Monday, October 13, 2014

Oh Nurse...

The nurses took my shoes and gave me paper slippers after Morpheus had tried to take my marbles at fifteen tender years of age. For reasons that are beyond me, they believed that as crazy as I was to try to dance with death, I wouldn’t try to escape the hospital sans shoes, risking a few stones in my feet running away. They were wrong. Purple LSD was plentiful in the downtown core, and I wasn't missing out. Those were the days before hospital rent-a-cops, plexi-glass barricades and exit alarms. I was always back before they knew I was even gone.

They weren’t allowed to give me dope to slow my motor; I’d taken too much already. Having succeeded in securing my solace on the streets and smuggling it back to the ward, I became quite adept at containing the mind-bending drug doses that wanted to send me screaming down the sterile white-washed hallways hunting down the great mystery of life. Such a blunder would surely see me in shackles. I mastered the art of being still and silent while the acid rocked me to my corrupted core. When one's world begins to burst and break into a million delicious micro-dots before his eyes and his brain leaps out of his skull to escape it all, mastery is a must. As I curled in a lounge chair and held back the beautiful storm within, I would zero in on the magical melting grain patterns of the giant fuax-oak framed television that sat like a king's throne in the middle of the main lounge. That rustic box held court day and night to countless faces, sending forth its electronic decrees unto their broken, wayward minds. One of my cohorts was not so gifted in harnessing the ways of the purple. They harnessed him one day after he'd demolished his room in a futile attempt to hang on to the acid demon death ride I'd urged him to take with me on that lagging afternoon. Demeral would slay the beast within him and keep him down and drooling for days.

West-wing psychiatric was fitted with pink rooms and quite peaceful. For me it was a 30 day vacation, no options for early checkout. We had access to a sickly, stained smoking room, furnished compliments of 1970. The air in that room was a refreshing, hazy retreat from the unnatural odor of sterility that identifies any hospital. There was an old turntable in the smoking lounge, and two albums...Led Zeppelin and Barry Manilow. There weren't many Fanilows in Coconut College. Had they truly thought that they’d covered all grounds in music therapy with these two donated discs? Physical Graffiti will always take me back to that sunless room of smoke and solitude...that room full of empty eyes and drug-stifled screams...that room where tomorrow never arrived for any of us, and most of us didn't want it to.  Is this the best that medical thought has to offer...lock ‘em down and hope that they untangle themselves... throw them some distractions and keep them content while they ponder their plights? 

I hated those nurses with my intelligent mind; their attempts at group therapy only agitated me with their simplified, happ-i-fied, feel-good format. I didn’t need windy dissertations on turning my frown upside down and finding rainbows behind the clouds. Then again, if this was the school of life, we were truly just a garden of children. All that those nurses could really offer me were their gifts of beauty and youth for my blurry eyes. I loved them for that. 

My assigned therapist possessed both in ripe abundance. I met her, Mother, in my room each night when the lights were out and the doors were secured. She'd wander in during her usual room-check. Her tiny flashlight would go dark as she fumbled with the buttons on her form-fitting denim girly overalls. Her delicious red hair would fall from its professional pins, a waft of cherry filling my hungry nostrils. She’d climb on top of me with careful, catty moves. She’d take my hand and allow me to help her remove her evil bra. Her breasts would be painfully pointing right at me as she slid out of her clothes and found my full attention. I would not last a mere minute, but she understood. She hadn’t the time to waste anyhow without her absence being noted on some official medical pad. Her pleasure would be found in my relief. She’d be gone just as quickly as I came. I'd rehearsed this moment a million times. I still relive it to this day. I had to time my dreams meticulously in the last-stop ward; bed checks were random. I learned to listen for the doors of other rooms opening and closing. I would watch for the flashlight beam lazily hopping down the hallway through the space under my door. I knew when she was getting closer. I was never caught. I wonder if she knew that I watched her, my gratitude spilling out on starch white sheets. I’m sure that the housekeeping department was well aware of just how sticky sweet some of the nurses could be. This is what I took away from my psychiatric stay, dear woman.  This was true knowledge. Dusty old doctors, it seems to me, do nothing but take notes and look important...pass out pills and head South to bathe in the spoils of sorrow. The world needs more nurses. 
Now a lifetime later, I am a caged animal once more. My estranged wife, crippled by cowardice and spite, grants me no time with my priceless little girl. For reasons that are beyond me, she believes that as crazy as I am for having walked so many tightropes in life, I won’t resist her sudden suffocating constraints. I left her as she had left me...with stinging words and worst wishes. Shame to me, Mother. My heart has its black spots. Now she counters my crass sentiments with blind, raging retribution. I cry out to her, pleading for a cease-fire, yet she hears not a word I say through the noise of battle. She has the system on her side...the system that failed you, Mother, when Dad was dealing his blows. The political pendulum has swung at last, yet only to an equally imbalanced extreme. A man is a beast, and a beast always. A woman is but a delicate bride, capable of no harm, even in the face of the ugliest of evidence to the contrary.

She grips our girl's unclouded innocence like a weapon of war, lacking the courage for one-to-one combat. She will win at any cost; her ego is a famished beast. A new beau, likely as undeserving of her dark world as my baby girl, holds her steady on the battlefield. He knows nothing about me except that I am the enemy, by her decree. He knows nothing about her beyond the dictates of his blinded heart. His eyes will be opened though, as the war rages on. He'll seek cover eventually; they all do. She's learned to keep a few good men waiting in the trenches, ensuring that she's never alone. She'd found her latest love long before we'd parted ways, Mother...long before our bodies stopped sleeping as one. It would take even longer for me to see who she really was behind her dark evasive eyes. I would guess that her new cause knew no more than I about the slight overlap in our paths. Along her reckless trek, she trusted one too many souls with the burden of secrets she so grips and guards. As I lay wounded in her long shadow, I take comfort, Mother...the Almighty will not pervert justice. Truth will win. It will always win.

As her narrow eyes tunnel in on me, she sees not the full scope of the battle; she fights a far more fearsome opponent than me; she wages war with herself. She's tangled and twisted in her nagging fears, her displaced yesterdays, the broken, jagged reflection in her mirror. The woman who looks back at her taunts her and teases her, telling her that she's weak and unworthy of her dreams. I once ripped at her dreams like a razor-clawed hawk as I waged a war of my own. I finally stopped in mid-flight and changed my course. My heart is not the heart of a warrior. Now I pray for her peace. In many ways, Mother, I do not deserve peace myself. All the same, her ruthless offensive is a missile that will ultimately circle round and aim itself toward her. When the war is over, nobody will have won. All that will remain will be ashes and smoke, innocence murdered and old age mocking us. She will stand alone, denying her wounds while she bleeds out onto the black mud, giving back to life, measure for measure, what she took from it. I must protect our little girl. My blind, embittered bride throws her to the front lines of the battlefield to serve as a shield for her fragile front. My wife is you, Mother. I can see your reflection in her vacant, distant glare. I can see your scowl in her tightly pursed lips. I can hear your curses under her breath. The world needs less brides.

Yes, I am a caged animal once more. I hate that I scream from these pages, knowing that my words only fall like a million firecrackers, burned out and forgotten. It’s been a colorful display, but will it be worth the cleanup? I hate that my 20s have given way to my 40s, that my generous silken mane and flawless face have morphed into a barren wrinkled dome, that my eyes have sunk, my back has slunk, my brows fall out. The talons of time grip me and pull me to the earth. I cling to Led Zeppelin now...two dinosaurs taking solace in one another amidst the unwelcome evolution of things. My dreams are tarnished now. As much as I scrub and sweat, they never seem to shine like they once did. But I have a few more fireworks yet to ignite. I learned long ago to always keep a match or two in my back pocket; all is not lost! The world needs more dreamers.

I often wonder, as my capacities seem to fade, where the answers lie. Or do answers even exist for people like us, Mother? I knew the moment I woke from death so long ago that I would grow to be a shadow among my peers, a weed among the flowers, a ghost among the living. I will always be a square in a room full of circles, like the old Sesame Street sing-along: One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong. Should I call Bert and Ernie? I'll bet that they know more than one hundred years of stiff white-coat research into the hopeless human condition that fills meaningless volumes and keeps pharmaceuticals high on the stock market. 

"Hey Bert, grab us a beer. Today’s episode has been brought to you by the letters “Fuck it” and the number “0"."

I suspect that my condition of completed sorrow has simply been tossed onto the pile of some collective hunch, where Prozac has the final word. It seems to me that all I do is take notes and try to look important, like some literary snob, passing down poisonous prose and heading South to bathe in the spoils of sorrow.

Oh Nurse...


  1. Love the prosaic prose my man! You came thru a ton of shit, and I told ya, don't fret this latest pile of'll see your little girl. Be glad you got free from that sordid situation with the're a solid bro. And man you can w-r-r-i-t-t-e!!

  2. Great Job Jay, amazing writing as always man. Keep me posted about the book, I would love a copy if it gets published.

  3. Thanks Matt! I will! Publisher agreeing to read it, but they require a pro editor to smooth out the storyline. I'm excited to see what she does with it! (Though as a memoir, the facts are the facts..she's just going to lay them out in a more effective way) Hope you are well! Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Very nice piece! I liked the comparison you made between Mother and your wife (or former wife I'm guessing) The "Devil You Know" syndrome-we attach to people who have personalities that we're most familiar with, and those personalities can be very damaging ones. I'd also like to read this book of yours. Are these blog entries part of that story? Always enjoyable reading! You are a craftsman!

    1. Thank you! Yes, this blog contains portions of the book. However, the book may take na different presentation, as an editor will be doing a revamp to make it more suitable to the market. Thanks again for reading!