Fiction by Doug G.
Again the click-clack and the doors open.
Again the click-clack and the doors open.
Voices down the hall and it don’t smell like pee.
It don’t smell so bad here as you might think, though sometimes it smells real bad.
Sometimes, I think I smell it—blood, dirt, gunpowder, what-have-you.
I can smell the bad coffee now, and my stomach goes whooom it wants it so bad, but a few more doors need to click-clack open before all that can happen.
A couple guys got a puzzle going, and maybe I’ll help them after breakfast and group. They got ladies here, too, and I see them sometimes when we do classes, like we have one on anger management and there’s some in there.
One day, the girl with the green hair was wearing a space kitten t-shirt—like it had on it a kitten in space with Saturns and stuff and glitter on it that I guess they let her keep.
Cracked me up, for sure, but I knew I had to raise my hand to say anything—them are the rules—and I didn’t want to get in trouble, so I hushed up.
Later on I had a laugh.
Sometimes, I think about Greengrass and how we used to have horses there we could keep and pet. The work wasn’t all that bad—I don’t mind working, like I keep sayin’—and the horses were always right there, waiting for us.
I turned a hitch at Greengrass, then on the street. Then here.
John, he’s my therapist, is not so bad as everyone says he is. And the psychiatrist sees me once a month or so and adjust my meds.
Which I guess I’m doing better now.
Once, they brought in some people from the outside for a class. All the people they brought said they were like us, but they didn’t look too much like it.
There was an older gentleman who didn’t say much, and a bigger lady with a pretty face and a black lady, and they talked about how they rebuilt their lives. And the old man said he was better now that he got his correct diagnosis and the black lady started to cry when the topic of hope came up.
And it hurt to see that. She seemed so nice.
She had nice clothes—real put together—and good hair and a badge on. Not just the visitor badge, but one from where she worked outside. I bet she smelled good too.
It’s the smells I miss: nice perfumes from the business ladies downtown or good coffee or even the street smells like the exhaust smells for the parking garage where I used to flop or the asphalt or bricks.
See, I got my hitch, and it’s time I got to to do, then John says involuntary for a while and then, John says, “Well, we’ll see.”
He says that a lot—doesn’t want to promise anything—and sometimes that gets under my skin a little and sometimes not.
Once, when we were all still kids—there were five of us kids—and we were living in that trailer outside Wamego, and we find a hole full of baby bunnies,and we pulled them out. We was just playing around with them, not hurting nothing. We was just kids, but I remember the little rabbits and how they felt just struggling against my hand and how soft.
Then Big Mike came out the back door and yelled at us and the bunnies just start jumping everywhere and we all ran back inside.
Next day, the hole was empty. The bunnies were gone, and Sam said they were dead or got eaten by coyotes ‘cause they smelled like people now, not bunnies, and their momma would never take them back.
Sam was a liar. A natural-born liar.
But he might of been right about that.
Next day, Big Mike was gone, too, and Catherine, too, but I could see she’d busted up her compact and dropped her lipstick in the toilet because if Big Mike was going to have her all to hisself, he was going to have her “warts and all.” Which is how she described herself when she was in curlers and her bathrobe in the IGA and had been crying all night.
I didn’t hear her say it that night, but I knew she would. I didn’t see she ever had any warts, neither, but she always tried real hard with us kids.
She left a note and everything, with the social services number on it, and I bet Big Mike beat her bad for that too, but it was all she could do, and I knew she wouldn’t just up and leave us and not do it.
We lost the note, but I hung on to the Bic pen laid next to that note for a long, long time.
John says I got PTSD, and he wants to do some eye thing with me, but the psych says I’m schizo, and he won’t ever budge.
Once I met a guy in here got TD real bad, been on Haldol so long he could barely talk, but he could tell you every Top 40 hit for every week from, I swear, 1956 to 2104, when he says his radio broke and nobody to fix it.
He could sing some of ‘em, too, but ‘cause of the TD, he’d sing it real bad. But, thing of it is, nobody here made fun of him. It’s like that in here, since we all know that in a few years, who knows? That could be us.
The other day, I heard one of the ladies had a baby in here. They had to rush her over to the clinic as if they couldn’t see it coming. But then, she wasn’t due for a long time yet, I guess, and they had her so wacked out on Risperdal that she couldn’t tell them she was havin’ contractions, then her water broke, and all hell broke loose.
She’d just cry anyway when anybody asked her anything at all.
So they rush her over, and a OBGYN from town rushes in in the middle of the night, and he gets in past security faster than anything, is what I heard.
But I never heard what happened to the kid.
What could happen to you when you’re born and your mom’s in a place like this?