By: James Bates
“Hey, man, leave me alone,” I yelled, pushing Eddie away as he tried to grab the only pay phone on the psych ward out of my hand. He was a big man and it was hard to do.
He reached for it again, laughing, “Hey man, oh, Henry, get off the phone.” Then he danced around singing, “Hey, man, I got to straighten my face. That mellow thighed chick just put my spine out of place.”
Jeez, what a jerk. “I’m sorry about that,” I told Claire, returning to our conversation. “He’s a bit of a misogynist.”
“Sounds like it,” Claire said. “It also sounds like you two have got a David Bowie thing going.” Before I could answer and tell her that Eddie was also a big Bowie fan, she quickly shifted gears and asked, “So what’s the verdict? When you getting out?”
“Well, it’s my third time this year, so another five days.”
“Five days!” She exploded. “Henry, did you tell them you’ve got a girlfriend and a kid to support, not to mention another one on the way?”
“Yeah, I told them all that.”
Claire was mad. I didn’t blame her. “You’ve got to clean up your act, Henry. Quit. Your. Friggin’. Drinking.”
“I know. I’m sorry…” I was going add more but just then Eddie came prancing back, singing, “Don’t lean on me, man, cuz you can’t afford the ticket. Back from Suffragette City.”
Talking to Claire crystallized how mad at myself I really was. I was putting her through hell and it made me want to punch something. I yelled, “God damn it, Eddie, get out of here! Can’t you see I’m trying to talk?”
He got in my face, “Talky talk with the little girly friend? Man, you sure are whipped.”
That’s all it took. I lost it right then and there and smashed that idiot in the face. Then, as he fell backwards, I hit him again and tackled him to the floor. Then the orderlies came.
Two weeks have later and I’m still on the ward. Claire’s being an angel and tells me she’ll wait. Eddie and I are becoming friendly. We both go to Group together and we talk a lot. He thinks it’s cool I have a girlfriend I care so much about. We also listen to a lot of Bowie. His nickname for me is Mr. Suffragette City. I’m not sure I totally understand what it means, but I have to say that I kind of like it. Believe me, I’ve been called worse.