Locks Are All Around Us

“Are you have feeelings of paranoia?”

“Me? No.” Not at all.  The Intake Lady has hair the color of aging blond and she’s blue eyed and with the thick german accent and clipboard and fountain pen. I size her up, wondering if she is old enough for Hitler Youth. The whole place is beginning to worry me. Nagging doubts about where I’ve landed.

The Building itself, a Craftsman marvel, is basically my platonic ideal of a fairyland cottage in some old blackforest by the glimmer river. The cobblestone entrance, soft fountain, and entry arches, all freshly painted border flowers in tasteful colors, sans CFCs. Or VLPs or  BPS or whatever letters.

The young man and woman at the reception were silken blond, fair of skin and clear of eye shining bright oh so bright in the evening. Soft smiles. Indeterminately youngish yet adult. Maybe sort of town and country, the girl wears a pink fuzzy sweater. Another soft spoken blond person ushered me in a room and told me to wait. It was like a posh mortuary waiting room. You know, all nice leather couches, tasteful colors, silent orchids. Anxiety. Everything was so perfect. Was I going to made into one of them? Would I get stuck in this place and come out all honey hair and stepford?

Pink Fuzzy Sweater comes in with a digital camera to take my picture. I’m buried deep in the leather couch, wondering if I’ll ever sleep again, and if all of this was such a good idea.  She shows me the picture. My hair looks perfect, it’s grown wild during the past 17, 18 hours. A few leaves festoon the fizzing ends, and certainly I could be a Grimm  sylph, wandering the woods in an undetermined “long time ago” age. My flowing hospital gown could seem rather grecian if looked at in the right light.

Pink Fuzzy askes me a lot of medical questions, then giggles. “I – I have to ask you, but I dont want to, because I know you just don’t, but do you have any STD’s – I know you dont, I sorry I had to ask…” Way to go lady, make me feel even more freakish when I answer in the affirmative. Enough already. Back to Intake Lady.

The paranoia question, which I flatly deny. If they are nazis, I dont want to let on that I know.

Intake Lady wants to know if I have thoughts of suicide.

I think about it – “Now…Or ever?”  buzzzzz. wrong answer.

I gather this from her sidelong slightly narrowed eyes, like a B-movie actress in a cold war spy movie. She merely says: “Vhatever you choose. Either one.”

“Doesn’t everyone?” buzzzzz. wrong answer.

A very calm nod, and as I read every word of my check in papers before I sign – and I have never read a document so slowly – she asks:

“Would you like to go to Mariah East, Lockdown or the First Floor? Mariah is smaller, all female, you have your own room. Less distraction, not so many activities. Very peaceful. Locked down, to keep everything alright. Or there is the First floor, no guaranteed of a room of your own, and there are many more people, many groups to go to. So, where would you like to go?”

“Ummmm. I dont know? What do you think?” buzzzzz. wrong answer.

“I think Mariah East, Lockdown, is best. There, you can rest.”

“Really?” I haven’t had the best ideas lately, maybe she knows best. She sees my doubtful look.

“After all, you may always leave if you dont like it, and the doctors feel it is a good idea. Mariah has locks, but do not let the words, lock down, frighten. The front door of the lobby is locked right now. This keeps us, you and me, safe.The gates are locked, the doors, there is a fence.” She raises her hands in a beatific gesture and smiles. “But really, everything in the world has locks. Locks are all around us.”

Mariah East: exhibits A and B

Mariah East. Romantic, colorful, morose and windswept name, no? Mariah East, lockdown for women; a place inbetween, a place lost, not quite where one wants to be yet nowhere else seems to exist. One cannot possibly understand the mechanisms that roll you into such a reality, if reality is the word I’m looking for.

See, nobody ever knows how they got here.

“On my way to the airport – I was going on vacation with my husband, and somehow everything got mixed up and now I’m here.”

How long ago, one might enquire. Shrugs. A week or so. And enough clothes for a months. A huge suitcase, stuffed with fashion items for every occasion, and when Hawaii got irritated, she’s retreat to her room, and reemerge in a new colorful boutique dress, striding with more confidence and a slight hostile tip of the chin. Lesson of the day: this packing, I must remember, next time I’m on the way to lockdown.

No one may fathom how the exact route.

“The van was supposed to take me to physical therapy, and now… I’m here.”

How long, one might enquire. A slow back and forth of the head. That goes to the heart of Mariah East. No time or space.

Maritime Confessional, Pt. II

The Master and Commander speaks his piece. Lashed to the mooring of the ship, embraced by a wooden sea goddess, the siren song seems so delicious, so dangerous, yet so very far away. Danger nullified, excitement maximized – in this little game of faux terror and tempting tragedy.

Dearest sailors, hast thou spoken amongst oneselves? Discovered why the bossman can look and listen but not touch, while you my dearies, stay ignorant, deaf and undelighted?

If the song spreads horror and death, then your captain, oh captain keeps you safe. If it’s all a lie, all a lie for him to enjoy undisturbed, uninterrupted, unable to respond… then you are cheated from your own experience, your own choice, your own discovery, be it horror or delight.

Is mine a siren song, or freedom? Is it worth finding out?