“time” he blurts, rising unsteadily up from his chair and onto his feet. he is deeply drunk and reeks of an extensive three day binge. naked, bar a pair of Bermuda shorts, gorilla like in shape and posture, and hairy like an aged silver-back, his thick silvery grey hair standing on end as if he’d stuck a fork into an electrical socket, with wiry ‘mad professor’ eyebrows to match; he looks at me with piercing eyes that could penetrate right through me, and often unnerve me.
“time” he repeats, a six decade in the making revelation. white froth has formed in the corners of his mouth. a gelatinous red blob of strawberry jam clings to his chin.
“yer time is aw you’ve got” he informs me. he clutches a glass of Italian red in his hand and a John Lennon and the plastic Ono band LP is playing on his record player.
his eyes seem stricken with confusion as his life fleets in his mind like an introspective projection of events and dreams. the line between them has all but disappeared. a recall mechanism damaged beyond repair.
his expression changes as he recalls another revelation. an anguished darker expression emerges.
“aw those years layin’ brick”
his eyes glisten with rage.
“ye knock yer pan in fir yer family…and fir whit?” he says scornfully regarding his estranged wife and grown children. “tae think o the time i wasted”
he seems to disappear into a daydream. half lost in his thoughts and half lost in his music; he has spontaneous outbursts of joy, singing and dancing. after a while he is out of breath and returns to his seat. now looking vacantly disturbed, he gazes out his window.
he’d lived hard. worked hard. played hard. partied hard. and lost hard.
but he had regained a new life. or so he, and we, his loved ones, neighbours and friends, had thought. a post traumatic stress had been creeping up on him for a long time. a wild youth. construction sites. his marriage breakdown. losing his family. a battle with alcohol addiction. violence. his parents dying. regrets. a lifetime of shell shock finally manifesting. in the form of a breakdown.
but that was last week. time, like life, moves on.
they sectioned him. a joint decision from his partner and his family. for his own protection? for ours?
he lost his mind, so they took his time.
his time is now spent in a ward in an institutionally condoned, drug induced chemical trance, in the company of other strange and disturbed, and sometimes violent, people. he complains of his heart breaking as he witnesses such pain in his fellow loonies.
he can’t play his records. the new soundtrack to his life is that of doctors and nurses talking to him like an invalid. like a child. like he’s not even there. and incoherent babbling and wailing of the other patients; and occasionally some shouting and screaming.
he can’t enjoy a glass of wine. alcohol doesn’t mix well with his anti-psychotics.
he can’t take an unsupervised walk in the gardens to enjoy the simple pleasure of sun on his face and some peace and privacy.
he’s bored silly.
his family and friends visit. but they are soon watching the clock, even leaving early sometimes, or so his partner updates me.
it’s uncertain if he will ‘recover’.
but recover from what exactly? the culmination of the strife and pain of his life? his time?
what do we do with our rubbish? we put it in the rubbish bin. other people deal with it. out of sight, out of mind.
what do we do with our loonies? we put them in the loony bin.
how can all the time of his life lead to this?
time, as he had once, sanely and correctly, insisted to me, is indeed precious.
and life, like a man’s mind, is indeed delicate.