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The Dover House
Curiously, I’ve never written an autobiography before. For that matter, I’ve never read one either. It ought to have some overarching theme, or lesson I’ve picked up on in all my years of experience, I’m told. That’s bulls***. I’ll write my story how I’ve lived my life: day by day. Although, to spare you the agonizing task of reading what I ate for breakfast each day from the time I was seven and a half to the time I was sixteen and three quarters, (a piece of toast smothered in grape jelly- sorry, couldn’t resist) I’ll condense my life considerably.
Two minutes out of the womb and I’m smiling. That’s a good thing, my mother was told; it meant I’d be compliant. As far as babies went, I was the best. I ate my smushed peas and slept a proper eight hours each night. Damn good thing, too. My parents were so pleased with me, they had four more. This gave me some leeway growing up. The focus was on the youngers. That’s how I saw them, and that’s what I called them. Never in front of my parents though, it’s easier to avoid attention if you’re not getting yelled at.
So I grew up pretty good. I went to a good school. I made some good friends. And I had a few good flings. Nothing really stands out as particularly good, but on the whole, it was pretty good. Well then one day, things got bad. It’s really only fair that that should happen, so I’m not complaining. I hate complainers.
I was at a friend’s funeral. No one too special, just went to high school with the guy. He got himself shot in a drive-by. So I walk over to the parents to offer my condolences, as I understood the custom to be, when I’m stopped by some burly looking guy in a suit. He shows me a badge and tells me that “we need to go to the station”. Obviously I’m in trouble, but have no clue why, so I try and strike up a conversation with the guy in the car ride over. I remember he didn’t seem too talkative, so I gave up pretty easy. That’s not like me, but I figured I’d save my talking for when I need it.
We get to the station and he says something like, “do you know why you’re here?”
“Hell, if I knew that, I’d ha’ been talking to you about it by now, right?”
“Sir, do you remember where you were the night of the seventeenth?” He asks me.
“Where I’m at every night. The club.”
“Can you tell me what you did there that night?”
I start to see that I might be in a real heap of trouble: “Don’t I get a lawyer?”
Well, as it turns out, I’d drunk quite a bit that night. I don’t remember much of anything, but damn! I’d screwed around. I was sent to jail charged with stealing a cop car, impersonating an officer, and crazy enough, I was the b****** that done shot my friend. How in hell’s name that happened, I don’t think I’ll ever understand. Anyhow, I got sent to jail. That was a pretty good place, too. Not good like growing up was good, but good enough. I made friends there. The people aren’t near as scary as you hear on the T.V.
Tiny Tim’s my favorite. He was three hundred pounds, obviously. But a fool softie at heart. He and I’d sometimes talk about what we were gonna do after we got out. He wanted to work in a library. Imagine that! I always told him he’d make a good librarian, but secretly, I thought he’d scare away all the readers.
Anyhow, one day, some weeks into my sentence, a real dressed up lady walks into my cell. She says she’s a physiatrist, or psychologist, or something. I knew what that meant. That meant they thought I was crazy. Well, I’ve had this notion brewing in my head that everyone’s really crazy deep down, so I didn’t get too offended when she told me she wanted to take me somewhere different.
The house was pretty big. Had a great big, brick wall right outside. I expect that’s to keep people in, rather than keep them out. It is a nutter house after all, even if it is an “experimental” one. The whole idea was, if we got some exposure to fancy living, we’d be a good member of society, and we wouldn’t do crazy s*** anymore. I like that idea; I’m not a scientist, but it sounds pretty believable to me. Of course we had to wear a bracelet on our ankle. They weren’t just going to let us wander off all willy nilly. We had committed crimes.
My roommate was named Jim. He didn’t like to be called Jimmy. Just Jim. He and I got along alright. I wish I could live with Tiny Tim, though. But I’m not complaining. I hate complainers. One day he and I were walking around the house. It was a nice day. I remember that. The sun made all the windows shine really bright. Jim got the idea to go get the rain gutter off the house. It was nice, since I guess it was newly installed. Anyhow, Jim gets the rain gutter and he starts hitting Billy with it (oh yeah, Billy was there, too). It sounded like it hurt, but I couldn’t see on account of all the sun in my eyes. I started screaming at him to stop, but he just wouldn’t do it. I don’t know what got into him.
A few hours later they said Billy was dead and they had me in jail again. I didn’t want to complain, but man I was angry they locked me in the cell instead of Jim. I started to like that house. So I told them it was Jim, not me, who killed Billy. I told them how they shouldn’t even be mad at Jim; Billy was annoying him anyway. Billy kept calling Jim “Jimmy”, even when he said that wasn’t his name. The jail people said they understood and they’d get someone to help soon enough. They looked kind of scared; maybe I was screaming to them about Jim. They didn’t seem to get it. I remember thinking “isn’t there an IQ test these guys have to pass?”
I don’t remember much of what happened next. I think the b******s drugged me. I don’t believe in that. I’ll have a drink or two sure, but drugs? Those are the devil’s instruments. A different lady came in and said that I had a disorder. It wasn’t safe for the public and I had a choice. I don’t know how often they give people choices; maybe they gave me a choice since I was part of that house experiment. Maybe not. I got to chose whether I wanted to die or stay in a cell. But the lady told me if I was in the cell, I’d be drugged a lot. Well, that left me no choice.
I was sad at first, but then they told me I could pick whatever I wanted to eat as my “last meal”. Anything in the world, and I chose toast with strawberry jelly (I thought I’d mix it up). After I finished I climbed into a van and went for a drive. I asked if we could stop by the old house again, just to visit Jim one last time. I wanted to tell him I forgive him, even if he doesn’t feel bad. They told me the house’d been shut down. That was sad, too. But I wasn’t complaining. I just wished the house had stayed after I left. Then maybe somewhere, someone’d remember me.
That’s when I got this fancy idea. I’d write an autobiography. Of course, I’ve never written one. Never read one either. I think it did what I wanted it to do: told my story without including some bulls***ty life lesson. It’s ok if you don’t like it. Just don’t complain. I hate complainers.