“THE DEADLINE IS TOMORROW, AND YOU HAVE GIVEN ME NOTHING!” I hear my booming boss’s scream at my dumb coworker, Jan.While Jan never seems to be on time for her deadline, neither do I, but I’m different. I’m an ambitious journalist for the Ragtime Paper, where only the most brilliant, most interesting writers work. Recently my superior, Nelson, has neglected my raw talent of journalism and replaced what should be high paying checks with nagging and complaints. He says that I need to speed up my four month project, but he just doesn't have an appreciation for my work, or is he aware of the fact that art takes time. My typewriter is my paint brush, the magazine my canvas, and I am Davinci.
For the last four months, day and night, I have been working and studying with an obsessive desire to unfold the reality of the treatments at Topeka State Hospital. Topeka is an insane asylum rumored to be haunted with cruel, unusual, and seemingly creative treatments on their patients. I have devised a plan, a plan so cunning, it demonstrates not a single flaw. I will fake insanity and place myself inside of Topeka State Hospital, where I will act as a patient for a week to rightly witness how the sausage is made. How will a clear-headed man like me fake insanity to the degree of that a deranged man? I plan to drive down to the hospital, jump the front gate, strip down to nothing but my skin, and then wander about the hospital nude, until staff discovers me. They will believe I am a patient that somehow found his way beyond the brick barricade that soon will temporarily imprison me.
There is just a week to my departure. I have neither kids, family or empathy for my soon to be enraged boss. However, my unannounced absence will be in trade for the most fascinating, article that has ever been printed or written by this company. I will put this magazine on the map!
As the week passes, Mr. Turnbull nags and rants daily like a broken record. He reminds me that 1921 will soon turn into 1922 and I still won’t have produced another good article. Little does he know! Mr. Turnball walks around the office in a white suit with a red tie, a cigar always in his right hand, and his left placed upon his fat pot belly gut, ignorant to my plans. For tomorrow is the day it all begins, everything is put into place, nothing can go wrong, I have never been so sure of myself. The day comes to an end, and as I fall asleep, I think about how much life is soon going to change, and of how I will finally be the famous writer, I know myself to be.
Waking up I barely needed to get ready, honestly I dont even need clothes. I take the three hour drive to the asylum and park my beat up and rusted Chrysler Model b-70 just a mile away. I walk the sidewalk slowly and with confidence. My heart doesn’t race, and my palms don't sweat. There is not a single lick of worry or doubt inside of me. I have full trust in my plan.
I reach the address, 2700 W 6th Street, an address I haven't been able to get off my mind. Arriving at the gate, I stand in awe. The gate itself is made from black twisted iron, towering ten feet high above me. The hospital is made of bricks with twenty-two front windows. I take note of the three balconies and the tall cylinder tower on the left hand side. The marvel looks more like a castle than a mental hospital. Through my research, I learned that the building was designed by architect ,John G. Haskell. There is a small garden of flowers in a circle in front of the building where a path splits around and then leads to a large white front door. The irony grasps me. How could something so pretty hold something so dark? Realizing I am lost in the hospitals aesthetics, I pace the length of the fence until I reached a massive oak tree. I take a deep breath thinking about what I’m about to embark on. Pulling a cotton bag from my back pocket, I began to strip. Pulling off my slacks, suspenders, waistcoat, and hat I stuff them into the bag. After tying a knot on the bag, I fling it into the trees nearby.
The cold autumn air pricks my pale skin like a hundred needles. Grasping the cold iron fence, I begin to climb, hoisting myself over the fence and dropping to the ground on to the other side. With a thud, I hit the frozen ground hard, taking the breath out of me. Jumping to my feet with the speed of a flea, I sprint across the lawn to a space beneath the porch, not far from where the front door is. I dive beneath the porch, climbing through overgrown plants that barely conceal my hiding place.
It is dark. The little I can make out is weeds growing in the soil around me and the concrete of the foundation not far behind me. I take a moment to get my breath, but a cross of adrenaline and the severe cold won’t allow me to slow down without my lungs feeling the sharp cold pierce in them. Watching my breath dissipate, I hear a quick thud of the door accompanied by footsteps above my head. From a split in between the boards, I spot two men in white uniforms. They both stand silently, searching for something. They must have seen me, I think to myself. I am not scared. This was my plan all along. I just simply didn't expect it to go into action so soon. They seem to stand there for years, searching with a blind faith that they saw something.
“ I didn't see where the thing went, but for the life of me I’m certain I saw him run across this lawn from the other side of tree! One of the crazies must have found its way out” spoke a the taller man ,as he cleaned his fogged cheaters with his shirt.
“The crazy seems to be rubbing off on you!” said the other nurse with a chuckle.
Despite the cold, my stomach fills itself with a warm feeling. A feeling of pride, wits, and trickery. Knowing that they are as dumb as snails, when I have the intelligence of a Harvard doctor, make me throw my head back with a smile. I chuckle and bashed my head onto the low boards above me.
Suddenly the nurses take action. “THERE” one yells, as he points to the porch he is standing on.
He runs down the stairs stopping at the plants in front of me. The second man follows quickly behind him. I hold my breath. Pulling the thin veil of plants apart, opening the space between us, the nurses reveal two pale baby like faces. In a storm of slurs and cursing, they drag my out from beneath the porch. I neither fight back or speak. I remain mute, as I plan do my entire stay at the hospital, well, that is until finally I tell them the truth about my sanity.
Dragging me up the steps, arms looped under mine, they take no caution for my safety, leaving me dizzy with my head striking against every step. Stopping in front of the door, they lift me to my feet. I refuse to stand on my own, furthering my act as an ill wit mental. The man with glasses to my left releases me and shakes the door handle trying to open it. Pulling a ring of keys off his belt, he shuffles through them trying two or three before finally opening the front door. My body hangs to the left and falls free of the others man’s loose grip. I thud onto the floor of the deck hitting my head, in turn giving me a small gash just above my left eye. The man grabs ahold of my wrist and rips me off the ground, standing me up.
Towing me through the door, I withheld the foolish stance of a toddler during a tantrum. My knees bent, my legs drag behind me. A warm liquid drips down my face and onto my lips from the gash above. Blood streams into my gaping mouth. The hallways is so dimly lit, that i can barely see the two closed off rooms to my left. One has a black sign on the door labeled Chief Psychiatrist, and the other is dedicated to the nurse commons. Straight ahead of me is a grand staircase leading to what I only imagine are the rooms of the hospital’s patients. To my right appears a living space with luxurious couches, tables and a lit fireplace giving the space a cozy, but yet aristocrat feel. This is not, where I will be staying.
The nurses continue to drag me towards a bench outside of the two doors. This is my first time feeling a magnitude of panic, ever. This sense of unfamiliarity and could it be...a feeling of uncertainty... make my heart pound. I struggle, and pull, kick and try to worm my way out with every ounce of strength I have. Once or twice I am close to becoming free, but no cigar. With every attempt a responding strike is given to my face, ribs or gut with brutalizing force. As we come closer to the doors and the bench, I pull my right arm free from the fat man's grasp, throwing my elbow back striking the man with cheaters, shattering his glasses in half and also rocking him back, freeing me. I run to the banister of the staircase, and cling to it for all my life. I am impulsive, uncertain. It’s not like my fight or flight mode has taken hold of my brain, more I have a sense of unnatural defiance. I must not abandon my mission, but I feel a need to get away. Sweat pours off my brow and into my eyes. The man who once wore spectacles, now wears a beat crimson face. Charging like a bull, he runs towards me and backhands me right on the nose, where it was already bleeding.* I feel my head rock back, a loud snap ring through my eyes, knocking my nose tip no longing in the center of my vision, but unnaturally far to the right. An agonising pain inflamed my nerves, my hands realising their vice grip went to my face. Cuping my now broken nose. Spitting on me, and then followed by a blow to the chest. I fell back onto the steps. Looping their arms around mine, the two nurses began to drag me again to the door. I had neither the energy or the will to fight. My head hung this time, hiding an ear to ear golden grin. Besides the pain and abuse, a sense of pride washed over me. I was in. My plan was still in motion, despite the beatings. The idea of my wit over their poor foolishness gave me a boost of energy.
Raising my head up blood ran onto my smiling white teeth, creating a demonous blood stained picture of happiness and accomplishment. I was placed on the bench roughly and told to stay accompanied by a plethora of curses and slurs. The fat man went into the office, leaving me alone with the second nurse. Without looking to his chest,I took note to his name, “Jason.” Jason stood guard over asuring my captivity as I listened to the other nurse go on about how a patient must have escaped from the hospital and was found under the porch naked. Hook line and sinker. I head a second voice, that I couldn't make words out of. I figured it was the chief giving orders of what to do with me. The nurse thanked his boss, as he closed the door. I looked up to his face, straight into blue speckled eyes, showing my confencance, and without a care for his humanity, possible heart or feelings family, or life outside of work I spat onto his black shoes. Red dots of blood speckled the leather . Following quickly behind him was the cheif who pulling my hair back turning my head up towards his with a quick yank looked at me with a grin. A grin of victory over the weak. With a calm, pirdeful voice, “Welcome back to the hospital, Mr. Williams.” Dr.Turnbull welcomed me back home.