''Now was a good time to die,''
He had just turned twenty one a couple of months back. The 'dying thought' was not new to him. It was all that was in his fragile mind, for the most of his young life. He really wanted to die.
''It cannot be any worse than this,''
the voice in the head was saying, and then he heard another voice.
''You won't get out of here son, you are in now and they will keep you in, it will be a bloody miracle if you do get out, nobody leaves.''
Eric turned his head to his right to where the voice was coming from.
''You will die in here and you will be forgotten, that's what happened to me, they put me in and forgot me. My brother wanted the farm and had me signed in to get me out of the way and mother didn't stop him, that was twenty years ago, I think ... no it was more, what year is this now son? ... never mind I don't want to know, it will only hurt. Your only hope is to pray to God in all His glory. He knows you are here ... pray to God and all the saints, the saints can help you they are here with us now, don't you hear them calling? Tell you a secret son, I not only hear the saints but I see them too, they are very busy-busy in here ... look .. there ... no, over there, there is a new saint, never saw him before, any-ways, better to see the 'saints' than the bloody doctors and their tablets, their sweet tasting syrup, keep that to yourself mind you .. tell nobody,''
said the old man, pleased he had someone new to talk to. When you are twenty one this man in the next bed is old and the 'Grim Reaper' himself is alive and kicking in flesh and blood, in the next bed to you.
Eric was more frightened now. The old man made things worse for Eric's fragile mind and the tears started to come on 'free-tap-flow'.
''That will do you no good here, the 'white coats' are used to seeing that and a lot more worse, keep it up and they will give you the syrup, unless you want the syrup, do you want the syrup?''
The old man was now grinning at Eric as he reached for his prayer beads and started to pray out loud, in some form of mantra chant and mumbo-jumbo to Eric. Eric turned on to his left side and faced the grayish green wall, lonely, hurt and rejected and started to cry louder than the chant from the next bed. He was going down and down fast in his mind. Two male nurses came over to Eric, one held him down with force and the other gave him a jab into his butt. His mind slipped far out of reach, too far out even for Eric to catch up with it and was now drifting in and out of his mind ... bad memories coming up. The past events and a nervous breakdown was what had him here. It was all too much for him, but he tried his best. The job pressure, the marriage, and now, the wife that was beginning to act like the mother he was running from, and the father-in-law who was a 'fat-bully-boy' also saying he was not good enough for his 'little princess' and never will be. It was coming in on all sides on Eric, it was too much to take. He had no where to run but into the 'loony bin', he had to go in or he was going to do harm to himself or somebody else, maybe the the father-in-law would push him too far some day and then it would be too late. They won't come in here to get at him and taunt him he was very certain of that ....
The ungrateful bastards.
The ungrateful bastards.
He signed himself into the hospital. He knew he needed help and time out, maybe he could get it here, it was worth the try, but to end up in a 'lunatic bin' was the bottom of the barrel for Eric. He was giving up on life. He was giving up on himself. No hope and no future. He was very frightened. When he signed the admission papers he was given the 'grand tour', for those who sign themselves in, by a friendly male nurse by the name of Mick. Mick was in his fifties and was quite fit looking for his age, a nice smile which seemed to never leave his roundish face, or at least that's what Eric thought and would come to rely on Mick just to be there and for that smile, but Mick was institutionalized to the place and took things as they were, it was more than a job, it was a way of life for Mick .. it was his life too.
After the 'grand tour' a female nurse took Eric to the ward, helped him to undress and gave him a jab in his thigh and not too friendly about it either, and told him it would help him to relax. What she didn't tell him was ... it would knock him out for three days, he will wake, get sick and fall back to sleep and wake up and get sick and fall back to sleep again. Sleep without dreams. Sleep that did not know night from day. Sleep that gave the body time and the mind to connect to the body, it was said and hoped by those in the know ... bullshit. It was on the third day that Eric woke up to hear the old man's gibberish words that would send Eric back into the 'death-sleep'. There is no telling this time how long Eric would be out. Time and place now was not important to Eric. He did not care anymore. He wanted to block it all out .. the past forty eight hours, better still, the past twenty one years would do very nicely ... thank you very much.
It might have been two days later or the next day when he was woken by Mick, hand gently on his shoulder and smiling down at him.
''You have enough sleep for now, you shower and try to eat, I will be here,''
pointing at the table. Eric was still quite dazed from the jabs and walked to the bathroom as if he was drunk but Mick held him by the arm, talking, just talking, but Eric was not really hearing him. After shower Eric came back to the ward and for the first time took note of his surroundings. There were about twenty beds all occupied by men of all ages and states of mind and all speaking 'gibberish' talk with blank but lonely expressions across their faces, like a P.A. system a announcing more 'gibberish' news ... that had no off button. Three bay windows at the end of the ward let in the only natural light. He could see sheep in the distance, he will always remember the sheep, like cotton balls pasted onto green paper. Off the ward was the bathroom where Eric had just been. It had two free standing baths in the centre of the floor a couple of shower heads and about four toilets with no doors, just partitions. Wall and floor all tiled in white with three small windows near to the ceiling more then likely screwed down. He will come later in life to hate the sight of baths of any description and would only take showers. It would always come back to him the hot and cold baths they gave him, two male nurses lifting him in and out as if they were washing cloths, and the smell of honeysuckle soap, that smell would bring it all back to him like a rush to the brain .. like a drug with very disturbing side effects ... Eric was 'slipping' into the dark bottom-less hole of his mind.
''But I cannot cope ..
For I need hope ..
And not the rope ..
On this slippy slope,
O' bittersweet dope ..
My Honeysuckle soap''.
Eric sat down at the table where Mick was now sitting and indicated to eat. There was a dirty-blue colored plastic cup and plate on the table. Mick sat beside Eric all the time and talked in a gentle voice trying to console him but Eric sat looking at Mick and the tears started to come again. He had no control over the tears. All things happened now without notice to his very fragile mind. He was confused. His mind was confused. He did not know what was real to him anymore. He was a very frightened twenty one year old. His sense of smell was heightened but his mind was in delayed reaction. He wanted it all to go away ... no .... he wanted to go away.. away from here ... away from this life. He wanted to sleep and not wake up. He did not deserve this ... this madness, and the thought of if he did the right thing in signing himself into this madness. It was 'kicking-his-head-in'.
Eric was given a couple of blue color tablets, these were a nice sky blue color and Eric smiled at them as if they were the one's that were going to put all things right. He went back to his bed only to be confronted by the old man insisting on telling him about his day at the 'D' wedding.
asking Eric just to please the old man in the hope he will forget to answer.
''D-Wedding .. the wedding of all weddings. I was the best man, I was there, sitting at the table with 'them', but it sure was a hot day and the wine was running out very fast, I should know because I was there''.
The old man was now sitting upright in his bed with his prayer beads held up high as if he was trying to give them to someone or something that only he saw. You could see he was happy .. smiling away at some invisible image that only he himself was 'seeing'. The old man, sitting up-right in his bed, not like the other times before when you thought he would slide under the bed sheets and vanish into thin air, no, he was now grining hard. He had someone to tell his story too.
Eric tried his best to look interested and focus on what he was saying. The old man was now fully alert as if he was back there ... back there, sitting at the wedding table and giving a running commentary on who's who and who's talking about who and how everybody is so happy for the newly weds, never expecting this wedding to take place on account of who He is .. or claims to be but mind you so far the claims look justifiable ... and her past, well talk about devils, and devils of all kinds and not to savoury mind you, but not to worry ... the couple look very happy indeed ... indeed they do ... very happy.
''There they go again, pulling at imaginary ropes to sound the bells in the heavens''.......
''Who go again, what bells,''
The old man was starting to get angry and waving his hands telling them to go away,
''Leave the ropes alone, you bastards''.
This wedding was to be kept quiet. There will be some explaining to do later ... some people will not be happy about all of this. This will upset a lot of things later in the future .. for you know who, you know who I mean.
''No, I don't know who.''
''Yes you do ... the church and all it's blessed saints ... that's who.''
''Jesus Christ'' ....
what's this fool talking about, asked Eric .. rubbing his hands together, more to stop them from strangling the old man to death.
''You were there then, do you remember the smell of Honeysuckle in air .. so strong it was,''
said the old man ...
''But I don't remember you and I remember all the faces that were there but I don't remember you, where were you sitting ?''
asking the old man and looking quite worried, because he remembers all the faces .. he spent a lifetime remembering all the faces and besides he was there. He was the 'best-man'.
''Look old man .. the only wedding I was at was my own and that was a disaster, even my mother started to accuse my wife of eight hours as not being good enough for 'her son' and now that looks to be all finished, for better or for worse, and that bastard of a father-in-law, when I think about it cornering me in the hotel toilets looking for money, what a true-wake-up call for me as to what I was marrying myself into. He was a real bastard an ex-army cook, physically lazy and an over active non-stop scheming mind with that 'grin' on his face. Liked to be seen at the race course with that side-kick of his ..who would run here and there and do the betting for him. They were like the sadistic Laural and Hardy team ....... so I was not at this wedding you keep blabbering on about.''
Eric was on the road of no return.
''Well-well .. that's a load off your chest boy, tell me, what's your name again .. doesn't matter. Is the happy memories of 'D' day coming back now ?''
the old man asked, screwing his head around like it could do a 360 degree turn on his small shoulders and now looking hard at and searching Eric's face and his own mind to see if he could remember Eric at 'D-Wedding'. He finally gave up the search around his mind and said, ...
''No ... no I don't seem to remember you being there and I should know, I was there and I was the best man at 'D-Wedding'.. I mean, 'D'-best-man ....... sitting there ... with 'them' ... what a beautiful day for me, a day to remember''.
''Old man ... stop this bullshit talk and tell me out straight ... look at me .. what wedding are you talking about ?''
asking Eric frustrated and trying very hard to keep awake and focused on the old man.
''Are you certain you were not there. It was ... if not .... 'D' celebrity wedding of the year, but maybe you have forgotten ..... it was the wedding of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Not that it was signed with legal papers understand, but sealed with the heavens and angles and mankind ... but a marriage all the same, witnessed by God Almighty himself no doubt ... what a day''.
''Did I tell you the story about Jesus and the trick he did with the wine on that glorious day ... you will like this you will ... you see the waiter came and told Jesus the wine was finished, it's always the guy that's getting married that handles these matters that's how people in the future will know that it was Jesus getting married and not him attending someones wedding and ..... but maybe you remember the story .. yes you do, I can see it in your face and I remember that face now, but you look very pale ... you need sun, son ... try to get sun, son .. but they won't let you out of here ... son.''
Eric looked at the old man, stunned, stunned, stunned .. and looked around the ward hearing, and no Mick to be seen, the hum of 'gibberish' like a machine ticking over waiting to be spurred into action. Eric cried, a cry so deep and of no hope ... because nobody can help him now, he was on the road of no return that goes deeper and deeper into the mind .. lost in himself, forever lost, lost forever.
''Bye-bye Eric bye-bye'' ..
he could hear it, but from where.
''Yes ... yes, you do remember ... good, now you do remember ... you were there ... I knew it, but you had me fooled there for awhile ... you do remember that day, I thought I was going mad there for awhile. Let's give thanks to the Lord above .... and look son ... look at all the saints ... or maybe they are waiting-souls standing around your bed .... I find it hard to tell the difference sometimes, between who is who ... anyway they are all the bloody same but they know you were there .. you can't fool them like the way you tried it on old me there .. you were testing my memory you were .. tell me .. you were testing my memory .. no matter, but I remembered your face now ... what's your name again son .. hey, son don't fall a sleep now .. we can talk some more about that wonderful day. You have to remind me your name again son, don't go to sleep .. O.K. have it your way, but I will be here when you wake up, we can talk then, all day, and don't mind these other ungreateful bastards, they are not like you and me.''
The 'Grim Reaper' was quite pleased with himself .. more than pleased, that somebody else remembers that day of 'D' Wedding. The smell of Honeysuckle was drifting in the air across the ward.
Eric's fate was sealed .. Sealed And Delivered ..
I liked the way you developed the allegory or layers. Certainly makes you concentrate and of course the SAD ending was a great touch.
Thank you tj for your comment and time to read my story ... it was written from the inside out...
Daf you certainly know the Theology to be able to write a story like this .
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