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New Fictional Story: "The Clinic"

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Author Topic: New Fictional Story: "The Clinic"  (Read 339 times)
Bad Penny
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« on: December 01, 2010, 02:20:48 am »

The Clinic

by Bad Penny

The man wearing the grey overcoat ambled casually into the remote diner nestled among the pines, the snow burdening their boughs glimmering subtly beneath a bright, full moon.  Seating himself upon a stool, he ordered his meal from the smiling waitress, who dutifully assembled the salad which comprised the appetizer for his dinner.  Noone noticed the waitress’ reaching into the pocket of her uniform to pull out a small atomizer, which she used to spray the salad with a brownish-blackish liquid.  She placed the salad in front of him, and he enjoyed its fresh, chlorophylic crunchiness until he began to feel light-headed.  He tried his best to say :”I’m feeling weird right now!”, but what came out sounded closer to: “Bleeding here rhino!”.  The waitress, sympathy and kindness filling her eyes, mercifully telephoned the local ambulance service, and the ambulance soon arrived, spiriting the man away as he lay helpless and mumbling upon the stretcher.

He noticed the sign attached to the gate through which the ambulance passed through the tall, stone wall surrounding a compound of academic buildings, ranging in architectural style from late 19th Century horror movie Gothic to mid-1940’s moderne.  He read: “County Asylum for the Insane”.  A little while later, he felt the ambulance come to a halt, and heard voices which he believed concerned him and felt motion inducing him into one of the buildings in the compound.  From the brownstone archway through which his stretcher passed, he guessed he was being carted into one of the horror-movie Gothic structures located upon the campus .

Once inside, he felt the stretcher moving him into the hallway of what appeared, to him, to be a hospital ward.  An elderly nurse half-whispered to him: “Welcome!  There’s no need to be afraid.  You are very safe here, and we’re all here to support you as you regain your connection with reality.”

Climbing from the stretcher, he surveyed his new home: a small room with no mirror and no clock.  A young volunteer came in and directed him to deposit his clothing into a plastic laundry hamper.  This having been accomplished, the volunteer directed him to sign his property inventory receipt, which included no reference to any grey overcoat, but, rather, a reference to a beige trenchcoat.  When he protested the discrepancy, the volunteer pointed out that the words “grey” and “beige” sounded as much alike as “topcoat” and “trenchcoat”, and assured him that any difference between the property actually surrendered and the descriptions noted in the property inventory were purely a matter of semantics.  The volunteer further insisted that signing the inventory would be very much in his best interest, which insistence was spoken in a subtly threatening manner.  He signed.

Having settled into his bed, he was told, every time he requested the time of day (time of night) from one of the nurses, that he’d been in his room a mere half-hour, which didn’t quite square with his feelings of long hours’ passing, nor with the advent of sunlight through the window curtains.

Morning having arrived, he ate his first breakfast at the clinic: a plate of scrambled eggs and a bowl of oatmeal.  When he asked where his utensils were, the curt, burly male nurse told him that, since he had been deemed a suicide risk, the clinic could not trust him with utensils, and he would have to eat the scrambled eggs and oatmeal with his bare hands.  When he’d eaten his breakfast, he asked the male nurse why the large, muscular man who kept mumbling to himself that he was going to “kill all of you” had been allowed metal utensils.  The nurse growled in response: “Because he’s not been deemed a suicide risk.”.  Struck incredulous, he asked: “How about the fact that he appears to be a homicide risk?”, which question elicited the response: “The clinic has its policies.  He’s not a suicide risk, so he gets to eat with utensils.  Don’t you understand the importance of compliance with clinic policies?”

A few minutes later, a pretty young female nurse instructed him to submit a urine sample.  A few hours later, the results came back: the process of collecting the sample had been faulty.  He submitted a new sample, which the lab couldn’t process as the hospital computer was temporarily out-of-order, and, therefor, incapable of generating a test-tube label prior to the spoilage of the sample.  A few hours after he submitted a fresh sample, the pretty young nurse told him that the lab girl had spilt it.  He succeeded on his fourth attempt, which success gave him a giddy feeling of accomplishment.

The following morning at breakfast, the male nurse wished him “Bon Appétit!” for his first meal at the clinic.  When he protested that this was his second day, and his fourth meal at the clinic, the male nurse responded: “Uh, yeah, whatever you say, bud.”.  The male nurse spent the remainder of the breakfast telling the psychotic mumbler, with obvious sincerity, how right he was, in agreement with such statements as: “I am the jit!  I am the universal jit!  I’m gonna kill all of you!”.

After breakfast, he looked over his property inventory one more time and noticed that the patient name stamped onto the receipt wasn’t his.  The pretty young nurse responded to his complaint: “Of course that’s your name.  If it weren’t your name, it wouldn’t be on the inventory itemizing your property, Mr. Dickenson.”.  “I’m not Dickerson” he emphatically responded, “and, as I’ve already pointed out, this isn’t my property.  I had a grey topcoat, not a beige trenchcoat!”  The nurse couldn’t help giggling as she pointed out that he’d signed the inventory, therefor the property and the name were certainly his.  “I guess you’re further out from the real world than we thought!”, she concluded as she stepped out into the hallway.  From that point on, everyone at the clinic, who had, until now, called him by his real name, consistently called him “Mr. Dickerson”.

In the early afternoon of that day, he had his first conference with his doctor, who asked him: “Do you feel persecuted on account of your being black?”  He shouted in answer: “I’m not black!  I’m white!  Can’t you see I’m white?”  The doctor responded with a baleful look and the words, spoken in a tone of mock-reassurance: “Uh, sure, Mr. Dickerson.  I’m sure you’re a white as I am.”

That night, alone in his room, he began to feel that he was, after all, wrong concerning his most fundamental beliefs about himself.  Everyone he met in this strange, isolated reality seemed to reflect what the doctors and nurses were telling him, rather than his long-cherished, unquestioned assumptions concerning himself.  Perhaps there was a reason for his incarceration in a mental institution.  Perhaps he really didn’t understand the reality of his existence, and needed to be cured of his delusions.

After a few days of realizing he’d been wrong all his life (or was his memory even reliable?), his doctor asked him to sit for a videotaping session in which he could announce that he had regained his sanity.  The videotape documented his announcement that he. Mr. Dickerson, felt socially rejected on account of his being a black man in racist America, and would devote his remaining years to the struggle for equality on behalf of his people.

He went on to decry the fact that he’d been so upset at the racism so prevalent in American society that he’d begun to fancy himself a white man, and that he’d even believed his name was other than Dickerson.  He begged the black community to receive him as a remorseful prodigal son, and proudly stated his gratitude to the clinic for bringing him back to reality.

In a soul food restaurant near the railroad tracks, the customers howled with laughter at what they were seeing on the television screen.  “Why’s that white guy saying he’s one of us?” said one diner.  “And his name is Dickerson?  Ain’t that the guy who’s running for governor?  His name ain’t nowhere near Dickerson.” said another.  “Yeah, I think he’s Polish or something” said a third.

The derisive, cynical laughter by means of which the powers-that-be greeted the video-taped account of his new perception of reality never reached his ears.  Those who had ordered him into the venue of his humiliation delighted sadistically in his foolish credulity, as they savoured yet another victory in their ceaseless struggle to remain in unquestioned authority,
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Are you taking over?
Or are you taking orders?
I ain't going backwards!
We're going only forwards!

The Clash, White Riot

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