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Lonelies | Part Eight | Adam Haynes | fiction | Lollipop
by Adam Haynes
Illustrations by Dave Dawson
Brooksville looked less like a private psychiatric hospital and more like some out-of-date industrial scientific research facility, all drab green with nothing but pine woods around it as far as the eye could see.
It was funny how his mind was working. Hadn't he, during the last week, become convinced that Brooksville was a town and not a hospital? How do you get a hospital and a town confused? Granted, both were places you lived, and both were communities... Okay, they were basically the same thing, only you had to look at it right.
Once he was inside, he thought again of how much the lobby reminded him of a ski lodge, with its tall ceilings and polished wood everywhere.
Will walked up to the large receptionist's desk and said, "I need to speak with Powers Alexander."
The receptionist, who looked only slightly older than Will, said, "Powers Alexander? What is this concerning?"
Will thought about this. "It's concerning the fate of my soul over the rest of eternity." That sounded right.
The receptionist pressed a button on his phone pad and then touched the earpiece of the head set he was wearing, murmuring something into the bent Q-tip microphone in front of his face that Will couldn't hear.
"Have a seat, please," the guy said, gesturing toward the empty waiting area, his face bland and unreadable.
Will shuffled over, sat down in one of the expensive-looking chairs, and had just enough time to pick up a Red Book when a tall, thin lady appeared out of nowhere. Will recognized her instantly. Who was she? He couldn't remember her name. There was an aura around her, an aura of kindness. The first time he had come here, she was the one who had looked him straight in the eye and said, "Don't worry, this isn't anything like One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest."
"Oh, Will," she said, her arms folded over her chest. "You're back. Have you been having problems again?"
Problems, again? How could he be having problems again when that's all his life was, just problems over problems over problems over problems over prob...
"I think, uh, yeah. Problems," Will said, and followed her out of the lobby and into the rest of the hospital.
Some time later, he couldn't tell how long, after he'd changed out of all his clothes and eaten what seemed like his first meal in days, Will found himself in the cool, quiet office of a psychiatrist who was not his father, not Powers Alexander.
This man's name was Mark something, with a stern forehead and curly dark hair. He looked nothing like Dr. Alexander.
"I really have to talk to Powers Alexander," Will said again.
Mark nodded. He did a lot of that. "I'm really not lying to you, Will. Dr. Alexander no longer works here."
"Listen," Will said, "I don't know why he feels he has to run away from me, but I can tell you, trying to cover for him is not going to do either of us any good."
"Why don't you tell me what it is you want to talk to Dr. Alexander about?"
"What good would that do? Are you related to me? Are you rich? Do you have magical powers? You know I can't play this game unless you explain the rules."
Dr. Mark scratched his nose. "Do you feel that you are related to Dr. Alexander?"
Will couldn't figure out if this man was diabolically clever or just plain stupid. "Listen," he said. "I give up. I'm about to become frozen in my destiny and the only thing that can save me from a life of woe - woe, sir, like you wouldn't believe - and heartache - the kind that will rip you in half and then spit on you - is if I can talk with my father."
Dr. Mark scribbled something on the legal pad in front of him. "Will, Dr. Alexander is not your father."
Will stared at him. He felt like he was falling off the edge of the world, slowly, very slowly. "No, you don't understand. Powers Alexander is my father, and we had a deal. WE HAD A DEAL. He told me if I became a homosexual like him then he would give me the money I need to write my book and marry Winona..."
"Will, please, please. You're getting carried away. I don't want to have to call in an orderly."
Will didn't want that either, so he sat back in his chair and took several deep breaths.
"Good, thank you, Will," Dr. Mark said. He looked over Will's file that was spread out next to the legal pad and then sighed to himself. "The last time you stayed here in Brooksville was about, what?, eight months ago?"
"Fine. And the last time, Dr. Alexander was your primary psychiatrist."
"Will, he's not your father. He's never been your father. It says in your file here that your father died when you were seven."
"But I thought maybe he could've been a ghost and ended up in Dr. Alexander's body which would make him the same thing." Yes, that made sense, it was easy to understand if you looked at it that way. "Or maybe there was this time travel thing that happened because I thought maybe I was moving backwards in my life instead of forwards." Sure, sure, all those things sounded perfectly reasonable.
Dr. Mark shook his head. "No, Will, you're very confused right now. When was the last time you took your medication?"
Now Will felt guilty, like a school boy caught looking up the teacher's dress. "I stopped..."
"I thought so. When did this happen?"
He had stopped sometime back... when was it? Was it the summer? Were the leaves green or blowing around on the street? Will concentrated, and then had it. He remembered. "I had trouble getting my city prescription voucher. It was in July."
Dr. Mark made a note of this. "Listen Will, you're having another psychotic break. You've been through this before. It's good that you came back, because we can help you, help you out and get you back on your meds. It says here that they were working pretty well, side effects not too bad."
Will nodded, remembering, somewhat.
"But about thinking that Dr. Alexander is your father... This is an immediate concern. Will, we'll be talking about this in the future, but right now, try this on, just to get started. Is it possible that Dr. Alexander, as part of your emotional therapy, wanted you to explore issues of your homosexuality?"
Will gulped, feeling dizzy. "He said..."
"Will, in these notes I have, he writes that he wouldn't be able to help you unless you were willing to investigate certain identity issues, among them homosexuality. This doesn't mean that you're gay, it just means exploring these issues, feelings."
"He was going to give me money. I just had to pretend..."
"No, Will, I don't think so. I think you're very confused about this. I think what Dr. Alexander meant, at least by his notes here, is that he could help you, therapeutically, but only if you worked with him. Toward the end of your therapy, you were showing some resistance. That's natural, we all do it... He didn't want you to pretend, Will."
Will was shaking his head. Then he was nodding his head. Then he was shaking it again. "I, uh..." he murmured, moving his head around on his neck, looking everywhere around the room. "I, uh... I don't know, what's real anymore. The only thing that was ever real was Winona Ryder, and right now I don't think she's real either. I thought I was in love with her for a long time, but now I'm not so sure. I'm not sure. I'm going crazy again. You're right. I can feel it, that's what's been happening. But, but the problem is, if nothing's real then what about this? Right now, what about this? "
"Will, you're having a psychotic break, brought on by not taking your meds and other stresses in your life. I know things are very confusing right now, but you're in the right place. You're going to be safe here until we straighten things out again."
"Yes," Will said, still moving his head around, now in lazy counter clockwise circles. "I'm in the right place. This is my town. This is my home. Forever, always and always."
"I'm going to put you on Trilofon, you remember that? It's what you were on the other times when you were here." Dr. Mark was now scribbling on a prescription pad.
"No, no, drugs are bad. They'll make me crazy. They're what's been making me crazy all along!"
"No, Will, this is a good drug. It will help even you out before we start with your usual medication." He crossed his arms over his chest and pushed back from the desk. Will tried hard to pay attention and keep his head from moving. "One other thing, Will. This is going to be a short-term stay for you. I think ten days will be sufficient. It doesn't have anything to do with money - the state's been paying for you since the last time. After looking over your file and observing your present state, I feel that you're becoming too dependent on this hospital. This hospital should not be a crutch. You're going to have to learn how to take responsibility for yourself. We'll work on that while you're here."
"But I can't go back to Portland. I can't ever go back there." He was aware that his eyes were getting glassy and that he was sliding out of the chair onto the carpet, melting into the rug.
"Tomorrow afternoon you'll be meeting with your social worker and you two can start discussing life strategies then. Will, I'm going to call an orderly now."
Will wasn't sure why he was now writhing on the floor in a snake-like manner. Or was he a baby? Had he become a baby again? Everything was moving backwards. That was the problem. He was the only one moving forward, which was why he didn't really exist, why nothing existed except circles. The only truth in life was circles. He nodded his head. "I think that's a good idea," he said.
Back at his pad, Jonah got washed up before his big date when the phone rang.
"Yeah?" Jonah said.
There was silence on the other end.
"Who is this?" Jonah said calmly.
It was his mother.
"What is it mom?"
"You didn't call me yesterday."
Shit, she was right.
"Listen mom, things got a little crazy yesterday and..."
"Don't you make excuses with me! Who do you think pays your rent!"
"Don't you tell me to listen! You think my life is easy, working all the time to support you and your deadbeat father!"
"How is dad?"
"Don't you uh huh me, mister."
"Mom, why are you so angry?"
"Angry, I'm not angry, I'm just hurt that my only son wouldn't call me on the one day, the one day he's supposed to."
"Mom, did something happen at work last night?"
"One of the other waitresses kept stealing tables from me."
"Don't use that kind of language."
"Sorry. Have you been drinking again?"
"Jesus, listen to who's making accusations. My son the deadbeat is accusing me of drinking a little. What do you care anyway? You don't care about anything. Can't even call your own mother on..."
"Listen mom, I gotta go. There's something I have to do. I'll call you next Sunday."
Jonah hung up the phone before she could say anything else.
The sky was getting darker and it was snowing, fat juicy flakes that obscured the sky and made the sidewalk slippery as hell. Jonah walked along, mostly blindly, down Cumberland until he was behind city hall and had arrived at Myrtle Street.
She lived in a ratty house that was painted mint green. Since she'd told him apartment three, that meant she lived on the top floor, where the light was on in the window.
Jonah stood there for a while, staring up at the window, the wind blowing his coat around like a shredded sail. It occurred to him that he was going to go up there and he was going to see her. Why? Because he had to. It wasn't a good idea, a confrontation right now could in no way be good for either of them. It might even be dangerous. He was going to do it anyway, he didn't have a choice in the matter.
Up a stairway that reeked of rotting wood and cat spray, Jonah knocked on her door, not sure at all what he was going to say when she opened it.
When the door opened, he was taken aback. Instead of Cindy, there was the big-boned chick from Abraham's. It's a small world after all. She was looking at him strangely, like she'd just been interrupted from some heavy, bad sleep. "Yeah?" she said, rubbing one of her eyes with the underside of her palm.
Jonah thought about it and decided to proceed. "I'm here to see Cindy."
"Yeah, well, she's out. I don't know where and I couldn't tell you when she'll be back."
It sounded like her way of saying go the hell away, but Jonah wasn't into it. He felt like staying, at least for a while.
Her expression changed, getting much friendlier. "Hey, aren't you a friend of Will Hastings?"
"I saw you in Abraham's last night."
She was nodding her head, opening the door wider. "You know, if you want to come in and hang out and wait for her or whatever, that's cool. Watch TV, you know?"
He followed her inside and shut the door and locked it behind him. She had gone to the large couch in a living room almost as messy as his.
"Hi, my name's Temptation. What's yours?"
Jonah didn't want to give her his real name in case Cindy had been bitching to her about him, which she'd been doing for sure. "Wolf," he said, sitting down next to her, mostly because it had been the first thing he thought of.
"Oh, cool name. My landlord's named Wolf too. Or Wolfy, but that's pretty much the same."
"Hey," he said, remembering he still had a packet of that Fever Waltz on him, "You wanna get high?"
She looked dubious, "Depends, is it pot?
"Well, can you smoke it?"
"Sure, I guess. If you've got papers."
She took a pack of Zig Zags off the coffee table. "See, I only smoke. That's like a rule with me."
Jonah nodded his head, taking out the packet and carefully pouring it into the rolling paper she'd handed him. He wasn't the greatest roller, so when he was done, the joint looked like a bleached and withered green bean.
Temptation giggled. "Careful to keep it level or all the shit will fall out of the sides," he said, handing it over to her.
For a few minutes they exchanged hits and watched TV.
"So are you good friends with Will?" she asked him during a commercial.
"Oh man," said, Jonah. "Friends? I've known Will my whole life, but, well... Let's just say he's one very strange cat."
Temptation was nodding her head. "You're not kidding! I mean, shit! This is really personal and I probably shouldn't tell you but..." She giggled and inched closer to him on the couch. "Last night, right? We come back here and we're in my bed and everything's cool and then, like all of sudden, he starts screaming. It fucking freaked me out, I'm not even kidding. He's screaming but he has this very reserved look on his face and he just gets up and very calmly puts on his clothes and leaves. But, like, he's screaming the whole time and I was there trying to get him to calm down or whatever but like, I don't even think he saw me. Man, it was so fucked up. I mean, that was a fucked up night anyway, but he was so fucking weird. All day today I've been sitting here wondering what the hell I did that would make him do something like that."
"It wasn't you, believe me."
Jonah let out a dry laugh. "Oh yeah. He's always been really fucked up when it comes to women. Okay, back in high school, right?"
She nodded eagerly.
"His junior year he met this girl named Jesse." He paused and finished off the joint. "Well, they got into each other. Into each other hard. Real fast and sudden like it happens sometimes. But the fucked up thing was that for her, it was about being friends, whereas for Will it was like way more than that."
"Did they have sex?"
"Who knows. I think Will finally told her how he felt about her, 'cause suddenly Jesse wouldn't have anything to do with him anymore. Like total silent treatment shit. I think she was freaked out. Will can be kind of intense sometimes... She probably thought he was gay. Shit, everyone thought he was gay and just super, super in the closet about it. I still... Anyway, uh, and then she starts dating this guy who's like totally whacked out - seriously wealthy but a Jehovah's Witness, if you can believe that."
"I believe it."
"But it gets so much worse," Jonah said. "Man, so like, this guy ends up taking Jesse to the prom. And then Will and me and a bunch of people crash it and he went out of his mind. He fucking flipped, worse than I've ever seen anyone flip. And I've been around people who've seriously OD'd and shit too, so I know. It was a total nervous breakdown."
"What'd he do?"
"Just crying and shit, but it was so fucking crazy... I guess he'd had some sort of chemical imbalance all along or something, and this just really tipped it off. I mean, he'd always been strange, but this was so crazy."
"It sounds like last night."
"Totally ruined the prom. Actually, that part was kind of cool."
"That's fucking nuts."
"But it gets worse. So there's something seriously fucking wrong with his brain and he gets shipped down to some psychiatric hospital down around South Portland somewhere... And then, while he's in the hospital his mother drives down to visit and she dies in a car crash. I mean, they were never very close or anything, but she was his only family in the world. His only fucking family."
Temptation's eyes were bugging out of her head. "That's horrible. I can't believe that. That's the most terrible thing I've ever heard happen to anyone."
Jonah agreed with her. "So he just stayed down here. I mean, where was he going to go? I came to Portland because this is where all the young and interesting people of Maine come, but it was a choice for me."
"Wow," Temptation was saying over and over again. "Wow. Holy shit."
Jonah was now staring at her body, finding himself getting very turned on. She was wearing a black t-shirt and a pleated black skirt with no tights. The Beast started to move around, getting ready. "So how did you know Will?" he asked her, making no effort to hide how he was scoping her huge breasts.
She didn't seem to mind all that much. "I knew him, you know, around," she said.
Jonah nodded. It was better that Cindy wasn't here, going after her roommate might even hurt her more, and it would certainly be more enjoyable for him. And the Fever Waltz was making it all so easy.
Jonah smiled and put one of his hands on one of Temptation's bulging tits, just to find out what would happen, just to see how to play it.
...to be continued