Trouvaille 1994- Terror neath a Waning Sun


Self Portrait Jan 18,2001

Self Portrait Jan 18,2001


A Season In Hell OCT. 16//94

It was Sunday afternoon and the realization that I was going through withdrawal was hitting me hard. I was overwhelmed with a reality and terror I had never dreamed possible. Had I slept at all? Well, the night before when I realized that I was going through some kind of withdrawal more powerful than anything I could in any way comprehend, I combed the vast expanse of that empty house looking for any kind of tranquilizer. I was pretty sure that there was a Serax or two lying around; or had they disappeared years ago. For a couple of days prior to this, I had thought it was just the flu, or possibly a residuum of kicking smack; a rough and
rocky time which would have to be endured but something that would inevitably dissipate ending with a good nights sleep, sweating it out as with a fever. I had been taking bath after bath; my senses of touch, smell, and taste were long gone. My hearing was behaving in an amplified, yet random fashion and it had been four days since I had eaten anything and just as long without a cigarette.

Where were those Serax? Hell I wasn’t even supposed to be in the house. What would happen when the neighbours heard the continual water noise from the baths, and what about the fear engendered by all those waking dreams? All world religions riding Venetian gondolas through Manhattan and then there was the phantasm of the Anglican Bishop introducing dairy herds to Trinidad.

No one knew I was here and even if they did what would they do? “Tough it out old chap; there’s the stuff – you got yourself into this mess and now you’re gonna have to pay for it…” It had been 9 days since Stella had read me the riot act and told me she couldn’t see me any more until I was clean and sober. I bought one half gram of junk and a bottle of methadone. One last Fling! The junk would be hard to kick but surely all that Rivotril would be a cakewalk in comparison.

“Where are those Serax? Am I going to have a seizure and die alone in the house of my youth?” Were there really ghosts in the house or was this some sort of psycho-pharmacological side effect. No sleep? Well wait a minute; I’ve been lying in this bed for at least half an hour. The last time I looked at the clock on the VCR it was
3:36. That means it must be at least 4 o’clock. I’ll go look – how to get into the den? I’m absolutely terrified – of what I don’t know – everything scares me and machines are the worst. The VCR is a machine and the den is so far from here…so uncomfortable – heart racing – dissociative – how did I get in here? Oh no! it’s only 3.38 two minutes…where are there some pills?

I can’t go to a hospital. They’ll just kick me out. If I could only get some sleep and now it’s getting so dark so early. Why isn’t this happening in the spring? So this is what it’s like to die alone. Let’s see; my thoughts have been racing at about 4 thoughts per second. That’s 240 thoughts every minute and I have been awake for how long? Over 96 hours now. Surely I’ll just fall asleep from exhaustion and wake up relaxed. No, wait. This is a nightmare and I’m actually dying. Dying alone. This is the most horrid scene of all the many horrid scenes I have seen in all my days. 4 thoughts a second and each one more macabre and terrifying than the last. It’s supra reality and my whole life is playing back. Only the hellish parts.

Come on, come on, try to think of something happy. Impossible. I’ve got to suffer,
I know that. But this is intolerable. There’s no one to call out to. No one I can call. I’ve just got to get through this Jones on my own. Aaargh! What’s going on? I’ve taken Neo Citran and there’s none left. It isn’t putting me to sleep. Is there any more in my car. I can’t go out to the car. I can’t even go down to the first floor. What about the third floor? No. That’s where the witches used to be? Do I have any hash? No. I decided to cut it all out cold. Oh my god! If you get me through all this, I’ll testify till eternity. Just stop this hell. What’s that ringing? That’s tinitis. See, I do know some words. How come I can’t talk? It’s all internalized. Who can I
phone? I’ve forgotten all numbers. Back to bed. No, a bath. This is unbelievable.

Come on God.

Back to the guest room. Lie down again. Sleep, sleep, how do I get to sleep? Deep breathing exercises. No, that’s not working. I’ll count backwards from 100. That won’t do it. Maybe there are Serax in the master bedroom Here goes nothing. I’m stumbling; dammit they’ll know I’ve been here. Where are they? Hey, what’s that? Damn. It’s a loose pearl. At any other time this would be funny. I’ll try all the drawers. Maybe there aren’t any. There must be. I’ve gotta have something. I feel like I did just before I had the seizure in 74. Twenty years ago. This is exponentially worse. The falling darkness scares me. It’s Sunday. Wait. What’s that? Here’s something. Thank God. I’ll unwrap this Kleenex. Yes! Yes! Serax: one, a half, another little bit, a quarter. OK, I’ll take one right now. Warm water will help it work faster. There, I’ve taken it. I’ll lie down again. This is bound to do something. Christ it’s working already and it’s only been a couple of minutes. My thoughts are clearing. The tension is going out of my body. That’s what it is. Withdrawal from those damn Rivotril. Why didn’t I think about them? It hasn’t been the smack, it’s the goddam pills.

How Are You Fixed For Chow?

HU 6-5706. That was one number etched into my memory. It had been my
grandparents phone number and when they died primogeniture dictated that my
uncle took possession of the house. Warm childhood memories of ginger ale
replaced by the cold diffidence of people whose motto was ‘Don’t get involved’. Effective maybe, but not the warmest or most empathetic way of conducting a Life.

You Know Freydoun? He Kills Many People. How You Know Him?

Blue Chair Sun and a Sabra named Coke

The ride from the General to the Vic in the ambulance was fun and it held the expectation that after 24 hours in the E.R. I would finally be getting some help some safety something. At the Vic I was rushed on in and I thanked my drivers and was immediately ushered into a room to wait for a shrink.

Bright bright lights, but I held on in the lopsided belief that pretty soon they’d give me something to sleep and this whole nightmare would finally be on its way to resolution. The hallucinatory tinitis was still there and I was still in full blown withdrawal. Time dragged interminably, but at least I was in a hospital and they surely would treat me. After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only half an hour, a young ‘Sabraesque’ woman started to interview me in some rabbit warren. Probably a resident or a medical student I thought (I’ve never been able to figure out the difference). Anyway, her name was Koch, pronounced, according to her, Coke.

I told her my short term memory was terrible and I thought I was losing my mind. “Blue Chair Sun.” she said to me. I said “What?” She said “Just remember those words.” All through the next hour or so of me rattling off my life at (even for me) breakneck speed I kept some sort of mnemonic reference to Blue Chair Sun. I poured out my soul in a stream of consciousness that would make Niagara falls seem like a dried up creek. I kept figuring that this all would lead to some sort of “Happy Pill” that would take away the terror. The Ativan they had given me at the General had worked, but only for half an hour at a time. and I was still spouting this cant that I was kicking drugs and I couldn’t take Benzo Diazapenes. Maybe a Tuinal, a Fiorinal, or even Demerol. No; but surely they would give me something, for there was a moral imperative here and I was doing my damnedest to co operate and I was telling the truth with no drug cadging double talk. Sure, I tried to impress them with my intellect. That’s all I have when all else fails.

Surely they would see that I was only out to destroy myself and even that was a slow course, and I had sought help and kicked as soon as Stella told me I was killing myself. Dr Koch left the room and went into the nursing station. I waited just like ol’ Pavlov’s dog. Had I given a good enough show to get some reward that would diminish this hell? Behind that glass in the nursing station she looked like she was in some sort of control room (she was) and there, beside her, was some Imelda Marcos wannabe who didn’t like me from the git go. What is it with these psychiatric nurses? Are they only happy when they’ve got someone knocked out of their mind on some zene drug? The apene drugs give a feeling of well being and that sure as hell would throw the whole power structure out of synch. “Come with us. Put these on. You won’t be needing that. No! The doctor said you can’t have any. Do I have to call security? Go to your bed. No there is no one in your bed… Oh I guess there is…well you can sleep here. No blankets? You wait here and I
will go and try to get you one”. And I’m thinkin” why the fuck don’t you ooze on back to Luzon, Sweet Leilani!

Bedlam

“Dis man not good man he bad man he no good.” And the security chief with the walkie-talkie and his hair combed over said: “Maybe he’s a Tamil Tiger” then put him in four point restraint. All night long he would rouse himself from the torpor of I.M. Haldol to say “Hello madame. Please!” and rattle his chains like spook in the wizard of id, while Danielle, the manic woman next to him kept yelling. I wasn’t getting the sleep I’d hoped for and Jeez! The dryness of these buildings.

When the morning came I kept waiting to see some sort of a doc. The weekend was upon us and my fear was kickin” in. These places shut down tighter than a rusted bolt on weekends. I knew I’d better see someone p.d.q. or else. I didn’t want to or couldn’t contemplate what else. Mimi Israel was her name. A fashionable neo-princess. Probably well meaning, but not overly bright. I tried to ingratiate myself with her (as per usual) by speaking a few phrases of Yiddish and Hebrew to her. She looked at me like I was crazy. After the bedlam incident we were all a bit shaken up, and simple arithmetic made me see that there were seven people in
a ward with room for five, and there wasn’t no way anyone was getting admitted to the Allen before Monday. I offered to get the hell out for the weekend if she promised to save my place in line and give me meds for the next couple of days.

“What would I recommend?” she queried, with the mutual knowledge that benzos were out of the question insofar as my supposed shrink had malevolently put the kibosh on them. Pontius Pilate redux! I figured I’d give Nozinan a try. I hadn’t taken it in twenty some odd years and it had to be more benign than that Haldol.

She agreed and wrote a script for a few of these stupid little things. I went back to my hell hole to clean out my books cassettes and all the writing I had done over the past 24 hours. ‘Fuck it!’ I thought, and I borrowed a pen (the same one she had just written the script with) and croaked myself 30 Serax while feeling guilty as hell. As I was leaving I asked the latest Filipina Fun Queen for my razor which they had more than impolitely demanded and/or seized the night before: “Not for
you, you understand, but there could be others who might want to kill themselves.” Oh sure. I understand.” That’s good Robert.” “No dear Ms. Nightingale, my name, for the umpteenth time is Campbell.” “It says Robert right here.” Without appearing to be an anti-whatever, these are the same people whose head Bishop is a guy called Cardinal Sin. Ah. What’s the point in arguing with these intellectual dunderheads. However, the real killer was that when I asked for my razor prior to leaving they had lost the damn razor. I gotta say I sure was glad to get out of there alive.

Tamil Tiger

This guy eventually got to sleep for more than a half hour at a time. How do I know this? Well, I was pretty well awake the whole night waiting for the morning shift, when of course I thought a doctor would come and make everything jake. When the shift changed in the morning I guess the security people from the nighttime hadn’t written their reports too well, because when Tiger asked to be unlocked they cut him loose at both his hands. His legs were still in shackles. The chain gang/galley slave scene was still in action. Anyway, they let him feel a little bit freer. Probably a hell of a lot freer than I was feeling. At this point every new face I saw I hoped would be a doctor finally admitting me to the hospital. Enough of these foolish emergency wards. More than enough sleep deprivation.

“No thanks, I’ll pass on the breakfast but yes, I sure would like some of that juice. I
don’t care what kind. Excuse me nurse but is it me or is this place really dry ?” “Just drink your juice Mr. Hendery.” Christ! The Philippine gang had been replaced by nurse Ratched. “Call me Campbell.” “I think we’ll stick with Mr. Hendery.” ” When do you think the doctor will come and see me?” A vacuous smile. “Just be patient.” I say “That’s what I am and I’m tired of being one.” They obviously aren’t into punning here. OK-out to the driveway for a smoke. There ain’t never been a time when ciggies have tasted so bad.

I’m told tobacco has a molecular structure similar to that of the opiates but let me tell ‘ya they ain’t no substitute for an anodyne and that’s what I needed; or was it an anxiolitic? At this point the intellect was beginning to fail me. I’d been running on it for how long? At least a couple of weeks and the hell was gradually turning exponential or Brobdignagian; I never could get those two figured out.

Back and forth, smoking and pacing, pacing and smoking, and waiting and hoping. Wasn’t that a Dusty Springfield song? No that was Wishing and Hoping. It’s quite interesting what little bits of mental flotsam and jetsam keep coming out. ‘Round about 11 in the morning there was only one nurse on duty and, as far as I could see, there was no security. She was infinitely better than Ratched, who’d taken a powder anyway. This nice nurse locked the door to the nursing station and smiled at me saying “You’re in charge.” Well, any other time that would have done my fragile ego a whole lotta good, but at this point I felt like I was in a bad German movie. I smiled and said “OK-have a good lunch” “Oh no” she said “I’ve got a doctor’s appointment. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Twenty minutes later lunch was served. ‘Pon my word you ain’t never seen so many variations on the colour pale even a whiter shade. I don’t know if I ate anything it probably would have interfered with my pacing. Some volunteer, an elfin pixie who looked like Mickey Rooney or one of the Seven Dwarves (Sneezy) and was cheerier than a born again Pentecostalist, served everything up with a flair and élan worthy of the Ritz. He gave Tiger his food and then went on his merry way, whistling a happy tune. Nurse Nice reappeared at this point. Almost simultaneously an observation window in my room was smashed to pieces from inside. Christ! What idiot of an architect came up with the bright idea of putting real glass in the observation windows. The glass was flying and rained down upon a semi-catatonic woman who was staring at her feet while seated below the window.

Nurse Nice thought quickly: “Code 7, Code 7” she yelled over the tannoy. I’d been here long enough to know that this was a not very greatly encrypted way of calling for muscle A.S.A.P. In about 20 seconds a flying squad came into the ward and gingerly approached the source of the shattered glass but they did nothing. Just waiting for orders I guess. I told them I thought it was the Tiger going berserk with his (get this) institutionally heavy china plate and metal food warmer. Finally they donned masks and gloves and headed on in to the epicentre of this ruckus. It took about five of them to hold down this wiry little paranoid. I figured they’d just put him back in four point restraint and dose him up with something strong. They couldn’t do the latter of these things until they got the go ahead from a shrink. The restraint came pretty quick, but the I.M. shot must have taken 10 minutes. There was no attending shrink so they had to call up to the Allen to find out what to do. I guess the Allen just referred them back to the E.R. Finally someone, probably a G.P. using common sense, let Nice Nurse give the give a dose of Haldol. Even with the restraints and the muscle she had a hell of a time injecting him because he was bucking and thrashing like a trapped animal in its death throes. Things calmed down after that but the clincher was when security came back and took Polaroids of the damage, just like some trophy on a safari. Smashed glass and mashed potatoes were everywhere, and housekeeping, as is there wont in most of the hospitals I’ve seen, kept passing the buck. They didn’t want to clean up anything and besides that they probably figured that this guy might still be dangerous.

After all the ruckus had died down, a whole bunch of docs and future docs showed up, including a couple of shrinks. I turned to one of them and said: “This place is Bedlam.” She turned to me and said: “Mr. Hendery stop making up words and go back to your room.” Well I never!

The day before, when I first pulled in, full of hope, I gave My friend Joel a call. He’d been around in ’74 when I did my first stretch in hospital and since, in moments of black humour I had taken to calling this my 20th Anniversary Tour of the Bug House, I thought I’d fill him in and kill a little time. We got to discussing the various names of psychotropic drugs. One of us , I don’t remember who, came up with the name Rebutal; Joel figured it would make a person argumentative while I on the other hand opted for the french route and figured it would be an emetic (rebuts = garbage). Anyway, when I was told to go back to my room a sense of the absurd washed over me like a vast wave.

I turned to the above mentioned shrink and said, in a manner that I thought would obviously understood as tongue in cheek: “I think that guy that just went wild was probably overdosing on Rebutal.” This was the same shrink who didn’t know what bedlam meant. In all seriousness and ignorant ingenuousness she turned to me and asked: “Do you think so? How Do you Know? When did he take it? Who gave it to him?” I just shrugged my shoulders and said “I dunno. Maybe I’m all Wrong”, and slid off to have another cigarette. Mercy!

What a funny old world!

Other Scenes:

Bonnie/ The Inscrutable Chinese/Stella and therapy vis-à-vis my anemotive
culture/you’ve sinned /Mr. Haber/ Tamil Tiger/ The Big Country/exo skeletal
Glenn Gould/reefer in the madhouse/ Do You work here/Cracking up asst head
MgH/ Nurse A.M.I telling me I ought to go on Ed Sullivan/ i tell her he’s benn dead thirty year/mmpi and other
tests

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5 Comments on “Trouvaille 1994- Terror neath a Waning Sun”

  1. campbie Says:

    if anyone reads this- let me know-
    as ever
    campbell

  2. zz Says:

    as fine a read as any

  3. sarah Says:

    read it…..

  4. Yikes Says:

    This is amazing. Is This an excerpt from a book ? Is the whole thing up on the net somewhere
    B.G.D.


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