The Patients - Episode I

By Angel P. Vermicelli

Author's Note and Disclaimer: To respect the tradition of Anonymity, I resurrect memory's already time-dimmed daguerrotypes as vivid fictions, digitally enhanced biographical portraits-with liberal application of state-of-the-art, computer-aided touch-up. THESE EPISODES APPEAR FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY! DO NOT TRY ANY OF THIS UNLESS UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF A PROFESSIONAL!! Frankly, the overwhelming demands these tales place on any rational reader's system of suspended disbelief should themselves militate towards obviating the necessity of the disclaimer. Put another way, this shit should be way too far gone for you to buy into, and so read it please only for amusement.

In many ways, Texas "Truck Farmer" Jim personified the "American Dream". From original circumstances as poor as the Texas dirt he cultivated, and by dent of tremendous personal ingenuity, Jim had gained control of a vast horticultural empire, starting out from one humble acre of land he'd WON while drunk in a late night crap game. Telling me some of his story, "You know, at the time I was perty pisssed that the ol' boy couldn't pay up-and had to cough the acre. Actually, he didn't even want to do that, 'cept he probably thought it was best, with me holding Betty and all. (Betty is an 11 inch-long Special Forces Rambo-knife) Oh, I guess it took some brains on my part to parley that acre into several thousand, but it's mostly the Mex's doin' Angel. I love them and they love me. Just a mile up north side of the 'Grande they set eyes on my windmill--like the Gawddam Liberty Statue. One once told me-'estenen ees blays een fren-sheep for us tire Mex'. Angel, I can't begin to understand all the fuss about the 'legals. Jesus, I welcome the Mexes with all my heart. They're good people, Angel, like you'n'me. No different. Just want to get by. I put 'em up on the land and they work it like it was their own for Gawddam next to nothin'. They get fed, I get rich, everybody's satisfied."

Now, the reader needs to keep in mind that nobody, but NOBODY, just waltzes into the Dazenhel Asylum for the Chemically Undependable's Primary Treatment just a tad depressed and just a little bit addicted to mood altering chemicals. A color-enhanced, postcard-like picture of Dazenhel is not to be found in any of the better Travel Magazines, and no one I met there just woke up one morning and thought, "Aw hell, I better skip up to the Asylum, nip it in the bud before those four weekend beers turn into five." I'd learned this the hard way, and knew of course, that although my confidant Jim SEEMED like he was on top of the world, he wouldn't be here at the Asylum if everything was roses.

"Always respect the Power of the Pipe, Angel. (Power of the Pipe?) It had me by the short ones before I knew it-maybe from the first hit, I'm not sure. The Pipe's both your lover and arch-demon, all at once. You do anything it tells you. Trust me, Angel...I know you really don't know what I'm talking about-you just being a pathetic wimp of an alky and all-but the Power of the Pipe--man it's straight out of Kafka. Screwtape and Wormwood's combined worst temptations couldn't come up to match it, not even if they put their heads together and thought on it for two-hundred million years." (Hmmm, it seems that Truck Farmer Jim's reading had been, at one time or another, not solely confined to his now favorite periodical-Lower Peninsula Militia Man) "Crazy thing is, Angel, there is nothing and I mean NOTHIN' MAN THAT I'D RATHER BE DOING RIGHT NOW THAN SMOKIN' SOME ROCK." And he really meant that. You can fake a lot of people out about a lot of things, but you can't fake the cold-burning sincerity in the eyes of the chemically dependant talking about their drug of choice. Takes one to know one, and even though I WAS INDEED just a pathetic alky, I knew instantaneously that this man knew ALL ABOUT WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT.