I cross the gap with ease
between my knees I carry my piece
It shouldn’t look like this
I hold true but it starts
this ardure I felt for your
They close to me now
gated and sure
no fence allowed to be
here around my heart
for my escaping
“Oh, you’re back!”
“What happened? I thought you were gone!”
“The pigs picked me up outside Costa Coffee in town and brought me back.”
She smiled. The light on her eyes shone in contrast with her lank blond hair which was tied back with a tired scrunchie. “So what happened? …I saw you disappear up the tree and then you were on the roof… did you get hurt?”
“No!…no!…that part was easy. It’s easy once you get up the tree” he hoped his bravado covered up for his feelings of impotence. “They aren’t allowed to pull you down from below ‘cos you may get hurt. So I just kept going…onto the top of the fence, onto the roof, and down the other side. I just jumped down and then I walked into town! I wanted to sent an e-mail, basically, so that is what I did.”
“And that’s it?” Her envy was showing through. “You were only gone three hours!”
He gloated in her expression. It augmented his feeling of triumph with his escapade.
“Did they say anything to you? Didn’t they crap on your head?”
He grinned. She was new on the secure unit.
“They never do. This is about the eighth time I’ve escaped.”
He hucked his jeans habitually. Without as belt, it was something he had got used to.
“Yeah. The cops must have used the camera’s in town ‘cos they found me pretty quickly. I was just sitting having a cup of coffee and their car pulled up and that was that. They even knew my name…”
He waited, wondering if to prolong the conversation, but unsure of her reaction. She was pretty even without any make-up, just a little acne showing on her chin, though her floppy sweats didn’t do her figure any favours but he had noticed she was a few years younger than himself, four or five years to his 26.
She had gone back to eating her toast, spreading strawberry jam from the single portion sample on the brown bread they offered as a night-time fast breaker, post supper. The common room was cramped with the table for four and the four chairs in front of the wide screen television that was always on. Eight bedrooms led off of the corridor outside the door while one wall was of glass, facing onto the fenced smoking garden from which he had escaped, with its glass door leading outside from within manned by a health care assistant names Sue, in her late fifties and close to retirement from the look of her. Sue was the keeper of the cigarette lighter for the safety of the ward.
The other patients, or service-users as they were termed, must have been in their rooms for they had the common room to themselves, with Sue.
The girl at the table wiped some jam from the corner of her mouth with her little finger, delicately holding her piece of toast in the same hand but not to spread it on her face. She seemed pre-occupied and not overly interested.
But Sue, who was listening, asked:
“So what did you do? Did you just send an e-mail? You didn’t try to go anywhere?” she asked in her local Somerset accent.
His waiting was relieved by her question. He felt like talking. There was nothing else to do, and he didn’t want to appear threatening to her as Sue was the one with the keys to his incarceration, who kept the notes of service-user observations. The power of release was in her hands. The ward psychiatrist sat like a spider in a web stranded of nurse watchmen who jiggled when a service-user did, leaving the spider-psychiatrist to make a power move at their signal and Tom understood this. So he was very ginger-ish about creating a good, easy-going and compliant impression with them.
“I just wanted to e-mail my Dad and my sisters. He’s not well. I was about to fly home when I was picked up by the social worker and brought here. I’m worried about him! These could be his last days…”
There was no sign of listening from the girl at the table, who was lost in her toast again.
“Is that it? You have a flat, don’t you Tom? Didn’t you try to go there?”
“Yes I do… but there didn’t seem to be much point. I wanted to send the mail and then get a coffee. The police are getting used to me I think” he grinned wryly “and I knew they would be by somehow. So I just sat and waited. I was only around the corner from the internet cafe.” He walked over to Sue standing by the door, pulling his rolling tobacco and papers from his levi’s pocket on his hip.
He stood looking out the door at the solitary cherry tree in the garden, his route to freedom earlier that evening. The ward’s name was “The Cherries” which was a strange choice he thought, thinking of Japanese gardens and George Washington.
He licked the paper having stoked it with tobacco adeptly with practised ease. He rolled his fingers and bang, his cigarette was ready to smoke.
“Can I go outside? I need a light, Sue please?”
“No, Tom, the garden is off-limits tonight until the doctor decides in the morning what he is going to do. You escaped today, didn’t you, and now the garden is off limits to everyone” Sue replied firmly. “You can have some toast?” She offered. “Or a cup of tea?”
“Oh, you’re kidding! No cigarettes!” Tom was incredulous. “That’s not on! Are you serious?”
“Yes, that’s the rule now. The doctor is not happy and the door has to stay shut at least to the morning when everything has settled down. If you go over the fence again then we will all be in trouble, so that is the decision that has been made. The door stays shut, I’m sorry.”
COPYRIGHT BRUCE E SAUNDERS 2017