This is the thirteenth part of my short story, "The Poet." Please would you take a look at it and correct my mistakes.
After four weeks, they took me to a large room where seven people sat at the table. Some of them I had met before during my examination and some I saw for the first time. A man in his sixties, sitting in the middle, told me to sit down. He presented himself as Mr Tuck, the docent in forensic psychiatry. He browsed through some documents in front of him and said, “Mr Novak, you have been here for four weeks and you have done all the tests and interviews and now we have the judgment. You are suffering from delusional schizophrenia.”
I cannot explain why I started to laugh. Maybe it was a natural reaction of my mind, which had to deal with all the pressure around me. I was the most hated person in the country, but if the people knew the truth, they would praise me like a genius. Nevertheless, masses seldom wanted to hear the truth, they often preferred myths and fairy tales instead.
I looked at the faces of the experts in front of me and understood that they did not appreciate my reaction, and probably they did not see me as an equal human being. They represented the state; they were the authority and part of the establishment, while I was a creature who would never come out of the bottomless pit of misery. We lived in the same country, but were strangers, who besides breathing the same air had nothing common with each other.
Mr Tuck waited until I stopped laughing and then stared at me with his grey eyes.
“Do you want to hear how we came to our conclusion, Mr Boris?” he asked.
“No. Mr Tuck. I’m not interested in your judgment. I would rather go back to my room.”
“All right,” he said. “I wish you all the best.”
Next morning they transported me to the psychiatric hospital in the countryside - a large grey building with a high fence, away from villages and towns. As far as the eye could see, there were hills, trees and the blue sky. There was almost an absolute silence; even the birds seemed to avoid this desolate place. I was met by a short woman in her fifties who presented herself as Dr Schwarzkopf, the head psychiatrist. As I heard her name, which sounded German, a first association which came to my mind was the word “Auschwitz.” Dr Schwarzkopf did not have any baton in her hand like Dr Mengele had; but nevertheless, I knew that she would decide my fate one day. Her grey hair was short and dull. Her face was pale behind her gold-rimmed glasses. She had very thin lips, and when she spoke her voice was authoritative and high, which she probably used intentionally to compensate for her short stature. We sat in her office - she behind her desk surrounded by two large men who looked like bouncers and stared at me as if I were some kind of feral animal, as I sat in the chair in front of them.
“Mr Novak,” Dr Schwarzkopf said, “Here we don’t tolerate any brawls or scuffles. We all behave well to each other and follow the rules, plans and programmes. Our goal is not to punish but to make you healthy again."
“I’m not a quarrelsome person.” I interrupted her. I’m a victim of the gross injustice. The Prime Minister has...”
She lifted her right hand to stop me and said, “Mr Novak, you’ve been sentenced to psychiatric care. I’m not interested in hearing your defence. I’m here to tell you about our rules and regulations and to warn you about the consequences if you don’t follow them. Later on, you’ll meet our psychologist and talk to her about your problems.”
In the end, she shook hands with me and gave me a little booklet with the facts and information about the ward. I got a nice room with all the furniture I needed. There was a simple bed, a desk with a red lamp and a plastic chair, a chest of drawers, a little wardrobe and a small bookshelf with a radio. Above my bed there was a painting showing a port filled with boats and yachts. If it had not been for the thick bars on my window, I could have imagined being in some health resorts in the Alps or Schwarzwald. It was calm and there was nothing which could disturb my peace. We were 15 patients, all sentenced for different kind of crimes. We all had our nicknames. They called me “Poet”. The others were “Cleaver”, “Arsonist”, “Poisoner”, “Painter”, “Sledgehammer”...I did not ask them the details about their crimes and neither did they show the interest in mine. It was an unwritten rule not to talk about any crime at all and pretend that we all were patients suffering from some imaginary illness. There was no real friendship between us, although people played cards, games and chess together. We watched TV in the TV lounge without ever quarrelling about the choice of the channel. For my part, I would mostly stay in my room reading books, which I borrowed from the hospital library, listening to the radio or thinking about my life. I tried to forget what the Prime Minister did to me, but I could not. I tried to forgive him, but I only became angry. A large chunk of me was missing and I was barred from retrieving it. I knew that my poems were also suffering. The bond between us was strong and the distance would never break it. During the day, the memories of my verses would surface in my mind and I would feel pain in my stomach. I would assure myself that this was just a thought, which I had to suppress and not think about, but soon I understood that this was an impossible task. My mind would wander to the past and the time when I was living in poverty but created my inner world, more beautiful and more exciting than reality. Here my existence depended on Dr Schwarzkopf and her bloodless thin lips, which held my fate in her hands.
I would meet a psychologist once a week. She was a woman in her thirties, who was slightly overweight and wore her dark hair in a bob. She was calm – a kind of person who by temperament was good at dealing with psychopaths, lunatics, homicidal maniacs, arsonists and other mentally deranged patients, who could not be put into prison. Just as psychologists I had met before, Miss White wanted to know everything about me. I told her the same story I had already narrated for her colleagues and she nodded approvingly. She was especially interested in my relationship with my mother and encouraged me to tell her every single detail I could remember from my childhood. Everything went smoothly until we came to the reason of my stay in this institution. When I told her about breakfast and the Prime Minister’s invitation, her calmness turned into irritation. Apparently, she did not take me seriously. She would ask me the same question many times. How did I meet the Prime Minister? And I would tell her exactly the same story every time. She would wrinkle and rub her forehead and run her tongue over her teeth. She certainly hoped to find some inconsistencies or gaps in my story, but I would repeat my words all the same.
To be continued.