They say that everyone has a dark side. I guess 'they' would say that my dark side is irrationally suicidal and paranoid. Perhaps 'they' would even go into more detail about my faults, because much of it is in my medical records, but they always call the bad things 'the dark side'.
It's colorism, right? If I say that my mania, generosity, and explosiveness are actually the dark side because they made me expose myself to others and thus, eventually, show them the other, less pleasant behaviors, 'they' would tell me I was playing at semantics.
Of course. Semantics. Just ask any of my ex-girlfriends about me and semantics. I'm sure they could elaborate for months on that subject. A few of them might even be willing to do so, over a drink... after hours. I'm pretty sure the current one wouldn't mind such a meeting and discussion, either.
She's straying, and Im floundering.. or I'm being paranoid again.
In the psychiatrist's office, I felt that I had to be on constant guard against another hospitalization. I didn't want a controlled environment, without the outside distractions that were bogging me down. Right then I only wanted the meds, but the doctor knew that I'd taken myself off of them several times, because I told him this.
I also told him that I sometimes sleep-walk, and occasionally wake up holding a knife. One time I made an online purchase after going to bed, totally unconsciously, and I had no memory of it until 'Alice In Wonderland' showed up in my mailbox one afternoon. I guess I should say one "Golden Afternoon". Anyway, at the Dr's office, I made a joke about being afraid that I'd wake up and discover that I'd used a vegetable peeler on my penis.
"Why?" he asked, "do you want to hurt yourself that way?"
"No," I replied, "I was trying to make a joke. I do that when I'm nervous sometimes."
"Wow. Does it always involve self-mutilation?"
"Not really. Sometimes it involves mutilation of others. For some reason, that whole subject is just funny as hell to me."
When he was trying to print out some info on the meds he was giving me, his printer acted up, and it looked like he would need to get it from another room... and the first thing I thought was, 'No WAY, motherfucker. I'm walking with you wherever you go. I'm not about to sit here and listen to the *click* of a locking door and realize that I'm going to be held for observation again.'
Not that I wouldn't have deserved it, after that last outburst.
My counselor was particularly fascinated by the quality and number of my 'death dreams'. I told him a couple of them, just for fun, to see what he'd think, and he was hooked. "You mean, it actually felt like you'd taken a shotgun blast, point blank, in the chest?"
"Completely. I could feel rib splinters puncture my lungs, I felt my heart muscle, immolating in the fire of oxygen, spasmodically trying to move blood and maintain life. I woke up choking on what I thought was my own blood.."
Hmm. And last night?
I watched the crowd gather around me with their canisters of napalm-jelly and their burning brands and I bellowed hate and pain and danced my rage for them as my skin charred from my cracking bones in papery black waves of agony
Errrm.. but they didnt have guns, last night.
Of course not.
Five hospitalizations should have taught me not to share that much with ANYONE, but my urge to shock and my need to vent were too strong to suppress.
In the psych ward, I was always surrounded by people who were open, walking wounds. If you weren't a gushing fountain of psychic pain, you weren't getting any better, and if you weren't getting better, you certainly couldn't expect to get out any time soon. So during the first day or night I would usually hide in my room, then I would come out and try to act like I was opening up in group and one-on-one encounter sessions... always aware of the inscrutable, inevitable scratching of the doctor or nurse's pen.
The pen scratches to the key, ...and the key sets you free.
My dilemma was always the fact that my true difficulties are far too deep to be treated in less than, say, a year... if ever. So I had to create some plausible set of problems and symptoms small enough to deal with in a week or so, but serious enough to account for my presence in lockdown.
One hospital alone has a file 12 inches thick on me and my demented ramblings.
Usually they started collecting them during the admission process. Somehow I arrived there (often in the back of a police cruiser) and was escorted to a small room where a nurse would ask me a bunch of questions and fill out forms.
What led you to think of suicide?
Are you diabetic?
Have you been hallucinating?
Do you have any tattoos?
Is there a history of mental illness in your family?
Do you have any heart, lung, liver, or kidney diseases?
Circles and x's... scratch, scritch, scratch.
When was the last time you had a bowel movement?
Of course, if I'd actually attempted suicide, the admissions process would be postponed or skipped so they could start pumping my stomach or stitching me up.
After all of the x-ing and scratching (or stitching and pumping) I would be shown the unit, shown the routine, introduced to whomever happened to be around, and taken to my room. If I'd had a chance to grab any of my belongings, the nurse and I would go through them with an eye out for contraband. Belts are definitely contraband, but watches arent. Razors, yes... deodorant too, but not sunglasses.
Sometimes they let me keep my shoelaces.
There was always a physical exam. Turn your head and cough. Let me tap your knee. How many fingers? Take some deep breaths for me. Also, they always took several blood samples.. sometimes one a day. The vampyric state of Greater Mental Health.
Even when I was in my room, after the whole introductory process, they weren't finished taking things from me. They always gave me a cup, "for a urine sample". That way, when I finally did get settled in a bit and decided to 'go', I could have the pleasure of wandering the halls holding a half-filled cup of warm pee.
Welcome to feelingbetterland.
After all of that, I eventually couldnt use my toilet at home anymore. I knew that someone had tapped into my sewage output and was trying to monitor my piss. So I found a way trick them, at least for a while. I drew warm water into a cup and then pissed into another cup, then I dumped the warm water into the toilet and flushed, but I poured the pee down the sink.
Of course, they eventually figured this out. I don't know how I knew, but I just did, ok? So then, instead of pouring it out, I just re-consumed it. Its not so bad if you make it into ice-cubes. Mixed drinks at my house shouldve been on reality TV. Sometimes I felt comfortable enough that there wasn't someone watching my front door that I could actually toss a batch out onto the lawn, but most of the time there was someone there. Watching.
I'm not sure what they were watching for, because I didn't do too much at the house. The blinds were closed, the lights were on, but nobody was home, for all appearances. I was a quiet tenant, and you know what they say about quiet neighbors in the glare of live local news cameras. "I thought he was building shelves." "Never bothered me." "Rent was always paid on time, never had a complaint."
Maybe they were watching the mange-ridden squirrel who somehow managed to gimp out a pitiful existence in the tree out front.
I tell jokes when I get nervous, did I tell you that already? Like, this guy asks a blonde how old she is and she pauses, counting on her fingers <onetwothreefourfivesixseveneig> and says, "19" and then guy says, "And what's your name?" and she says, to herself, <happybirthdaytoyouhappybirthdaytoyouhappybirthdaydear>... and then says, aloud, "Chrissy!" and the guy says, "Well, Chrissy, how about if I chop off your head and use it for an ashtray," pulls out an axe, and chops her head off.
Get it? Do you?
But do you, REALLY get it?
People like to laugh at sick shit and say that they're 'down with it', but I get the distinct impression that most of it is lost on them. If it came right down to it, they would put the knife away and fail to make that final cut. Most of my friends thought that I was the same way.. that I was a harmless, humorous freak with no bad intentions.
Then again, most of my friends had moved away and only conversed with me via email. They didn't really know what was going on 'up here'. Up here, down there.. it's all relative in the end. In a cyber world, no one is north or south. They're either online or off.
The new friends came over for a party one time. A cocktail party. Red juice and clear booze, slightly yellow ice cubes that I found to be quite amusing. During the witty conversation, I reminded a very attractive woman that chewing on ice is a sign of iron deficiency. She laughed and 'tinkled' her glass at me before going back for more ice to gnaw on. Would she have found it funny and slightly ironic that she was chewing on my frozen piss? Or would she have been very angry with me, storming out and cawing about how much of a sick, shitty bastard I was?
I don't think she would have believed me. I don't think she wouldve gotten it. The conversation rattled along on its rusty, social tracks, careening toward everyone-knows-where, and they were all eating and drinking my urine. At least they were doing me that favor, because I could predict most everything that they were going to say before it burbled out of their mouths.
Back at the psychiatrist's office, my doctor asked, "How many times have you attempted suicide?"
"You mean serious attempts or oblique ones?"
"What does that mean?"
"Well, I'm asking if you want to know how many times I've held a razor blade up to my throat, or if you want to know all the times I've done something that I know should've killed me but didn't for some stupid reason," I reply.
"Start with the oblique ones, I guess. There are probably more of those, right?"
Should you drop ten hits of acid and then rollerblade in traffic for an hour? Should you survive that? Probably not.
Should you drink a six-pack of Elephant Ale, smoke Jimson weed, take several Klonopin and some valium and survive that? I'm guessing not.
Should you drive to the highest exposed point in the area, stand atop your car, and wave a golf club during a raging thunderstorm?
Climb to the top of a tree and jump?
Eat all of the meds that you were given during your last hospitalization?
The doctor was shaking his head again. I was wondering if his printer was going to start experiencing more technical difficulties, so I added, "Well, those were all half-assed attempts, in my opinion, and not even recent.
"Ha Ha Ha-ha-ha hahahaha. Get it?"
None of it even mattered. They just want to put you on a raft of drugs and see what happens because they don't understand the urges any more than I did. You can talk and talk, but nothing will ever make sense in the end. The conversation just rattles along on its decrepit, pre-destined tracks.
My counselor asked me about my girlfriend during one of our sessions. "You mentioned that you are in a relationship," he said, "how is that for you?"
"How do you mean?"
"Well, it must be tough for her, considering the fact that you're having some serious problems with bi-polarity and paranoia."
"I'm not sure that she understands exactly how it could be a problem."
"What do you mean?"
"She's pretty clueless and emotionally distant... I mean, she just sits there."
An old lady's husband had just died and she felt there was no reason to live anymore. She called the doctor and asked exactly where her heart was. He told her it should be under her left breast. He also told her that her husband had cursed her name with his last breath since she was too busy shopping to be there when he finally did breathe his last, and further, said that her husband would have amended his will if he hadn't already been declared incompetent in the eyes of the court. Finally, the doctor told her that if she were serious about killing herself, she should aim at her head, not her heart.
That night, she went to the emergency room with a bullet wound in her knee.
Get it? What's the moral of the story? Everyone just sits there when you confess your deepest, darkest desires. It's almost as if nodding and making grunting noises is the cure. If that were the case, I'd be happy and well adjusted by now. But they just keep grunting, occasionally issuing edicts and generally making no sense to me.
I was ordered to attend group therapy.. well, it was 'suggested' by the psychiatrist and I was given the choice to either follow the suggestion or lose my benefits. So, group therapy started sounding like a really good idea, as a matter of fact. Yessiree.
Group therapy. Very useful, especially if you want to meet people like Redmond Brown.
Redmond was... a misshapen human being, a person with enough slouch in him to power a dozen apprehended eleven year-old shoplifters. To hear him talk, though, was a marvel. In group, he would spin fantastic webs of social commentary if given the time, but he rarely was. Mostly he was just told to sit back and let someone else speak, "Because we spent a lot of time dealing with your abandonment issues the session before last, as I recall."
So I raised my hand.
The counselor gave me a withering glare and said, "What?"
"Abandonment is obedience. Obedience is the watchword. Obey. Conform. Don't dream... too much. Just dream enough to keep the wheels of commerce spinning, but don't you dare notice that they're just spinning in place, not going anywhere. We're not going ANYWHERE. I am going insane."
The counselor looked back at me, puzzled.
"I'm sorry, that was a line from a movie. Have you seen it? I sometimes quote movies and make jokes when I get nervous. I'm sorry."
"What movie?" the counselor asked.
"Susperia? I don't know. It's in there somewhere." Just please don't give me any more meds.
Once in a while, I spoke with Redmond after group, and told him that he was being censored, in my opinion. I wouldnt stand for it, I said.
Redmond said, "Remember all those amusing science fiction stories from the fifties about what it would be like in the year 2000... aren't they just terrific and funny and ironic and... somehow cool? Not really, when you consider that the science fiction stories that we read today will look just as funny and ironic and somehow cool to an audience fifty years in the future... and so on, and so on.
"Because, and we have to face facts here, NOTHING is going to change substantially as long as we continue building and re-building the same flawed world, and laughing at the past and not noticing that the future is shaping up to be just as hopeless, homicidal and suicidal as anywhen, anytime, anywhere. You pick the date, the place, the time of day, and those fucking wheels will just be spinning away.
"I'm sorry. Am I cursing again? Did I grab your collar? I didn't mean to act out. Well, maybe I did. What do you think the doctor would say about that?"
"I don't know."
I don't know, Redmond, I really don't know.
"Well, I would argue that the environmentalists are firmly in the pocket of the very interests which they claim to be fighting against. For example, many people seem to agree that big, gas guzzling cars and trucks and SUVs are a horrible thing that should be stopped because we should conserve. Conserve what? Oil? Why? So there will be more oil to burn later? So that the very system that currently exists can continue to exist, burning oil and polluting the air and generally being a nuisance that should be stopped? The conservationists claim that we're DESTROYING THE EARTH.. but their answer is that we should destroy it slower.
"My answer would be that we should drive to get our mail, even if it's ten feet away. Buy a diesel tractor-trailer if you can afford it and drive next door to borrow sugar. Buy a barrel of crude oil once a month and dump it somewhere, and generally do YOUR part to make sure that all of the oil in the world is burned, buried, and banished as quickly as possible. Nothing that you, or I, or anyone else can do will destroy the earth, or save it. Burning up the oil will just mean that someone will be forced to find something else to burn or destroy. Hastening the process is just a gift to whatever survives our pathetic little species."
Redmond makes my head hurt.
When I talked to my psychiatrist about this, he suggested that I should consider taking an anti-psychotic medication called Zyprexa. I was already taking a mood stabilizer called Trileptol, an anti-depressant called Wellbutrin, an anti-anxiety drug called Ativan, and something else for something else. It's a yellowish pill, and I had to take it twice a day, exactly at Nine AM and Two PM... but I'd been forgetting to take it lately. This was too bad, because I was pretty sure that it did something for me somehow.
I couldnt tell anymore.
When I started yelling at the doctor about the fact that I couldnt tell why I was taking all of these drugs anymore and I didn't know what they were doing for me (or against me, for that matter), he reminded me that I asked for the drugs in the first place because I was ready go kill myself by laying my head on the train tracks.
He was looking at his printer again, so I nodded and said, "Oh yeah. Ok. What's the yellow one for again?"
"That one is for Redmond," he said, sounding like he was at the end of his patience.
So why am I taking it, I almost asked... but I didn't.
When I got home, I just threw out all of the yellowish pills.
Redmond came over for a visit a couple days later. I didn't remember giving him my address or inviting him, but I didn't remember a lot of things at that point. I read whole books and I couldn't tell you the plot of one of them. I watched whole televisions and couldn't tell you the point of them. It was all a blur. So I guess it's possible that I invited him over.
It seemed to me that Redmond was feeling agitated, so I told him that I might have something for him from my doctor. "I had these little yellowish pills, but my doctor told me that they were for you when I asked him about them, so I threw them away." I started rooting through the trashcan.
"The hell are you talking about?" Redmond demanded. "I don't go to that doctor. Don't bother looking for that bottle, because I guarantee that it's your name on the label, not mine. Shit. He gives you those to keep me from coming over." My hand hovered, immobile, over the trash can. "Besides, I'm not going to take any damn pills that come out of your trash."
How would pills keep him from coming over? In fact..
"How would pills keep you from coming over?"
"Because I'm not really here.
"What do you say to a woman with two black eyes?" He asked.
"I don't know, Redmond, what do you say to her?"
"Don't make me get out the tin-snips and the blowtorch. I already done told you twice."
I wondered if he was feeling nervous or something. He left me standing halfway over the trash can, wondering what was supposed to be funny about the joke he'd told me and half-way considering continuing the search for the meds that I'd thrown away... but I just went back into my bedroom and turned on a video game. I had six systems and about a hundred games. I hardly knew what to do with myself in my free time, but it usually involved killing lots of digitized people.
I asked my counselor about that. Could my diseased mind make the leap from simulated violence to actual mayhem?
"How do you think it would feel to kill?" he asked.
"Like a knock-knock joke?"
"Like, Knock knock."
It took him a second to understand that he was supposed to play along..
"Ok, who's there?"
"Hal-leh-loo! Yah opened the door! *BLAM BLAM BLAM!* *PLOP*"
"Well, maybe more of a schlumpy, 'galump' kind of sound. But you get the idea. Right? You get it?"
"Umm... not really."
Around this time I noticed that my ice box had started to smell. Ice box. Ice boxes are for people who can't spell words like refrigerator and restaurant. In any event, I planned to eat out for a while, because I just didn't have the will to clean it... whatever you want to call it.
I had the same problem with my cubicle at work, the cleaning thing.. that is. Not the smell, at least not literally. When the doctors finally did declare me unfit for the daily grind, there wasn't any real resolution. I just stopped going and they kept paying me for a while and then I called a friend in the office and started having lunch with her. She'd bring me stuff from my desk, piecemeal.. just the stuff I cared about, which didn't amount to much.
I never really cared. By that time I was taking about four or ten different types of pills and felt as if I'd been cast adrift on a sea of bureaucratic indifference on a massive scale. I felt like one of those pre-teen-looking rape victims in a Hentai film: surrounded by demons with throbbing, veined and impossibly long cocks, being penetrated in every available orifice.
Somehow, I fell into this shithole, and I was not sure there was a way out.
Redmond started spending a great deal of time at my house about two weeks after I threw away the yellowish pills. Hed slump in the only comfortable chair in my house and spew his bizarre theories and concerns until my head was filled with a high, white sort of whining sound and I thought I would scream.
I suppose I did do some screaming, actually, because there were some problems with the neighbors right around then. Until youre there, its hard to tell... but there is a fine line between being a quiet man who kept to himself and simply being a raving lunatic.
Redmond didnt just carry on a monologue, however. That would have been almost tolerable because he never seemed to run out of weird conspiracies and social imbalances to discuss. Scattered amongst his ramblings was the same request, phrased two-dozen ways, that we pay a visit to my girlfriend. He never lingered on it, though... he just threw it in, almost subliminally, as if repetition alone would make me acquiesce.
While he carried on his speeches, he would chain-smoke Doral Light cigarettes, lighting one off of the other and stubbing the old one out on the arm of my chair before throwing the butt at the opposite wall. I couldnt decide which was worse, the smell of the burning vinyl covering and foam padding of the chair, or the stench of those damned generic cigarettes... but the combination of both was enough to put a sumo wrestler off of his evening meal.
He would also interrupt his speeches long enough to answer my phone and alienate whomever was on the other end.
Hello? Yes, it is. Yes, I missed the appointment. Because I dont give a shit about that fucking crap. Fuck off. *click*
Maybe that was someone from the State Disability department
or the psychiatrists office. Perhaps it was my counselor. Who knew?
Was it my landlord?
Redmond wouldnt answer me when I asked him... anything, actually... so one day I started digging around in the trash for my discarded yellowish pills. At that point it was a pile of trash, in fact. I didnt take out the garbage too often because I was positive that they would just go through it.. so I saved it up and tried to burn it once in a while. The last time I went to a small park and put it all into the sandbox... dumped about a gallon of gasoline on it and tossed in a lit book of matches.
When my eyebrows grew completely back, Id think about taking the trash out again.
I found the pills, and showed them to Redmond.
So? he asked, a bit defensively.
Go away, or Ill start taking these.
Start taking those, and Ill go away.
Ok. At that point, I didnt care if I DID have to add another pill to my daily intake. I needed to at least be able to answer my phone, even if all I could produce were grunts, clicks and whistles. I just hoped I wasnt about to be evicted for screaming late into the night, or not paying the rent.
Everything the doctors prescribed seemed to come in a bottle adorned with charming little warning labels. Most of them indicated that the medication inside might cause drowsiness, which was interesting to me, because if I took four pills that might cause drowsiness, wasnt I pretty damn sure to start feeling drowsy and disconnected eventually? Some of the other warnings read: Take with FOOD. IMPORTANT! Take exactly as directed! Do NOT discontinue or skip doses unless directed by your doctor. A loaf of bread with a slice falling off seemed to be the universal symbol for food, according to the pharmacists.
Mostly, though, there was a red or yellow sticker with a droopy looking little eye and the text read something like this, May cause drowsiness. Alcohol could intensify this effect. USE CAUTION when operating a car or dangerous machinery. As if they would ever let a bi-polar person anywhere NEAR the blasting caps and the dynamite.
I asked my psychiatrist about the balance of May cause drowsiness medications to non-drowsifying ones. Since Im bi-polar, shouldnt we maybe mix in some May cause restless, random behavior pills in there for good measure? I mean, its not all mania here, doc... and when I do, potentially, go back into a down phase, are you sure that you want me to be taking six things that depress my nervous system? At that point, my nervous system is depressed enough on its own.
If you take the meds Ive prescribed for you, you wont go back into a down phase.
So they say.
I guess one problem with my whole medication program was the fact that I insisted upon moving my pills from one bottle to another, in a really demented form of medicational leap-frog. Ive done this from the time I was diagnosed as bi-polar, and I have no idea why... unless it was a way for me to test myself and make sure that I was at least remotely coherent. So the Trileptol is really in the Ativan bottle, the Ativan is actually in the Effexor bottle, the Effexor is in the Depakote bottle, and I moved the Lithium to the...
Now where did I put the Lithium again? Did I switch that with the Zyprexa? Or with the Lexapro?
Despite all the warnings (Take with LOTS of water Do NOT crush or chew), Im pretty sure I began to over-medicate myself. After that week with Redmond, I really didnt want to take any chances. If one of the longish half white, half orange gel pills per day is good, then two must be better, right? I dont know. The whole world seemed to be suffused with a slight silver fog. My question was, why not keep it that way?
Aside from the fog, nothing else seemed to be very pleasant right around then. Id taken to buying packages of meat and putting them in the dumpster so there would be other bad smells in the neighborhood besides the one coming out of my apartment. I really needed to clean, but I had no idea what to do with the stuff I would clean out. I certainly couldnt let them see it.
So I started spending more and more time away from home, despite the fact that doing so made me as close to completely uncomfortable as a person can get without experiencing literal pain. Id been smoking since a few weeks before I broke down and asked for the meds again, so my options were more or less limited. In California, it might be illegal to even say the word cigarette in some buildings, much less try to smoke one. Some of the bars in my town had established smoke areas, which was fortunate for me, because I approached smoking as if it were my final answer. I mean, thousands of corpses a year cant be wrong, can they? Its definitely going to kill me eventually, no matter what.
Nothing else Ive tried can offer those kind of odds.
The only potential drawback that I could see was the fact that being in bars meant that I should probably be drinking. How else could I justify my presence there? At first, from the back of my mind, little red and yellow labels swum out to greet me whispering Alcohol may intensify this effect... but not for long. By that time, most of those messages were becoming quite meaningless to me, and the little red and yellow pillbox flatworms bearing them, even less so.
After a few drinks, the silver fog became somewhat jovial... which is to say that it took on a bit of a golden, much fuzzier hue. After a few more drinks, little points of light... green, magenta, yellow, purple... would start to meander around in my field of vision, as if my medications were attempting to escape my body through my eyes. I very rarely became so drowsy that I couldnt at least play pinball.
I especially liked a game called Funhouse, because the central character was a demented, ugly little clown who taunted whomever was playing the game throughout the entire process. Sometimes it even sounded like he was cursing at me, but I thought that was probably my imagination. I was in the bar, playing Funhouse, when everything changed.
A man walked into a bar after a really good party and ordered a drink. Already drunk and delirious, the man turned to the person sitting next to him and said, ''You wanna hear a blonde joke?'' The person replied, ''I am 240 pounds, world kickboxing champion and a natural blonde. My friend is 190 pounds, world judo champion and is a natural blonde. And my other friend is 200 pounds, world arm wrestling champion and is also a natural blonde. Do you still want to tell me that blonde joke?''
The man thought for a while and replied, ''Not if I have to explain it three times.''
So the three friends took him outside and explained a few things to him, rather painfully, and they never found out how many blondes it takes to change a blacklight bulb.
It wasnt immediately obvious to me, but everything changed because of an average looking man wearing average looking clothes carrying an average looking clipboard in a bar. He entered my life as I was battling with gravity and the clown in the pinball machine, among other things. He stood next to me as I finished the game, and when the final ball bounced down the chute and out of sight, he introduced himself as Mike. I failed to ask for ID, so Im not sure if that was his real name. At this point, it doesnt make a bit of difference.
He asked me if I was an adult and if I smoked cigarettes. I looked around the bar, and at the cigarette that I was holding in my hand and said, Well, yeah... isnt that kind of obvious?
He scribbled something on his clipboard and said, I have to ask, sorry. Would you like to enter a contest to win a trip to Big Tobacco Ranch?
I said, What is it?
If you drink and smoke and like to have fun, it is the best place in the country. It covers four hundred acres, in the first place, so it really is pretty big. If you win, youll be staying in the Big Tobacco Lodge, which has 200 rooms and covers 10 acres by itself. We pay for your travel to and from the ranch, pay for everything you eat during your stay, provide all the booze and cigarettes you want to smoke, and provide an endless array of things to do during your two week stay.
Like what? I asked. I was beginning to wonder if Mike was actually Redmond in a disguise, and if he was trying to screw around with my mind again.
There are a stable of horses and miles of trails, theres a big lake to swim in, you can ride ATVs or climb rocks, you can sunbathe, swim in the indoor pool, go on a long hike and camp out... I could go on for about half an hour if you want..
Does my name go on a mailing list? They always mail me lots of things that I dont want, and this was exactly how they trapped me into getting their garbage in my mailbox. Garbage with my name on it. Garbage that will just add to the pile in the kitchen and require my attention at some point in the future.
Only if you want to be on the mailing list. If not, we wont send you any free cigarettes or coupons to get them.
This sounded too good to be true... In fact...
This sounds too good to be true. Whats the catch?
Umm, well, actually, this is the last week of the contest. I usually work in the head office, but theyve paid me to go around collecting names for the last two months. Since Ive spent most of the time getting drunk and trying to get laid, I need to get some names, fast, or Im fucking screwed.
That sounded fairly reasonable to me, so I signed up... although I suspected that they had a big hand in this whole affair. I figured, why fight it? Theyll watch me wherever I am, why not get free liquor, cigarettes, and entertainment.
I truly felt that Id already won as soon as I filled out Mikes form. During our next session, I told my counselor, Ive won a trip to the back country of Montana.
The day before yesterday... I think... I entered a contest to win a trip to some sort of tobacco ranch resort.
So you havent actually been told that youve won yet.
No, but I know that I will. Ill probably have to miss some of our appointments when I go.
Huh. Yes, of course. Well, well cross that bridge if we come to it, I suppose.
He didnt sound like he believed me, but I didnt care. No believed me. Finally, I knew something that no one else knew. Well, I guess they did, but that didnt matter. I felt that for once, I was one step ahead of them.
I couldnt say how many days or weeks passed between the day that I entered the contest, the day that I won the contest, and the day that I departed for Big Tobacco Ranch. On multiple types of psychotropic drugs (and excessive doses at that), time seemed to simultaneously stand still and sprint away from me in MTV-style jumpcut doses.
Here were the parents, looking concerned. Interpolate Big Buy electronics, SafeTeeMart groceries, GameWorld. Flash counselor sequence. White walls, lots of white walls. Vacant stares. Occasional screams.
Did I write two post-dated checks for the rent?
758 and 759.
In the midst of this dissolution, I at least knew to pay the rent. Keep THEM at bay until I got to the ranch. From there, perhaps... release? I also told my landlord that a woman with dark hair, about five seven, might be by once in a while to feed my lizard and do some minor cleaning. My girlfriend. I seem to remember saying that if she did this, I would return the favor if ever the need arose. Id cross that bridge if I came to it.
Everything seemed somewhat cross in the last weeks that I spent in my apartment. My hands hurt sometimes. I realized that my pile of trash had become unmanageable, so I put it into bags and emptied them into a nearby creek-bed with about ten gallons of gasoline and five gallons of kerosene. I think I used some sort of a fuse (a lit cigarette and an open matchbook, I believe) so I wouldnt lose my eyebrows and facial hair again, but the flash was pretty intense even from twenty yards. They say it took two fire trucks to put the blaze out, I think. I didnt want to waste any more money on meat for the dumpster, so I began trolling the countryside for roadkill. I started finding gaping holes punched into the walls of my apartment, but I didnt know who was making them.
Fortunately, I noticed that the Doral Light butts Redmond had tossed around in my living room were actually cockroaches in disguise before they could finish their breeding cycle. I could see the bursts of microscopic eggs puffing out of the females and had no desire to wake up with roaches growing in my esophagus, so I gathered them up and dropped them off in the night deposit box of a nearby bank. The machinery made a very reassuring set of clanking and grinding noises after I closed the hatch, so I was confident that they would have to clean up the backwash from that failed attempt to invade my home.
My departure date approached and arrived, and I didnt obsess about what I should take, because I didnt see the point. Some clothes, some sundries, the rest would take care of itself. At least, thats the way I figured it. Fuck the doctors and the counselors. Im breaking free.