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Twisting all the bad things into good

Jan 31, 2012


 The madman experiences something, 
 but what it is or where it comes from he does not know.
 Philip K. Dick, Valis


            They are both smiling at me.          
            I don't smile back. I just close my eyes again.     
            Someone will come around to wake me soon enough. They're not going to let me pretend to sleep forever. I have to get my story straight before they start the inquisition. It's time to open my eyes. This time I have to keep them open. I need to accept where I am. That is the only way I will be able to explain to them why I do not belong here. I don't know about these other headcases, but I do know that someone like me is not supposed to be in a place like this with these kinds of people. There's some guy in another bed a few feet away. That guy probably belongs here. He is still sleeping with his back to me. Whoever he is, he has not changed his sleeping position even once since I got here early last night. It's been like fifteen hours. Somebody might want to check this dude's pulse. I'm starting to worry that he may not be sleeping. He looks dead to me.

             Beyond the doorway of our room without a door, a new day has already started. My dead friend would realize this if he would just wake up. Maybe it is better for both of us if he just keeps sleeping. There is no way that he can help me. It's pretty obvious that he couldn't even help himself. I'm on my own.               

            There's no point in pretending to sleep anymore. I need some water so I get out of bed and enter the hallway.
            "James. You're awake. You got some sleep" the administrator says.
            "Yeah, I did. It took a while, but I actually got a good night's sleep for the first time in months. Do you think I could get some water, please?"
            "Have a seat. I'll get you some water and we'll get your vitals. Then we'll get you officially admitted after the doctor evaluates you".
            "Okay. Just let me know what you need me to do". The last thing I need to do is be uncooperative. I'm already afraid of what they may tell me. There's no need to make my situation any worse. I just want to get through this as smoothly as possible. These people are not out to harm me. There is no conspiracy. It was all in my head. I still have no idea what is wrong with me, but I know I need help. I'm going to let them help me. I don't want to be crazy.

            "You were really trembling bad when you were brought in last night" she reminds me. "Let me see you hold your hand out for me, James".
            I put my hand out. It's no longer waving bon voyage, but a game of Operation is definitely out of the question.
            "You're not as bad, but you still have some tremors. How are you feeling besides that?"
            "Honestly? I'm embarrassed".
            She tells me that I shouldn't feel embarrassed. After I thank her, I look down at the floor so I don't have to face anyone.
            When she comes back, she hands me some water and a small paper cup with a pill in it. It's the same antipsychotic and mood stabilizer that I was given last night. She tells me it will help alleviate my tremors and calm my nerves. After I swallow the Risperdal, she takes my vitals. When she is done, she tells me I can go lie down and she'll come get me in a few minutes for the doctor's evaluation.
            "Is it alright if I call my dad first?"
            There's a phone on the wall of the hallway. It's the same phone that I used yesterday to hang up on my mother. I'm still too embarrassed to make eye contact with anyone. Besides dialing the phone, I don't look look at anything except the floor.

            "Hey, dad. It's me. I just got up a couple minutes ago". My humiliation causes me to speak softly. I also do not want anyone in the hallway to hear me. "I wanted to call to tell you and mom that after I got some sleep, I realized that I had been hallucinating. I'm sorry about this, I just...I don't really know what happened".
            He tells me that I sound a hundred percent better than I did last night. He asks me what kind of drugs I was doing.
            "Honestly, for the first time in years, I wasn't on anything. I've been detoxing from painkillers and xanax. I've been trying since March. I was shaking really bad last night from the xanax withdrawal so they gave me something for it. Last night was the first time I got more than two hours of sleep in probably six months. It's been miserable. Dealing with the withdrawal from the xanax and painkillers, all the stress, I just could not sleep no matter what I did. I took fourteen Tylenol PM's one night and didn't even sleep for one minute".

            He asks me when I started hallucinating.
            "I don't know. I had no idea that I was even hallucinating. It's been at least since Friday. That's when I thought I went to Vegas. Jesus. I can't believe I thought I was in Vegas".

            He asks me what I think happened if I wasn't on any drugs.
            "I think I must have had a nervous breakdown. Since I couldn't sleep, I was just depressed and stressed out all day and night. I think it just got to be too much and, I don't know. I guess my mind just couldn't take it anymore ".

            He wants to know about the knives. My roommate told him that I had them on the bedside drawer. My dad wants me to tell him why I had knives next to my bed. This question embarrasses me because the insinuation is clear. I tell him the truth.
            "Those were throwing knives that you got me when I got my blackbelt. I don't know why I had them there. Honestly, I did start to wish that I had never been born, or that I would fall asleep and never wake up like Mitch, but I never wanted to kill myself. I would have never done that, honestly. I have no reason to lie anymore".
            He accepts my explanation and asks if I know how long they're going to keep me here.
            "They haven't actually admitted me yet because the doctors were all gone by the time that cop brought me in yesterday. I guess by law they have to keep me here for at least seventy two hours so they can evaluate me or whatever. Last night I slept in one of the rooms for people waiting to get evaluated".
            He asks when they are going to admit me.
            "The doctor is going to evaluate me in a little bit, so I guess after that. I'm not really sure how it works. I just wanted to at least call and let you know what's going on and that I'm okay now".
            He tells me to call him after I talk to the doctor.
            "I will".
            Usually, I would be overwhelmed by my emotions at a time like this, but I'm still too confused to feel anything except shame and fear. Ashamed of what has happened and the fear that it could happen again. I still have not lifted my head or taken my eyes off the floor.
            There are two faces that I can't avoid even when I'm looking at the floor. They never stop smiling at me. It doesn't matter how many times I look away from them, every time that I come back, they are still there...waiting for me...smiling... unconditionally.
            "Man, I really thought you were dead, dad. I thought you died on Sunday. I was in the shower praying that it was just a bad dream. I thought we were supposed to bury you today. That's why I was so in shock when you called yesterday. I'm glad you're alive, dad. I love you guys. Tell mom that I'll call her later, and just please tell her that I'm really sorry I hung up on her yesterday and for everything".   

            I walk back to my room and sit down on the bed to wait to see the doctor. There are so many things that have happened in the last week that I still have to try to make some sense of. I still have to try to separate hallucinations from reality. This will not be easy because the memories of each are as real as the other. There is going to be plenty of time to think about everything that happened. For now, I just sit there with my head down. I don't want to think.
            I keep seeing their faces.
           These are the pair that I was given. It's not like it was up to me. Nobody ever asked me if I wanted them. If I had been given a choice, they are definitely not the ones I would have chosen for myself.
            All I keep thinking is how ridiculous they are.

            I hear the dead guy in the other bed turning over. I look up, and for the first time, I see more than his back. He rolls over on to his stomach and buries the left side of his face in the pillow. He doesn't open his eyes so I'm not even sure if he is awake. He doesn't look like the homeless psychopath that I worried might smother me with his pillow while I slept last night. Besides being tired as shit, he seems like a normal guy. He opens his eyes and sees me sitting there and is probably wondering how long this psycho has been watching him sleep. He looks like someone who had a blackout night of drinking and wakes up not knowing where he is and what happened. He keeps looking at me like he is wondering if I was riding shotgun during his bender. It looks like he wants me to fill in the blanks. I got nothing for him, but I figure I'll be the bigger crazy person and break the silence.
            I greet him by simply saying,"Morning" to avoid a "what's so good about it?" response. I also skip calling him "Sunshine" or "Sleeping Beauty" to avoid a violent ending to our sleepover. He doesn't seem like a morning person. Judging from last night, he doesn't seem like a night person either. He's looking like someone who can't fall back asleep after hitting the snooze button and is dreading the day ahead. I know that feeling, so I just look back down at my feet and wonder where they will be taking me today. 
            I can see those smiling faces again. They are so ridiculous. As laughable as I find them to be, I realize that I need them right now.

            "Nice slippers," are Sleepyhead's first groggy words.
            I look up at him and then back down at my slippers.
            "You like these?" I say with a laugh. "I was in bare feet when they brought me here, so this is what they gave me. Fucking ridiculous, huh?"
            He doesn't answer. He just lays there and zones out on my tan ballet type slippers that have a big happy face on each one. Their big smiles fail to hide the fact that each one has their tongue in cheek as they tell us to "Have a nice day and take your meds".

            "Dude, I was getting worried" I tell him. "I thought you were dead".
            He never blinks or looks away from my happy feet.
            "Nah, I ain't dead" he grumbles. "I was just sleeping".
            "Yeah, you were". I look back down and laugh as I model my slippers. "Are these things fucking ridiculous or what?"
            By the time I look up, he has already passed away again.
            There's no reason to worry though.
            He ain't dead.
            He's just sleeping.


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