August: Patient on the bus
I’m not insane. I’m not loony, deranged, crazy, or cookoo. I have complete possession of all my marbles. I’m normal. It just that that… do you remember that game where you place pillows on the ground and pretend that the floor is lava? I see that lava all the time and if I step on it… well I have never stepped on the lava.
I used to drink cocktails at a bar. My favorite was this lime flavored cocktail. The bartender he could make one of the best drinks ever. He even put this little red feather in the drink. It was perfect. I no longer drink. My cocktail now consists of a multitude of candy colored pills of different sizes. It makes the lava go away.
At the hospital I was at, I had a roommate. He was very young man, but he was really tall and really skinny. His name was John, although I called him Johnny. I’m the only one who called him Johnny. Not even his parents, when they came in, call him Johnny. John’s dad didn’t say much, his mom does the talking. Whenever the nurses or his mom try to offer him food, he screams at them. Whenever he screams at them, his dad leaves, and then his mom cries. Then they both leave. It’s really sad. I’m the only who can make him eat. He screams at the food and that the nurses had poisoned it, and then I step in. I try the food and then he eats a little of the food. I fine with it because his food is really good.
There was one nurse who was always really nice to me. Her name was Lillian. She checked on me every day at four forty-five. She would come in and ask me how I was doing and if I needed anything and if I took my ‘cocktail’. I would laugh at her. She asked about my medicine. Every day, I would say yes, but I’d follow with ‘but I’d like alcohol with it.” She would smile at that and she would always say, “August, I can’t give you that and you know it.” Lillian was pretty. She was really nice.
I was told that I was picked to go to a new hospital and that I wouldn't have choice. It was my sister’s, who is my guardian, choice because it was, as she said, better for me. But I heard that it was nearly six hundred dollars cheaper. I haven't seen my sister in nearly a year. The last time I saw her was at my parent’s funeral. I miss them.
When I left it was really sad for me. Lillian came in early that day. She asked me the same questions, but she sounded really sad. Again I replied that I would like alcohol, but I was really sad. I felt the tears come. They were hot and they dripped down my face slowly. They burned my cheeks. I swiped at them and Lillian gave me a tissue.
“I’m gonna miss you.” I told her. She walked to me and gave me a hug.
I began to cry again. I really did love Lillian and she was my best friend at the hospital. I walked out of the building and after that I turned to look at my home for the past decade. I would miss it.
I made it to the bus, that was parked outside and Lillian followed me to help others. It was a very long bus nearly seventy- five feet. As I walked on I saw it was a normal bus, but with seat belts. Lillian came along to help me with my seatbelt. I told her I could do it myself. I couldn't understand her expression when I said that. She almost looked proud of me. After that she walked off the bus. I really did love her.
After the bus was filed with people, a man wearing a dark blue suit came on. He looked nervous. Once he entered, the bus driver stood to greet him. The bus driver was a tall man with dark hair and eyes. He had a thick mustache and wore a baseball cap that covered the top of his head. He shook the nervous man’s hand and the nervous man had said, “Keep them safe Leo,” The bus driver nodded, smiled and then closed the doors behind him He looked back to us through the mirror.
“Okay who wants to listen to some music?” His voice was low. He smiled at us and I could see the yellow stains on his teeth.
No one answered his question and he shrugged. “Okay” he mumbled and we were off. I turned in my seat which was hard to do because the seat belts crossed in an X over my chest. I saw the hospital disappear and I sighed. I wondered if Lillian was thinking of me as I was her.
As we drove off the, people in the bus started to talk, or at least what they thought was talking. Their voices rose and fell. There were mumbles and mutters from some, but others laughed. As we drove even further from the hospital it went quiet.
I was thinking. Where was I going? It was like a wild adventure. I was now excited for what was to come, but then I felt a slight buzz. It was a familiar buzz. It was the buzz that meant I needed more of my ‘cocktail’. The lava was returning. I could feel hot lava that burned my feet. I couldn't see the lava, yet. I needed Lillian. I shut my eyes and squeezed the arm rests on my seat. Suddenly the buzzing faded and I opened one eye. The floor was just worn carpet.
The bus drove through country side and as I looked out the window I saw a sign that read: BIG BILL’S BAR “Good drinks and hot gals”. The bar was off of exit 19. As the bus rolled on I noticed the exits. 12, 14, 15 and as the exits got closer to 19 I realized something. The bus driver was pulling off into that exit.
I called to the bus driver, “Are we almost there?”
I saw him look at me in the mirror and the chuckle and then look back to the road.
The bus pulled off the highway and into a parking lot. The sign said that the establishment was called BIG BILLS BAR. The bar was small and shabby. It was a little longer than the bus in length and it was a building entirely made of wood. A thick smoke was coming from the chimney and motorcycles were parked in lines near the entrance.
The bus rolled to a stop and the bus driver stood looking back at us.
“Y’all okay?” He asked taking off his hat and rubbing his head. He looked around and smirked. “See y’all in a few hours.” He chuckled and left that bus humming.
We sat in our seats in dead silence unsure what to do. I knew that a lot of the people here, like me, hadn't been without some type of supervision for I don't know how long. The bus driver, no matter how unobservant, was our supervision.
As I was sitting there confused I heard a small noise, a slight grunt of excursion and then a cry of satisfaction and joy. Unclicking my seatbelt I turned to look behind me, behind me where the patients that were worse than me. I had heard that they had these voices telling them to do terrible things like murder or rape. They were sent to the hospital instead of prison. They were the diagnosed mentally insane. Unlike me they had been strapped in tight with no way to get out unless someone helped them. One of them was out of their bindings and was standing up smiling.
“Carl!” A man yelled at the standing man, “Help me out!” Then that man got out as well. Soon all the patients who could walk were free.
Then I felt the buzzing again. This time it was loud and seemed like it came from somewhere deep like my reservations of medications had worn out. As I look down I saw the floor begin to melt away and be replaced by hot bubbling orange lava. I could feel its heat on my face and my eyes began to burn and sting. Tears began to stream down my face. I stood on my chair to get away. I needed to get away. I needed Lillian. I felt myself begin to panic.
I turned my head toward them. They were walking on the lava! I looked away from the bubbling steaming red-orange mass to see who was calling my name. It was Johnny. As he was walking closer to me he was saying something.
I just stared at him.
“Aug!” He said very loudly, “come on! We are leaving!”
“LAVA!” I screamed at him trying to open a window to get away. Then I looked out the window and saw that the lava was there too. I screamed. “I gonna die! No! God don't let me die!”
Johnny walked closer to me on the lava.
“Get on a chair! The Lava it's going to burn you!” I grabbed his arm, my fingers seemed to wrap around just the bone, and I yanked up to the chair. I was crying and panicking. “Johnny the lava!” I pointed to the floor and felt the heat on my hand.
He looked at me, confusion in his shrunken eyes, “what lava?”
“On the floor!” I screamed at him.
He jumped off the chair and touched the lava. As his hand was under the surface I saw the smoke and sizzle of the flesh being burnt off. I smelled the smell of roasting meat. He pulled his hand away and I screamed. All I saw a burnt bone. As he raised it further the small bones that made up his fingers began to fall off and steamed into the lava.
“See its fine let’s go!” He said waving his hand stump.
I looked at him, shocked, and I screamed again horrified.
Johnny shrugged and walks away. I looked over to where he was walking and saw the back door to the bus open and people were filing out.
Soon I was alone with only the bubbling lava for company. I looked down at it again and fainted.
Leo: the bus driver
I got back to the bus. My head was buzzing from the drinks at the bar. I could taste the scotch still on my lips and on the front of my teeth. I liked my lips savor the taste. I tossed my keys into the air as I walked down the steps from the bar whistling and chuckling. The booze making me giddy and I laughed aloud at a couple walking into the bar.
As I opened my bus' door and walked on, my shoes clinking on the metal stairs, I had stopped. I felt my blood run cold and I felt vomit rise in my throat. My bus was empty.
“Oh God!” I yelled to the empty bus and I heard something maybe a groan coming from a row of seats about half way down the bus.
I slowly walked down the aisle. As I looked behind a row of seats I saw a man, about forty, lying on his stomach on the ground. He had a giant welt on his head and as I lean closer he opened one little eye and curled into a ball.
“My head hurts,” He said. He sounded like a child.
I leaned forward and pulled the man to his feet. He wore a white shirt and sweat pants which where both dirty from the floor of the bus.
“Thank you,” He said standing full upright and brushing off his clothes. Then he froze and stared at the floor. “LAVA!” He screamed and jumped on the seat.
He was screaming and crying and yelling at me to get off the floor. Even in my drunken state of mind I realized that he was the last mental patient on the bus.
As he was a raving lunatic I grabbed his arms and sat him in his seat. He folded his legs and looked nervously at my feet still screaming and crying.
“It’s all right,” I hoped that was comforting.
“LAVA! LAVA!” He cried twisting in my grasp and trying to break out of it.
“Calm down! There is no lava!’ I yelled over him my patience was wearing thin.
“NO I DON’T WANT TO DIE!” He screamed and cried some more.
I realized that I needed to think in quiet. I looked at the screaming man, tears running down his face. “Oh, crap!” I muttered and hit the man on the side of the head. Not making a mark, but easily knocking him out. He slumped in his seat and almost fell off. I buckled him again and leaned his head against the window. He looked like he fell asleep.
Now my problem was what to do about the missing patients. I looked at my empty bus and thought. After a few moments I decided on my plan.
Later I drove around finding bus stops full of people. I drove up to the bus stop and as the opened the door I said the same thing, “Bus is different today the other bus was unusable.”
I had to turn away as people entered, I smiled. I watched in my rearview mirror as the bus slowly filled. Once it was full I pulled onto the highway.
I heard protests.
“What the hell man!”
“Where are we going?”
“Let me out!”
I didn’t stop and I drove to the hospital. As I pulled into the hospital I stood and looked toward the people, they looked back at me fear in their faces. I smirked at them and then walked to the nurses waiting for the patients.
“Sorry that we are late the traffic was pretty bad.” I told one pretty nurse.
“Oh it’s fine as long as they got here safe,” She said and smiled at me.
As I walked into the hospital to use the bathroom I turned to her and said, “Oh yeah the patients that got pretty violent on the drive here. I would be careful also I think some of their medication had worn off. They were saying some crazy crap. Like how I had kidnapped them and things like that.”
“Okay thanks.” She said the she told the other nurses.
As I walked away I heard people yelling at the nurses that they had been kidnapped. I turned to look at them. I saw one woman look at me. Fear was in her eyes. I smiled at that and waved to her then I turned and walked into the building smiling and tossing my keys into the air and whistling.