Notes From a Dive Bar XXXVIII -- To the Nut House


John is going away. To a rehab nuthouse -- his words. One year in exile with a bunch of drunks. Ordered by psychiatrists. The doors are locked night and day. But he's figured out a way to get supplies delivered. His cell overlooks an alleyway. And this is where his skill for fly fishing will come in handy. Little bags of drugs will take the bait on the line lowered from his window, to be reeled into John's nose. His buddy has agreed to stock the reservoir, every Sunday.

This is his last night of freedom, drinking Tecate, crushing the empty can with a violent fist.
I'll send you Dostoevsky novels, I tell him. Exile ain't so bad. It produced great Russian literature.
Can you send me porn instead? he asks.

He pulverizes a can. And pulls out a portrait of his mum, framed in the 1950's, on her wedding day. So beautiful. So delicate. So happy. So Eisenhower. And she's dead. And this is all he has of her. He hands me an alligator skin suitcase and says, Please look after this for me, it's all I own.

I crush an empty can of Tecate.

What will you think about in the nuthouse? I ask.
Maybe that's a good thing, I say.
You'll probably never see me again.

Later, at home, I open the case. Too dangerous not too. A half-chewed copy of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and some sticky magazine pages of Katy Perry. A photo of his dad, the glass in the frame cracked. John told me his mum found a pair of women's knickers in the garage in 1966. They weren't hers. And his home broke in two.

Burn everything, he says, if I'm not back in five years.
And then, he's gone.