J. Robert King

Old Grand High Days

He missed those old grand high days of madness.

When they’d first wheeled him through the automatic doors, his old-man voice had risen up past chrome and straps and blankets to say it was the moon the humors a woman the gods that had made him do it, had inspired the naked parade in the snow. But they heard not moon but radiation, not humors but neural transmitters . . . hormones . . . . . delusions.

“No No No!” he said with a white headshake like a ghost terrier clutching and flinging a rag in its teeth.

But he could say no more, not only because he could not articulate how it the nude walk had had something to do with Waterloo and Panama, but also because they were not listening. They were cooing and patting his neck-whipping head.

There will be no other Napoleons here, he knew as they wheeled him past the ragged boneless slumping patients, draped by the walls like badly erected tents. No Napoleons no Teddy Roosevelts no Joans of Arc. These monochromatic loons had no imagination, were only ever Jesus or Satan if they were anything at all.

Then came the impossibly slim needle like a rigid hair sliding into him, and the dope flowed dark and placid over his eyes in kaleidoscope.

He missed those old grand high days of madness, but they then had had no drugs as good as these.

August 31st, 2012
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