Oh! How they laughed when first they heard the other’s name.
This was a story some would dine out on, but not Dave and Dave.
Dave, always Dave. Never David.
Someone once asked whether it might be a little easier if one of the Dave’s used the full version of their name. Dave narrowed his eyes and told the wrong-headed miscreant, “Dave is the full version of my name.”
The other Dave said nothing. He didn’t see the point in repeating the same conversation all over again. Later, Dave would ask him if he was coming down with something, “yes, I think I am,” said Dave, “it’s very unlike me to say nothing isn’t it?”
Dave nodded an affirmation, “especially upon the matter of our names,” he said.
This was true. Dave is almost unique in being a supposedly involuntary truncation of David. Davids introduce themselves as David, not as Dave and at the very next opportunity a certain type will call them Dave. Not using someone’s name and using a different name is rude. It is name calling. Everyone knows this, but still they do it to Davids. They can also do it to Richards and Williams, but mostly, they do it to Davids, as though there is a secret society of rude people who have it in for Davids. Maybe there is. All descended from Goliath.
Dave was glad that he wasn’t a David so that he could at least avoid a lot of that truncation-related trouble. Other than this wrong-headed suggestion, no one had ever called him David. Not even a strict, disciplinarian mother. She might have missed a trick there. Mothers who want to put the fear of the gods in their child need only to use the full version of their name. They teach this in Mother School along with a bunch of other useful weaponised words and violent exhalations.
Dave was also glad that he wasn’t a David, but only because he didn’t like the way the word clattered out of his mouth. There was something clunky and awkward about it. He once had a nightmare when, in the throes of passion, his celebrity crush cried out DAVID! He awoke screaming and filled with terror. This was not helped by his chrysalis state, swaddled in his duvet and struggling to break free of that word. David. His crush ended that night. He was so disappointed in her. He thought she was better than that.
Today Dave was at the county fair with his best friend Dave, and they were competing for the most prestigious of prizes at said fair. They had been friends for as long as they could remember, which was not to say that they had been friends since childhood, no, they had awoken within minutes of each other on the same hospital ward. A statistical improbability, they had both suffered a severe bout of amnesia. At that stage, all they remembered was their name.
As a basis for any relationship, this did not afford all that much. A single word. But Dave had this in common with Dave and so too did Dave have this in common with Dave. Then it dawned on the both of them that they also had another thing in common.
They both had brown hair.
Falling prey to that thing that so many people do, Dave and Dave missed the very obvious thing that they had in common, that they were both in hospital and they both had memories that had been almost entirely erased. They were too busy getting to know each other. Slowly. Frustratingly slowly. They shared that frustration and were kinder to each other than they were to themselves. They helped each other out of the fog of nothingness and built something to distract them from that fog, and that something was their friendship.
After a couple of false starts and a bout of comfortable silence in which Dave contemplated the philosophical implications of having nothing and being nothing and what that meant in terms of a starting point in the midst of a life that had obviously been lived and then carelessly lost in the woods or aisle three of a budget supermarket, and Dave stared at his toes and wondered why he had an uneven number of them on each foot, but when considered as a collective came to a beautifully round ten, then went on to consider why it was that he’d lost his memory and yet knew his numbers and the labelling word for the small appendages on his feet, the Daves had a conversation.
“I was thinking,” said Dave.
“As was I,” said Dave, “a sometimes dangerous preoccupation, but it must be done.”
“We have a fresh start,” said Dave.
“And it isn’t a bad start,” said Dave.
“How do you mean?” asked Dave.
“Well,” Dave considered how best to translate his discovery of his ability to label and talk about his toes, “have you noticed that we have not lost language?”
“I hadn’t,” said Dave as he thought about it, “and yet I had.”
“In that you’ve been using language,” ventured Dave, “but had not noted it’s use until now?”
“Something like that,” said Dave.
“Funny old lark this life isn’t it?” said Dave whimsically.
“Yes, I suppose it is,” agreed Dave.
Dave saw Dave smile and enjoined with him in the smiling.
“I wonder how it is that we remember words, but not how we came by them?” asked Dave.
“A different part of the brain,” said Doctor Dave as he strode into the ward and cut a fine figure of a man and of a doctor. Which was just as well, given that he was both a man and a doctor.
“How do you know that?” asked Dave.
“I’m a doctor and it’s my job to know things of this sort, and nature and other things of that ilk,” explained Doctor Dave.
“He’s right you know,” said Nurse Dave, and Nurse Dave knew Doctor Dave was right because he was studying things of this sort, and nature and other things of that ilk. He was also Doctor Dave’s lover and they had talked about things of this sort, and nature and other things of that ilk as they spent pleasant time together creating golden memories, such as the ones that Dave had carelessly lost, and Dave had also carelessly lost.
“I suppose this is a good thing in a way,” said Dave.
“And a frustratingly bad thing in another,” said Dave.
“Yes to both,” nodded Doctor Dave, “now if you’ll just roll over for your rectal examination.”
Dave gave Doctor Dave a quizzical look and wasn’t at all for rolling over. In return, Doctor Dave reached into his wardrobe of suitable looks and gave Dave a look that would not be denied, it was a strong look, so strong that Dave wilted underneath it and with a sad sigh rolled over, wondering as he did, why he had not asked whether this was strictly necessary when he had lost his memory, and, as far as he was aware nothing from up his bum canal.
“Is that strictly necessary?” asked Dave.
“Not at all!” exclaimed Doctor Dave, then he burst into paroxysms of laughter.
Nurse Dave cracked up also, Doctor Dave’s hearty laughter being of the infectious sort and Nurse Dave’s soft spot for Doctor Dave making him all too receptive to Doctor Dave’s broadcasts, especially of humour and things of this sort, and nature and other things of that ilk.
They laughed and they laughed until they had to hold each other upright. It was the sight of the two men clutching at each other in order to stay on their feet that brought Dave late to the laughter party.
Dave looked from the laughing Dave to the chuckling medics, “you were going to probe my bottom for a cheap laugh!” he protested.
“They were going to do what?” asked Dave the Porter, but then the delayed meaning of the words Dave had cried hit him like a comedy blancmange and he burst out laughing, “Doctor Dave! What are you like!?” he boomed before wheeling Dave off for his bum operation.
“Is that the doctor who will be operating on my bottom?” asked Dave timidly.
“Oh no! Doctor Dave is strictly a head doctor,” Dave the Porter told him.
“Then who will be operating on my nether regions?” asked Dave.
“That’ll be Doctor Dave,” Dave the Porter told him.
“Oh,” said Dave, “that’s all right then,” he said this for something to add. He didn’t know whether it was alright, he just didn’t like the thought of Doctor Dave operating on his behind and cracking jokes like that as he went about his work.
“So that clock up your Jacksy?” said Dave the Porter, “tell me again how you slipped and fell?”
Dave didn’t reply. Instead he screamed twelve times as the cuckoo in the ensconced clock celebrated the noon hour in the most painful of ways.
“What was all that screaming?” asked Dave.
“I think I’d rather not know,” said Dave.
“I could hazard a guess, if you’d like?” said Doctor Dave wickedly.
“Don’t wind them up doc. Can’t you see they’ve had enough already?” said Dave.
“Dave! You’re awake!” cried Doctor Dave at the patient laying opposite Dave.
“Too loud!” hissed Nurse Dave.
Doctor Dave had indeed been too loud and Dave fell back into a deep sleep induced by the loud noise of Doctor Dave’s voice. Doctor Dave was not having much luck with Dave. Exploding a brown paper bag filled with air in an attempt to wake him from his coma-like state had backfired as Dave woke up a split second before the surprise that sent him right back to the land of nod for another prolonged stay. Then there was the time he dressed as a clown to celebrate Dave’s previous awakening. How was Doctor Dave to know of Dave’s morbid terror of killer clowns? It wasn’t like the fear of clowns was at all common.
Quietly, Doctor Dave examined Dave. Having done so he shook Dave’s hand, “it’s been nice knowing you,” he said.
“Does that mean I can leave?” asked Dave.
“You could leave at any time,” Doctor Dave told him, “we’re not keeping you prisoner here.”
“But what about my memory?” asked Dave.
“What memory?” asked Doctor Dave.
“My memory,” said Dave.
“I don’t remember anything about a memory?” Doctor Dave said forgetfully.
“Erm, Dave?” said Dave.
“Not now,” said Dave, “I’m speaking with the good doctor.”
“But I think he’s pulling your leg,” said Dave.
“Oh…” said Dave.
Doctor Dave scowled at Dave for ruining his fun, but the joke was on Dave, for he was retained in hospital for a further two days for a test that never materialised, or rather it did, because the test was whether Dave would realise he too had been subjected to a pull of the leg.
Anyway, that was then and now Dave was at the county fair with his very bestest friend Dave.
“Nice day for it,” observed Dave.
“That it is,” said Dave.
“Who’d have thought all those years ago that here we would be, basking in the sunshine and you’d be showing your prize boar,” said Dave.
Dave nodded, “it’s a funny old life isn’t it? And here we are warmed by the Summer sun, you showing your prize bull.”
“Have you ever wondered…” began Dave.
“You know I have,” replied Dave, “frequently.”
“After all these years,” said Dave, shaking his head and chortling, “neither of us has recalled a single thing.”
“Probably for the best,” said Dave.
“What makes you say such a thing?” asked Dave.
“Well imagine it,” said Dave.
“The myriad possibilities of our former existence?” said Dave.
“Exactly,” said Dave with a dour dourness that really doubled down on the dour.
“You say it like it’s a bad thing,” said Dave.
Dave stroked his chin, “I have stroked my chin and thought on this to some considerable extent,” said Dave.
“And?” asked Dave.
“I can think of few outcomes that would trump the life we are living now,” stated Dave.
“Really?” asked a sceptical Dave.
“Really,” confirmed Dave.
“But we could have a sizeable fortune awaiting us,” said Dave, “and a beautiful wife,” he added, “and wonderful kidlings.”
“There is that,” conceded Dave, “but for every eventuality that promises to enhance these lives of ours, there is an army of dire consequences that would really put a downer on things.”
“Do you really think so?” asked Dave.
“I know so,” said Dave.
“I do not understand your certainty,” said Dave.
“Alright,” said Dave, in a way that conveyed that Dave had asked for it, so he was going to get it, “what if the one thing you remembered was wrong?”
“I don’t…” began Dave, then the light of a dawning realisation arose within him, “you can’t possibly mean…”
Dave nodded a frightful nod.
“But!” blustered Dave, “I’m Dave and that’s all there is to it!”
“Prove it,” said Dave.
Dave’s forehead wrinkled with thoughts that were in the midst of having a car crash in the confines of his head and somewhere in this pile up was a horrible what if that masqueraded as a certainty. Try as he might, he could not unwrinkle his forehead and a dread knowledge began lurking in a foreboding manner that was most disconcerting. Dave experienced a pressing need to distract himself from this awful development…
So he punched Dave.
Dave promptly left the county fair with Dave the Pig, which was a shame because they missed the judges by less than a minute and the judges had come a-calling with the winner’s rosette.
Dave cut a sorry figure as he stood by his prize bull. He had completely forgotten that he had entered his bull in the prize bull competition, his focus and mind were elsewhere. The judges almost turned tail as they rounded the corner and saw the figure that Dave cut, he had deteriorated from sorry to a much less cohesive state. However, the judges retreat was thwarted by the tannoy announcement.
“This year’s prize bull winner is Dave’s bull!”
There was a cheer right across the entire expanse of the county fair, for the prize bull competition was the most prestigious of all the competitions at the fair. More prestigious was it than the best jam, the best pork pie, the best cheese, even the most interestingly shaped, oversized vegetable competition was eclipsed by the prize bull competition, much to the annoyance of Dave and his eye wateringly large and intimidating marrow. In fact, the only competition that could hold a candle to the prize bull competition was the prize boar competition, and there was an unofficial assessment of the best of the best once the two winners were announced. This year, the piggy winner had been declared in absentia and so there could be no best of the best assessment and life was a little less rich as a result of this deprivation.
The tannoy crackled, stilling the jubilant crowd and it burst into life again.
“Yes everyone, this year’s winning bull is Dave’s bull, John…”
A terrible hush befell the proceedings. Dave the Tannoy, had left the tannoy on as he held the card before him, “wait? That can’t be right? John? What’s that all about?”
But Dave knew.
Or rather John did.