The Wailing Window

By ManWithHat

"Don't count your chickens before they…?"

The nurse sits at the center of the circle in the common room and reads cliches from some game cards. She's trying to keep our minds active, a lost cause if there ever was one. I'm looking out the window, half-asleep, enjoying the colors of the world outside this clean, decrepit place. The lake is empty and cold, since it's still winter. Soon there will be boaters and jet skiers in full force, trying to enjoy all of the sunshine before it gets swallowed up once more by the bloated winter, which gets colder every year.

"Any body know this one? Don't count your chickens before they…? What are some things that chickens do?"

It takes an immense effort to move anywhere anymore. My legs are filled with water rather than fat or muscle. They look like the parts of some plastic doll. I take pills to ease the pain, not to fix the problem. The problem is that I'm old. There's no cure for it. They've been working on it for years, but all they've done so far is prolong this last stage of life.

"No, Dorothy, chickens don't bark. Close, though! Can anybody think of anything else?"

Those superstitious Catholics got rid of Limbo at the right time, though. We don't need a place for souls to go and wait. We've got it right here. We've invented it right here on Earth! It's this damned place, where Hermine is wheeled about against her will and sings a song without words or melody or rhythm or happiness or sanity, where Charles is force-fed shit food when all he wants to do is die in his sleep like his father, where Edna Joy moans and cries like a banshee at all hours of the day, piercing the walls with her sadness, where Artie can't remember his own name, and the nurses all mock us and treat us like children! Us! Children! We ran this city, this country, when you were shitting and pissing in your pants! And my own children can't talk to each other without barking like dogs. No, I won't go gently into that night! I won't go in a place painted with pictures to remind us of when we were alive and God listened to us in shule! I've outlived three wars, two wives and a whole lot else besides! THIS IS NOT HOW I DIE. All of these thoughts run through me, run in my blood and my brain and my body like a rabid pack of howling dogs, and I howl, too, I howl, I howl my damned head off! I grab on and hang on to the nearest person's flesh, and I remember how it felt to be punched, slapped, kissed, hugged, spat upon, loved, hung over, hated! I don't care what they think! Call me crazy, but give credit where credit is due! This place, this hole, this hell! This is crazy!

The needle works quickly, and the howl subsides, as does my mind, and I watch the colors of the world outside blend together, fading away into the place between sleep and stupor.

And, in the common room, they're annoyed I interrupted their game.


The Wailing Window

Created: Mar 13, 2010


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