Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Marcio is the crier, Calvin is the stoic, Karl is the depressive. Lysander is the doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist. Rya is the nurse. there's nothing to do at the hospital except wait for a future ruling. it's a boys' night during the day. the only thing they'll allow is cards. the three men play a boy's game on an oversized stool as wood table that is lowered one step too much but can't be fixed. they have to make do. they aren't happy about it. they're never happy.

Calvin sports a stogie, Karl a cigarette, Marcio tried it once and spit it out. no drugs of course except the prescribed ones, but a loophole clause in the contract somehow allowed smoking in the facility. the air in the place is constantly sucked up by a rolling cloud of doom which pervades the ceiling but this is the result of the inmates running the asylum for one rule at least.

Calvin: it's Spades today.

Karl (immediately): i want Go Fish, something light, my ADHD is virulent today.

Calvin: fuck that! i want to be stimulated in some form today, i'm a man, no more kid's games, the world doesn't revolve around me, i took care of fish when i was a kid.

Karl (immediately): okay.

Marcio rarely speaks. he is a deep deep deep thinker. he often stares at the ceiling the entirety of the day, the others are jealous that he can consume himself and kill time so easily, he stares at the hypnotic beat of the whirling ceiling fan, thinking up schemes, planning escapes, going on adventures far far far away, and desperately needing answers to far-reaching questions which are as wide as solar systems. he is amenable to anything, just don't get on his bad side.

Rya joins them always around noon at the table with lunch. she is a sight for sore eyes for the three, and these three have eyes terribly sore from experience and from the smoke. Calvin never makes that known, Karl smiles humbly, and Marcio gives her a hug. Rya looks on the boys fondly, but she looks a beat more at Marcio after his embrace.

Rya paints her fingernails red while the boys play, she always does that.

Rya: Spades? Hearts?

Calvin shuffles the deck harshly and pulls out a card. it's the Queen of Spades. he gazes at it for a long time. he thinks of a female, and of the darkness of the spade. his frown becomes more pronounced. his brow furrows into farmland. he enters the memory in a way even Marcio could not achieve. Calvin takes a puff from his stogie, drops the card to the floor purposely trying to make it look accidental, then slides it, pushes it, forces it into the middle of the deck.

Calvin: all men are idiots.

the meals don't come free, y'know. each day Lysander has a private talk with each patient in his office, door closed. who knows what they talk about? the three boys discuss amongst themselves what their separate conversations are about to see if they can reach a consensus. they do. it's all the same thing, only it's different for each case. Lysander wants to know what your plans are for the future. the hospital is a crutch, not an institution. they closed down those lifelong institutions in the '20s 200 years ago, the states decided they couldn't fund them anymore. fucking money ruins everything. it would be so simple to lock people away forever in the funny farm and forget about them as society roared on, it's a win-win. thinking on both ends could stop. Marcio will never stop thinking. The Great Gatsby. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Marcio loves to read, he is a voracious reader, that's another trick of his to kill time in here, he learned it from Karl, who does his reading silently.

when it's Calvin's turn, Karl and Marcio sit on the couch together looking out for each other. currently on tv is a lame morning show. on another channel is a lame promo for old reruns of cop shows on USA. another channel has a lame war. so helpless is the watcher and not the doer. the watcher can only watch, the doer does the stuff that the watcher watches. especially in this space, people are helpless, hopeless


boredom pervades this space more than smoke. boredom can actually kill, smoke can't. a tall lanky babe in tight jeans enters the facility through the automatic swinging industrial two-doors. she does not notice the two on the raggedy sofa, she is too busy screaming about her ex-boyfriend and pushing buttons on her phone and crying. Marcio and she would have made a good couple, but it is not to be. in another minute, Lysander will have her transferred after a private meeting with her in his office, door closed.

Marcio: what did you talk about?

Calvin: glad you're still able to speak, but you wasted your breath on a question you already knew the answer to. isn't that what they teach lawyers to do? SOS, same old shit, and i need a real SOS to get the fuck out of here, i can't take it anymore. i know outside is worse, inside is security, but i want to die free.

Marcio and Karl in unison: i've been thinking...

Karl (eyes closed): you first, please...

Marcio: i've been thinking. i think i have a solution.

at Karl's turn, Calvin and Marcio sit next to each other in front of the blank tv. they are the world's softest prison gang. the little girl who got her yarn-spinning needles taken away from her is staring at the two virulently. there's something wrong with this child. she starts to spin a tale of her woe but it just comes out as another ranting complaint about the shit of life. the two feel sorry for her but know to keep their distance from her. one minute she's docile and plaintive, the next she's the evil seed. she is misunderstood like everyone in the world is misunderstood, but her tendencies are such that she will be misunderstood and alone the rest of her life. Three Stooges are on. the boys have tendencies, too, tendencies to observe, take in, and apply vignettes to their own lives. Marcio does not want to be alone like that. Calvin has a more doomed outlook, he doesn't want to be alone but concedes it's a possibility. the girl is already gone, forever alone, she doesn't see the Stooges up there on the stage for her to distract herself on like the boys do, she wails but she is behind permanent soundproof glass.

Karl closes his eyes as he rejoins them on the couch. the three birds in search of birds. the girl disappears.

Calvin: same old shit?

Karl smiles and immediately entrances himself with the Stooges.

it is Marcio's turn. Marcio enters the office. Lysander's bald head and whiskers turn around to face him.

Lysander: what is the meaning of your life?

Marcio does not take a dramatic pause as usual, he jumps right in there: Doctor, i have a plan. we all do.

Lysander: do you? well amen. i don't have to take out my cards and offer suggestions today?

Calvin and Karl knock on the door and come in.

Calvin: yeah, we got plans.

Lysander: i see. something not too drastic i hope.

Karl: the Stooges are over, and we needed to do something with our bodies, that's why we're here.

Lysander: come in, come in, three's not a crowd when it's my favorite boys' choir.

Calvin: we're going to join a monastery.

Lysander: all three of you? together? that is ingenious. pledging to a monastery is not like pledging to a frat, it is a scary prospect and usually done alone, which makes it scarier. going in as a three-man tandem will lessen the burden on all three of you collectively, each will hold his own weight on his shoulders to distribute the load evenly. loneliness will be quelled, lessened at least. this is quite clever. once again the doctor learns from the patients. i will be sad to see you go, but i won't be sad to see you go and thrive. you scoffed at me when i mentioned the monastery before. the monastery is the first item on my suggestions cards.

Marcio: we have given up. this is the answer for those of us who are special. we have given up, but this is the solution. we still have to eat, sleep, pray. we still have to be somewhere. we will never be somebodies, but we have to be somewhere. some bodies. we would stay here forever but we can't. so we go to the second option. i don't believe in God, i will make the perfect monk.

Lysander: might have a hurdle clearing the psych test, but i know a guy down there, one of the monks is a former psychologist, or psychiatrist, who eschewed the constant grind of listening to the inane problems of his patients to opt for the quiet life of a monk. i'll ring him and see if i can't perform another loophole miracle. the monastery is the haven for miracles after all. you're good kids, you'll thrive down there.

Calvin smiles internally.

Karl smiles.

Marcio thinks..........he is smiling.

Rya takes her ear away from the door at the last minute as the boys exit, she pretends to be fiddling with a banana in the food tray, brushing off the dirt as she drops it to the floor accidentally purposely.

the three sit on the sofa. Calvin stares at the offed screen in a disgusted mood. Karl takes a quick glance at the cover of the book Marcio is reading. Marcio is reading Thomas Merton.

Calvin: this is just going from one prison to another prison.

Karl: this is going to be the hardest thing we ever do, but it will be worth it in the end.

Marcio: this is gonna be cool.




Jules said...

Hello sweet Phoenix ;) Oh I do so love your stories...

I like these three boys. I can empathise with each of them for various reasons: Karl's mania and immediacy, Marcio's deep thinking and solitude; trying to find a real peace in answers. Calvin's periods of indifference to everything. They could almost be one person to me.

Ah, Spades...or "Chase the Lady" as I know it or even more fondly, "Hunt the ----" This dark bitch was a silent understanding between myself and step- father- it's a long story full of pain. He died and I was asked to write a letter to leave in his pocket before he was cremated. Obviously, I couldn't deal with that so instead I left the Queen of spades.

I know that little girl. I feel for that little girl for she will always be this way and just build walls around it.

Boredom is the worst killer, I concur. I'm not sure a Monastery is the answer but it will be an interesting experience and a good place to read Thomas Merton.

the late phoenix said...

juli: hi! :*

as always, i appreciate your commentary.

thank you for that vignette. Spades for me was always the way into the cool kids clique at drama camp. when i was finally playing an "adult game" with playing cards in a circle with the cute blonde lead actress, i had made it. little did i know that there was an even more exclusive clique beyond the cool kids who knew that the game was really called Hunt The B.

Cheeky Minx said...

But what of Rya? But what of the one they will leave behind?

Your words are the perfect panacea for my aching heart on this rainy afternoon.

Actually, they're just like a Rya-Mario embrace... x

the late phoenix said...

cheeky: we must remember this, a smile is just a smile, but a hug is not necessarily just a hug...