“Can I trust you to behave yourself, James?” came the nasally voice of Doctor Winslow.
Jimmy lay on his bed, his arms and legs restrained. He had spent the first fifteen minutes thrashing like a fish on land, but then his energy had dropped. He hated this ancient body–yet another reason to feel he was losing his mind.
Now, he lay on the bed, staring at the dim fluorescent lighting, as he had been doing for the past few hours. The light flickered every few seconds. He wondered why they didn’t replace the bulb. In a way, the pattern was a comfort. It was something to focus on. He also tracked a water mark that had been there since before he arrived nearly two years ago.
He nodded, his eyes on the ceiling. Anything to avoid the doctor.
“Remove the restraints,” the doctor said. He left the room.
Two orderlies released Jimmy from his bed. He sat up and rubbed at his wrists, the marks from the restrains sure to remain for a while. The men walked away when they seemed convinced that Jimmy was going to remain calm.
Jimmy sighed. “What the hell? Why do I even bother?” He ran his hand over his scruffy face and stood.
He ambled down the hall to the common area. The T.V. was on, several patients gathered around it. Some stood, their arms crossed over their chests or talking between themselves. Others sat in various chairs placed randomly around the room. Some of them seemed fine, like they were just regular guys going about their day, but others roamed the room, moaning, screaming, and yelling, gesticulating with their hands and twitching their heads.
He made his way to the couch and sat. The six o’clock news was on. He only half-listened most evenings, not concerning himself with what was happening in a world he had no part in anymore. Then an all-too-familiar man’s face appeared on the screen.
“Hey, turn that up,” Jimmy said to the guy standing closest to the outdated T.V.
The guy shrugged and turned the knob to up the volume.
The newcaster’s voice seemed to come through a tunnel from miles away at Jimmy: “Local millionaire Randall Davis, founder and CEO of Randall P. Davis Innovations, is under arrest for the suspected murder of his wife, Danielle Davis. Danielle Davis’s body was found slaughtered in the bathtub in the Davis’s home here in–”
Jimmy bit down hard on his fingers and screamed. He shot to his feet and charged at the T.V. Several startled patients jumped out of the way.
“Whoa, watch it!”
“What the hell d’you think you’re doin’?”
“Just crazy, old Jimmy at it again!”
Someone laughed. Someone else hooped and hollered in excitement. Jimmy ignored them all and rammed into the T.V., knocking it down.
“You fucking liar!” he screamed at the now broken T.V., the newscaster’s face gone from the screen and a hole left where his head had been.
Before he could do anything else, two orderlies grabbed him around the arms.
“This seems to be becoming a habit for you, Jimmy,” one of them said. “Why don’t you calm down now and come with us the easy way?”
Jimmy fought and flailed, jerking his arms this way and that. He managed to yank one of his arms free and punched the guy who held his other arm. For an old guy, he was agile when he needed to be. The second orderly cried out in pain and grabbed at his bloody nose, while the first one staggered, still reeling from Jimmy’s escape. He made to grab Jimmy again, but Jimmy punched him in the gut. He ran at the door. He had to get out of there. He had to escape, go to Danielle, find out she was okay.
Then someone tackled him. The weight of the guy on his back was enough to tell him it was the fat orderly whose name was David or Doug or something. Jimmy struggled to move, reaching out in front of him along the dirty floor.
“No,” he moaned. “Please…no…”
His uneven nails clutched at a tile that was missing a piece in one corner. He felt the needlestick in his neck. The last thing he saw before he passed out was a black mark from someone’s shoe on the white linoleum.
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