“Mr. Williams, please take your medicine, and we won’t have a problem,” said the middle-aged nurse with the poofy hair. The hair he hated. It drove him crazy.
“How many times do I have to tell you, Poodle, that I’m not Mr. Williams?”
The nurse sighed. “Please call me Nurse Stephens, Mr. Williams.” Her tone almost sounded bored.
Behind him in line, another man nudged his shoulder. “C’mon, Jimmy, just take them. You’re not doin’ yourself any favors here.”
The old man called Mr. Williams frowned, snatched the tiny paper cup from the nurse, and downed the pills. He shoved it back at her. “Here, you happy?” He stepped out of line and returned to the common area and took a seat.
His friend from the line joined him a moment later. “Jimmy, why do you gotta be so difficult?”
The old man stared at his friend. “Fine, call me Jimmy, just like you always do. It doesn’t seem to matter what I say. No one believes me, Charles.”
Charles clapped his hands and ran them over his buzz cut. His young face broke into a grin. “Right. ‘Cause you’re completely sane, bro. That’s what everyone in here believes.”
Jimmy shook his head. “You wouldn’t understand. How could you possibly? Look, I know you mean well and all, but if you don’t believe me, maybe it’d be best if you just left me alone.”
Charles chuckled. “Aw, leavin’ you alone’s the dangerous thing, Jimmy-boy.” He stood and walked away, twitching his neck every so often.
Jimmy watched the younger man go. Charles was younger, true, but according to Jimmy’s calculation, he was only sixteen years his junior, not forty.
The old man called Jimmy sighed. Of course everyone thinks I’m crazy. I’m in a damn nuthouse. He gazed toward the barred window at the sunshine beyond his world. The more time that passed in here, life passing him by, the crazier he got, he supposed. He hated that.
He also hated the side effects of his meds. Drowsiness. A great way to keep from thinking too much about his predicament. Jimmy stood and returned to his room like a good patient and fell asleep.
Later that day, he sat in his psychiatrist’s office. Dr. Winslow leaned back in his swivel chair, his bulk spilling over either side. He kept an ashtray on his desk from days gone by. The good doctor surveyed Jimmy over his half-moon glasses perched on the end of his bulbous nose. The grease from his lunch hung on his chin as much as oil clung to what remained of his greying hair.
“So, tell me how you’ve been, James.”
James. It was worse than Jimmy or even Mr. Williams. The doctor chose somewhere between familiar and formal. Jimmy didn’t know how to read him.
Jimmy shrugged. “You tell me, Doc. Aren’t I supposed to be up for my board review to tell me if I’m reformed enough to return to civilized society?”
Dr. Winslow leaned back further in his chair. Jimmy wondered how the hell that was possible. The doctor rested his beefy forearms on his ample belly and steepled his fingers. He had all the appearance of a sage contemplating the meaning of life. “Yes, that’s true, but one step at a time, James. If you are, in fact, determined to not be a danger, your next move would be to a fully supervised facility. What will you tell them at the time of your hearing?”
“Ah, the truth or your truth, James?”
“My names isn’t James Williams. I’m Randall Davis, and I’m–”
“Yes, you’re a millionaire, successful CEO of Randall P. Davis Innovations, making a better future for us all. James, have you seen the news recently?”
Jimmy nodded. “Yeah, I’ve seen it, too many times.”
The doctor smiled. “Then you’ll know and understand that Mr. Davis isn’t a guy you’d wanna be even if there were possible. His name isn’t so hot in the industry these days, and I’m afraid his company’s image isn’t the empire he built, either.”
The old man shifted, something dropping in him. “You think I haven’t seen those damn biased news stories? They just love any sort of gossip that’ll ruin a man’s life. There’s no proof it’s true that he’s anything but faithful to my wife.”
“You mean his wife?”
“No, my wife. I love Danielle. We’ve been married for over ten years and–”
Dr. Winslow held up his hand. “That’ll be enough, James. I’m done entertaining your delusions. Besides, why do you care about a man’s life who has nothing to do with you own? Now, let’s get back to discussing you. If you were one day deemed successfully rehabilitated, what would you like to do with yourself?”
“I’d like to find myself.”
“Well, that’s all very enlightening and all, but I’m afraid I’ll need you to be more specific. How would you contribute to society? If you do will in a group home setting, the board may one day deem you ready to be set up with some sort of work and living independently. You would be monitored regularly. Some sort of meaningful hobby or way to give back would show that you’ve made a good recovery.”
“You mean, reflect well on the institution’s part for not just putting another nutcase out on the streets?” Jimmy gripped the handles of his chair. A vein throbbed in his forehead. His face heated.
“Now, James, there’s not need to refer to yourself as–”
“I don’t care!” Jimmy stood, the chair clattering to the floor. He came at the stupid doctor who thought he was so smart. I’ll strangle you, I swear it. You and your ugly mug and your wrong perceptions.
The doctor momentarily panicked, but pressed a button on his wearable alarm. Jimmy screamed and lunged at the doctor, his arthritic, knobby hands clutching at the guy’s thick neck. Seconds later, two big men entered and grabbed Jimmy.
“I’m not Jimmy Williams! I’m not!” he cried as the orderlies hauled him out of the psychiatrist’s office.
Dr. Winslow righted himself in his chair and averted his eyes from the old man. The door closed on Jimmy’s raving. The doctor scrawled on his paper: “For the consideration of the review board, my recommendation is further rehabilitation.”
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