Fruitcake by dixē.flatlin3
I have spent nearing eight weeks researching an article for my column, so I need do a warm up exercise to prep for writing. That is, I need to warm up on a machine. I have been writing by hand a story for an upcoming anthology for the past month. That is going to be a motherfucker to transcribe, but I digress. I need to warm up the old fingers on a keyboard. Lately a visit I made to a friend of yore has come into mind. Not sure why, but it has. And thus, I am going to share it with the anonymous masses.
I recall receiving a message on my answering machine (remember those things?!) during the holiday season. It was from an ex-boyfriend, who detailed that he was in the hospital and would like me to visit. I believe that he left a room number, and I believe that I called and spoke to him to arrange the visit. It was in the evening when I went to see him, and a few days before the Christmas holiday. I vividly recall how the hospital was festooned in holiday cheer. I inquired at the front desk and was given directions for how to locate him.
He had warned me that the he was in the psychiatric ward, and that the visiting hours were more stringent than usual hospital visitation. I had allowed myself enough time to get lost and still spend at least an hour with him. We had not parted ways under malice or acrimony, at least not on my part. I presumed he was cool with it, given the recent phone call and request to visit him in psych ward. It had been several months, if memory serves me, and we had always enjoyed the time we spent together. Lets just say things were complicated…
So, there I was, standing at the nurses’ station, waiting to get clearance to enter into the land of the unknown. I don’t recall much about the staff or the other patients. I wish that I did, but alas the effects of drugs and the passing of time have taken their toll. Or perhaps I was in detached mode and not focusing on the minutiae, I do that sometimes. I do recall that after I was allowed into the secured area and taken to the area to meet him, the sight of him gave me pause. He was wearing a hospital gown and looked very much the invalid. He typically dyed his hair a vibrant shade of blue and sometimes styled it into a Mohawk. His hair was disheveled and a sad shade of waning blue. He smiled to greet me and we immediately went out to smoke. Again, this is back when people could still smoke in designated areas of a hospital. Because of his confinement, which I assumed to be involuntary, there was a secure area for us to use. It was outside and had very high walls, for obvious reasons I suppose. He had to light his cigarette in the hallway of the facility using an electronic device on the wall. “We are not allowed matches or lighters,” he laughed. “For obvious reasons.”
We spent the entire visit out on the patio, He informed me that he was one of the more sane patients there and he wanted to shield me from the “insanity. I don’t really remember what we talked about. I don’t know that he ever explained why he had asked me to come visit him. He did admit that he had voluntarily committed himself to “get a break” as he put it. Explaining that sometimes life just got the better of him and going away for a bit usually sorted things out in his head. He was a musician (the one I had forgotten about when I boasted that I had never dated one) and I suppose that lends itself to the realm of psychotic episodes. I don’t know really, we never discussed that part of his life. We mostly just hung out during the few weeks we dated.
A nurse came out to inform us that visiting hours were ending soon and invited me to join them for a snack of some sort. I politely declined, but it’s what he said at this point that has always stuck with me. There was a serving tray in the middle of a common area and on it there were paper plates and a desert cake of some sort. He smiled and then winked at me as he said to the closest nurse,
“Fruitcake, isn’t that like cannibalism in this place?”
That was the last time I saw him. And I have yet to come across him again in the digital realm of social media- a desolate landscape of faces I never wanted to see again, but sadly lacking those I wouldn’t mind running into.