Crazies on Ward B hear Captain screaming, screaming all day, night. Crazies not surprised. Crazies know Captain. Captain’s frequent flyer on Ward B, visits 10-12 times/yr, like his home away from.
Crazies used to Captain screaming, screaming at his thumb, screaming: Fat Mike you motherfucker motherfucker motherfucker.
Fat Mike is what Captain calls his thumb, right thumb, split nail, dirty, nasty fucking thumb.
Crazies know Captain. Crazies know: Stay the fuck away from Captain. He got sharp teeth.
What happens when Captain stops screaming, he bites his thumb, bites deep, bites til it bleeds. Next thing, Captain screaming again, waving thumb, calling it Fat Mike, blood flying round. Orderlies, big as coup deville, grab Captain, tie him down & into rubber room. Nurse puts bandage on thumb, doc gives shot in ass, Captain’s out, sleeping like he’s in coffin. Crazies smile.
Next a.m. Captain’s unleashed, doing thorazine shuffle, walking like he drank too much wine, needs to sit down, take it easy before he falls down. Captain sits next to Jimmy. Jimmy thinking: Shit.
Captain raises thumb in air like sword. Jimmy thinking: Shit. Captain hisses at thumb like rattlesnake. Jimmy thinking: Shit. Captain says real low: fat mike, you motherfucker motherfucker motherfucker. Jimmy thinking: Man talkin to thumb hissin like rattlesnake should be in rubber room, permanent guest.
Captain’s tired now, chin drops to chest, nods off. Thumb falls thru the air like rock into Jimmy’s lap. Jimmy jumps, Captain jumps, thumb twitches. Captain says: fat mike fat mike fat mike. Captains says it real low, nobody hears cept Jimmy. Jimmy’s gotta ask: What the fuck you sayin?
-FAT MIKE! Captain screams. Crazies run, doors slam, orderlies looking over.
-Take it easy for chrissakes, You wanna say somethin, say it low, Jimmy says, sorry he asked in first place.
-Fat Mike. You remember Fat Mike? Captain saying it low.
-Yeah. I remember Fat Mike. He’s dead. Heart attack, stroke, some shit. He’s dead.
-NO! WAS MY THUMB! THIS FUCKIN THUMB! Captain screams, raising thumb in air like sword. Jimmy thinking: Shit!
Orderlies moving fast like coup deville, saying : Fuck Shit Son Bitch!
Jimmy says to orderlies: Everything’s ok. Don’t worry bout it.
Orderlies stay awhile, then leave, but watching close.
-Take it easy for chrissakes. What the fuck you talkin bout? Jimmy asking Captain. Jimmy gotta know.
Captain whispering now: I stuck my thumb thru Fat Mike’s eye alla way to his brains. Captain saying it like it’s nothing at all, sticking his thumb thru the man’s eye alla way to his brains.
-You’re sayin you killed Fat Mike? Jimmy says.
-Fat Mike, he called me a crazy retard motherfucker. Fat Mike got mean eyes when he says it so I pick one eye and stick my thumb thru alla way to his brains.
-What? Jimmy says, looking at Captain’s thumb, right thumb, split nail, dirty, nasty fucking thumb.
-His brains felt funny. Like jello, but harder. When I pulled my thumb out, looked like cherry jello. Do you like cherry jello, Jimmy?
-What the fuck you talkin bout? Fat Mike died of a heart attack, stroke, some shit…
-Maybe we’ll get cherry jello for dessert tonite. I like cherry jello. How bout you, Jimmy? Captain says, not hearing Jimmy, thinking about cherry jello, how nice it looks, how good it tastes…
-Listen to me. You didn’t kill Fat Mike. He died from a heart attack, stroke…
Captain jumps up, screaming at Jimmy: CHERRY JELLO! Captain rips bandage off thumb, bites thumb, thumb bleeds. LIKE THIS! RED LIKE CHERRY JELLO! CHERRY JELLO! CHERRY JELLO…
Orderlies coming fast. Captain raises thumb in air like sword, stabs at orderlies, at Jimmy, stick em in the eye if he can. Jimmy tries to jump out the way, but too late, gets thumb in eye. Jimmy saying: Fuck Shit Son Bitch! Orderlies grab Captain, rubber room again, shot in ass again, sleeps like corpse six feet down.
Crazies watch, look at Jimmy, eye turning purple but brains ok. War over. Quiet time. Crazies smile.
Wk later, Jimmy’s out, discharged. Captain leaves AMA. Back in 24, his home away from.
Jimmy and Flower walking in park, nice day, sun hurts Jimmy’s eye.
-I hear Captain’s back on Ward B, Flower says to Jimmy.
-His home away from, Jimmy says. Eye hurts, black-blue swollen fucking eye.
-Wanna know what he did this time? Flower says.
-What he do, thumb-fuck somebody? Jimmy says.
-Captain thumb-fucked himself.
-What you talking bout?
-Crazy retard motherfucker stuck his own thumb thru his own eye. All the time he’s screamin something bout how Fat Mike did it, not him, it was Fat Mike did it. Crazy retard motherfucker.
Jimmy’s gotta ask: Do you remember Fat Mike?
-Yeah. Died last year. I went to his wake. Whadda fuckin wake. Never forget it.
-Never saw a one-eye corpse before. They putta patch over one a Fat Mike’s eyes even though both eyes’re closed. One-eye corpse for chissakes. I took one look and got the fuck outta there.
-Shit, Jimmy says, blinking his eye, making sure it’s still there, still in his head.
Flower and Jimmy smoking now. Smoke hurts Jimmy’s eye. Jimmy thinking: Shit.
Jimmy blinks eye two times to make sure. He blinks two more thinking: Shit.
William J Fedigan writes about who he is, what he knows, where he’s been.