( excerpt )
other patients in the never-ending daily pacing of the long, concrete, smoke-filled corridors… catacombs for the living
dead. Anesthetized looks are seen on every face. Wide hollow eyes like zombies stare into nowhere. Reverberations
of fear could be heard like cries in the night from a far away place. Some hung their heads and walked slowly, as if
the weight of the world was on their shoulders, while yet others talked to invisible people. Like a mid-evil freak show,
a heavyset, toothless, disheveled female patient pirouettes up and down the hallway, like a ballerina...naked. Another
walks up to everyone, claiming she is ‘the black-hooded lady’. A painfully thin barefooted gray-haired patient
asks a nurse for a light for her tightly rolled up toilet paper cigarette, while another derelict patient is on her knees
sucking on a wet dirty mop from a mop closet. Mary tries to shoo her away from it. The glazed-eyed half-bald woman
runs into the bathroom. Mary follows. The woman is again, on her knees…only this time her head is in a toilet
bowl that is backed up, overflowing its waste onto the floor. Mary steps back...and retreats back to the hallway of
the living dead.
mop-sucking woman offers Mary a piece of candy, which turns out to be a hard ball of human feces. When Mary opted to
pass on the offer, the woman plops it into her own mouth and begins chewing on it with her mouth open wide, gurgling with
delight. A fecal-reeking odor gives off a stench from her wide-open mouth, and shot out like fire from a dragon. Brown
drool seeped down her chin as she moved in closer to Marys’ face, all the while, her mouth open wide, her tongue rolling
all around, chewing and laughing. Mary instinctively gagged, and ran quickly to the covered way that is called “the
cage” for some badly needed air.
The cage is
a dead-end open rectangular porch that overlooks the outdoors. The open left side is constructed of thick, rusty chain-link
fencing from the top of the ceiling and ends waist high. From the waist high mark to the bottom of the floor is all
brick. On the right side of the cage is just one stark naked brick wall. This fenced cage is the patients’
only taste of the outside world. It is supposedly open to the patients, weather permitting. This rule is completely
ignored by staff members, to which the cage serves as their convenient babysitter, regardless of the weather. It overlooks
a yard-size patch of sparse green grass. Beyond the patch of grass, stands a thick dense forest of tall trees.
Mary walks into the cage, and breathes in a deep breath of air. A patient is seen climbing and shaking the fence like
a monkey. No one seems to notice, or cares, for that matter. Further ahead, she spots the “regulars”
who frequent the cage. She strolls slowly all the way down to the dead-end, turns and heads slowly back.
As her gag reflux begins to calm, something
catches her eye. Her attention is drawn to a rarely, if often seen, large, beautiful, orange and black monarch butterfly
outside the cage, fluttering in the air. Her eyes follow its merry dance in the air, and she smiles to herself.
To her astonishment, it lights on the outside of the fence, and is bathing in the brilliance of the sun. She very quietly
observes it. It appears to be resting. Graceful movements of its’ wings fanned softly, like the gentle motion
of the soft breath of a baby sleeping. She is awestruck by its beauty and its grace. It ever so gently shifted its body
slowly around its temporary perch, and is now on the inside of the cage. Mary gasps in amazement.
it instinctively takes flight inside the cage! She quickly notices that its flight isn’t as graceful as it was
outdoors. Rather, it was flying erratically inside the cage. She soon realizes that it is trapped, and is trying
to escape. She looks on in sadness, as it hovers aimlessly above her. It is disoriented, and is desperately searching
for an exit. It blindly crashes into the wall several times. Mary senses its utter desperation, and attempts to
direct it toward the fence with her arm motions. Her efforts finally prevail, and she watched...as the winged beauty
took flight...off into the blue sunlit sky...and disappeared...to its awaiting freedom. She is filled with both feelings
of sadness and joy, at the same time. She looks outside the cage for further forms of nature, hoping to catch a glimpse
of maybe a bird...or another butterfly. However, to her horror, she discovers. . . .