NewsThump. His psychological thriller, Under Rand Farm, written under the pen name LJ Denholm is available via Amazon, while his forthcoming humour novel, The Good Dr Grevaday? is slated for release in early 2022.
About the author
Novelist (writing as LJ Denholm) - Under Rand Farm - available in paperback via Amazon and *FREE* via Kindle Unlimited!
Short story writer - Mr. Threadbare, Farmer Young et al
Humour writer - NewsThump, BBC Comedy.
Kids' writer - TBC!