The Safest Place

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“I don’t know what to do!”

The plea sends twinges through my body. I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to break out of the joint, and this lunatic has been yelling the same thing for the last hour.

I have a few ideas of what he can do, but I can’t afford the time to tell him.

I’ve already been here too long. I tried to prove my sanity earlier, but it only secured my confinement here. At the mere thought of my failure I feel my nostrils flare. I clench my fists and pound them on the arms of the chair. Damn. Maybe if I could control my anger, I wouldn’t be stuck here.

Escape is the only answer now. But how? The doors are locked, requiring a code to exit. Beyond the main door of this room is a series of doors, each demanding a key or a code. I don’t know how many doors, though. I was stoned when they brought me in. Sons of bitches drugged me. I remember my eyes rolling behind my eyelids and fighting to bring them back around. I also remember the finality of the sound of each set of doors slamming shut behind me.

The acrid smell of urine assaults my nose. My throat spasms. My stomach tightens.

I check the windows. The sun slams through my eyeballs. Before I’m forced to look away I see the bars over the windows. No escape there.

“I don’t know what to do!”

Geez. Why can’t they drug that guy? If he doesn’t stop soon, I’m gonna have to kill him. And I could.

Distractions, everywhere distractions. I need to focus.

There’s a door close by, but it only leads into the nurse’s station. The last door is across the room, but it leads to the sleeping quarters–more like prison cells. No escape that way.

“I don’t know what to do!”

Ah! I’d be able to formulate a plan if that guy would shut up for five minutes.

Escape will require some sort of ruse. I’m thinking something along the lines of hiding in the dirty laundry and getting wheeled through the front doors. Although, I don’t have a man on the outside, or the inside for that matter. Maybe they do laundry in-house, jokes on me.

“I don’t know what to do!”

I hear ya, brother. I look at the man across the room for the first time with pity instead of irritation. I don’t know what to do either.

I see a nurse approach him from behind. Maybe she’ll put an end to his repetitive shouts.


I’m embarrassed to say I jump at the sound of my name. I was so engrossed in watching the nurse approaching the crazy old man that I failed to spot the one sneaking up on me.

I think the nurses get their jollies from scaring the patients.

“Is there something I can help you with?” she asks me, not unkindly.

I look into her face and I’m startled for the second time. The nurse is a twin to the one hunched over the crazy repeater.

I don’t respond. Instead, I scrutinize the other nurse to see if I’m mistaken.

I’m not. Same frizzy, gray hair; crooked yet dignified nose; strong, manly square jaw, stubble and all. They are identical.

The man across the room also notices the resemblance between the two nurses. He meets my gaze, and asks with his eyes, “Did you notice? Did you see?”

I start to nod when the nurse draws my attention away saying something I don’t quite catch.

“I don’t know what to do!”

The man won’t give it up, and I feel my vexation rise again.

Now is my chance. I’ll tell the nurse to go shove a rag down the man’s throat. Shove it hard.

I’m about to demand she remove him from the room when my chair begins to roll across the common area. I’m aware of the wheelchair I’m in for the first time. It doesn’t matter, my legs feel fine. What matters is that she is steering me toward the TV.

That’s certainly not what I want. I lift my hand and point over to the man. I see he is being moved as well. I notice his outstretched hand.

A thought occurs to me. Quite an outlandish notion. I wave my hand, and the man waves back. I raise my hand, and then lower it, only to have the man do the same.

Helpless. I feel helpless.

“I don’t know what to do!”

The mirror ends so I don’t see my lips move.

My chair stops. I look up at the TV.

Even now, I feel the cry creeping up my throat, and I can’t think of any truer words I’ve ever spoken.

“I don’t know what to do!”



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