I pull myself up to sit on the edge of the bed, my head hanging down in my hands like the tear-woman. The laughter, screams, and psycho music from the TV room abruptly go silent. I hear the phone slam down and footsteps in the hall. I haul my leaden body up to peer out into the hallway. People are leaving the dayroom like after a movie lets out. I hear someone shout QUIET TIME!! I’m restless. I feel the withdrawal like a distant radio playing terrifying music in the background…What if you’re fired? What if you’re divorced? What if you have to move and your kids forget what your voice sounds like, forget they ever had a dad? Who will take care of Poozybear, our guinea pig, and make sure he gets his vitamin treat every day? What must your friends be thinking, talking, gossiping about?
In stark contrast to her patient, ass stuck in an old chair, head in his hands, his eyes suddenly leaden, Dr. Laha is a ball of goddamn energy. She fidgets and flops and adjusts herself in the chair and flips through the file on the table that must be my chart. Even though her dark eyes burn with intelligence, I size up her floppy figure, her clothes, her manic demeanor, and wonder what kind of quack they’ve stuck me with. An Indian doctor. Probably went to med school in the Black Hole of Calcutta and they let her in the states on quota. Whoever takes call for a place like this must be a fucking loser. Whatever. “I’ll be your doctor,” she says. “I’m a board-certified addictionologist. I graduated Harvard Medical School and did my residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as a fellowship at Johns Hopkins. I’m also a certified yoga teacher.” Ok, so I was wrong. I try to feign a condescending attitude. Well of course, I don’t belong here with this riff-raff. Shouldn’t we grab lunch and discuss neurology and our shared pity for addicts, those horrible patients. I try to rally my strength for the pretend insouciance of a fellow Ivy-leaguer, “Color me impressed,” I say, my body stiffening in a show of faux-formality. That’s all I have. One last rep in the gym of being a fake human being. I sink back down, re-defeated. “How much do you drink a day?” she asks. Suddenly…
This crush of bodies, the rush, the line, the techs with their black metal detector wands--I know I’m stuck in a mental hospital in Smyrna, but it feels like a cruel parody of going to the airport.
"There’s a girl with long straight black hair and black clothes and little red lines all up and down her arms that I think are cute little smiley sticker-tattoos. I look harder. They are razor cuts, and not just a few, but a dense, red rose-thicket of wounds."
Odysseus encounters the witch of the enchanted medroom and sights the demon of precipitated withdrawal just off shore. He considers the possibility of synthesizing Dilaudid from shampoo and decides to pay a visit to the damned in the underworld known as Cottage C.