But He Were Happy
But He Were Happy
"It was a dark and stormy evening." Surely he was hallucinating. He'd forgotten his umbrella and stood outside the door in the rain. He had lost everything. Even his dog had left him. He was too depressed to speak as he stood there wondering how it had happened.
They wanted him to take Lithium, of course. He'd been off his meds for two or three months and was convinced that he was just fine. Maybe he was a little OCD, 1,2,3,4, but he thought he could handle it. There was just one problem - God. He'd forgotten the secret name he'd been given; God's redphone, the hotline that would put him straight through. Others thought him crazy for having faith. Who would have faith in this day and age?
He pulled his hat down over his ears. "Once a pickle, never a cucumber." He'd been sober for years. Finally, he had arrived at life on life's terms. He repeated the cliches to himself over and over again. They helped keep the demons away. And the angels.
People already knew the God they didn't believe in. They knew what "crazy" was. He turned away from the door and stepped into the street. The rain came down like pouring pee from a boot. Where was an electric fence when you needed one? His paranoia deepened. The thoughts had to find a way out of his head. He was allowing them rent-free. He'd forgotten how to be funny. He'd forgotten how to simply be. And he had to remember.
So many things turned out to be silly, like his mission to "teach everyone how to play," like his mission to promote the secret group-free communist cabal, like his mission to warn everyone about the plot of the squirrels. The voice in his head, offered: "You're crazy. Crazy standing in the rain." No meds, no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes, all that was left was coffee and that had to go too. "I'd like to get laid sometime soon," he thought, as he walked off into the night.
He woke up leaning up against a garbage can, thinking that things couldn't get any worse when he noticed for the first time that the rain had turned to snow and the wind had picked up. He suddenly smiled his smile and thought of catching breakfast at a nearby homeless shelter.
For some reason, everything had turned beautiful. The wind turned thick into a blizzard. He thought how wonderful it all was, he felt he could almost fly. In fact, he felt reunited with God and all was right with the world. He turned left at the top of the block and made his way through the snow. The shelter was a few blocks away but he wasn't discouraged. He felt that nothing could shatter his mood. He had learned not to question these things.
It suddenly became clear. He was here to save his people. He would begin with the homeless shelter. No wait. He'd begin right here, right now, with the people passing by in their cars. He stepped out into the street and narrowly avoided being hit, as a car slammed on its brakes. He barely noticed as he walked around the side of the car and knocked on the window.
"Repent, and follow me. I will save my people."
"You're a lunatic!" the driver yelled through the crack in the window. But he had already moved deeper into traffic.
He didn't notice the policemen coming out of the donut shop but they saw him. One of them went to the car to call it in, while the other made his way into the traffic blowing his whistle. The officer came up behind him and quickly drew his arm behind his back, guiding him over to the squad car where he was forced into the back seat.
"You don't understand!" he cried out. "I have to save my people! I'm their only hope!"
The officer who had called in the "mental hygiene arrest," turned to him and said, "Calm down, sir. We're going to get you someplace safe. Everything is going to be okay."
He took this in, then exploded, "You don't understand! People are dying without being saved! Without ever knowing me! What hope do they have unless I reach them?" And he began banging his head against the wire mesh between the front and back seats.
The same officer quickly got out and climbed into the back seat, saying, "Sir, you have to calm down. We're going to take you to get some help."
He turned towards the officer and pleaded, "You don't understand."
"Yes I do. We're going to take you someplace warm, get you cleaned up and give you something to eat. Then you can tell people all about your purpose."
"You understand," he said, beginning to weep. "Finally, someone understands." And he sat back in the seat and began to sob.
"Let's go," the officer said to the one driving, and they pulled out into traffic with the sirens blaring into the blustery snow.
He woke up strapped down to a bed. The psych ward. How had he come here again? He struggled briefly against the restraints. He wasn't going anywhere. He felt hungover from the sedation they'd given him.
"Help!" he cried out.
"Somebody help! I don't have time! You must understand! I'm going to be taken back soon!" He tried to bang his head back on the pillow, but could make no noise. After a few moments, he thought, and said, "I have to go to the bathroom!"
He heard a key fit into the door lock, turn, and the door open. Three aids entered the room and warned, "We'll try letting you out of those restraints and take you to the bathroom, but if you misbehave, you'll be right back in here, strapped down.
They came to his bed, began unstrapping him, but watched him very carefully for any sign of violence. He had already decided that he had to play along or he'd never get out to save his people. He went quietly with them and used to the bathroom. Afterword, he returned calmly to his bed.
"You okay, sir?" one of the orderlies asked.
"Yes, I'm fine. There's no need to tie me back down. I'll be good."
"I'll ask the charge nurse. Be right back," and the man left the room some time, then came back and told him that he had to stay on one-on-ones for the rest of the night, but if he managed to stay in control, he'd be free to be out on the ward by breakfast the next day.
"Oh. I understand. That's okay." and thought, "Don't these people know who I am?" but he didn't say anything.
"Can I have a chair?" he asked, but the orderly said "No. Not until they clear you from precautions in the morning."
He didn't mind. He climbed up onto his bed and rocked back and forth singing, "What a friend we have in..." over and over, unable to remember the name that followed those words in the song. Then he jammed the heels of his hands into his eyes, seeing himself killing anonymous people in strange places. He thought, "This is not me. Where do these visions come from? Ah! I am in the desert, being tempted. I mustn't forget my mission." but he said nothing.
After an hour or so, (there was no clock in the room), the nurse came in with medications. Mostly Lithium and Atavan, and an anti-psychotic. He took them without complaint, thinking, (These pills have nothing over the power of God.) And when the meds took effect, he laid down on the bed and fell into a fitful sleep.
He found himself in a hallway of his old high school. There were bodies lying everywhere. Everyone was dead. He raised his hand and proclaimed a benediction. The bodies began to stir. But there was something wrong. The first ones to awaken immediately set to eating the ones that were slower to waken. This wasn't what he'd intended at all. He fell to his knees and cried out to God....
And woke in a sweat.
It was morning. He pulled himself up to sit on the side of the bed. He felt his mood drop. The sunshine didn't change, but it suddenly felt overcast. Everything became dirty. He was the fallen saviour. He wanted to die.
He didn't know how long he'd sat there, but a nurse came in, asked how he was doing, and when he didn't answer, led him out to the dining area for breakfast. He hadn't eaten in several days. In fact, he didn't remember the last time he'd eaten. He fell on his food ravenously, out of reflex.
Out of the corners of his eyes, he continued to see the bodies laying here and there. He felt like nothing, he felt like less than nothing. He simply wanted to die. He knew that if he told the truth they'd keep him locked up long-term. So he found a chair by the wall in the day room and sat down, beginning to rock back and forth. He had nothing to say to anyone and finally began banging the back of his head against the window.
One morning he woke to a knock on his door. He'd been moved to a regular room shortly after he'd arrived on the unit. The doctor entered the room and asked him how he was doing. He heard himself say "Fine," but his heart wasn't in it.
"We want to give you ECT's - Electro-Convulsive-Therapy. Your depression is severe and the treatments will help bring you out of it. What do you think?"
He thought about it for several moments, decided that they couldn't do any harm and might get him out of the hospital sooner, so he agreed. The doctor remained for another moment waiting for him to say something, then left.
There were demons climbing up the bedrail. Two angels stood in the corner, whispering. He was too tired to pray. He just said, "Please help me," curled up in a fetal position and began rocking. He had reached the end. He had nothing to say to anyone anymore, even God. He vaguely remembered his holy mission, but that faded into a dim nightmare.
Over the next two days, he ate little, had Atavan and Lithium, and took ECTs. The truth was that he was only waiting to die. However, after the first five ECTs, he woke up out of the anesthetic, looked out the window at the sunshine and before he thought about it, smiled. He was not God, he was not Jesus, and thank God he was not Benson. He was himself and began to be interested in leaving his room.
They'd saved his breakfast for him. He'd had an IV put in when he wasn't eating, he asked them to take it out. After they did, he ate as quickly as he could and asked for coffee.
As the days passed, he was riveted to windows. In every group room that had a window, he found his way there and watched the outside world going on without him. He was fascinated. He realized that he wanted to be a part of it.
They warned him that he had to stay on his meds if he wanted to stay out of the hospital. He agreed, while harboring resentments and doubts. He didn't want to be on medication, but this last episode had really rocked his world. He decided that he would stay on the meds for six months and then see how he felt.
He took five more ECTs, and was pronounced ready to leave the hospital. They set up appointments with a therapist and a psychiatrist, but he just wanted to get to cigarettes and a beer, thinking to himself that a man has to have his priorities. He gathered his belongings and was buzzed through the main door.
As he stepped outside the hospital, he thought to himself that this time things would be different. And as he walked to the cab, he was struck by lightening and killed instantly.
In that instant, at dream speed, he married, had children, a long illustrious career, became a lay minister, wrote several books, saw his grandchildren born, had no more ECTs, became master of time and space, redeemed the universe, healed Stephen Hawkings, and achieved friendly speaking terms with God, his new Euchre-buddy.
Then he died and was buried anonymously.