Wednesday, July 21, 2010

30 Nights

It wasn’t until his first night in the Overnight Asylum that he became aware of his illness. Then when they moved him to Waldau Sanatorium, which they did by hook and crook, smuggling him out on the back of an oxcart, he accepted his stock in life. The first night they punctured his thigh with a long sharp needle filling him up with a mixture of Thorazine and cod-liver oil. The following day they filled him with Klor-dye-az-eh-POX-ide and Dulcolax, his legs giving way and his arms swaying from side to side. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t stop his arms from swaying, the once happy bones in his elbows now unmerchantable and morose. The doctor prescribed a mild apagogic to be administered before bed. The third night he soiled the bed, the orderly throwing the shitted-on linen in the laundry that was rolled around on wheels. He calculated how long he could exist in a stupor: 27½ days. Then how long he could sleep on his back: 30 nights. On the seventh day the doctor pressed on his kidneys checking for stones and abscesses. The eighth and ninth days he slept on his side, the bedsores on his back weeping like frightened children. On the tenth day he was visited by the Tasmania brothers Arlen and Launceston, the brothers reveling him with stories of intrigue and folly. The eleventh and twelfth days he spent submerged in an ice bath, the doctor figuring it would do his constitution some good. On the thirteenth day he requested an ice bath, having found the first one invigorating. On the fourteenth day the sky outside his window fell, leaving a big hole in the roof. The fifteenth and sixteenth days a truckload of Mormon barn raisers arrived to repair the caved-in roof; the sanatorium administrator rewarding them for their hard work with a tinctura opii camphorata each and a free shave. They call him Tromsø because he has a face like a reindeer.

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