February 19, 1969
(Prologue)

*

Caged.

I was caged.

Then, I was driven.

Driven to Cherokee.

A hazy memory of riding caged in the back of a police car.

Two shadows in the front seat, the county sheriff and a female escort.

Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” buzzing from a tinny transistor radio.

Outside, the Iowa landscape bleak.

Cloudy and cold.

Condensation and frost riming the windows.

Piles of dirty snow dotting the countryside.

I, cargo.

Destination: Cherokee’s other place, the outline on the hill.

Shifting, crossing my legs…

Please, can we stop?

Hot and steamy inside.

Shivering, my teeth rattling.

Please…I have to go!

Hear something, George?

Naw, nothin’ important.


Laughter.

Cargo has no voice.

Madness has no voice.

Listen, crazy girl…

Two voices: We have come to take you away, ha, ha…

“I’m crazy, crazy…”

Fragments, crazy-quilt impressions, acid flashbacks…

I, crazy?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chapter 56: Driven

*
February-April 1969

(Cherokee, Iowa)

Driven:
To the institution. I remember this part in black and white. The police car threaded up a hill, wheels crunching the ice. Bare deciduous trees, black evergreens, a gray scape of snow, dead grass, frozen earth. A dreary castle at the apex, spires, a place where a dungeon might exist, not a place I wanted to be.

The car stopped just short of a stone portico. The woman unlocked and opened the car door, motioned me out. “Come along, you.”

The sheriff, the escort, and I climbed some steps. The woman pushed me through the door.

I disappeared inside Cherokee.
*

Driven:
To forget. I don’t remember much about those first few hours in Cherokee: an intake report, a brief physical, and a mug shot. Maybe even a bathroom break.

Just the terror, the anger, and the thumping of my heart, all in bas relief, the physical details distorted behind crackled glass.

To escape.

For two months, I plotted, begged, cajoled, and lobbied for my release. I wanted only to flee the institution, Iowa, my grandparents.
*

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