Before the beginning, there was this turtle. And the turtle was alone. And he looked around, and he saw his neighbor, which was his mother. And he lay down on top of his neighbor, and behold! she bore him in tears an oak tree, which grew all day and then fell over — like a bridge. And lo! under the bridge there came a catfish. And he was very big. And he was walking. And he was the biggest he had seen. And so were the fiery balls of this fish, one of which is the sun, and the other, they called the moon.
St. Mary’s Hospital is a place for troubled people.
I am troubled by the need to remember and Doreen by the
need to forget.
Five North is the locked unit at St. Mary’s Hospital.
This is where we who insist on losing control must stay.
This is where I met Willis.
Willis is six-foot four and angry.
He storms the day room and the staff part like the red sea.
A day on Five North usually begins with a Community Meeting.
The patients usually complain about how cruel the staff is and the staff usually agrees.
Doreen raises a hand and asks why there isn’t more Christian broadcasting on T.V. and Nurse Sandra explains it’s a weekday and “that’s that.”
Then Willis stands and everyone stops to listen:
“Ah was always this tall!” he begins, “An when ah breaths ever-body feels the flame! Thass why they knows ah come from God! God cradled me then spit me out an ah rambled an’ ambled over Earth till ah found this place here an’ no one takes my rights away or I’ll be a dirty muthuh’ fuckuh! Ah gotta balls black bitch in the Fillmore. She hustle rides up here, she say, no matter what you say or what you do…they always a place in my heart for you…”
The staff question each other with quick little glances: can we calm him down without restraints?
Dr. Jeremiah London clears his throat and says, “Why are you so angry, Willis?”
Willis spits. “You look like the one thass angry doc‑tor! You look like you ’bout to tell me to shut up!”
Dr. London purses his lips: “No, I’m not Willis. But you are disrupting the meeting.”