Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mike's Story Part 58 - Emerging From the Winter of His Discontent

   To Mike's psychiatrist:

...we discovered that there's a fire exit to the ward which warns that if u open it, an alarm goes off. i understand why a fire exit shouldn't be locked but still, it seems to me (and no doubt also seemed to mike) that it would be v easy for a determined patient to flee out to that stairwell and throw themselves down the shaft before anyone could stop them, alarm or no alarm.
he's on zoloft and depacote and feels no better.

   To Cynthia McKinney 3/25/07:

   when i proposed that he call you he said, 'what would i say?'
   he wanted to see you but imagining how a phone conversation would probably go seemed to depress him. would he say, "i'll be up and running again soon?" no. he meant it when he said he was out of the game.
   but payne-whitney has definitely improved his mood. instead of sleeping all afternoon, he's playing long scrabble games and, much as he hates nyc on principle, is forming attachments which i hope will make it harder for him just to write the place off.
   great luck as you resume globetrotting. we look forward to hooking up with you next time 'round.

3/25/2007 I arrived at the hospital at 5:25, in time to hand over a pack of Marlboro lights, as ordered, before Mike and the other patients who'd earned the privilege were taken for a walk.
   As we got out of the elevator downstairs, he pointed to the portrait of Hank and Corinne Greenberg.
   “Know who he is?”
   The name sounded familiar but no, I didn’t know.
   “Head of AIG whom I investigated.  There’s a great deal of irony in my being here.”
   “Well, isn’t it a good thing he did something for your benefit with all his millions!”
   (Four years later, I would pass that portrait again on the way to visit my mother in a different wing of the same hospital, as she embarked on her own descent into hell, an experience recounted in Against the Dying of the Light.)
   We went around the corner since you’re not allowed to smoke in front of the hospital.  L, who had on a new secondhand sweater donated by the ward, made a B-line for a planter in front of the courthouse.  She collected cigarette butts, Mike explained.
   “How does she get away with smoking them inside?” I asked.
   “Ssh, don’t bust her.”  Yesterday he said she was a scam artist and had told other patients about the spiritual line she used to con the people at her church.  When not in the hospital, she is homeless.  “Probably stands on the toilet and blows into the vent.”
   A., the 250-pound college football player who'd been admitted to Payne-Whitney because when he was in a manic episode, he threatened a diminutive female family member, is now under control.  Two security guards stand outside his room in case the medication wears off but recently, he's been docile and taking piano lessons from the blind musician. 
   This evening, however, they had a disagreement and the blind musician told A he wouldn't teach him anymore.  The musician, who's slight in stature, chewed A out, jabbing his finger towards his solar plexus and I wondered if he had any idea of A's true size.  If so, he was one courageous slight blind pianist.  A. looked sheepish.
March 29, 2007  Mike to the journalist of the proposed newspaper article, which has not yet been shelved:
   Hope this finds you well. The correspondence below is with Stan Goff who wrote our Tillman series. The burglary occurred as wer were publishing Part V. Pls note that what went to congress (all overongress) was taken directly from that series...   As for me, I just spent 11 days inpatient for depresssion. I'd prefer to keep that confidential. Still alive and battling.   best,   Mike

April 3 2007

   I forget what we were talking about but Mike used a phrase that stuck in my mind:  “...He was from the ‘rubber gun’ brigade.”

   I looked blank.

   “That’s what we used to call it in LAPD when someone went crazy; you gave them a rubber gun.”

   He added something about how you could still get hurt.

   “An actress I knew once said you could even get hurt with blanks,” I said.

   “Yes.  There was an actor who killed himself ten years ago by shooting himself in the head with a blank.”

   “You can’t really blame him; the word ‘blank’ implies there’s nothing in it.”

   “You have to put something in it so you don’t have a huge cloud of smoke. 

   'That’s what they used with Sirhan Sirhan.  The guy who really shot Robert Kennedy was a security guard; Thane Eugene Cesar.”  Further details of that assassination are revealed in his article, Bobby, I Didn't Know! as well as in this article by Lisa Pease in Salon. “He had a 38 [he named the gun] which left little smoke and made very little noise.” 

   Then Michael Kane called which made Mike’s day.  He’s been leading a normal life, he says, Mom and apple pie.  Some of Mike's former associates have had disconcerting experiences which mirror Mike's and which they have interpreted as a warning to back off.

   “And yet they’ve never messed with Stan Goff,” I said.

   “No one would ever mess with Stan Goff,” Mike said.  “Special Forces Delta Group...  No one messes with Stan Goff.” 
April 17, 2007

   I told Mike about Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in deep shit for dumping two billion pounds’ worth of gold when it was at its lowest.

   “That was through BIS,” he said, “the Bank of International Settlements.  It was done with the blessing of the Queen.”

   We watched a program about the world’s top ten guns, rated on the basis not of how many people they could kill but of durability, accuracy, etc.  (Last night we watched a show about American’s cutest puppies.) 

   Somehow, (from the program on guns, not puppies) Mike was reminded of his great-greatuncle. 

   “He spent twelve years in jail for setting John Wilkes’ Booth’s leg after he shot Lincoln.”

   The good doctor, apparently, hadn’t known who his patient was or what he’d just done.

   “He’s the origin of the phrase, ‘Or my name is Mudd.’  His name was Mudd.”


April 26 2007  Tonight we were given complimentary tickets to a fundraiser for a publication Mike's worked with but which I won't mention unless I can find the publisher's email address and ask for permission.

   Someone asked Mike whether or not he'd ever killed anyone when he was a cop.

   "Two great Danes," he said.  (It's an odd coincidence that another of my former partners also killed two dogs simultaneously, in a driving accident.)  And once he shot at someone who'd tried to run him down but the bullet was defective and bounced off the windshield.

   Since I'm not allowed to ask him about the subjects that used to be his hallmark, I ask him instead about other subjects that engage his interest; among them, aerodynamics. This afternoon, which was windless, we watched a sparrow zooming through the sky, wings tucked against its streamlined body so I asked Mike what propels it. Was it the sparrow equivalent of jet fuel?

   "No," he said, decisively. "It's not farting its way through the air."

   He explained about lift but that accounts for why a body goes up, not why it goes forward.
   He says when he dies, he wants to be buried naked so his body can be absorbed directly into the earth and nourish it. I said, "Without a casket?"  He thinks for a moment, then says no, with one.

May 2 2007  We just finished watching Borat from the video store.  Perhaps it was a pirated version, since it was even more gross than I remembered, the over-the-top nasty, guest-insulting Groucho Marx's evil twin.  Mike thought Borat was ridiculing Jews but I said on the contrary, he was ridiculing anti-Semites;  I resisted the impulse to say that you have to be a closet anti-Semite to see it the way he did.  No one else would take the depiction seriously. 


   He’s started volunteering at a Brooklyn stable I found for him, and had taken him to in January so he could check it out. 

   (At the time, I'd noted the sign in front: “NO INSURANCE” but Mike was unfazed.) 

   Now that spring has arrived, he strides off in his $300 cowboy boots.

   When he returns he says, “I loaded sixty bushels of hay, groomed three horses.  Look at that.”  He flexes his biceps.

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