Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6 part 2.17

Posted by harmony0stars on August 16, 2010

The condition of the halls did not worsen, but neither did they get better as she wandered the endless identical corridors. Most of the rooms she passed were open and empty with the mattresses rolled up and tied as if the place was in the process of shutting down. If there was anyone behind the doors that were closed, she didn’t check.

The emptiness of the halls creeped her out far more than the madhouse she‘d expected to find would have. She’d been prepared to deal with whatever the inmates did, having lived long enough on the streets to be passing familiar with the mentally ill. Though she did occasionally hear voices from the depths of the building around her, the sounds came from too far away to really make anything out. The room numbers matched her map at least, but she began to wonder if there was more than one hall with the same numbers. The place was so massive, there might be a different map for every floor.

Or the information in his file was old, and they’ve since closed this wing and sent him elsewhere, Phoenix added.

Not helping, she replied in a sing-song of annoyance. We’re going to the room listed in his file. If he’s not there, I’ll go back to the nurse’s station and hopefully whoever was supposed to be manning it will have returned.

Phoenix gave a mental shrug of indifference, but she could sense that he was uneasy. She didn’t blame him. Aside from the guard at the gate, the place was like a haunted house. At any moment, she might turn a corner and…

She reached an intersection and turned, walking right into a man in grubby scrubs more dingy gray than blue. He yelped and staggered back, raising the tray he held like a shield. Glory danced back, staggering into a wall as a loose tile skittered away under her foot.

“Who the hell are you?” he yelled. He lowered the tray but continuing to breathe heavily. “You don’t belong here.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence. I do wonder some days,” she quipped.

He gaped at her, and she rolled her eyes. “I’m Glory Lewin. I called yesterday…? About my father… Lawrence Lewin?”

“I didn’t know the old guy had any kids,” he finally muttered, tucking the tray under his arm. “Who told you he was back here? We have a visiting room, you know. They should have paged me to bring him up.” He tapped a walkie-talkie that was clipped to his waistband.

“There wasn’t anyone in the office when I came in.”

He gave her a puzzled glare. “So who told you your old man was back here, then?”

“I looked in the files, made a copy of the map on the door,” she held up her photocopy, “and came looking. I did call ahead.”

“Son of a b-,” he cursed. “That door is supposed to be locked if there’s no one in the office.”

“Well, I locked it behind me, if it’s any consolation, but I’d like to see my father, now.” She didn’t correct him on the assumption that the door had been open when she arrived. If it made the staff more cautious in the future, it was all to the good. “I want to see his room regardless. Nothing against you, but I want to make sure he’s being given the proper care, or I’ll put him somewhere that will.”

He eyed her warily. “I don’t make policy,” he said, as if that excused the condition of the building and the level of care that the patients received.

“I didn’t expect that you did,” she said, a hint of exasperation creeping into her voice. “Now if you’ll show me where he’s being kept… ?”

“It’s against policy,” he said, “but I guess if you’re already here, it’d be easier than taking you all the way back to the waiting room and then bringing him out to you. Not that you’re going to get much out of the old guy. Um, do you have ID? I just have to check to make sure you are who you say you are.”

Glory dug out her wallet and handed him her driver’s license. He looked at it, then up at her, then back at the ID before giving it back. It was somewhat comforting that he was making the effort to follow some kind of protocol. She didn’t think she looked that different from her photo though.

“Okay,” he said with a shrug. “I guess there’s no reason you can’t see his room. It’s not like we keep him chained to a wall or anything.” He turned back the way he’d came, and Glory fell into step beside him.

For several seconds there was nothing but the sound of their shoes clicking on the occasional loose tile. “I couldn’t help but notice how empty the place is,” Glory said after a few seconds.

“What? Oh… well, this half of the asylum’s shut down. We don’t have nearly the number of patients they used to back in the 50s. You’re dad’s the only one over on this side,” he replied, keeping his eyes glued to the floor rather than look at her.

“Why?” she demanded when it didn’t seem as though he’d explain himself without being prompted.

“Well… he kind of made the other clients uncomfortable,” he said after a few seconds. “There were… incidents. So the admin sent him over to this side. Personally, I don’t see what the problem was. He can’t see obviously, but he takes care of himself. I’ve never had any issues with him, and I’ve been more or less bringing him his food and meds and doing his laundry and housekeeping for five years. It’s like working with a manikin in the room. I don’t know what he was like before they lobotomized him, but…”

“They lobotomized him?” she gasped, stopping in the middle of the hall. “That’s barbaric!”

“Yeah, well, that was before my time,” he replied, adding, “It was in his file. I always figured already having no eyes probably made it easier for them to scramble his brains.”

“I didn’t read the whole thing,“ she almost growled and saw the muscles between his shoulders bunch as he ducked his head and kept walking. “I just looked for his room number.”

He shrugged, seeming half embarrassed, half indifferent. “They used to do lots of stuff like that, even ten years ago. I guess the state would have tried to get authorization from his family,” he said, as if trying to defer the blame to her, “but if they felt he was a problem, they’d do what was necessary to make him more pliant for the long term.”

“So they gave a blind man a lobotomy and then isolated him over here?” she demanded, stepping quickly to catch up with him when he kept walking. “What kind of problems could he have possibly caused?”

“Well… I wasn’t around then, and don‘t repeat this, but apparently the other clients were afraid of him, even after the lobotomy, especially after it, if you read between the lines. There were a few client deaths… self mutilations and attacks, and two staff died, though that part’s not in the file. Old guy that trained me told me about it. The police ruled that a murder suicide, but everyone was scared s***less of your dad. Even now, I’m pretty much the only person they can get to come over here and look after him. Like I said though, I’ve never had a problem with him. I think it’s just stories. You know… people talk. There‘s nothing in his file that says he instigated anything, just that he was present or was mentioned by whoever did whatever. Even before the lobotomy, he apparently didn‘t talk much. I‘ve heard him muttering to himself a few times before I knocked, but he‘s never said boo to me. If you were expecting a big family reunion, I think you‘re going to be pretty disappointed.”

to Book 6, part 2, page 18

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4 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6 part 2.17”

  1. here2read said

    Oooooooookay…

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