(I wrote this in very simple language to capture the effects of the medication I was on in the hospital)
A-hall, my pacing track. Up, up up up the hall I walk, blazing the flat, linoleum trail to the same place I was five minutes ago. Five minutes is all it takes to walk the A-hall.
Well, for a normal walker, with a steady, confident, decidedly human gait, it would take them no more than thirty seconds to traverse the linoleum span.
But the all seem to be so hurried. Doctors with pens in hand, white coats, disinterested faces.
I wonder if they walk into their homes like that; walking quickly passed their wives, up the stairs to the office, not a word to the children. Setting themselves down quickly and beginning again the papers and charts which were being completed by the same doctor a mere thirty minutes ago.
The doctor was thinking of his work on the way out of his office; he locked the door with the charts on his mind. He walks nimbly to his car; sits down on the trim, keen leather, turn the car on, and drive home. On the expressway, he will have the radio blaring NPR, speaking of the state of our health care systems and other assorted medical jargon, but it is only background noise. He has the notes and papers and patients on his mind; and the Christmas bonus he will receive, the labor of his work and the good he is doing for all. Always striving towards a point, but where does this point end? When will it be reached? Will the doctor be lying on his deathbed wanting just one more chart to file? One more report to write? What a decrepit life indeed.
It takes me five minutes because I like to enjoy where I am at the time. Lining the hall are rooms, twenty rooms in all, ten on each side, a friend in each room but mine. Maybe I feel like talking to a friend, I have many friends here, many many friends. I might notice the slight curve in the big nurses station window, smudged with the fingerprints of other patients like me. I might even sit down on the floor in the hall. Not in the middle mind you, that would be very rude; I sit, back to the wall, always, with my legs curled up and arms clenching my knees.
While I am walking, noticing my feet slowly stepping forward, forward, forward, I hear the faint click of the speakers above me. Someone in the nurse’s station, which is at the other end of the hall, near the big wooden door, locked always, has an announcement for all of the patients. The nurse speaks slowly; “All patients, group therapy will be meeting in ten minutes in the community room. Group therapy will be meeting at eight O’ clock in ten minutes in the community room, thank you.” Ah, group therapy, my least favorite part of the day. But if I want to leave this place, which I’m sure I do, I think, I will have to go to as many meetings as I possibly can. The doctors told me, that if I want to get better, I need to start getting up at a reasonable hour and participate in all group activities. Though it is reasonable, it is hardly desirable.
And getting up isn’t so easy. They give me these pills at ten thirty every night, before we say goodnight, and retire to our chambers, that keep me under, if I choose to use them of course, through the morning breakfast. Being on these drugs doesn’t make me tired, they make me apathetic and indecisive. So I choose to sleep, not wanting more.
Such vile drugs these are, to strip a man of his humanity and make him an unfeeling drone. But the doctors say they keep me alive and sane. Who am I to argue with those educated men of the psychiatric and psychological communities? I am simply a patient, nothing more; an object of their fancy, their work so to speak.
I scratch my scalp, and begin to trudge down the linoleum tightrope. I shaved my head a few days before I came. It was actually the eve of new years, of last year, two thousand and two, which thirty minutes before the dropping of the ball, I was shaving the last bits of stubble from my scalp, readying myself for the big moment, which I have experienced almost every year for the past eighteen years.
Now, mind you, I had no intention of coming to this sterile place. I had a mind to kill myself, to end my temporal suffering. But alas, this was thwarted by three kindly policemen who made a house call two days after the dawning of our new year.
I awoke on this botched morn with a clear conscience, ready to do the deed. I told my beautiful mother of the plan, thinking she would have agreed with me, but instead she picked up the phone and dialed the police. The blue clad policemen with guns opened my door; I heard them come in. They asked me if I had any weapons, which is an odd thing to ask a suicidal person. If I had any weapon with which to sneak out of my final trap door, I would have used them without hesitation on myself before they had come. All I had within my grasp was a bottle of pills, ripe for the swallowing.
They gave me my clothes, a nice gesture I would assume, and led me upstairs. I didn’t resist because in an odd way the men were quite intimidating, what with their guns and all.
We exchanged small talk in the kitchen; the machismo of the policemen filtered through by my keen eyes was a sickening experience. These men here, standing before a suicidal madman, me, telling me that life is too short and I have too much to live for. What a farce! These policemen are truly saying that they have too much to live for and they are only doing their jobs, protecting the lives of the innocent. But, I am far from innocent, far from innocent indeed. But, in my lack of innocence, could I be far too innocent? These questions ring out as nothingness upon the bow of a fleeting vessel into the sun. They mean very little here at this time, because I want to die, and die well.
And through all of that, here I am, at the far end of the hall. From here, I can see the large wooden door, small and meek under the distance. I have a few slow minutes to pass before I have to suffer the torment of the insane, delving into my own mind and giving myself to a group. But, I must get ‘better,’ I must do what the doctor ordered me to do. It is for my own better good. Maybe someday, I will get to go home, but until that time, I will be here, sitting in this life of nothingness, intoxicated on help and medication, until my heart turns black, and I am finally ready to go home, broken and dead.