I am standing out the front of the hospital wondering if I could righteously kick my whole family out of the house, or maybe kill them even. The Doctor doling out my drugs every month (nothing fun just Interferon and Ribavirin) suggested I might benefit from antidepressants.  I wish she’d stop Interferon in my life, “take antidepressants, don’t kill your family blah, blah, blah” I see an old mate at the bus stop, he is in psychosis 6 months out of the year (and lost without it the other 6 months) maybe because of his close and ongoing relationship with amphetamines and hallucinogenic or maybe because of his mental illness, ‘thank god someone normal’ I think. He is called The Jester, I’m not sure why but I think it’s because when  he first sees someone he likes he looks like he’s about to bust out and start juggling or show you a card trick or let you in on a some magicians long held secret. But then sadly he seems to remember he lost those skills with his mind: then his smile fades and his eyes disappear into the past.

I really like the Jester, he’s funny and deep and after a while you don’t even notice the smell. He’s also an unbelievable survivor. “Hey Jest” I say “hey mate” he says. I think he sounds like Eyor from Winny the Poo. “What’s up mate” he says in the same amount of time I could have said 25 words. I say “if you really want to know I’ve just come from the anesthetist. I had a meeting with her to plan a small procedure my interfering liver doctor insisted I have, for “optimal health” whatever that is .The anesthetist. said “”mmmmmm I see you have Hep C” I said “yes, yes I do” (defiantly) She said “well I’m just flagging it so when you see us double gloving around you, well so you won’t feel discriminated against” I sat there stunned but I was thinking ‘too late cow” and wishing I was assertive enough to say it out loud. On top of that they have put me in at the end of the day, no doubt so I don’t endanger any other patients, bitch.

The Jester looks at me sadly and says “want to hear about my day?” “Sure I say, had to be better than mine”. “Sun woke me up this morning (he his face lights up as though he is relieving the memory). Then I could feel someone pullin on me foot, bloody coppers. “Get up, move on. Don’t look back” Where the fuck am I supposed to go?” he asks. Instead of waiting for me to answer he keeps talking (which is just as well because I don’t have anything to say). “Then I went to the bank to see if me cheque was there. I had to wait forever and everyone’s looking at me like I’m somehow fuckin up their day. I get to the teller and she tells me my money’s not there. So I go to Centrelink to sort this shit out and I’m not even that pissed off, then they tell me they’ll give me a cheque but not till 2, I’m meant to be at mental health at 2 for me shot, bastards so I ring em to let em know and they say If I’m not there by 3 they’ll ring the coppers to come get me, now I’m pissed off! I told em “don’t worry I’ve already checked in with them today thanks” Then I went to the park while I was waiting for me money. Fuckin coppers move me on again. He suddenly stops and sighs.  I miss me mum” he says sadly.

My heart aches for him and I feel guilty that I was so crabby before. What is the discrimination against me compared to what he puts up with every single day of his life, and unlike me he has no way out, this is his life, and I can only empathise as I moved up and away from everything we used to have in common. He wipes a tear from his eye.

The Jester is 38 his mum died when he was 12 and no one has understood or loved him since. He has cried for her every day for 26 years. I lean over and pat his knee I say It’ll be O.K mate” I know it won’t but I don’t know what else to say so I just sit with him a while. Tonight I’ll be in my bed with my ungrateful teenagers/squatters arguing and demanding dinner regardless of me being on  treatment for Hepatitis C (and temporarily insane) but  instead of having thoughts of homicide I tell myself  I will be happy I have a bed, happy I have a family and happy I have choices. Unlike my friend the Jester


This story is dedicated to The Jester and to raise awareness around and discourage discrimination towards those with Blood borne Viruses, those that use illicit drugs, those who are homeless and those with mental illness or disability.