Sitting in the day room at 6:30, my head still abuzz from the night fog
that is an unfinished night’s sleep. Men gather for the smoke, the
ritual that keeps all of us going, and eventually is our end.
We sit in gazes while some men roll cigarets. Others play cards, while a
white dude with a goatee and shaved head folds laundry.
One guy who looks like a cutout from Goodfellas shuffles cards with a
loud crunch, his face intent. I invite myself into a game, hoping to
play spades. He says he’s waiting to play poker then gives me the
silent treatment. I can take a hint.
My stomach growls a bit and I daydream about breakfast. During the
week we have something hot, my favorite being eggs with sausage and
seasoned potatoes. Yesterday was Saturday tho and we had two danishes:
I had cheese and strawberry.
I don’t know what we have on Sundays, but I know I won’t bitch. My
first night in Cleveland I stole a turkey and cheese sandwich from the
Greyhound bus station then walked for an hour in the cold and finally
walked in front of a cop car just to get its attention. My plan was to
go to the hospital, then get into the homeless shelter.
The cop asked what was going on, and I told him the truth. I was
hearing voices. I can’t explain it, but the voices convinced me to
come here to Cleveland, a shitty city if there was one. I enjoy the
I can’t prove it yet, but I know I don’t have schizophrenia. And
that’s all I have to say about that at the moment.
But getting back to my story, the cop pulls to the side of the road,
lights blaring. He asks what’s the matter, and soon I’m in the back of
his car, fortunately not in handcuffs.
He drops me off at a hospital, the name of it slips my mind at the moment.
There I’m served with the usual treatment: a barrage of questions that
all end in “no” and then an invite to sit in a room with uncomfortable
plastic chairs meant for torture. As usual when waiting in the torture
room, I can’t sit down but circle the small floor, just waiting to
pass out on a hospital bed. A nurse keeps yelling at me to sit down,
and before I know it I’m brought into a room where I’m strapped down
to a bed.
I can’t explain the torture of being strapped down other than to say
it’s like staring death in the face. Men hold you down while the
executioner, always slow and methodical, takes each strap to the joint
of the limbs, securely and tightly tying down the ankles and wrists
while you feel the guillotine slowly hack saw your head off.
This time is different tho. There’s only two straps—one for my left
ankle and one for my right wrist. I don’t feel the guillotine this time
either but just safe defeat knowing I finally have a bed to lay on.
I’m also able to turn onto my right side with this set up, and without
having to scream or feel the executioner’s cold hands snap the wrist,
The rest lasts no more than an hour tho before I’m awoken by another
nurse who has another round of questions. She asks if I want to leave
that night, and knowing full well how bad and torturous those
hospitals are, I say yes.
I ask how to get out of the straps. She tells me nonchalantly they just have to be
unbuckled. My right hand is already free–a voice during the night
explained to me how to pull my wrist out. Again, I know this isn’t
schizophrenia. Maybe a government, maybe an agency, maybe just one
wicked imagination, but the voice always comes and gives me guidance.
The man also asks me if I want to be his slave for another two years.
I say yes without hesitation, full well aware what I’m getting into.
I’ve been thru torture and hazing and pain. It doesn’t matter what you
do to stop it, it will come. I know it will end tho because God does
deliver us from our situations. That might be a lie.
Back out in the cold I feel rested and safe despite being lost. I walk
into a hotel lobby and buy a coke that costs a dollar. I only have 60
cents but the cashier shrugs and takes the change. Never seen that
From there I find the Greyhound bus station again and find warmth
inside. I pass out on the floor of the station next to a wall and
finally get some sleep, only to be awoken a couple of hours later by
an attendant warning me a line will be forming where I sleep.
From there I find a bench to lay on, one in front of a TV. CNN is
being broadcast, and the newscaster announces with alarment that
Wikileaks has just released documentation proving the CIA has been
hacking phones and TVs. Again, I’m not convinced I have schizophrenia nor
My rest is peaceful and necessary. Instead of being manic, walking
around for 3 days, and being locked in a hospital, I’m sane and calm
on a bench. I sleep close to 4 hours and am awoken to a security
guard demanding my ticket. I tell him I don’t have one and he tells me
to get out.
Before I leave I head into the bathroom for a morning piss, only to be
followed by the faggot into the bathroom. As I piss he demands I leave
and I try to explain that I just have to use the restroom. I finish
and zip and exit the building, aware I’m being followed.
Outside a man asks for a quarter. I explain I have none.
Another man walks up to me and tells me there’s a hotel I can stay
during the morning to get out of the cold. Confused about why he’s
talking to me and trying to help, I follow the man. It’s unusual and
can’t be explained. How does he know my situation? How does he know I
have nowhere to go?
I’ve seen these things happen before, things that shouldn’t. It’s like
being in a movie or a dream. Men start telling me things I shouldn’t
know about. People start acting strange. Locked doors unlock
themselves. You’ll call me crazy, but I know I’m being protected and
tortured by the same people, the one’s in my head. It’s why I’m here.
And just as the situation can’t get weirder, the man walks into the
hotel and gets into an argument with the security guard who calmly
explains to the man that people aren’t allowed to stay in the lobby.
I don’t know why the man even brought me here. I knew this would
happen. The hotel is some fancy shmancy place, and this is a black man
in a carhartt and steel toed boots. Why the hell is he even talking to
I go to leave, annoyed by the whole situation, but the man follows me,
now telling me there’s a casino I can go to. I follow him again, not
really sure what else to do.
As we walk down the street I seem a man laying on the ground, possibly
asleep. Possibly dead. Smoke drifts out of a sewer cap. The man I’m following tells
me to leave him alone.
We gather in a bus stop under one of those plastic shelter things with
a bench. I have no idea what the hell they’re called. I don’t have a
dime to my name but I sit there quietly, waiting for what’s next.
A bus pulls up and the man walks on. I follow him and tell both him
and the driver I don’t have any money. The man mumbles something
and the driver says he’ll only do this one time. And with that I catch
a free ride in Cleveland, Ohio. And fuckit, I’ve never seen that
to be continued…