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  • Jimmy Broccoli

1013 - 5150 (These Aren't Random Numbers)

My shady-eyed psychiatrist – Aaron O. Godwin, M.D. –

shifts awkwardly in his high-back chair

(it looks uncomfortable and pale green is a horrible color for a chair)

it’s our final session…

he is moving to California, and he asks,

“if you were to kill yourself, how would you do it?”

“I’m not suicidal”, I reply – “I’m just really really sad –

and don’t know how to stop”

“if you were to kill yourself, how would you do it?”, he repeats

“I’d hang myself”, I say…

Dr. Godwin stands up…

“1013” (ten-thirteen), he says out loud

What the fuck does that fucking mean?

Involuntary, incarceration, mental institution – the fucking nut house –

I sit in a chair with a security guard blocking the door as we wait for the ambulance to arrive –

I’m not sick or injured – I don’t need an ambulance

…the security guard is not listening to me –

as he, with no expression, blocks the door

I’ve never paid this much attention to fluorescent lights on the ceiling before

I can look nowhere, but upwards – and to my sides

As I’m wheeled down corridor after corridor of seemingly never-ending fluorescent lights

- and patients in gowns – and I ride at least 3 elevators -

yes, I’m fucking strapped down – both of my wrists and both ankles are in restraints –

and the ambulance EMTs have no expressions on their faces

their expressions are empty

I’m in Ward 3, for the criminally insane – because there isn’t yet room in the Men’s Ward (it’s full) –

this is (potentially) a story with a very bad ending –

I lower my voice and am careful how I walk –

to look tougher and appear more masculine

I don’t know what will happen to me here -

and I don’t want to (I can’t) be scarred like that

(you know what I mean) –

I didn’t say “scared” (though I could have), I said “scarred”. I can’t be scarred like that –

I won’t survive it

Then, I’m being given pills that I don’t want to take –

but I’m forced to take them –

if I don’t (voluntarily), an orderly will pin me down on a table or on a chair and force them down my throat –

I know this to be true because I’m, in real time, watching it happen to others –

“pill hour” is highly violent and traumatic – and I don’t want to be taking these medications

A flashlight shines in my eyes at the top (or near it) of every fucking hour while I’m trying to sleep –

because I’m on suicide watch –

and I can’t fucking sleep with a fucking flashlight shining in my motherfucking face every hour –

and then there is breakfast at 6:30 am (after I had to listen to my assigned roommate masturbate)

We’re strongly encouraged (forced) to socialize for hours –

every day –

I’m socializing, so the doctors will see me socializing and I can get the fuck out of here –

but it’s awful – these people have problems – very serious and real problems –

and they need help – very serious and real help -

the mental instability floats in the air like autumn mist –

and it’s highly disturbing and sticks to you - and you cannot avoid it -

it’s Day 2 and I’m fucking making a fucking ashtray out of clay in a class I am forced to attend –

and I’m “making friends”

Brad is obviously highly medicated –

And he has just returned from his electroconvulsive treatment

I talk to him, and some guy named Nigel in the Main Room

where all inmates hang during the day –

“Hello, I’m Jimmy”, I say. “I fucking hate it here” –

“I’m Brad”. Okay

It is nice to meet you Brad – as he stares into space with an open mouth -

Nigel likes to dance – and he hums and sometimes sings, sometimes loudly –

this place is a fucking horror story – and I think I might die –

for the first time in years, I think I might want to die

I’m transferred to Ward 7 – the Men’s ward –

and I am visibly shaking –

The nighttime security is 1 man – and there are 78 of us –

I won’t sugar-coat this – I am terrified of being raped

I can fight off one or two – but not more

(I begin planning how to best defend myself

– actively making plans to survive)

It’s 7 am and we’re all drinking fucking sugar-free Tang out of paper cups

and eating yogurt and oatmeal (plastic spoons only) in the caf –

and (as always) we’re told to socialize – to make new friends

“I fucking have friends– these people here are fucking insane and crazy as fuck”, I tell a guard – and he looks at me like I’m crazy –

(I pause)

- perhaps, I’m quickly becoming it

- adapting. blending in. fading into the landscape appropriately

it’s fucking Tuesday and the TV is set to soap operas in the Main Room –

and the guy I’m sitting next to (his name is Terry) is violent – he has that stare

We both ignore the television

“I fucking hate it here”, Terry says to open air

“yeah”, is all I reply because I’m running out of energy to speak

Here it is again! The fucking flashlight every fucking hour shining in my motherfucking face –

“I’m not fucking suicidal – and I never was”, I yell –

…mental institutions are not good places to yell

The security guard on Ward 7 laughs after I speak –

“I’m here for 4 days, the minimum”, I tell him –

and somehow this is funny

“Relax”, he tells me – “nobody gets out in 4 days –

Make yourself comfortable” –

and I fucking want to punch him in his smug motherfucking face

End of Day 4.

A clean bill of mental health by both psychiatrists

I leave with a fucking clay ashtray

and I leave with memories –

memories (fucking memories) …

A transport (car) is waiting outside of the hospital and a fellow inmate wants to go before me –

I physically shove him out of my way –

and he falls backwards onto the parking lot asphalt -

he doesn’t fight me – though I am ready -

I get in the car, and he is waiting for the next transport –

at this point I am loud and pissed the fuck off – and not far from violence

not far from violence

I arrive home and my roommate, my best friend is furious –

he has aged 2 years since I saw him last Friday

He embraces me tightly and doesn’t stop for several seconds –

he says, through sudden tears, “I’m glad you’re not dead –

I don’t think I could fucking handle that”

(he didn’t know where I was because I wasn’t allowed to call him) –

and I cannot help but break down with frantic and immediate tears –

and I don’t stop for hours –

I don’t stop for hours

Dr. Aaron O. Godwin currently practices in Ventura, California –

at Vista Del Mar Hospital -

I cannot tell you what I have done –

(he should not be a doctor)

And I cannot tell you what I continue to do -

and I’ll never stop…

I’ll never fucking stop…


Photo: Jimmy Broccoli

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