A Song From Catatonia

In a white-walled, starkly-lit room, Kura sat waiting for her troubled visitor. Many nights the man would come in and hurt her in various ways, but she held no grudge against him—he was dealing with many issues. There were ways—secret ways—that pain could be weathered without feeling a thing, and she frequently employed them. But something else was amiss tonight. She knew this because she possessed a gift of foresight which no one seemed to believe. Still, she was determined to disclose her most recent premonition.

Whenever he called on her, she was left bruised, battered and bleeding, yet stolidly silent as he cried out, as though feeling the pain on her behalf. Kura hated the things he did, but mostly just felt sorry for him. She saw his mind and knew that he was damaged. She could always escape to her quiet space where no hurt could be felt, but right now she had to relay an important message to him. Things were urgent. No space travel tonight.

Fred walked briskly toward the private ward of his favourite inmate. He hadn’t gotten a chance all week, but with Rani away on holiday and Jacob having his appendix removed, security was scant at the moment. It was indeed a fortuitous circumstance. The perks were few in this bloody madhouse, but where they existed, he intended to collect. The menial work he did for base pay! Surely life held more than wheeling about the folks of crazytown and…

He’d arrived at the door marked “11”. Yes, it had been at least a week since. A considerable bulge had begun to develop in front of him as he anticipated the business shortly to come. This, in addition to the impressive girth already present—a feature he attributed to middle-age, despite its existence since his teenage years. He entered and immediately began shaking his head in disappointment. The sight before him was pathetic. She was already crouched at the far corner of the room, hands clasped around her upper arms, nodding furiously. Upon sighting him, she lunged into those nonsensical, sing-song babblings: “There goes Fred. Fred wet beard. Have come for bread. Broke head Fred. Bad bread Fred, Fred, Fred!” What a monumental waste of dark, insanely soft, shiny curls. Of huge, baby-animal eyes. Of honey-toned skin, flecked with freckles around her shoulders like the doe she was. Her twenty-two year old body was a bit too old for his taste, but she sufficed for the moment. His little schizo was quite a catch! The female nurses doted on her. She was showered with creams and potions, inasmuch as little could be done for her mind. As is the way with good looks, it bought you favour everywhere, including, apparently, this dump. Not that he would know anything about it. As some kid in his high school once put it, on a scale of 1-10 he was a solid negative. He wished the little worm could see him now.

Trembling with longing, Fred advanced, causing her to scream more loudly, her ridiculous, inane words. It was all or nothing with this one. Most times a lifeless, unresponsive hunk of meat. But it seemed tonight was to be a feisty affair. Normally he would use the straightjacket, leaving her lower half exposed and stuffing her mouth with a rag. Tonight though, he’d been able to procure something more civilized. He fished out the dose and shot her up. Soon she was putty in his arms, moaning in protest and staring up through half-closed lids, from a distant place. He hoisted her unto the bed and unzipped his trousers, struggling against the protuberance at his crotch. Six minutes later, he screamed his release and collapsed atop her nude figure to catch his breath. It had been so long since.

At close of shift from the mental institution, a male orderly got into his car and commenced the long drive home. It coughed and sputtered continuously, but remained magically alive and in motion. Whizzing past the woods in the pre-dawn quiet, the freshness of the rain-washed air was completely lost on him. Understandable, as he’d just been near-blows with a colleague over a bet made weeks ago. He needed distraction, so retreated to his memory bank and sought out The Ward 11 Stint (Part 16) to play on a loop.

A deafening horn blast, chillingly close, jolted him to the present. It took too much time, swinging his neck to search for the source, but at some point during, he met with pain. Something monstrous and metallic—something heavy and infinite—struck him. He felt the blow everywhere at once and was sent spiraling, dancing, bouncing. When the world stopped spinning, he felt wet. Blood and petrol soaked his beard, neck, chest. Attempting to blink, he realized the crucial lacking of an eyelid on one eye. Probably torn off by some jagged piece of car, he thought wildly. Likely stabbed the eyeballs too, was his eventual estimation, since he still couldn’t see. He could not determine the orientation of his person relative to the car. All he knew was body-wide agony. Moving his head, he heard a mushy, wet sound and guessed his skull had cracked open and was spilling its content. Fred wet beard. Broke head Fred. A mad urge to laugh came next but was quickly squashed, as he was unprepared for the possible discovery that no jaw was left.

The entire thing took only a few seconds. Fred couldn’t see the huge truck standing upright like nothing happened, the words HENRY’S BUTTERY BAKES emblazoned across the sides. Neither could he see the giant loaf of presumably buttery bread pictured below the letters, two slices cut off and buttered even more, all held aloft by a fat black man, presumably Henry. One liberated car wheel rolled down the road and into the sunrise. A rogue metal scrap skidded across the road, sending sparks flying every which way, and coming to rest dramatically at the immiscible puddle of blood and motor fluids. Miraculously, no ignition was triggered. But this mattered little to Fred, because amongst other irreparable failures, his heart had given up the futile effort of pumping blood onto the tarmac. Fred was dead.


Meanwhile in Ward 11 of the nearby mental institution, a young woman’s illegally-administered sedative had worn off. She hugged herself and gave a loud, piercing scream followed by the incessant chanting of “bad bread Fred, bad bread Fred!”

Image via: John Saddington

4 thoughts on “A Song From Catatonia

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