By Frampton Jones
Last Christmas, Mark Goodman gave me his heart, still beating, and contained in a beautifully decorated box. I was, as you can imagine, rather troubled by this. The next day, I showed the heart to Doc Willoughby, who said he would take it away and examine it. Mark turned out to be rather upset about this, and later retrieved his heart, making it clear that he intended to give it to someone else.
I saw Mark this morning, looking pale and with distinct bite marks on his throat. He also seemed dazed and at first did not appear to recognise me. I was concerned, but did not initially associate this with the strange business of his heart and what he did with it last Christmas. I tend to forget all about Christmas unless reminded.
When he collapsed in the street, I went to his aid. I was able to get him into the shelter of Jed Grimes’s store, where he raved for some time. I can give you only an approximation of his words. “I gave it to someone special,” he said. “I thought this was someone I could rely on, but I was wrong. Fooled again. But it’s worse this time.”
I managed to ask if this was about his heart. “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,” he said, “I thought you were a responsible sort of person.” If only he had explained to me what he wanted me to do with it! I am still mystified. It was hardly a romantic gesture, it was a bleeding organ in a box that had no business still beating whilst being in a box. I was more than a little disconcerted at the time and would have benefited from some guidance.
Whatever happened to Mark’s heart this year proved fatal, this Christmas has killed him. I admit to feeling deeply disturbed by the whole experience, a kind of personal Armageddon, a sense that some heavy, blunt object has been whammed into my own innards.