I recall my mom’s absence, my Dad’s Parkinson’s disease crippling him
in the far corner hospital chair of the living room. I recall counting
my money, $1,400 on the floor of said living room, earned from the
sale of my ‘84 Camaro. I was using the cash to head back home to where
I then wrongly thought home was, New York City’s Coney Island. My dad
was upset at my leaving but not overly objectionable toward the idea.
My mom was silent. Until the door bell rang. I wouldn’t see Coney
Island again for a decade because of the events that were about to
I opened the door to a 200 pound sheriff and his notification that the
two larger men flanking his sides were just freshly deputized and that
I was coming with them. I hit the daylight to the right of the sheriff
and the left of his brute NASCAR t-shirt wearing deputy. They beat my
seventeen old body down but not all that easily and I still wonder
about a grown up me’s chances. I stopped the fight at one of them
informing me that he had a gun to my back.
Mom had at last spoken. And instead of losing me ‘forever’ and my care
giving services toward my father which served as her freedom, she had
decided that easier to for her to bear would be putting me in the
funny farm for a two week stay. Apparently it only takes one parent’s
signature to commit a minor. I spent my first 48 hours in a room minus
furniture but the bed in which I rested my bruised and cut up frame. A
light shone all night above a four foot diameter observation mirror in
the far corner of my hospital room.
After my 48 hour suicide watch was over, I was let loose by the kind
staff of concerned professionals into the general population of the
4th floor LaPorte, Indiana Hospital’s mental ward. I sidled up to a
prison style cafeteria table where a hand of poker was being dealt out
to three other patients by a fourth, a man whose wrists were tightly
wrapped in gauze.
I first laid eyes on Lisa then, a fellow patient, just to the left of
the dealer. I still speak to her semi-often, the woman then girl I
eventually lost my virginity to (actually, we traded) and lived with
on and off for a decade. We would sneak away unsupervised and sloppily
desperately make out in the unbusy places of the ward. My very first
“What should we use for chips?” The bandaged man asked through far
away eyes focused just to the right and slightly above us as he
grimaced at the pain involved in shuffling the deck.
“Razor blades.” I answered and Lisa maybe chuckled but I like to
remember that she most definitely did.