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When I woke up I was in the hospital and it was four days later; Tim had pressed the emergency button in our cell and the staff came running, they hate to have one of their charges die on them, it makes them look bad and there’s a ton of paperwork.

I called out a raspy “Hello?”

A cranky looking nurse eyeballed me and said, “You just lie there sweetie, I’ll get the Doctor.”

So much for me being able to read faces.

A nice looking lady walked over and introduced herself as Dr. Chandler. She pressed a button and the head of the bed rose to almost vertical. She checked my eyes with a light and asked, “does your head hurt?

“Yes but not bad,” I said.

“Have you been under a lot of stress lately?”

I looked straight at her to see if she would grin or something like she was kidding, then I just lost it.

“Are you fucking kidding me?! Oh no, no stress at all. Just my Mom getting killed and then I get arrested for being an orphan and being locked in a fucking fishbowl for five fucking weeks. Oh no ma’am, no fucking stress at all! Here’s a question for you, did you happen to read my file? Or was reading required at the Belizean academy for medical studies or did you go to Grenada Tech?”

I was really close to crying and wanted to just run away.

When I quieted down she said, “I’m sorry Duncan, I needed to provoke an emotional response. I’m sorry if I caused you pain. Let’s try again.”

“That’s okay, I really needed to yell at somebody,” I said trying to calm my breathing and fight off the tears.

“I’m very sorry about your mother Duncan and that no one has discussed her death with you. We can change that here. And for the record my PhD in psychiatry is from BYU right here in Utah,” Dr. Chandler said at length.

I began to feel calmer and less angry so I said, “Okay Doc, how do we start?”

“I haven’t had a decent conversation or anything interesting to read or even heard a decent piece of music in more than a month. I won’t even bother you about the meals.”

“What sort of music do you like? What is your favorite?”  She asked.

“Pachelbel’s canon in D,” I said.  “You vere expecting maybe zomezing by Lady Gaga?” I said in my best Sigmund Freud accent.

Dr. Chandler actually laughed. “I can see you have an above average intellect, the bit about the diploma mills was truly funny. I’m partial to Bach but Pachelbel is wonderful as well. But back to business, I’m going to keep you here for a few days to monitor your progress.”

“You’ll find we have a nice library on the first floor and you can use the cafeteria for meals, I’m afraid the food we serve in the rooms is not as tasty so you’ll want to make the effort.”

“The county people didn’t bring any clothing but we have some scrubs that will fit you so you don’t have to walk around the place in a gown.” She finished.

“Thanks Doc,” I appreciate what you’re trying to do for me.”

“Do you have any questions before I go?”

“So many you couldn’t count but mostly can you find out what they did with my Mom? I mean was there a funeral or what? I don’t understand why any of this happened but it would help me to know what happened with her.”

It took her a while to speak, like she was choked up but finally she said, “I’ll see what I can find out.”

I told her thanks and she went on to the next patient.

Another nurse appeared to remove the monitor connections and then the I.V. and lastly the catheter. That was unpleasant but it didn’t last long.

Why it was necessary to shave what little hair I had and then paint me orange was beyond my understanding, and by the way, betadine does not come of with regular soap and water.

She had me climb out of bed and take a few steps around the bed and make sure I was strong enough to stand on my own.

The nurse who was there when I woke up came back with a towel and a plastic bag of bathing stuff, plus a set of pastel green scrubs and told me that if I wanted to get a shower and some food that I should follow her and then said, “no that won’t work, you better go first and I’ll follow. That way no one will see your cute little pink bottom. Except for me,” she said with a pleasantly evil grin.

After having a complete stranger handling my dick as she removed the catheter, I couldn’t be bothered to be embarrassed.

The shower room was a private single shower. I discovered there were several of them in the hallway. I usually have a nice jerk when I shower but they give you something to prevent erections when they put in a catheter and it hadn’t worn off yet.

With a shower and a nice meal behind me I checked out the library and found both a really good selection of books and magazines, plus audio books. They had loaner players and a few Kindles as well. And then I found the listening station. A group of chairs with headphone jacks that connected to CD players and a library of CD’s. They had a great selection of music. I love classical music and just about everything else. I was in heaven; I couldn’t believe I had the run of this place. After a couple hours of listening and reading I thought I’d stretch my legs so I strolled around the first floor. When I found the lobby I took a seat by the outside windows and just watched the snow fall. It was very restful emotionally.

“The snow is pretty isn’t it?” I recognized the voice as Dr. Chandler’s.

“Yes it is,” I replied. “These RFID tracking chips are great aren’t they?” I said.

“Oh, you figured that out, you are a bright boy,” said Dr. Chandler.

“Well you only need to examine the bracelet to see how it works. It’s not your average hospital I.D. band these things are well made and expensive, probably programmable which is why I’m only able to access the library and cafeteria floors. I doubt those doors would open for me if I tried to leave. But why would I? Dressed like this? In this’ weather? Where would I go? I don’t know anyone in Utah except teachers and kids. Even if I cut the bracelet off, which would probably set off an alarm somewhere; there are probably more chips in this clothing. My guess is under the embroidered hospital logo and maybe the shoes. Besides, this place is better than being in prison; I know when I’m well off.”

Dr. Chandler took a long time to respond.

“That is probably the healthiest attitude I could hope for. Why don’t we go to my office and speak privately, I have some information to give you?” She suggested.

And so I found myself back on the fifth floor in a nice office with textured wall treatment and nice furniture. Modern but comfortable.

“Very Herman Miller.” I said.

“Thank you, I decorated my own office,’’ said the Doc.

Not, “How would you know about Herman Miller?” Just a simple “Thank you,” she was already treating me like an intellectual equal.

“Duncan I have some information you requested, your mothers remains were held for fourteen days and then cremated. The county will hold them until you are able to decide what to do with them. Are you okay with that?”

“Yes” I said “we had discussed it and she preferred cremation over burial. When I can I’ll spread her ashes on the coast in Moro bay, she loved it there.”

“I wasn’t able to find out what has been done with your house and personal property but I’ll ask again,” she said.

“You had a visitor while you were unconscious, he was a State Trooper. He said he needs to speak with you when you’re ready. And I have a message written by a boy named Tim, do you know him?”

“Yes, he was my roommate for about an hour, I didn’t hurt him or anything when I spun out did I?” I asked cautiously.  “No Duncan, you didn’t hurt anyone you just collapsed and Tim called for help. Do you think you could be violent with other boys?” She asked.

“No not willingly” I said. I’d have to be in danger or need to protect someone else, but that’s it.”

“That’s good to know, can I ask you a favor Duncan?”


“Do you think you can keep our security measures to yourself?” the Doc asked. “Some of our patients wouldn’t benefit from that knowledge.”

“I don’t see any reason I would tell anyone about that. If they managed to get out they could get hurt or hurt someone else. So yes, I’ll keep it to myself. Other Nerds like me will figure it out though. I guess you could go subcutaneous but then you’d have the ACLU on your butts probably. But you probably know that don’t you?” I said as the notion of the ACLU wafted through my brain.

“You are remarkably perceptive and intelligent. Frankly it’s astonishing in someone your age. Were you in advanced classes at school?” She asked.

“Yes I was in the Advanced Placement track. I like being smart, it pays off in the long run.”

“May I ask a couple questions?”

“Certainly” said the Doc.

“Am I allowed to make phone calls from here? And am I allowed visitors while I’m here? I mean besides officials from the state? And last can I access the internet while I’m here?” I asked.

“The answer to all those questions is yes. There is office space available for patients to use which have phones and computers. You just need to sign up. And we have a visitor center for our patients and their families or friends to meet. Anyone over eighteen can visit if you approve. A younger person would have to bring a responsible adult. I hope that helps,” She said.

“Thanks, it really does. Um do you know how long I’ll be here before I have to go back?” I asked.

“Probably another week; longer if I can justify it clinically,” She said.

“Wait, um another week? How long have I been here?”

“You’ve been here four days, you’ve been conscious a couple times but not lucid. We felt you needed the rest and would wake when you were ready. When you’re ready we can discuss the incident that brought you here.”

“Thanks, I mean that really, thanks,” I said.  “Do we need to talk about my Mom now or am I taking too much of your time, I mean I know you must have other patients who are probably less stable than me,” I asked.

No I think that’s enough for today but think about what you’d like to talk about tomorrow. Oh and here’s the note your friend wrote you.”

I stood and took the note from her hand. “Thanks, I almost forgot.”

When I got back to my bed, I opened the note, it read:   “Dear Duncan, my handwriting sucks so I’m going to print this. Your Doctor came to see me today; I told her what we talked about. And the last thing I said to you before you passed out. I’m really sorry if I said something to hurt you, I didn’t do it on purpose. I wish we had more time together but I get out of here today. Mom got “Time Served” for her traffic warrants and she’ll pick me up this afternoon. I am including my Gmail address and phone number. If you ever get a chance call me or email me. I can’t text, we can’t afford the data, Your friend, Tim.”

I was stunned, I never thought I’d meant anything to him or really ever expected to see him again. I discovered that tears were running down my face but I wasn’t sad. I was happy to know that somewhere in this shithole state I had a friend.

I didn’t know the half of it.


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