I’m rather new to my residence, as well as circumstance. Most of the others walk about downcast and gloomy, a condition new to me, not that I can actually see them, of course. I’d always thought of myself as cheerful … well, not exactly cheerful, maybe cheery like a step or two beneath happy. But, definitely, not sad.
As I happened by the nurse’s station, that’s my description of the cubicle and desk, I noticed a laptop sitting unattended. The internet doesn’t make it here to my knowledge, and I sort of miss it. So, this was new and exciting. I sat down and booted up the machine, but only MSWord appeared. Okay, better than nothing. What else could I write, other than, The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
The clicks weren’t exactly loud, but to me, they sounded like rifle shots. As the letters appeared on the screen, I waited, frightened. No one rushed in to chop off my head, a rather common occurrence, I think. Headless and unamused, but I’m getting ahead of myself … sorry, bad pun. Suffice it to say, I breathed easier when no one rushed me. New tool. What can I do with it?
And before I get too far along in this communiqué, let me say I’m not an occultist or even a fan of the supernatural. I don’t believe in all that nonsense and won’t write about it either, my present circumstance notwithstanding. And yet, no matter how many times I’ve tried to explain my persistence, people here continue to hound me, to tell their story. Apparently, the issue is the desk. Everyone’s afraid to sit at Nurse Ratched’s desk. I’m the only one so far.
I am; therefore, I write. Heaven or hell or headless.
The others do however have a point. I’ve never seen the curator or nurse or whatever she might call herself. In fact, I’ve never seen anything since I’ve been here. One of my daily goals is to remain on her good side if she has one. At the day’s end, I sit down at the desk and computer to transcribe stories. While I’m listening and typing, my mind’s eye keeps a watch for the Nurse, who like Carl Sandburg’s fog, creeps on little cat’s feet and scares the bejesus out of me. I think she might work during the day and haven’t a clue why the night entices her to leave the post unmanned to sneak around. I’ll just maintain my watch and my sanity as the other residents tell me their stories.
And, what stories.
Tonight, I sit here, waiting in the dark, and he’s late, quite unlike the man in his former position. Let me explain when I say dark, I mean the dark. There aren’t lights where we live. Yes, the screen offers some sort of chemical reaction, but here’s only enough light to see letters appear when my fingers hit the keys. Because of my guest tonight, I can hear Ed McMahon asking, “How dark was it, Johnny?” Cue the laugh track, except Ed isn’t here. He’s not one of us. I think, maybe, it was because he was a Marine, but I’m not sure. No one’s explained that part to me, I mean the choosing part. How one is here and another isn’t. If they don’t come here, then where do they go? For instance, Johnny lives across the street. I don’t know how I know. I never visit him. We don’t do that, but then again, I’m new here and still learning.
But to get back to the dark, even the computer screen’s light doesn’t reflect off anything around me. I open my eyes wide. Nothing. I’ve even tried to touch my eyeballs just to make certain the lids weren’t down. Ever try to type without seeing your fingers? Very weird.
Speaking of the devil, here’s Johnny now and about time. Music doesn’t accompany him. You remember that intro tune, right? The orchestra led by Doc Severinsen plays a little ditty written by Paul Anka with lyrics by none other than Johnny himself. I’ve never heard the words but Johnny did get half the royalties. I can’t see him. It’s more like I feel him, and of course, he’d wearing that silly turban with the stupid jewels.
I needed to remind myself he died in 1992. Maybe it’s better we don’t have lights. I won’t mention I’d never stayed up that late to watch him. I was too young, then. But, just like college football, I’m a guy of highlights and replays, so I know him well enough.
After he settles in, I say, “We’re going to have to keep this short tonight, Mr. Carson. I’ve used up all my space trying to explain to the readers what’s going on here.”
“So why are you picking me to start this thing off, then?” he asked.
I could tell he’s angry. “You were the first because you asked.”
He grew even angrier. “How come you’re not short-shifting someone else? Like Ed. He wouldn’t give a rip. He never gave a rip. I walked all over him for years and all he ever wanted was just for me to give him a little more.”
I didn’t agree, but grimaced in the dark, a little nonplused. “Well, sir … Johnny. Ed’s not here.”
Johnny slapped the table top so hard, it sounded like a bomb going off. “Not here? What the hell do you mean, not here? Where is he?”
I swallowed. This wasn’t going as planned. I never imagined Johnny getting angry. “You’ve got to be quiet, sir. She’ll hear us.”
“I don’t care about her.” He nearly yelled in the dark room. “I want to know why Ed isn’t here, too.”
“Well, I thought that’s obvious, sir. You were just a sailor. He’s a Marine.”
“Ah, geez,” he said and stood to leave. “Everybody’s a goddamn comedian, even in this place.” He called out into the dark. “Nurse Ratched? I’ve got a complaint. This guy here says …”
Note from Interesting Authors: Oliver claims he doesn’t believe in the occult or the afterlife exchanging ideas with the living. Even in his denials, those who’ve gone before seemed to have found a way to communicate with him. The staff here firmly believes the extra space in Oliver’s head, which should have contained brains somehow promotes this hands-across-time phenomenon. Or, it may be the result of too much five-year-old Pinot Noir. In either case, the staff will keep you, his faithful readers informed of any new developments.