Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Ballad of Tom N' Jim (IV)

Sunbeams and Psychotics

He sat in the main ‘livingroom’ surveying the scene. Lacking the hallmark card childhood that you see in so many different commercials he wasn’t used to a homey, comfortable “living area” but even to him this seemed like a stretch.

Cold linoleum floors that reflected the light pouring in through the screened windows, cheap vinyl seats scattered throughout the room, a single clock high up on the wall ticking away the day. If felt like the sort of place you’d go to die- empty, sterile, lifeless.

The inhabitants of the place did nothing to boost his confidence. There was a small, bearded man in the corner yelling loudly and animatedly in a language he couldn’t make out. Every now an again he’d bang his hand on the arms rest of his chair as if to illustrate his point, whatever it might be.

There was a small assortments of outcasts gathered around the television set- a large, monstrous box that looked like it would’ve been the latest technology in home theater viewing back in 1967. All of them were in some stage of comatose excitement.

There was an old man that looked like he hadn’t been bathed or shaven in longer than could be easily deduced sat staring in the general direction of the TV with drool warming his lip and cheek. There was a young woman with her hospital gown draping open in the back, revealing her bare buttocks resting on the chair as she help her knees to her chest and rocked back and forth gently. He couldn’t quite make it out over the sound of the television but she might have been humming to herself. And then there was the slight frame bent over onto itself. He couldn’t figure out from the back if it were a man a woman, how old they were or what other distinguishing characteristic they might have. All of his attention was trapped on the giant bulge of spine popping out of the person’s back, curled over like the remnants of a demolished building. The skin stretched as if the person it belonged to hadn’t eaten food since the last presidential election and he felt himself cringe internally at the thought of how bad the food here must be if they were that diminished.

Of all the inhabitants in the room- those shuffling back and forth in hospital slippers, those yelling or mumbling to themselves (or to people only they could see and hear) and the candy box assortment of half conscious ghosts there was one person who attracted his attention more than any of them. Her platinum blond hair seemed to glow like a white halo around her head, illuminated by the sunlight streaming in from the window in front of her. Her arms showed the scars of a from of self injury he wasn’t familiar with- the cabs might’ve been from an instrument or her finger nails, there was no easy way of telling. She sat as still as a statue, her head tilted upward towards the sky, gaze fixed on something in the distance.

He didn’t know why she attracted his attention so much, she didn’t seem any more in touch than anyone else in the room. But there was something about the way she sat, gaze transfixed and unmoving, that interested him. She didn’t ignore the disturbances of the room like her more comatose brethren, something about her made it seem like she heard it and just chose to ignore it. And her stance wasn’t the relaxed calm of a person too drugged up to experience regular muscle movement- it was the calm, reclined position of someone in a genuine state of relaxation. And perhaps that was what was so odd about her- that she couldn’t be detached in that… normal of a way. It made him wonder what she was looking at.

He observed all of this from the back and sat, wondering what would happen next. It had seemed to him lately that he’d become a second class passenger in own life, watching his life fly by without any control of where it would go next. And although he didn’t know who was in charge, he knew that they had absolutely no interest in making his journey anymore pleasant for him. He should’ve been upset about that, on some level. But he wasn’t. He was only vaguely irked as if it didn’t really matter all that much.

And that reaction, or lack thereof, more than anything else he’d gone through lately made him think that maybe he wasn’t as out of place here as he’d like to think.

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