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Spurred into action by his first erection since the crash, James starts to get focused and active about recovery and by the end of the chapter he has left the hospital.
His mental awakening continues.
The crash was the only real experience I had been through for years. For the first time I was in physical confrontation with my own body, an inexhaustible encyclopedia of pains and discharges, with the hostile gaze of other people, and with the fact of the dead man. After being bombarded endlessly by road-safety propaganda it was almost a relief to find myself in an actual accident.
As he makes himself useful around the hospital he sees who we assume is Vaughan. A youngish looking man in a white doctor's coat going around the building confidently, consulting with staff and patients alike. There are some tell-tale details: he is bare chested under the coat, his face is criss-crossed with scar tissue and he carries a briefcase of photographs. Ballard imagines he is pedaling pornographic x-rays, or maybe he is one of the new doctors who is fashionably aggressive to his patients.
James briefly meets the widowed Helen Remington, whose husband was killed in the crash, and, of course, fantasizes about her. Finally, the saga of the erectile awakening closes when Catherine, his wife, masturbates him in the ward.
Did Catherine respond to the image of these which had been caught, like a photographic plate or a still from a newsreel, in the dark bruises of my body and the physical outline of the steering wheel? In my left knee the scars above my fractured patella exactly replicated the protruding switches of the windshield wipers and parking lights. As I moved towards my orgasm she began to soap her hand every ten seconds, her cigarette forgotten, concentrating her attention on this orifice of my body like the nurses who attended me in the first hours after my accident.