I autopilot through the high security checkpoints, unlock seven sets of doors and haul myself up a flight of steps in a caged stairwell. It is here that I feel safest.
Each time a heavy, steel door crashes shut my lethargy increases. My fingers only relax their crushing grip on the master key ring at the journey’s mercifully end at one last, oversized door that leads into the staff wing. The State took no chances with the safety of their employees. These juveniles incarcerated here must be as dangerous as adults.
We’re welcomed inside by a rush of cool air. I run air-conditioning full time to keep a load on the generator. Kristine sighs with pleasure then wrinkles her nose at the smell.
The security door wheezes shut behind us and locks us in with a loud, reassuring clunk. We stand in the communal kitchen. The source of the smell is somewhere amongst the rubbish and dirty dishes that overflow the benches. Kristine follows when I lead the way into a large lounge room. She catches the swinging door that I forget to hold open before it smacks her nose. Too tired to apologise I sweep my arm around to introduce her to the room. She takes a few steps inside, running a hand over the dusty leather horseshoe-shaped couch that dominates the room. Discarded chip packets and crusty, stained plates are piled on every surface.
Her curious eyes run over seven closed doors arranged at even intervals around the curving rear wall as she reminds me of her pressing need with an agitated dance.
“Is there a bathroom I can use?”
I flick my fingertips at several doors on the far side of the room. She can take her pick. The seven wedge-shaped bedrooms are identical, each with an en-suite. I’m sure she’ll find the laundry, which is tucked behind the kitchen, when she needs it. The smell of my sweaty clothes that create a mini-mountain range in the laundry will lead the way.
She stares longingly at the flashy stereo and the paused image of closing credits on the massive TV as she passes. I suppose it’s been a while since she’s seen one working. I’d liberated these, and other appliances, from specialty electrical stores downtown. Only chose the very best of course.
Kristine pokes her head into what I call my study. It’s messy with cables and several PC’s in various stages of repair. The floor is covered with the covers of hundreds of games that I don't play much anymore. The roster on the wall used to allow me small increments of leisure time to enjoy them. Back when I was disciplined.
Kristine moves to the next door, typically picking the room I store a small mountain of bagged rubbish. It was a temporary stockpile for later removal, but like all my other chores the care factor was rather close to nil .
The disgusted look I get shows exactly what she thinks of that arrangement. The next room is more acceptable. She goes in and locks the door.
Alone at last.
I hit the liberated stereo’s remote. Oversized speakers fill the room with a blast of heavy metal. My arm makes short work of the dirty cups and plates piled high on the coffee table. Finally I’m able to unbuckle the pack and spill its contents across the bare wood. Pill bottles and packets cascade over the sides and roll onto the carpet unnoticed.
I stand mesmerised at the wealth of mind altering substances available to me. Which one will have the honour of removing the more troubling aspects of my illness? We have a winner. Morphine conquers all.
The hand chosen to pop the tabs trembles uncontrollably. Nothing to worry about. Just overdid it a bit with all that running and climbing, that’s all.
Ah sweet, sweet, Morphine, sweep away my pain, you addictive bitch.
The weapons belt hits the floor and somehow I strip off the soaked leathers without dislocating my spine. Tremors wrack my body.
The procedure takes some time but Kristine remains locked in the room she’d chosen, missing the retarded contortionist show.
Freed of my restrictive clothing I prod at the numbness seeping down the left side of my body. Isn’t that the first sign of a stroke?
I desperately want to lie down and sleep, but even a slob like me knows when he’s due a shower. I’m filthy, hot and stink like a public urinal after a New Years Eve party.
A rolling wave of nausea sloshes up from the pit of my stomach. I vomit into my mouth and choke the rancid liquid back down. I’m not wasting these pills.
Damn it, will they never kick in?
So far I’ve avoided contemplating what that Crawly’s venom might be doing to me. With no way of diagnosing or treating it, I see no point.
Moving to my bathroom to shower is a balancing act. The floor has developed a ripple. The shower taps move away from my hands and the walls bulge alarmingly. Water flows. I grope amongst fourteen different bottles of shampoo, by chance choosing one with menthol in it.
Why would anyone put menthol in shampoo?
The acid sting of it on my lips and scalp is intense. Cold water extinguishes the fire. I’m amazed at the sheer quantity of blood and dirt that runs down the drain.
Pain fades. Morphine lowers her smothering, soft blanket a tad early. Supreme confusion reigns. I swallow water from the showerhead to drown an empty stomach that cramps and flutters.
I fall. My head hits the tiled wall on the way down.
In the resulting fog I hear the stereo mute. Or have I gone deaf?
A muffled voice from the lounge room puts that concern to rest.
“What are you doing in there?”
“I’m giving myself a vasectomy.”
I can’t really tell if I said that or just thought it? In any case my sarcasm doesn’t prevent Kristine entering my bedroom to investigate. She stands in the doorway looking down at me with a furrowed brow, holding a towel against what must be her naked chest. I gaze up at her woozily from my loosely sprawled position.
How’d I get down here?
She hesitates before coming closer; swimming in and out of view; one moment a crystal cut vision, then next, a blur. An unseen hand tugs at my arm and echoing words batter my ears; cajoling, then harsh. Inexplicably I tell her how beautiful she is and she grimaces at either my inappropriate timing or the thought of receiving a compliment from me; though I think I see her blush before bloody, dirt encrusted hair falls to hide her face.
Interestingly my vision clear momentarily when her towel falls as she leans down to me revealing her only item of clothing. Pink panties.
“Well, mush be my lucky day…”
Unconsciousness descends swiftly. The darkness wears jackboots that kick in my eyes….