“Crazy as a shit house rat,” she says, but her voice sounds distorted, far away, and then the darkness swallows me like water, and I close my eyes.
When I surface again, my room is dim, and I can’t see much. It makes me feel as if I am trussed up and stuck in a barrel. I am trussed up because I can’t raise my hands. Then, I see more clearly. I am in a hospital bed, and I am strapped down.
Danger to self and others.
I realize I can’t remember my name, and my whole body hurts. The sound of water – like a stream comes to my ears, and then I drown in darkness again.
When I come to once more, I don’t feel as woozy, and some of the pain has eased. I think I might be in some kind of purgatory because I think I remember dying. Then some guy in a white coat steps into the room.
He’s probably a shrink. Why would I think that? Then I remember the old woman and what she said. Then I think, “I’m Dean, and I’m as crazy as a shit house rat.” Like they do in AA meetings. I’m in a hospital and this guy is a doctor.
I close my eyes because I’m not sure I want to talk to him just yet. Something besides bumps and bruises or maybe broken bones hurts me, but I don’t want to think about what that might be at the moment.
“Dean.” His voice is loud, and it hurts my ears, or my head, or my brain – something. “Can you hear me?”
I open my mouth to tell them to leave me the hell alone, but all I do is croak a little.
“You are on a ventilator.” Just nod if you can hear me.
I do … a little.
“Can you blink your eyes?”
I don’t know if I should blink them or nod my head. My brain starts to fuzz over. I blink once, twice, thrice – thrice, since when do I say thrice – to clear it away.
“Blink once for yes.”
I do. I wonder how many blinks it would take to tell him to leave me the hell alone–
“Do you know where you are?”
I wonder if I can wink to tell him I’m not sure.
“Do you feel like seeing your mother?”
I blink twice. In all the movies and television shows, that means no.
The doctor stares at me, his expression confused. I close my eyes again. I don’t know if Mom comes in or not, but I go back out. I’m not ready for her.