Idanre Welcome to the latest chapter of my black comedy novel, The Nurse Diaries – The Life and Times of a Brighton serial killer. The Nurse is a psychopathic murderer who has killed thousands of innocent people. She swears like a sailor, too. If rude words worry you, click away before you encounter a tsunami of them 😉
The Nurse kicks off with some gentle training, professing a sudden, strong desire for wild swimming that The French do not understand. What madness is this? But, respecting Katrine’s transformation of the little town into something special, something with an unusual edge, a richer place in so many mysterious ways, they let the matter go. She is English, therefore naturally strange.
The Nurse hates and fears the sea. It’s awful, especially when you’re freaked out by the mere feel of saltwater on your face, and your entire being shrinks from the epic task you will sooner or later have to face. The first few times she only manages a ten foot swim, paddling in shallow water parallel to the beach, doing a few panicky strokes before thundering violently back to the beach. Towelling herself down roughly afterwards she sighs, stands straight, and stares gloomily at the horizon where distant Sussex lies, all green and familiar and impossible to reach for the foreseeable future. Then she marches home and hangs her swimming gear up to dry, ready for the next day’s ordeal-by-fucking-seawater.
As time passes she improves her swimming style, conquering her fear and building up strength and resilience. The seasons change and The Nurse reluctantly slathers her lusciously-long, curvy limbs with thick gobbets of yellow goose grease and ploughs through ever-colder waters. Although her spirit still shrinks, she swims more strongly every day in the knowledge that if anything will sink her, it’ll be lost confidence. The second you lose faith in your own buoyancy, you’re fucked.
On bad days her PTSD returns, triggered by the nasty, rocking motion of the waves and the uncanny feel of seaweed reaching up from the deep to brush her thighs. At times like this she does her best to hold back the panic, turning carefully over and floating on her back, squeezing her eyes shut and thinking of England, grimacing as the salty drops splash her face and her frightened skin cringes.
Three months after her first swim, The Nurse’s courage starts to grow in earnest. Now she can storm right out to sea until all the Beach Bum – who keeps a secret eye on his friend – can see is a dark pin-head in the silvery distance. The farther she swims, the more creeped out The Nurse becomes, but she gets better at sitting hard on the fear, grinning her way through it. If the French could see her expression at such times they would fucking shit themselves.
Finding the corpse almost does her in. It is not nice swimming along, all innocent, only to find yourself barged into by a dead person with half his skin drifting, ectoplasm-like, behind him. The Nurse, feeling a spongy, rubbery bump against her cheek, opens her eyes and unexpectedly meets another pair of eyes, a pale grey cloudy pair like those of a long-dead frog. She takes a horrified breath along with a large gulp of sea water, floundering badly as the dead bloke rubs up against her then somehow sticks by her side, bobbing greasily.
Honestly, it’s enough to freak anyone out. The Nurse still feels a wee bit too fragile for this kind of emotional fuckery. Rather than tow him ashore and risking an encounter with the French rozzers, she gingerly nudges the stinking body back out to sea with an elbow, trying not to vomit, until he catches a handy current and fucks off northwards towards Scandinavia. Bollocks to him.
http://jkzoo.cz/kontakt/ Distraction techniques
Sometimes, when feeling fearful, it helps to distract yourself. The Nurse grimaces as a particularly wet-seeming wave crashes over her, filling her nostrils with salty water. Blowing it back out in a whale-like spume, she sets her mind wandering, and finds herself considering a hideous challenge that torments millions of socially awkward people around Britain: going to the hairdresser.
The Nurse does not like being fiddled with. If someone tried to pamper her, she would probably slap them. For someone like her, a hairdressing appointment is the purest torment. She has to get her hair done a lot more regularly than she feels comfy with to keep her Katrine persona in good shape. If it wasn’t for that, if her life was anything like normal, she would happily let her hair go feral.
She is not entirely certain what makes hairdressers so scary. Maybe it’s the small talk. The Nurse much prefers to observe than chat. She has never acquired the knack of idle chatter, let alone fucking banter. The Nurse does not do bants. Mind you, having her hair done in Dieppe is not so bad thanks to Sheryl, an escapee from Sussex who fled Blighty in favour of a happy home hairdressing life en France, a career involving almighty tokes of fine weed in between clients. Far from making her careless, smoking weed makes Sheryl extra-meticulous as well as adding creative flair. That’s why, if you visit Dieppe, you will probably be pleasantly surprised by the sheer fucking perfection of the townspeople’s coiffures.
Anyway. The Nurse reckons there could be literally millions of reserved old-gittish people in the UK who would rather jump off a cliff than go to a salon and sit in the window, in public, having their barnet messed with. That’s millions of ratty-looking potential punters, all desperate for haircuts but too farty to make an actual appointment. As often happens when she sets her formidable intellect to resolve a problem The Nurse soon hatches a bright idea, one of her best yet. Thinking hard she relaxes her swimming style a little, no longer quite so aware of the mucky water splashing her and the eerie dark depths upon which she floats. She imagines a series of 3D haircut templates, each not unlike a hat, designed so a hairdresser-hater, alone or perhaps with a friend, can achieve a decent hairstyle. The perfect template hairstyle would be, of course, the classic bob, being a very simple affair. Maybe she could craft a single bob template that cleverly expands to deliver a choice of bob lengths. It’s an interesting thought.
The basin cut would be a fantastic candidate too, but let’s face it, who in their right mind would want one of those? Layering could prove a technical head fuck, but The Nurse has plenty of time to address the engineering side of things. She is particularly inspired by the thought of a mullet template. Dampen your hair and comb it flat. Pop the template on your head, ensuring a nice, snug fit. Carefully cut your hair around the edge of the template. Then ease it off and voila, you are the proud owner of a fucking fancy mullet to die for. On the other hand there’s an issue with the mullet variant, and it’s glaringly obvious now The Nurse thinks about it. Commercial success depends upon bringing the mullet back into fashion, and surely that will take nothing short of fucking time travel.
The Nurse daydreams on, eyes fixed on the horizon as it appears and disappears jerkily between the waves. A parade of thrilling haircut template options marches across her inner eyelids. This one could be the making of her. This idea could earn her a proper fucking fortune.
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Goose grease again. The Nurse sighs gustily as she slaps the disgusting gloop all over herself, head to toe, inside and outside her swimming costume. She has to do this thing properly, and ‘properly’ means a swimming session every day, even in shite weather like this. It is fucking cold. She is one big goose-bump, despite the grease. On the bright side, at least the wind doesn’t blow underwater.
Having swum steadily out for half a mile without thinking about anything much, The Nurse experiences a revelation. Well, fuck me sideways and backwards. She is not petrified with fear. She is neither repelled by the touch of the water nor – worst of all – imagining pale, long-fingered hands grabbing her ankles and pulling her down, down, down. She shudders at the thought in an abstract sort of way but her emotions don’t follow. Meh. Now, there’s a thing. How very cool.
The Nurse settles deeper into her trademark stately breast stroke, the rhythm she originally developed during her escape from the UK. She swims farther than ever from the shore this time. The waves are choppier, the wind is brisker. The goose grease helps but it’s her bold, brave new mental state that finally clicks into place, sending her up a gear. She hits another step in the endless ladder of small natural highs she finds she experiences on longer swims, a symptom of swimming in the zone, simply swimming rather than swimming and fretting. Five miles later, suddenly realising it is in serious danger of keeping going ’til Sussex, the strong figure turns and ploughs steadily back to Dieppe.
The Beach Bum observes from a distance. He stares, awed, as his friend surges out to sea at superhuman speed, faster and faster, then reappearing remarkably quickly, soaking up the distance between herself and the beach so fast it’s slightly creepy. She is sort of speeded up, reminding him of the horrific baby-on-the-ceiling scene from that British film, Trainspotting, the scene that gave him nightmares for years. Urgh.
Open mouthed in shock, he observes as Katrine strides up the beach, muscles pumping. The woman is incredibly strong, a fact usually concealed from the townspeople by glorious tailoring and a ladylike taste in clothing. He’d bet his last Euro her shoulders will soon burst out of that lovely 1950s Chanel numbers she often wears. His friend is obviously determined beyond all imagination under that glossy, film star exterior. Determined about what? Who knows. And what business is it of his anyway? Precisely none.
The Beach Bum has been the subject of cruel gossip and speculation since his enemies ripped out his tongue, now pickled in a jar on an obscenely wealthy man’s desk, having been cruelly torn by rough, hairy fingers from his screaming mouth. He will not indicate to Katrine that he has seen her swimming. He will not ask questions. He will simply be steady and reliable and there. If his Katrine needs him, he’s here for her no matter how mysterious she happens to be, however other-worldly her spooky swimming skills are.
The Channel proves a challenge in other ways, now that The Nurse doesn’t shit herself every time she puts a reluctant toe into it. She swims a long way, miles and miles along bustling shipping lanes, learning first hand that this bit of sea is swilling with toxic spills. More than forty percent of UK pollution incidents occur in or near this narrow slice of water. Her skin would be fucked to hell and back without the goose grease. It sticks in her pores, makes her hair look like it has been dipped in Vaseline, and leaves her looking yellow and leathery like a plucked corn-fed chicken. It is also a right cunt to wash off. But a bit of grease is a whole world away from chemical-burned skin or skin slimed with sump oil. On reflection The Nurse decides this daily long distance swimming has to stop. Luckily she has already nailed the endurance side of things, so she settles for a new daily diet of speed instead of distance.
The Channel is not very wide, just vile. The Nurse wants to get across the polluted fucker as fast as humanly possible in one piece. How long will it take? Google provides inspiration. In 2006 a Czech woman swam the normal channel swim route in seven hours and twenty five minutes. It is at least three times as far when you swim from Dieppe to Newhaven. The Nurse decides 24 hours is a decent goal. It’s one fuck of a long swim but she might as well go for broke.
As winter comes to an end and spring approaches the Channel is at its chilliest, having steadily cooled over several months. The Nurse feels a touch of hope. It can be hard to believe in spring when you’re immersed in soupy seawater that smells like oil and drains, sewage and filth, which occasionally sends a fucking turd spinning past your face. But now the fast-warming air smells different. The wheeling seabirds are frisky and the breeze no longer chaps her lips or makes the rim of her nostrils crisp and frilly. Better weather is definitely on the way.
The colour of the water changes, bluer by the day to match the sky. The Nurse’s mood lifts. The air warms then heats, sending shivers of delight across her salty skin instead of shudders of discomfort. In her little terraced house the draughts are no longer sneaky and wintery and mean, they’re welcomed as cooling friends.
At this stage The Nurse can swim many, many miles without getting breathless. She has built up a considerable store of endurance and courage. She is more determined than ever to get home to Brighton. And she is almost ready to make her move.