THE ARCHWAY CHRONICLES: CHAPTER XIII


FIRST CHAPTER

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LAST CHAPTER


I open my eyes; they sting and are dry, I surely look like someone who just woke from a thorough weed-nap. Once my eyes are open proper I see that the cornices of the room are at an odd angle, which snaps my mind awake enough to realise that I have woken up with my face planted onto an open laptop- unreadable gibberish littering the open document on-screen. The laptop also feels soft like a pillow, which is enough to sharply startle myself awake proper, as it dawns on me that I somehow passed out after drinking large amounts of caffeine. I take a close look at the computer, studying the keys to make sure they aren’t moving. Fairly certain they are inanimate for the time being, I look at the clock. Christ, roll call time again, I must have an internal freaking alarm built in after these relentlessly effort-draining exercises in futility. It has just occurred to me that every resident in my building will have seen me face-planted, unconscious in the lounge room as they shuffled out, but no time to worry about this. No time at all, roll call must be attended at all costs.

Unsurprisingly I am mentally absent for this daily ritual, though I catch some complaints about violent diarrhea being caused by the food here. I can’t see how this is surprising, after all, we are eating worse than those in a cheap. nasty old-folk’s home you’d send your hated drunken uncle to. Thinking further though, it makes complete sense coming from Shane, my cigarette-seeking friend from our walks, intellectually handicapped by 35 straight years of smoking weed all day, every day. I have nothing against the guy, or the drug, but 35 straight years of smoking large amounts is going to do something to the workings upstairs. In Shane’s case it has obviously decreased his ability to execute basic cognitive thinking, as well as the dismissal of basic logic. I feel sorry for the guy, close to 50 years of age yet has the mental capacity of a child. Still captivated by his vivid description of his feces which was starting to become rather vulgar and… visual in nature, Kirk eventually tells him that he had heard enough descriptions of Shane’s fecal matter, and that he’d look into the issue, which of course he won’t.

Why would he, he is making money for this place! I wonder what his cut is. This can’t be an easy gig- that greedy, obese rat must be getting a fair share of the cheese.

After meaninglessly shaking the hands of every resident again, I head back to the cells so I can scrub my hands of whatever disgusting bugs have nested themselves into the hands of these people. Now back to the shared lounge I woke up in, to my horror I see my mess that I had somehow not noticed earlier.

There is food and medication all over the lounge coffee table. Half eaten salad, half vomited… something brown, a variety of slight to near completely dissolved tablets that obviously hadn’t stayed down… Christ, this looks like my bedroom circa five years ago. I grab some spray and wipe and a plastic bag and clean the crap up as quickly as I can, but others undoubtedly saw this colossally disgusting mess of partially digested food and medication. I can feel another group passive-aggressive session coming, tingling its way up my spine like the dread-filled slow creep of an opiate-buzz, much like a few nights ago.

Before I can process this notion, but after I have finished cleaning, I am herded by Stephanie, my ‘counselor’, into an unscheduled one-on-one meeting. My behaviour is at the top of the agenda it would seem, and she does not seem happy. In fact, it would be better to describe her as incredibly angry but doing her utmost not to show it, like some sort of stealth-like panther-leopard.

What?

Whatever the case, it is absurdly obvious how pissed she is, but it would seem that she is determined not to show it. Well, at least she is trying, but is failing. Unless I am a psychic, which I admit I have never ruled out. Into the allegedly private counseling room we wander, sitting across from each other, I slowly realise that this is the first real counseling session we have had in the near two weeks I have been here, apart from my initial induction, which was short, sugary, and in retrospect, less than worthless.

“Jordan, as you may be aware, there have been several other residents distressed at your behaviour, particularly during the night. I have spoken with your parents and am aware of the difficulties you are facing, but I must stress that we emphasise residents taking responsibility over their own behaviour seriously…”

I nod my head, leaning forward while doing my best to keep my eyes concentrated and focused, and more importantly, open, wanting to seem as interested and accepting to what she is saying as possible. In reality I am listening to Simon and Garfunkel sweetly singing The Sound of Silence into my mind. If only that were the sound filling the room.

“…You may not be aware but several nights ago many residents complained about you singing in the shower early into the morning. I believe Chris told you about this, but other incidents have occurred that have more residents and also the staff worried about both yourself and the others here…”

And here come the fun parts that I can’t remember… Or at least my mind is deciding not to remember. Selective memory?

“… Two days ago we had a meeting that discussed a matter that affected everyone staying in your building, though you didn’t have much to say, leading me to believe that you either refuse to acknowledge that it happened, you simply cannot remember, or you are denying what you have been accused of. Either way, as I said, we require you to be responsible for your own behaviour and if you aren’t able to control it in the future, you may further alienate yourself from the other residents and may put your stay at Archway at risk. Especially if this behaviour continues during the night.

“I’ve been told that recently, while everyone was trying to sleep, a DVD was playing at a very loud volume from your bedroom all night, with your bedroom door wide open. It certainly wasn’t a quiet movie from what I have been told and no resident in your building was able to get any sleep that night.”

SHIT. The seroquel! But if that was what it was all about, what was with all their talk about physical safety during that group meeting?? What the fuck have I done now that I can’t remember? I am truly losing my mind, surely, there cannot be even a slight shadow of doubt. I am accustomed to seeing things that aren’t there, I can handle hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting things that aren’t there. But hearing someone say something in a group meeting and to seemingly have completely misheard and misinterpreted it entirely is much more disconcerting.

“Oh… uhh, that was because I was feeling hyper and was hallucinating, so I took my anti-psychotic medication to calm it all down. I don’t take it regularly though so I think I may have had too large a dose. I don’t remember playing a DVD, I’m not sure I understand why no one deci-”

“You are telling me that you honestly do not remember putting a DVD into your player and having it play all night at full volume while you laid mere feet from it?”

“Uhh.. yes? What possible motivation would I have for doing such a thing? You know I have problems sleeping, you know I don’t want to be hated here. I obviously want to clean my life up, this would explain why I am sitting here right now. Have you ever had an anti-psychotic medication?”

Wondering why these bumbling fools seem incapable of conceiving what this medication is for (ie – to prevent psychotic episodes), before this Babylonian whore cut me off, I was about to ask why in the sweet name of Buddha did no one think that closing my bedroom door could, perhaps, have been an option. Even, gasp, disturbing my privacy and turning the goddamn television off altogether. I was obviously unconscious, hell it seems I was sleeping directly through some extremely loud noise. It should have been looked at and dealt with in this way- surely- but none of these people are qualified in the square root of jack shit of Pi, divided by zero. They just have euphemistic, audibly friendly titles like Therapeutic or Volunteer Case Worker. I don’t think that is even a real job title. What does one study for this, and what does such a role involve? I’d love to get some details on that one.

It apparently involves ‘counseling’ drug-addicts in an extremely judgemental, rigid and utterly useless form. Yes. This entire process has been quite therapeutic indeed. I can feel the warm fuzzy feeling from the love that is emanating from the room, the property and everyone within it.

“I can’t say I have Jordan, but this raises further concerns about your medication and whether you are taking what you have been prescribed as needed. You are telling me that you usually don’t take seroquel? It is listed here as a daily medication.”

“Well it shouldn’t be listed that way, my specialist knows that I don’t take it every day. It is for schizophrenics, which thankfully is one of the few mental issues I don’t suffer from, but I do on occasion experience similar symptoms that seroquel can help. I only use it sparingly, only if things get a bit…. hectic, unreal and hard to deal with. If I feel like I am breaking from reality. It doesn’t happen often but the withdrawal effects of morphine can’t be helping.”

As the words ‘withdrawal effects’ leave my mouth I instantly realise what waste of breath it was to utter those words. This twit would need Google to tell her what opiate withdrawal symptoms. I’m inclined to believe though that she simply doesn’t care enough to even muster the energy for that small task.

“Okay… What I am more worried about is your other medication, the ones your doctor has told me are essential anti-convulsants and is hoping that without the pills you were taking before you arrived here, they will have a chance to work.”

I can’t help but think how brainless, how irrational this entire place is run. I am being told that I need to monitor my medication. My drugs. In a rehab centre, where they dole out the entire days’ pills in one fell swoop with no supervision at all. I am taking my epileptic medication daily, for the most part when I remember, why wouldn’t I?! But how she can on one hand deliver medication so irresponsibly and then hours later assertively tell me that I need to monitor my own pills seems beyond ridiculous in a setting such as this. But hey, we are only drug addicts, there is no chance of anyone hoarding pills, no chance of a suicide attempt. ‘Course not, who could ever dream that a drug-addict might have a problem when given a large amount of drugs whose consumption isn’t supervised? What sort of morally bankrupt junkie would hoard medication? Absurd notions indeed, each and every one.

Then again, I am supposed to be responsible for my own behaviour, remember?? Epilepsy and opiate withdrawal symptoms be damned! If only Stephanie took responsibility for her own behaviour and Verbal Ebola Discharges.

She lowers her voice, leaning towards me, and says quietly, as if the rest of our conversation has been readily audible to anyone wanting to listen, to flush the seroquel tablets I don’t use down the toilet and not to mention it to anyone. This is of course is what I have already been doing, as these mindless robots have been giving me one every day because a piece of paper is telling them to. A piece of paper written by my old psychiatrist, a real prick who I now like to refer to as Dr. Dickhead. The fact his last name is Champion couldn’t be more backwards. And I am pretty sure they have had correspondence with my new doctors, ‘cos if they took the time to put their glasses on to have a squizz, they’d see that the doctors names do not match up. Or at least they’d see the old date of the letter. Funny thing is, while it wouldn’t be particularly pleasant, especially considering my episode the other evening, anti-psychotics could easily be hoarded if someone was desperate enough and wanted any sort of alteration of consciousness. Any sort of escape from reality- which is of course why most, especially those here, started drinking or using to begin with.

This place is feeling more professional every day. The carefree I-don’t-give-two-swimming-fucks dangerous way in which they operate is remarkable and I am surprised they haven’t become the subject of a lawsuit. The determined, eager but narrow-minded perspective I had when I came here is steadily being eroded. I still cannot leave the premises without an escort- this place is more of a prison than a rehabilitation centre. Especially given the size of my room, which really is a cell. I have seen prison cells at least twice the size. Funnily enough part of this MRT literature they give us talks about escaping our own prison. Ha!! half the people here are on their second or third visit, they really are prisoners! God what has happened to their sanity? What is that saying, about trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results?..

I am losing focus on my goal of cleanliness. There is simply too much other crazy shit to deal with here! Almost everyone seems extremely judgemental, and much of it seems to be aimed at simply being different. While I can see why it’d piss people off, losing one nights sleep isn’t going to put anyone’s recovery at risk. Give me a direct warning and tell me not to fucking do it again! The passive-aggressive attitude must somehow come from the moral belief system that stems from the MRT steps.

Wait. Backtrack.

I just wrote the words ‘moral belief system that stems from the MRT steps’.

Fuck me sideways on a spinning top, this is how RELIGIONS ARE BUILT!