Walk Normal In Norwalk

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(my couple of days in the nut house)
by  Roger  Di Prima
AND NOW I WANT TO CONTRIVE MOONMAD SCHLOCK, to fill many pages with bad Dylanese verbal hoohah and wild scribbly doodles, with allusions to HOWL and Nurse Ratched and the rest of my literary adolescence's worth of hallowed nuthouse cliches ........... Ward's #6 & 7, the Bell Jar, Marat/Sade---the romance of all those persecuted for pioneering new realities---but I won't.
I've already thrown out one ill-conceived beginning to this jernal because of this.
But beginning this is a problem with my recollection of the events leading to here so hashed and muzzy. There are a few clear parts but many that I've to dredge up through a furz of static, their reality suspect, and still other moments where the screen goes blank, my own deleted 18 minutes, surrounded by drunkeny kibbles n' bits; But I remember the busy intersection there in too-bright sunlight, and my ranting and yelling at the passing cars, trying to make some point or other ......... Until that little frog in the checkered pants yanked that big lever and the POINT made ME!
Amok, gripped by hate and horror, puppeteered by demons. Some fucked up shit~
I remember the two cops approaching me, fascinated by my pupils and the cuts on my head, telling me that I'd been running out into traffic. I told them I didn't remember doing that, which was true, but if they said I was I would take their word for it; because I was very stupid. It felt like I had been running out in traffic. My throat was raw from screaming, and I was crying a lot, begging them to shoot me, I'm not sure why. I don't think I would want anyone to shoot me now. The question "Have you been drinking?" did come up, but this time the discussion didn't end there, with my homeless self being cuffed and hauled to the drunk tank, but was taken here:
for observation instead. It's two o'clock...
Interesting place, and they've let me keep this pen, my papers and clipboard, are pretty much leaving me alone and letting me write, thankful that I'm acting calm and not doing anything that requires their attention, like banging my head on something. From the sore place on my forehead---now scabbing up---I guess I was doing that at some point too...
I think because the old couple was there. I guess it was they who had called the police, and were sticking around to make sure the responding officers did things right.
It seemed unreal, unlike any sort of arrest, everyone smiling and placatory, concerned with how
I was doing. The cops conferred with them, and let them ask me questions, these two in funky outfits- the guy in a wide lapelled courdoroy sports jacket and the woman in slacks, blouse, a vest thingy, like they were two mental health professionals who had been passing by; or teachers, social workers, people who thought with their brains, and maybe had one of those new portable phones in their car. All this I'm supposing, for I was never told who they were. I wouldn't have been surprised to learn that they were space aliens from ........... Wait, I take that back. That would surprise me.
So anyway I'm in the nuthouse. Top of The World Ma, I finally made it! I would like to thank all the little people who made this possible. I'll be out of here in 72 hours or maybe even tomorrow, Monday morning, when one of the Big Shrinks comes on duty.
If they deem me sane.....
It's   Ŧώ   O'CLΘcKo....
This evaluation ward is two long parallel hallways connected by a short one at each end. A circuit adjoined by little rooms in the middle and on each side. It's noisy in here, the accoustics clatterish. The joking of the RN's, the guy screaming "I'm not suicidal!" into this pay phone here.
I long to get away into one of the bedrooms for a snooze, some privacy but they're locked up empty for now. And these chairs, these four stands of chairs are all clustered down at this end, by the nurse's station, the shrink's office (vacant and locked too, I've tried all these doors..) and the big AIRLOCK, a serious arrangement; two sets of electronically locking doors, the glass portions reinforced with heavy wire .......... between which they sandwich you, and interview briefly, then retreat back within to observe you briefly, that one way mirror that only an idiot would miss, before dropping each specimen---each new unknown quantity---into the linoleum tide pool here.
This freakish institutional GROTTO....
 Chap(xxx}ter #two: "in what IDIOT MAMBO-
I can imbibe and convolute, can follow the bouncing holographic smiley face down
the dark serpentine stairwells in there, blunderbuss in hand, stalking the cerebral snarks for display in this spiral bound THE MUPPET MOVIE assignment notebook ...... writing + quaffing "wino wine" on some disemboweled sofa down in the weedy gulley between housing tracts, or---if on my best behavior---in the garden of some sweet little branch library; Poring over these self-indulgences,
this unpaid work of mine and slurping at what is ostensibly a drink from a fastfood joint
(suspicious purple) in this cup with lid & straw.
A discrete buzz on, the sun, the jasmine bushes and the flitting fuzzy fat bees. So far so good...
I can stumble quietly around some San Clemente park fortynine times out in a row, maintaining nicely even if rather ripped, and then on the 50th go into a geeking, shrieking dervish thru
traffic- AaooooeerRRGGHAAADdiddy, etc...
WEIRD to be telling you this but I have to explain how I got here. I'd been out this morning, since 7:30 or 8:00, hitchhiking north up the 405 freeway, laying pitches on those people good enough to pick me up. Tiny sums that they wouldn't balk at; slowly, conversationally ....... modifying my spiel to what each might be amenable to. Or if I sensed a kindred, a partier, I told the truth- that I was aspiring toward the price of a 6-pack. I'd buy one as soon as I acquired the coin, draining quick (CHP paranoid) beers at the onramp and firing the empties off into the concrete gulch. Then get another a city or two down the FWY...
I did well at first (too well, judging from the outcome of things) , and then when I got stuck,
my thumbing, at first a lackadaisical means to an end---became an ISSUE.
The truth of the matter is that in my twenties I'm not such a kid anymore, and being on the street I'm a little rougher looking, despite having the good nature and wholesome soul of Hayley Mills in an old Disney comedy. And also the culture is changing. We're a full decade out of the sixties, the "counterculture" has gone belly up, there are fewer people either hitchhiking or giving lifts these days. So sometimes you hit a dry spell. Nobody is obligated to help anyone else, and helping is for stupid hippies. I realize all that...
Now I do. But at the time it all seemed very personal to me, that this stream of THOUSANDS of cars, not one would stop for me. I stood for hours! Fear, the old atavistic mistrust of the outsider
I can understand. My more or less obvious bumdom stood in bold contrast to the prevailing ethos here, these walled + gated tracts...
But what about pickup trucks? "Seat's full Dude, hop in back..."
No, not fear but an utter lack of empathy. The whole self-congradulatory circle jerk of success here in Orange County (this billboard showing a house like a citadel against the Meditteranean sunset, slogans like "CUSTOM MADE FOR THE SELF MADE", or simply "Private. Property.") , the Dichondra Doctrine ............. Reagan is president, and the weak and inept must fall by the wayside for the betterment of the gene pool. I understand that.
The arrogance and contempt inherent in the sound of a big car accelerating. Or these carloads of teenage pricks all doing what me and my high school friends would have deemed a chickenshit asshole stunt- hollaring abuse at a random stranger from the safety of a moving vehicle!
And the folks that are all dressed up for church, my purpose here seems to be to remind them to hit the automatic door locks, a volley of clicks I can clearly hear, like maybe they think I'm gonna go running alongside them at 45 miles an hour and hop in; their puckered scowls regarding me like I'm some alien thing, a hideous trans-dimensional lifeform- these hairy pulsing triangles pouring out of an impossible rent in space!
My recollection gets mercifully vague at this point, although I do remember my gratification over how the scowls became looks of alarm when I began injuring myself!
Drunk. I plead drunk ...... Sick, unstable behavior but I was totally, stupidly drunk. And if you do that when you drink, you shouldn't drink, but I LIKE to drink- emotions geysering like magma, stupid, incoherent and futile- AAoooeergha-diddy, GAAAWWWW!!
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Both cops were I think rookies. Surreal, ADAM 12-ish behavior. Solicitous, and then that older man and lady talking to me, not belonging there, like a hallucination. All this talk about me doing things that I couldn't imagine I would ever do, but still maybe I had better go with them, go get this help they're talking about. Not that I really have any choice in the matter...
I'm glad the nuthouse, because another arrest in so short a time (see JAIL STORY: Halloween to Election Night 1980 ) would mean a long and ugly spell of incarceration. And it's two o'clock...
ChAptER ThREE ~~~~~ "LUNCH"
LOW TIDE, the moon's off over Sri Lanka someplace, is pulling people's souls out through the soles of their feet here in California- these chairs are filling fill up. And the noise level---already harsh---is raised punishingly by this leathery old Mexican woman, cussing out the staff and the family that dropped her off here in a screeching blur of Spanish syllables! An understandable sentiment
("Hey wait a minute- This isn't Disneyland! Where are you going? Let me out!!") perhaps
but it's torture to my senses, my head starting to really smart as my drunk wears off...
I tell a passing nurse to "Give that woman some tho–razine!"
A joke, but she grimaces sternly. Kindly don't tell us how to doctor here...
I'm quickly learning to put a muzzle on my sense of humor, what I say to the staffers. They tend to read "pathological ideation" into even straightforward statements, so there's a danger in getting obscure. I refrained from telling them about the RELATIVISTIC DISCONTINUUM when I discovered that the clock up there wasn't moving.
It's a lot less noisy down here at the northern end, the far turn in this exitless loop of hallway, but it's ominous and disquieting. Two locked rooms with a padded table in each. A guy in one, strapped face down and snapping his head back and forth like a very pissed off dog- "RRRRRRRRRRR-rrrrrrrrrr-RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!"
Being down here had meant sitting right on the floor, which I was hesitant to do, but I'm starting to realise that this isn't jail, doing something a little off isn't going to bring down the wrath of our warders. They're not looking for excuses to fuck with us ...... It's dark & cool here, the florescents behind their plastic ceiling panels shut off or burnt out; Dull light spilling down the linoleum causeway at me, those clusters of seated people down there reflected upside down like diminutive islands. An odd sense of distance from them....
SCcRRreeeee-eeeeee!!!! They're wheeling something in, a tall galvanized
cabinet about big enough to fit a person in...
No, it's lunch. And son of a gun if it isn't real food!
Not the random contemptuous greasy SPLOP! of jailhouse shit on a shingle
dumped on a plate with an ice cream scoop,but these lidded plates steaming appealingly,
the scent of good spices, these greenbeans crisp and dark and flavorful, this food arranged
in the dents in each styrofoam plate by some artistic hand...
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.                       WELCOME TO THE THERAPUTIC STATE                  .
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The County Jail comparisons are inevitable, and this place compares quite favorably. We're patients, not malfeasants, and receive a whole different treatment because of it...
And there's women here, a blessed antidote to that sick fucking poisonous homeboy mentality, the all pervasive hostility of the OCJ housing modules. This place isn't about the guardedness and slick façade of the hoodlum but about LETTING IT ALL HANG OUT, for those who don't have any choice in the matter .........Like the skinny teenage girl here that's huffing, rapidly in these heartbreaking little squeeks, pacing, trying to find surcease for her panic!
In a weird smartass mood I tell the woman who's supervising lunch, "Gee, that looks like fun!"
"You t'ink so?' she asks, heavy Slavic accent, and gives me a disgusted look, like I'm a total creep...
But hey, I CAN be a creep, or a kook- I'm in the loony bin, am not responsible; I can massage the furniture or call Regis Philbin the Antichrist at the top of my lungs-
No I can't. Not if I ever want to see Doheny Park again!! The legal vagaries, mechanics of this system are scarier to contemplate than those of the courts; our constitutional liberties don't apply within the Theraputic State. If a judge can sentence you to a specific duration, these guys weild a much more flexible scepter...
"We'll let you out ............................. when ........... you're ........ well ......... again ..."
CHAPTER FOUR >>>> "Cloverleaf Love"
Now they're taking some of us out of here. Out through the airlock toward the outside.
They've given me back my backpack and I'm supposed to take it with me...
"We're going to Norwalk," one of the inmates says; but our two white uniformed escorts aren't at all communicative about where we're being taken or why---far less so than the deputies in the penal system---almost like they're assuming we couldn't assimilate any such information, and it's rather unnerving. We line up, the ten whose names have been called, shuffling passively into this squarish GMC minibus, the rows of plaid-upholstered seats...
I'm talking with a kid that I'd befriended at lunch, who's in line here now too. He explains that we're being transferred to METROPOLITAN STATE HOSPITAL in Norwalk, a much more serious lockup.
He's been in there before and seems proud of it, like we're the elect. Not that we're crazy but were that much more of a threat, political prisoners to his way of thinking. The ride north isn't that long, so I don't get a real clear idea of his belief system.
Put in by his folks, he fancies himself a Kung Fu Death Machine; full of blind deady force. Says he blacks out and some evildoer winds up dead or in intensive care. All fantasy, I'm fairly sure. .......... What's weird is that he's a quiet and likeable and normal acting teenager; Except for certain ideas of his, like how he communicates with the people on the television, and can change the plots to his liking...
But then what do I know from normal? I've always been drawn to bizarre types; fascinated for example by that old guy on the Long Beach Transit bus, babbling about the big cranes over Downtown, carrying the buildings away...
That addled conversation, the non-sequiter leaps across topics, he excited at having found an understanding ear, and me encouraging him ("Sometimes they use SKYHOOKS!"); the ease with which I slipped into his world...
Or my circle of disturbed high school peers; Cal Williams cackling and shouting in my room, alarming my Mom, trying to black out my bedroom window with a marking pen until I got it out of his hand...
The deep self-doubt that my being here engenders, after a decade and a half of glorifying the fringe, since '67 at 13 and the whole FREAK thing that I was so ready to adopt; after the scoffing at norms---the fear behind this that to be normal is to somehow disappear---and the idiot "Like what is reality?!" of old bandana'd skeletal burn-outs still on the Road. After my own hallucinogenic assaults on my mind's deepest catacombs...
But even as a kid my face would burn with the knowledge of UNCOOL differences. Like when I would share some idea and my classmates, even the teacher would all exchange looks, that whatever I'd said hadn't made any kind of sense at all ......... Even then it had seemed like only a matter of time. And now I'm really here, in this STATE OF CALIFORNIA mesh-windowed van, and that door is locked real good...
And BOXCARS BOXCARS BOXCARS are rolling up the tracks in a darkening Rhumba.
In Theraputic Soviet these impure ideations are highbobbed away on SKYHOOKS.
My young friend here is telling me that fascism has gotten a really bad rap, all it means
is "to bring together"; like the bundles of wheat on the backs of old pennies,
which are called fashes.
Citizens. Dessiclairs. Ideologies. Retournos.
And as we round the cloverleaf taking us up onto the Santa Ana Freeway a four hundred pound narcoleptic man falls over onto me, sound asleep...
CxHAPTxER FxIVE- NORwalk metrOpolitan"
NORWALK CALIFORNIA: A city fifteen minutes from where I was raised, and synonomous with the the "funny farm" for as long as I can remember. The common joke you would hear- "Keep that up and they'll take you to Norwalk!", or the old slogan WALK NORMAL IN NORWALK (like if you DON'T they just might find room for you there...) make this all the more ominous...
Ratty suburbs w/ graffitti on every vertican surface and spilling over onto the sidewalks and cars ........... A big ZODY'S store and a Thrifties, more houses...
Now giving way to a vast barb-wire enclosed expanse like a military instillation, but very GREEN... lush with lawns and huge conical fir trees with curling tops, and meandering brick walkways lined by old timey streetlamps topped by frosted globes. We putter in through a WPA art deco guard gate and up a wavering narrow road past a cluster of 2-story Bavarian houses with wavy shingled roofs, their communal lawn sporting a swingset and a bright yellow wading pool.
Whole families of loonies living here?! No it's the groundskeepers, some sort of live-in staffers or other...
Then to the hospital itself, which normal enough- X-shaped three story complexes in 1940's architecture, pretty much like any VA hospital built in that era...
At one of the wings everyone else piles out. They're all going to be housed here, having wired ahead for reservations. I wave goodbye to my fascist psychic ninja friend...
I'm alone with the driver and the muscle in this big cage when it starts off again, across this parking lot to the smaller CRISIS EVALUATION UNIT. What now?
"In my eval-u-ation," sez Jimmy Durante, "Dis constee-tutes a crisis! Ahhh cha cha cha!"
3:37 p.m. (really...)
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BZZZT, BZZZZTT, CLICK!!-the electronic doors again. I'm in this ward,
ignored, waiting for my interview and to try and find out exactly why I'm here.
After the architecture on the way in and the décor in here, I suspect this whole unreal layout of being designed to keep minds bent ......... the fecund banana trees in the weird little greenhouse ajacent to this empty playroom I am in. Pediatric wing? A wide low table in blonde wood strewn with tinkertoys, wood puzzle pieces and a tupperware tub full of crayolas...
 A woman is brought in by two big La Habra cops in heavy cop jackets. She's fat, 60-something and white haired, but is bellowing in a most frightening manner. Strong! She gets away from them and steams around the room like a battleship, her belly a mighty prow, arms handcuffed behind her back, kicking toys sending them flying into the walls! Contorted red features, husky voice like a deranged Esther Phillips- "SHE'S AN ANIMAL! SHE'S AN ANIMAL! OH GOD! LOOK OUT!! ANIMAL!!! HERE SHE COMES-"
Indeed! Right at me! I leap out of the way just as they grab her, wrestle her off down the hall...
The shrink who I am going to see is in an office next to this room, talking to another admittee. The door is open, and in order to get an idea of what to expect I move close enough to eavesdrop...
The guy is about 35 in Hussong's t-shirt a Bobby Riggs surf-brat haircut with bangs, that seems to match his forlorn childish mannerism, and he is BEGGING THEM TO LET HIM STAY!
This is really sad. He'd brought himself here as being close to suicide, but now admits that he never had been. Is appealing to their generosity, basic decency; a pathetic and artless begging-
"You got rooms here, please?!"
"We're sorry. But unless you are hearing voices, or are extremely depressed-"
"I am depressed. I'm depressed that I got nowhere to go!"
He'd been on the street three months and was hating it. I've been on the bum now for nearly four years, and while it's not always peachy I think I've adapted really well. roaming the parks, I am able to pursue my art and writing (xerox books like this one here), the partying and weird unpredictable adventures with my fellow tramps and wise ass no-accounts- none of which I think would go on in a place like this...
Doesn't this character value his freedom? His right to decide where and how to spend his day? He's begging for a caged existance for food, which can be got; for shelter in an area where sleeping out is only a problem maybe 25 nights out of the year. The guy is SICK! I wouldn't even consider-
That's not true. I perceive the tiniest grain of interest nagging from way back inside of me. Bummish, opting for the indolence, the auster comforts of this prison that acts halfway nice to its inmates, or at least doesn't yell at them (A cookie in the shape of a heart for lunch today, which I thought was pretty funny. I couldn't imagine getting that in jail!)
And also I think for the novelty of the experience, however long that would last. For the opportunity to act like a jerk, the THEATER of playing nuts. What if I answered their every question with the same meaningless word ...... Would they buy it?
But ultimately I'm not quite cut out for a life totally regulated by external forces. If I can't handle to give one third of my day, five days a week, THIS would be hideous!!!
They promise the guy that they'll help him find channels to assist him, and it's my turn.
Three chairs. A psychiatrist interviewing and another (supervisor? Trainee?) off to the side watching us. Questions from a form:
 Do you know what today's date is.
  No, it's Sunday. Middle of February. It might be the 14th...
  Good! It is ......... Do you know who the U.S. President is?
  Don't remind me!
   Ronald Tiberius Reagan.
   Is that his middle name?
  Yes it is.
  Well that's pretty good ........ Where do you live?
   Well ....... Right now I'm staying at Doheny State Beach down past Dana Point.
       Site #33 if we can get it...
   That's in Orange County. You told Frances Shaver at U.C. Irvine Medical Center
       that you were living in Long Beach, here in L.A. County.
   No. I told her that my last permanent address was in Long Beach.
       That's what she specifically asked me...
(♦♦♦)And so they had sent me here, deciding that the responsibility, the expense of
evaluating---of housing or releasing me---lay across the county line. I would be somebody else's problem. The two shrinks look at each other, pissed...
I picture myself as an institutional Flying Dutchman- shuttled next to Fairview and then to Camarillo, to Belleview, then Bedlam if it's still open. I supress a laugh...
"Is something funny?"
"I suppose not, but it helps to- Aw nevermind," I grin.
"You seem to be enjoying all this," says the 2 nd shrink crossly, implying that I asked to be here.
"Hey! I didn't ask to be corralled into your goddamn gulag! I can solve your little administrative inconvenience right now- cut me lose!"
His chair swivels, squeaking his irritation, "We'll let Irvine handle you..."
No shuttle bus back to the other facility but a private ambulance. A guy and a woman attendant, they've sized me up as sane. Ask me, "You're not going to nut out on us, are you?" And let me ride, unshackled, sitting up on the gurney just behind them. We introduce ourselves. I'm Roger, they're Frank and Cicily. They gossip, have a whole circle of hospital and EMT type friends in common. Discussing people I will never meet. It's weird...
Elaine Robertson and her neurotic dithering outlook, her "man problems", her frequent histrionic phone calls to Cicily...
Listening to them I am imbued with a fondness for them and all their friends if theirs. You get that on the street sometimes. Vicarious affections, or maybe just nostalgia for a more normal sort of life. Right about my age, but their lifestyle seeming to be unattainably alien....
Materialistic, in awe of this or that sports car on the freeway ahead of us. Up on all the latest t.v. shows, stuff I've never heard of. Style conscious. The very same sort of people I was damning to the lowest circles of Hell at 9:30 this morning. Yep, I'm an asshole...
They party, even cocaine in moderation, which I suppose would be possible for some people.
PARTY?!! ! Holy shit, that's right!
Down in my backpack against my leg here. Four cans of Ralph's generic BEER-beer...
I didn't remember acquiring them and had been surprised to find them at UCI-2:00 when they let me dig my writing out of my pack. Both hospitals had dug through my belongings, but there's nothing illegal about my owning it. I figured I would celebrate with them on my release...
I ask if I can drink in here and my chaperones assent. I ask if they want one and Frank laughs, "You're alright...
 Back down the #5, past Rollerland, the Big A scoreboard, the little white plaster Alp. Draining swift beers before we get there. Cicily asks me how I wound up in the "laughing academy"...
"Give me about twenty of these and my behavior can get ........... unpredictable. Sometimes, not often. If I ever did anything like that sober I would worry about my sanity. I'm an alchoholic but otherwise not crazy, I don't think..."
"It does mess with judgement," Cicily suggests.
Sounds like Dickie Leffler, says Frank. Remember Dickie at the Motels concert on New Years? And did I ever consider quitting drinking? A.A. or something?
"Statistically, the odds of a drunk getting sober is just about impossible..."
"Don't worry about the statistics, if you do it, you do it. Worse drunks than you have!"
They're lecturing, but given my situation I guess it's to be expected. I say between the warm expanding mouthfuls, "I enjoy it. I know it leads to the pit, but so does every other path in life ..... I love the feeling of being buzzed, that 'AAAAHHH!' feeling- it's a sensuality of the central nervous system. The sense of adventure it can give to the everyday, that makes just going to the laundromat into an expedition..."
"And there's really nothing else you want from life?" asks Cicily.
I flash on what would make my life right, that would make me fit in my skin like a real person, and sigh. "I guess there is ........ but it's not really something that's possible."
She shakes her head, "Boy, you're just full of impossibles. You're a pessimist, you know that?"
Well if not impossible then the next worst thing to it. Hopelessly impractically. At least when you're as butt ugly and unfeminine looking as I am. She can trot out her little homilies about going for your dreams, it all sounds good as a pep talk, but some problems just flat don't have a solution. She has NO FUCKING IDEA, and it's probably better for her that she doesn't.
Also, this is something that I don't even like to THINK about, let alone discuss it, so I just shrug, "I guess maybe I am..."
And then we're here. The 60's glass and metal grid of the hospital looming ahead of us. The psych ward entrance. They volunteer to dispose of my empties, turn me over to the UCI staff, and pull out waving.
Admitees have been arriving steadily, snapping and falling out of the race one by one as the grind out there progresses .......... The sun is low and orange, descending on what must be Signal Hill to the west. No second interview for me here, I avoid breathing on the staffers for a while, rinse out my beery mouth in the bathroom sink. Enjoy a nice little high and review these notes.
12 pages so far. Jesus!
I look around for someone to talk to. A bus driver wants to talk but keeps crying, poor bastard! Then a cracked looking woman that I take for dim and addled, but Patricia proves to be bubbly and confident and sharp enough; all motherly boasting about her various kid's achievements. And just about the time I'm wondering what she is doing here, she describes a conspiracy of mind boggling evil and scope!!
The Nazis. A cabal of Nazi pedophiliac human-sacrificing S&M Satanists, perverting our children and infiltrating secret government. Her husband, a fireman, with the help of his Garden Grove cop, fire department and zoning commission buddies ........ has framed her as a paranoid schizophrenic and put her in here. A claven of these nazi-satanists which includes city council members, and assemblyman, an O.C. north court judge- and even several members of the clergy! Pillars of the community on the surface, but secretly the last word in Evil.
This woman is such a normal unassuming housewife, her big round bottom, EVE cigarettes and rayon chrysanthemum print blouse, that I'm thinking .......... You know they could conspire to put her away. I mean if---as she says----they are judges and prominent shrinks! And she damn near convinced me. Such a thing is hardly impossible, every day the newspapers tell us about sick twisted psychopaths living secretly in our midst...
But she didn't know when to stop. The scope of her hidden diabolical Fourth Reich is too vast to be probable, to stay secret for very long. At this very medical center there are three of them. A top administrator has S.S. and LUCIFER tattoos on his arms that force him to always wear long sleeve shirts. And then there are the cadavers that disappear from the hospital's morgue...
Okay so she's crazy, and morbid as hell. But she's an entertaining storyteller and somehow jolly, quite unlike the tense, jerky stereotype of the paranoiac ........... Resigned, filled with a doomed sort of good cheer ........ as if she's worried so much and fought so hard, trying to warn people, and has lost. The Nazis at every turn...
Patricia is happy to have an unprejudiced listener. I plumb my pocket for a 25¢ piece and screw it into my eye like a monacle, hunching forward with my clipboard, a cartoon psychiatrist poised to write- "Und how long has you had zeze derlusions about za Nazis?!!"
She claps her hands together and whoops, "Exactly! That's just what he was like!!"
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There's this kid, 20-ish, tall and sharp featured with an oddly elongated neck; who is walking brisk laps around this hallway firing off insults at everone here...
Someone's on the pay phone: "So I called Henry and-"
And as he passes he shouts, "No he didn't! That's a LIE!!" for the party on the other end to hear, and then he's gone, off telling someone not to take the meds that the nurse is giving her; that they're POISON!
As he swings by us we get, "DON'T TALK TO HIM! HE'S A RAPIST!!"
I fear that being paranoiacally disposed Patricia might register some alarm, but she just laughs at him, "How would you know?"
She shakes her head, circling her ear with an index finger...
We manage to talk for maybe 50 uninterrupted seconds at a stretch as he orbits the looping hallway, swept along on wings of agitation, hollaring "Rapist!" and "It's an open and shut case!" I suggest that we ambush him with makeshift weapons the next time he comes around the bend...
Dr. Thomas Szasz (The Myth of Mental Illness, Hula Muffin Press 1973) says that often those we term insane are incarcerated just because they can be so supremely obnoxious. What do you do when Grandpa throws his food against the wall and calls your wife's friends a pack of inept whores? The unspoken irritant factor behine the official criteria of "harmful to themself or others" .......... Only a saint could put up with them forever.
But I am sorry for him when a tall nurse approaches with two big orderlies, weight lifters with pudgy blank cherubic faces---and says, "Jimmy, you're bothering the other patients. We're going to put you in the Calm Room for a little bit..."
He's smiling, sweaty, marching in place, ready to dart around them ........ but I guess realizing any escape would be short lived he complies, goes off down to the rooms at the hall's far turn with them...
The conspiracy lady leans back, tilts her head back and blows a limp lock of hair out of her face, "You know it's dark out. Why don't they open up the bedrooms already?"
I consider telling her that they aim to tire us, keep us disoriented, but this isn't a game for her and it wouldn't be cute to fuel her paranoia any.
She takes a nap right here, and uh...
"And here's a man strangling a baby wallaby to death with a pair of magenta panty hose ........ Hello sir, and what do you think about the Nazi police scandal in Garden Grove?"
I don't know if this guy---with the Lincoln Memorial posture and staring right through me is even "here" enough to answer my Good Afternoon. A second or two of physical apprehension for some reason, but there is room for me to say nevermind and back away here.
I am surprised at the gentle thoughtfulness of his tone. His "Oh. Hello....." and then his, "Say.
How do you get out of here?"
"They have to let you out."
"I know that, man!" he snaps, suddenly surly. A big longshoreman-looking guy with a red and weathered face and bushy white sideburns, sitting uncomfortably in these flimsy slippers & this backless gown. Something must have happened to his clothes; like he shat himself or else did not arrive here wearing any. The only other person here in hospital garb is the woman too vegetative to attend to being on her period, the bloody crotch of her gown alarming me until I figured out what it was...
He introduces himself as Dudley Jenkins as says he's been here nearly a week. Which implies the more serious 14-day evaluation. We talk, long pauses in his speech. He says that I seem intelligent and asks if I could write something for him to help him get released from here...
I'd given it some thought, have been mentally phrasing out my own verbal strategies for my interview tomorrow, and I start to lay them on him; but he gets irritated. Anything I have to say is crass, irrelevant, pointless...
By write something for him he doesn't mean to author some "Yep, he's sane" letter of recommendation for him or even to paraphrase/ghostwrite his views, but merely that I possess a pen and this wide-rule paper and must transcribe a certain twelve pronouncements of his EXACTLY as he says them. A list that has lived thus far in his head. They're up in there somewhere ........ he rolls his eyes upward and inward as if looking for them. Things like:
A very serious look coming over him, these dumb little bits of jibberish are The Stuff, straight from God, of all-transcending import!
I tell him that this is wonderful but it is NOT for the psychiatrist. That if you seriously want out you shouldn't discuss philosophy with them, but must stick to the questions they ask, lying if necessary ............. That they are watching you for religious or political manias and one should flat out avoid these two realms of discussion. Or science, since science is the third most common topic for insane obsession. Or maybe even art...
[The doctor here wasn't too happy about my calling myself a writer. She tried to peg me as a compulsive, deluded about my degree of genius; asking me: "Do you ever write for hours or even all night long? Ever feel that that every word you write is perfect, just bursting from your pen faster than you can write it down?"
"Not as often as I would like," I said. "And when I do feel that way its quality is usually corraborated by somebody else, saying that it's some of my best stuff. Hardly what you would expect from hypergraphia..."
I think my attitude, my cagy exacting qualification of everything I said pissed the Good Doctor off, made her feel like I am paranoid, and I am. I'm always wary when someone else holds the keys to the cage...]
My call to caution seems to mortify him, like I am a true Child of Darkness for suggesting he do such a thing. God's truth will triumph, and when he presents this to the staffers they will be amazed, instantly realizing they must give up their old life and follow him when they hear:
Oh well. I have yet to meet a prophet who can keep his mouth shut when his own interest is at stake. I give up trying to help spring him---he's fucked---and decide to pepper up this collaboration, with my talent for printing in different typefaces, and- "Maybe it'll help if I illustrate it..."
...drawing little winged omega symbols, wheels within wheels, towers struck by lightning ........ Asking, "Should I maybe put an angel here?" But then drawing her as a curvaceous Marilyn Monroe type with pursed lips and copious breasts. This element of flippancy is subtly tweeking him, the dawning realization that I am mocking him, but I can't seem to stop...
And YEA VERILY , IT WAS THE COOLEST! And I have to have this sheet
of revelations and genius doodlings for the archives, for this Jernal,
for ART!!!
But when I offer to "hold onto it" for him he somehow savvies my intent, and ZZZZZZTTT! rips it from my clipboard with one hamhock fist! His face now full of childish possessiveness and rage, the voice framed in taut downturned lines, but the voice calm and flat- "No. I'll keep it..."
Not verbally accusing me, but those Aaaaaa-OOGA horns and sirens are all blaring in his head, the surging waves of adrenalin! I had been out to steal the HOLY OF HOLIES!!!
The more he stares the more transparent, found out I feel. I wish him luck, walk slowly away; as if from a growling dog ...................
CH@PTER 9 ~ Phillip K. Dick Slept Here....
Thank God. Bedtime...
And Allah be praised that he's in a different room than me, or I'd be getting very little sleep tonite. One last smoldering dark look from him as he trundles, guided, off into the next room, clutching the sheet of paper in both hands and viewing his roommate suspiciously...
I wish I could lock this door from inside, but my time on the street has made me a light sleeper, and I guess he won't creep in here and garrote me with the spiralling steel wire from my Kermit & Miss Piggy notebook here (HOLY CRAP! The county jail sure wouldn't have let me run around loose with any such potential weapon/suicide tool!)
XXXX Into bed. Mondo Snooz*Alarm. Nobody else assigned to this room so far, but the night's still young...
I'd been stupid to fear them keeping me here past the a.m., melodramatic. The state just doesn't have the funding to lock up anyone but the real loons. Stay rational, don't joke, get released. Simple.
And tomorrow Balboa Peninsula sparechange madness & that weird 99¢ yugoslavian Lambrusco on the pedestrian walk under the bridge, watching the boats putt by, the kayaks & motor yachts; And second draft a buncha this then bus back 2 doheny park before too shitfaced.
It occurs to me that this is the same Orange County psych hospital Philip K. Dick wrote about being incarcerated in for a few days (same sort of situation I'm in here....) in one of his recent books. It'd be cool if this was his room, his bed. I don't know why, it just would...
≈≈► ▀▄ ▌(0..0) ▬.|.||▄▄..▄▲▓*..* ▀◘▄ ≈≈
۩.. So much for my being a light sleeper. I stayed zonked out through the addition of two roommates. One snores and one is reciting an endless creaking canticle of guilt and dead parents in heaven ........ I awaken to it at 4:40 a.m with unfamiliar shapes looming around me in the dark. VOICE OF RADIO LIMBO here, more of the growing unreality of this place. Creepy...
۩.. So out I go, make use of the hallway's light and attack some of these notes, the growing web of cross outs, corrections, margin amendments ........
۩.. There's a few loons up, talking. An old black woman with the weary looking Phillipina nurse, who nods consolingly if absently and seems to be enjoying her cigarette, these few hours of quiet here, the stripes of light & shadow across the homely institutional fixturing, like some moody Edward Hopper painting...
۩.. The outside can be seen---a wedge of a view---through two sets of windows set in doors and an entirely glass entry door. Silhouettes of the steplike bulldozed hills to the east. Behind them the sky is turning pink on a slow rheostat ............ A long slow subtle change but still no Mr. ☼...
Breakfast soon, then the Shrink will be in at nine, and then it's bye bye to this place...
The weekday crew is more generous, has opened up a set of doors revealing this huge REC ROOM/T.V. ROOM that I didn't even know was here. Or no not huge but it has the effect of making our tiny world bigger and more liveable- a break from the linearity of "corridor metaphysics"...
Rows of mismatched chairs, and us for early birds- all lucid, the conversation silly but refreshingly rational. We watch as Brutus hurls a steady stream of bricks, which Popeye catches and nonchalantly mortars together into a wall in in a blur of movement. It's one of the early B&W ones, with Popeye muttering those hilarious half-intelligible asides, like- "Yer undershit comprise an insulk to meen nostricles..."
I am haranging a girl my age, Patricia-the-Nazi-lady and a shaking (but jovial) wino named George about the history of cartoons. George is a real weisenheimer, full of corny jokes, and he knows the area surrounding this hospital in regards to street life. We decide to pool our wits and resources and score a bottle upon release from here. He's in here for talking shit to the cops, threatening to blow up Reverend Schuller's Crystal Cathedral with a sack of pinecones last night. He's puzzled by this behavior but laughs it off, vowint to stay away from THAT brand of wine.
BREAKFAST is excellent. George raves up the orange juice, telling the attending
nurse that it's "positively orgasmic!" (Careful George, that's borderline...) It looks like a crisp,
bird-chirpy morning out there, the pine scent of fireplaces in the air...
At 7:45 the late sleepers are all routed out, the bedrooms locked up. No sign of the D.A. or the Prophet. A midnight transfer to somewhere? Come to think of it, I remember dreaming about some sort of sinister midnight transfer....
We were all bald with hooks in the tops of our head, threaded onto overhead conveyers, dangling helplessly as we were taken wherever ........ A nightmare, that's right- it woke me up! I remember my stomach sinking, queasy as I reached up + felt my own hook ("My head is smoooooooth ....... What's this?!"), and by tugging it could feel how firmly it was rooted in there. In my skull...
 cHAPTER 11~ Ŧǻΐά...
A basket case- all strong surface currents, radical emotional extremes.
Pretty, in a fat ankled sort of way, nice complexion and long brown wavy hair ........... And she talks a LOT, which I love, since I don't get the feeling that I'm nervously shuffling words into the silence.
But while my talk is all theory and esoterica---Brazilian writers or beatnik architects---Tavia here keeps bringing the conversation back to the big issues. No, not those issues, the BIG ones .......... God and the state of our souls, cruelty and compassion and
~~~~~~How do I quote her on all this without making her sound like a simpering asshole? Another wounded Jesus Freak?
Crushed by the commonplace ("The newspapers make me want to DIE!") she can't or won't hack life. Won't behave responsibly. Her family is packing her off to a ritzy nuthouse south of here, and she is letting them; is utterly wimping out...
And yet underneath all of this is a pigheaded strength of conviction. Preaching an ecumenical potluck of faiths, Christianity threaded through with Swedenborg and Meher Baba and a literal belief in fairies- though she says you have to discount 95% of the traditional ideas concerning these small visitors from a universe next door.
She has a way of staring right into your face that---paradoxically---calms and puts you at ease, this invitation to hang out with her at a level of total honesty and absolute acceptance. Who knows? She might have been a respected evangelist somewhere or a wealthy self-help & motivation guru if she hadn't targeted her family as her first ("because they needed it so bad") converts. If she had understood tact- hadn't started smashing the open newspaper out of her Dad's hands and hollaring for him to WAKE UP!
"How can people just blithely skim those things---all the misery, all the slaughter---at the BREAKFAST TABLE no less?!! They tell you they read them to stay informed, but that isn't what it is. They're all going around like 80% dead and need that----that scale of tragedy----just to feel anything at all!"
      ...So it wasn't any bizarre ideation (or at least no more bizarre than the bulk of the world's mainstream religions) but her depressions and withdrawal, the ultimatums and inflexible beliefs, and none of this helped by her constant discourses on angels and such. All stuff that with different parents would have done no worse than getting her booted out of the house...
Presumptuous maybe to point the blame, having never met them, but I get the feeling that her folks are feuling her breakdowns, that they take secret pleasure in her status---at 23---of permanent child and dependant, and the family's #1 scapegoat. When she speaks of them the malice comes through, quite unknown to her; and rather inconsistant with her stance on universal compassion...
When I suggest that she not deal with them she invokes the commandment: HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER THAT THY DAYS MAY BE LONG UPON THE LAND WHICH THY LORD GOT HATH PROVIDED FOR THEE....
I suggest that God doesn't want her to be miserable or to be nuts. Hadn't she complained to me that they were "caving her head in" with their subtle, sinuous games? And freedom, economic and geographc distance from them would do wonders for her.There's disability; with her history here, she'd qualify .......  Write them laconic postcards from Address Unknown, wishing them well. That's honoring them.
Find a life that affords you some satisfaction. A life of service maybe, running old supermarket food down to the cardboard condominiums in Ti Juana ........ I tell her the world needs people such as her---people who aren't smug and cocky and full of jive---to be active in it. A small inroad against the ugliness & barbarism she sees.
For some reason we're both teary eyed. This is a pretty gushy conversation to be having right here between the beaming George & Patricia, but you learn to make do with the utter lack of privacy in these places. It's a bughouse parody of the young sweethearts on the porch swing with Aunt and Uncle What's-their-face and the Country Time lemonade. I hold her hands. And while it seems pretty chaste to me a nurse (who I guess has seen some stuff) advises us to keep it at this level.
Tavia calls me beautiful, heaps this ridiculous amount of praise on me, I'm so good...
"What am I?" grumbles George, "Chopped liver?"
She laughs, beams her grace at him, says OF COURSE you're good...
An uncanny spiritual high descends on this cluster of lunatics. George is ........ Patricia is .......... we're all but slivers of the burning Atomic God Ball, the all-loving Clear Light Sun, and are breathing with an incredible sense of peace. Oh Floodgates of the Infinite! Tavia says it is the Holy Ghost...
In any event we're all grinning like acidheads; are indifferent to unsure futures, to these barred windows and covert Nazi Maniac atrocities .......... Andwe don't have to do anything special, to act hushed or studiously reverent in order to maintain this state; Our giddy joking around and our chatter about our plans or problems does not affect it. These are simply ant sized and ludicrous in this wonderful new perspective...
Tavia will be off to this Capistrano Pacifica Hospital after breakfast, and wants me to visit her. She's been before, gives me instructions, a phone number and the name of a kindly staffer there to ask for. I WILL visit---it's so close to my stomping grounds it seems preordained---although I'll have to get cleaned up, stash my backpack in the bushes somewhere down the hill...
George tells us he's a "Utilitarian Minister". That he goat a doctorate of divinity from a mail order religious sect (probably Universal Life- a 60's draft dodger scheme) and offers to marry us here and now...
"You can always get it annulled later saying you weren't of sound mind when you did it and neither was the priest-" He makes a manic face and sends one hand into combat with the other like snarling dinosaurs. Tumbles out of his chair...
chapter 12 ≠ I'm a genuine example of a social disease.... 
he doctor is here. Unlike the time it takes anything to happen in jail, they're getting right to it.
Three names are called---release, release, transfer to the main wards---and then mine.
He's reading my folio, his lips curling in distaste, or does it always curl like that. Fat pale flaccid lips. There is an immediate dislike on both sides. He asks in a tone that takes my coherence for granted, "So what brings you here?"
Maybe it's my cheapness (this being a visit with a shrink, a free one, when I've always understood they cost a bunch...) but---disregarding my vows of to-the-point terseness---I talk. Way more than I should, encapsulating for him my whole time on the street. A chronic alchoholic, yes; the cops, my jail trips ........... that I am not---I don't believe---nuts, but that I guess I'm pretty immature; am given to throwing "cathartic tantrums", which might just forstall the necessity of ever coming to a place like this for real; that is, if we can believe the hydraulic theory of emotion, which when you think about it, does seem a little-
His scowl deepens, his certitude that I'm some cocky street asshole; presuming to talk shop with him. He cuts me off in mid-sentence- "Okay, you're released. You're .......... while you represent a problem, clinically you're sane, and don't belong here. We need to find some other way to deal with people like you..."
PEOPLE LIKE ME?! The tone, the phrasing. Echoes of totalitarianism, the implied threat of some horrible draconian measure that would take care of all these unsightly drop-outs...
My spleen rises- Oh okay, he's one of THOSE! And suddenly I can't stand to be in the same room with him. My brain is vibrating in my head. I ask, "Well?"
He crosses his arms, "Well, what?"
"What do you think, 'Well what'? Do I get out of here?!"
"There's the door..."
The door to his office. Exiting, I give him a rising falsetto, "Bye byeeeeeEEEEEEEEE-"
ending in "MOTHER-FUCKER!" as I slam the door!
The two nurses look at me, at each other.
"He let me go," I say.
"A couple of minutes then. We need to prepare your paperwork..."
≈≈► ▀▄ ▌(0..0) ▬.|. ||▄▄..▄▲▓*..*≈≈
Back in the breakroom, I must look pretty upselt, because my three friends all jump up, Tavia gasping, "What's wrong? What's wrong?"
She's like massaging my arm, running her hands up and down it, trying to calm me...
I stammer, "You should have heard that bastard! Other ways to deal with people like you ........ That Nazi scumbag!"
A wild smile cracks across Patricia's face. She jabs George, "You see? I told you he was one!"
"But you're alright now," cooes Tavia gently, "You're with friends. Everybody here loves you..."
I look around, and damn if they don't! Not just my little clique here but even some of the others that I don't know are gathered around me; empathizing, siding with me against the staff!
I laugh, raise my my arms like a maestro, "Well then let's hear it for ME!"
My friends all applaud. It must have looked like I was inciting a riot...
Xchapter 13 //// bondage and disciple...     X .
Huge hands lock onto my arms. The two baby-faced weightlifters grab me, ready for resistance, but I comply. I'm not sure what's going on but now seems like the time to show that I am civil, and sane as they take me down to...
Oh God. The little rooms.
Into one and they force me face down onto the slick padding while the nurse watches, and sees that the thick leather straps tightened around each wrist and ankle, with little keys fitting into grommetlike openings and locking them...
I try to keep my tone reasonable, "Look........ I'm okay. There's no need for this. We just had a little VERBAL DISAGREEMENT. At no point did I threaten, goddamn it! Or-"
I'm spread-eagled face down here, each limb out about as far as it will stretch, and then two safety belts, across my thighs and back. Painless and yet quite uncomfortable, leaving me no options to shift around. Jesus.
As they leave I ask when I might expect to be released. Finally speaking, the nurse says possibly in ninety minutes...
A minute later the doctor comes in and takes my pulse and blood pressure.
I tell him, "I had to pay a woman in Las Vegas four hundred dollars to do this! That's a joke, by the way ............. Look, don't you think this is a little excessive?"
"No I don't."
I twist my head around to see him, and my stomach drops. He is pushing the liquid up to the top of a hypodermic syringe, tapping it to dislodge any stray bubbles.
The pungent scent of isopropyl ans he swabs my left bicep with a cool wet cotton ball. I am gripped by a nightmare sense of powerlessness, "Why? Because I called you an asshole? This is BULLSHIT! I am perfectly in control of myself!!"
I would like to say he was smiling evilly, but he wasn't. He says, "The police picked you up for self-injurious and ambivalent suicidal behavior. You admitted yourself that you were given to fits and violent tantrums..."
"I want to know what that is, how much you are giving me, and what all the counter-indications and side effects are!" I demand as he slides the needle into my flesh.
He recites, "Ten milligrams Haldol haliperidol, intramuscular. It's one of the major tranquilizers. Is indicated for the management of manifestations of psychotic disorders. The counterindications don't apply to you- it's not to be given to comatose patients, those with severe cardiovascular disorders, Parkinson's, or to pregnant women ............... It's known to cause neuromuscular reactions such as restlessness, and involuntary movements of the tongue, face or mouth ........... can cause drowsiness, headache, confusion. liver damage and gran mal seizures."
He leaves.
It came on like a sedative....... the waves of vagueness and the sleepy thoughts, those stupid little dust devils of chattering confetti, until I noticed that I was in one and pulled out, fighting it, refocusing my attention...
But it soon took over, wedging its fat fingers into the folds of my cortex with an indifferent, offhand ease. My muscles grew heavy and lax.
I have enjoyed a number of drugs, but there was nothing fun about this one. Neither the moronic exciteability ("Me BREAK things, RRRRRRRR!") of barbituates, nor the grand ego rush that booze brings; the ideas that seem clever and wonderful, and sometimes are...
None of this. It just made me feel stupid. Couldn't concentrate. It was...
It's an apathy drug. You sort of remember what it's like to care about something but you're robbed of almost all emotion. You manage to be vaguely resentful that you've been put into this state, but otherwise it's too much effort.
Maggot Lips came in, all smiles an bonhomie, knowing damn well that I didn't need this shot ............ Undid my restraints. Says that since I was "so cooperative" he would fudge with the 90 minute rule and let me out in 45.
The stuff would barely slow down an honest-to-God schizo like "The D.A."; but if you're normal it knocks you into next October. He led me into the rec room, back to my friends, grinning like he'd done something really clever. Very sinister, I think...
Then he left..
Tavia came up to me, gravely, "What did they do to you?"
"Something called Haldol..."
She was familiar with Haldol. Mourned my zombification. She hugged me and I hugged her back, embarrassed, feeling like a robot.
"How much?" asked George.
"Ten milligrams."
"That's not much. You get used to it..."
Patricia said they took pervert pictures of me when I was out of it, and if I try to raise a stink they'll blackmail me; But I would have remembered anything like that...
It was marginally comforting being there with Tavia, but then she was ambulanced away to her private hospital. George tried to make me laugh with the lamest jokes imaginable ("A right knee, a left knee and a wee-nie!") but at best I felt irritated. Because two of my all-time favorite movies had come on; the original KING KONG and the first (or first talking anyway) TARZAN film,
two marvelous old classics, and I might as well have been watching a marathon o
f "Ring around the Collar" commercials for all I goddamn cared...
Wrote nothing, none of this, until two days later.
Lunch, then dinner.
CHAPTER 14 >>>>>>>>>  FREE
THE NEXT MORNING I'm still drugged, but a lot more aware and awake. More like normal reds or quaaludes...
He sees me right at 9:00 and pronounces me ready to be released. He's affable, tips his hat to my "intelligence" but says I am a walking bundle of resentments; that I have a "great deal of unfounded self righteousness" and "a real short fuse"...
I'm smiling like a fucking moron. Shaking his hand. Ready to agree with anything he says just to get out of there...
Panhandling a block from Schuller's kitschy glass cathedral I get enough for a big tankard of Thunderbird, wedge that down in my backpack and begin a semi-lost hike in the general direction of the area I call home, wandering south and east into Santa Ana residential streets...
And make the mistake of trying to drink on top of the Haldol still in my system...
I tailspin down into something like a coma, retaining barely enough presence of mind to crawl between the hedges and the chain link fence protecting this big electrical substation thing at the rear of this large but rather plain grass square of a park. Beyond the humming transformers lies a cinderblock wall, and what must be someone's backyard. Hidden, safe, I nap and drink and nap.
Wake up probably two a.m. with the streetlamps, the hideous orange light filtering dully through the bushes. Hear the sounds of an oldies station, and chicano teens drinking and boasting loudly somewhere off across the park. An admirable inter-jazzing of English and Spanish and slang, like verbal quicksilver. Wish I could write in that shit ............ I raise my bottle in a secret toast, and judge that I've got almost half of this 1.5 liter bottle to last until sun-up. Glad I'm finally coming off of that zombie drug; glad to be alive and to be free...
That shrink had thought it best to give me a taste of what they can do ........... Yanking my Monday release away from me on a whim. Having to only say the word to render me hog-tied and chemically lobotomized...
A friendly warning, lest I be tempted to make a lifestyle of psychiatric institutions. I had displayed no real insane or dangerous behavior but I had pissed him off. A necessary but sometimes painful thing to learn in any lock-up situation. You don't call no jailer no motherfucker.........
▀▄▌▬▀▄|▄▀ . ▀▄▄▀▄▲▓▀▄▀▌▌▄ ▄▀◘▄►
i am so lonely. please comment...


OK, I'll Comment...

...but I'm not quite sure what to say, since stories like this aren't my preference in either style or substance. Apart from everything else, tricks with fonts, text sizes, etc., tend to strike me as signs of insecurity, as if some question is being raised as to the text's ability to stand on its own.

Technically, it seems fine, if possibly a little self-indulgent. It's coherently written (including, mostly, the initial hazy uncertainty) and the side characters are capably drawn. It begins and ends where it should, and there's enough of a storyline to get from here to there.

(The paranoia case, is, as noted in the chapter heading, textbook quality. I had the same experience with the paranoid guy who was part of a game group that I was in; his story matched my old college Psych 1 textbook so perfectly that it made me wonder whether he really was being framed.)

I enjoyed this story more than the other Di Prima pieces I've read here. It may be because there's more of a plot, or because we're told from the start that this is only a two-day slice of life, compared to the weeks and months previous stories have dealt with. It might also be because the opportunity is taken here, in effect, to justify the narrator's existence, which helps me because I have trouble identifying or sympathizing.


I dunno

Usually I'll read and have a coherent opinion pretty much on the spot. Well...coherent is relative maybe, but I can make myself understood if not agreed with. This one? While I like Erics comments mostly or at least can see where he' comin' from I have a bit of trouble this time. Yeah the colours and fonts are a bit tricky just fer the hell of it. I can get past that. But the story, if it is a story, is more than you suggest. Rogers stuff is tough and THAT is hard because it edges close to where I live in some ways. This story is a bitch. Hard and out there and rough in a way I can't relate to, yet I can almost see it. Mad and clever and cynical and selfish and lost. A child like intellectual in a mad self centred world. It bothers me because it is not that far away, yet it's a world I do not want to know.

I've occasionally been guilty of calling myself mad, in a wry understated way. Sanity is overrated I say. You read this and wonder at just how many 'sane' people are off their trolleys and just who the 'maddy's might be.

All you need is love said the Beatles. A bit of empathy couldn't hurt either and I'm no pure heart. At least you made it through Roger. Good one. But not easy.


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