THE ARCHWAY CHRONICLES: CHAPTER IV
Now I know I wrote this and posted it, I even recall specific comments following it. But alas, it has somehow disappeared into the ether, forcing me to again transcribe from my old, tattered diary a part of the story that I had already finished. Bah!! Anyhow, here is Chapter IV, version 2.0. Chapter V is nearly completed for anyone interested in following my journey into the rabbit hole.
I’m after any critical feedback guys, anyone reading this I’d love to hear your honest thoughts on my writing, where I could do better, where I am not making sense etc etc. Anything! Now, onto the story… again.
For those who want to catch up:
Forget the fact I am hallucinating and sweating the Niagra fucking Falls, each morning here I am to haul my sorry excuse for a man out of bed to sit with my fellow residents for a roll-call. Are we at fucking primary school?! But first, I must decide what to wear. This may sound silly, but it isn’t motivated by how I may look. It is motivated by the sickness, the constant hot flushes and cold shivers, the unbearably wavering internal thermometer. I am freezing today having woke to another bed soaked in sweat, so I decided to wear as many layers as I could. This effort was futile though, as the sickness follows me like a warped shadow. I am freezing and shivering, yet sweating unbearably. I can feel each drop splash down the side of my body, wrapped up in its layers of clothing, creating a strange sensation of being in a sauna, yet still being incredibly cold.
The manager (I do not know his official title, if he has one), a giant bald black man wearing a nifty pinstriped suit, speaks to us in a horribly false, upbeat fashion, informing us of how his night had been, talking about key issues around the facility such as injuries and suspensions to national football players. Residents are then able to air minor grievances about… well anything it seemed. While all this took place I sat there each day, visibly shivering constantly, with fear of my teeth being rattled clean out of their sockets.
I became lost in my own thoughts. Couldn’t they just, I dunno, do something logical for someone who is intensely physically and mentally ill? Perhaps a door knock rather than forcing me to go through this cold, winter torture? I’ve been here for days now, are these people completely blind to obvious drug withdrawal symptoms? Hell, are they even qualified in anything? I sure as shit haven’t seen any certificates anywhere…
This giant, ignorant brute is still rattling on, as well as other residents, while I sit here, my attention wavering uncontrollably. I can hear slices of what is being said by the aforementioned brute. Mostly though I am hearing myself, yelling for me to go strip and have a thirty minute shower with Hendrix turned up to ELEVEN. But I can’t just leave or, gasp, miss roll-call! Perhaps I can make a run for it… they couldn’t get me in there, right? The showers had locks! It’s private!
Just as I was fantasising about a magnificent, beautiful thirty minute shower, I heard my name. At least I think I heard it…
“Jordan! Do you know what Bob is talking about??” this manager asked in an incredibly condescending tone.
“I’m sorry, what is Bob talking about? I’m not quite feeling well here,” I replied, shivering visibly, my face surely a shade of blue.
“The noise. Everybody here needs to respect the space of others, and Bob has mentioned that you were awake all night, which caused him to lose sleep.”
He lost sleep? Oh the poor little puppy. How about a lifetime with epilepsy and insomnia, you whining, pathetic bitch?!
“Oh, okay then, I’ll keep that in mind,” I replied
Bob, now here is a character for the ages. One eye looking ghastly due to an attempt to inject into it, it would seem that the guy also hears things that aren’t there. As last night I wasn’t in my fucking room. Awake all night, yes, but in the shared lounge room, which is near no bedrooms. I was nowhere near this moron last night. But Bob makes the complaint, I’m the new kid, so I’m awarded yet another warning. I should start lining these up like trophies.
To my disgust roll-call continued, and I continued to listen to roughly 25% of what was being said. Suddenly the vision of a shower sprung up before my eyes. It was raining from the ceiling, and steam was billowing everywhere! Ready to take my many layers off, it was at the last second that I realised… Oh. I am hallucinating again. This is getting more frustrating as each day goes by. But hey, at least I can look at the craziness my mind is creating as a distraction from these morons complaining about the pettiest bullshit I could ever imagine, right? Glass half full, ya know?
Finally, the manager finished his bit for the day. What happened next disturbed me deeply, as it hadn’t occurred since I had arrived a few days ago.
We were forced to walk around the room, making sure to shake every person’s hand, including the so-called staff, while saying “have a nice day” – and always making sure not to miss anyone. It didn’t take many handshakes for this bizarre act to morph into acting lessons, as when I shook these peoples’ hands I often thought, “Good morning, I hope you break a major bone,” or “Good morning, I hope your kids come to visit you sick and dying in front of you,” or sometimes, “Good morning! I despise your face and every aspect of your personality! I hope, no, I pray that you fall down a set of stairs today, unable to ever walk again!”
Harsh? Yeah, probably. But as my withdrawal symptoms continue to worsen, I am withdrawing further from reality, and as a direct result, my tolerance for the rest of humanity has plummeted; these living and breathing scum that I was forced to live around and be governed by. These sick, twisted, and utterly stupid people are slowly driving me down the bowling alley of insanity. Tonight is the night. Tonight I’ll jump that back gate after dark and find myself a chemist, and quickly. Screw their urine tests. I need my fucking fix, whose idea was it to have a person withdrawing from drugs live in an environment like this?!
I was pulled from my fantasy again as I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Jordan! You didn’t shake my hand!!”
He was deadly serious.
Later, I stumbled across what seemed to be an unwritten but forced rule. This ‘rule’ was the management’s insistence on socialising. Already suffering from the withdrawal symptoms, and having had dealt with social anxiety for my entire life, it became scarily apparent that I would have to brace the winter mornings and ‘socialise’, despite shivering so hard a blind person would feel the vibrations in the air. So I sat down and read a newspaper without much interest. Slowly I began to talk to people, some of whom were surprisingly nice. After forcing myself to talk to these folk for an hour or so, I came to a few realisations.
I found it ironic and rather sad that almost every person was here for alcohol related problems, yet each and every one of them smoked absurd amounts of tobacco every day. I knew it would turn me back into a smoker, which it did as soon as I sat down merely hours ago, but here the act seems almost encouraged. Later that day I bummed a smoke from one of the ‘staff’, a supposed volunteer who was here every day, working for nothing.
For a rehab facility, they certainly don’t have anything against this particular legal, taxed, addictive and highly harmful substance. For me though, smoking became the only way to cope with being forced to socialise and talk with strange people. I would only possess this ability if I lit up with everyone else, so before long I was buying my own cigarettes.
Considering the anxiety I have had for my entire life, amplified by epilepsy, simply sitting there and not saying a word felt somehow worse than forcing myself to socialise in the first place, as I would then simply assume each person thought I was a fruit-loop. A silent weirdo. A serial killer perhaps. Or maybe suicidal, they say those are the sort who seem ‘quiet’. As I managed to mingle with the alien-like people that I am essentially living with, I began to learn about the personalities of each resident here. My assessment of this place is slowly shifting from a rehabilitation facility to an Insane Asylum, with an emphasis on those capital letters.
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