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But before I move on to Farmington, I want to make it clear that my life to this point was not entirely a depressing void. It did have its positive points of relative normalcy. As I had in high school, I had a couple of caring friends during my so-called collegiate years. And there was a friend or two that I shared my waning interests in engineering, motorcycles and hotrods with. I even won a dozen or more trophies drag racing my Kawasaki.
I was also fortunate enough to have a couple loving girlfriends during the 8 or 9 year period between high school and Farmington. Unfortunately these intimate relations were short-lived-and all my friends, female or otherwise, abandoned me when I got sent to Farmington. Even my tarnished trophies got thrown out the window (quite literally when a local mechanic was commissioned to clean out my second floor apartment).
Farmington was a painfully sad place, not at all a funny forum like later portrayed in Hollywood's "Cuckoo's Nest." Very sad. No one ever flew over it, ever. So I'll give only the briefest description of it here.
It was a very sad warehouse for the very sadly disenfranchised and discarded. Without even talking to me, the unwitting staff had the state court declare me incompetent. I was bolted into a second floor processing cell with a friendly farmboy who'd killed his neighbor. He told me he'd been there for six years.
A board of collegiates finally interviewed and tested me on a locked ward for two days. Several weeks later, they summoned me to their chain-linked porch for determination. Mr. Kimble waved the tobacco smoke aside and said, "My staff made an unfortunate mistake, Richard. They deposed you inept before my collegiates interviewed or tested you. However, Krause, after reviewing the aforementioned interviewing and testing, I hereby conclude that you manifest no apparent aberrations other than a rather classic case of uncreative depression. Furthermore, I doubt your door-kicking and gun-wielding tantrum will ever be repeated, considering your current mindset. Obviously, your brief stay with my staff and collegiate colleagues has already done you and society a whole world of good."
In the meantime, per Lump's recommendation, the Farmington medical staff continued to medicate me. Kimble told me that Lump had warned them in no uncertain terms that without Nullium I would become increasingly violent.
However, after telling me I seemed to be a bright young man, Kimble admitted that now Farmington needed to determine how to best dispose of my case. They couldn't simply release me, or the hospital would be labeled the unstable party, he told me very privately. Kimble tried to make contact with Dr. Lump to get more details on my case but was unable to get past her receptionist. I told Kimble that Dr. Lump was a high-society analyst with no use for someone who tried to break down doors and shoot up ceilings in the suburbs - and Kimble concurred.
I concentrated hard on surviving, hour to hour, day to day. Thank God it never crossed my mind that I might not never ever get out, even though I knew more than a few poor clients had suffered only simple nervous breakdowns and had been kept for years. Without money for proper care, they had in very real terms become permanent wards of the State of Missouri's misery.
In the Processing Building, we only had a black-and-white TV console to watch. Some unmedicated client had ripped out the speaker, so the overseers turned up their institutional elevator music to compensate.
Almost every Saturday evening during "All In The Family", Nurse Brandy would bring in six packets of instant root beer - one for each weeknight. We'd toss wooden nickels to see which five of the thirty of us would get to share the brew each night. So, somewhere over the course of most weeks, most of us would have a plastic cup of root beer with our soundless sitcom.
Additionally, the local chapter of the Missouri Lion's Club donated Esquire boot-polish and Bull Durham cigarette kits to help us whittle away our already drug-reduced waking hours. After wrapping papers around broken pencils, I patiently filled the resulting paper tubes, tobacco bit by bit, gradually slipping off the finished product.
The smoke looked like a genuine store-bought cigarette, and everybody who got one complimented and thanked me. I had found a temporary niche, but when a kind alcoholic named JR taught me the trick of inhaling without coughing, 'compulsive smoker' could have been added to my rap sheet, I suppose. At age 27 I smoked the first cigarette of my life.
On our smoky ward Saturday night was as special as it could be for everyone. While we emptied the overflowing ashtrays, Brandy would fix a batch of popcorn and douse it with a greasy hot sauce (so no one could consume more than a small handful she told me in private).
I suppose some otherwise tortured souls at Farmington would still be having their weekly ration of root beer and popcorn, if Brandy hadn't moved on to greener pastures. No doubt, I turned out to be far more fortunate than most my fellow patient/clients. Of the several thousand at the southern Missouri facility at any one time, only about thirty qualified for Rehab - the only way out, other than being wrapped in yellowed plastic and stuffed into a plywood box.
Thank God, I was transferred to Rehab platoon just before Christmas. I had hope again. But not everybody had hope. One that didn't was an African-American nicknamed Dude that I heard about. He took his dose of Thorazine, then snuck out in the morning sun to try and play some basketball in the winter slush. His medicated body reacted violently with the sun, and he died and got wrapped in plastic for his trouble.
The snow was deep and dirty the day we moved sixteen old timers from one cottage to another. I had no idea how long they'd been at Farmington, but I knew they'd lived long, painful lives in someone's squalor.
The Relocation Squad normally lugged urinated mattresses and re-glued furniture from one place on the gothic grounds to another, then back again. This chilly dawn, though, we were moving sick seniors to a smaller cottage so the Farm could save on heat. The State Hospital had its own heat plant, but it could only carry so much load without tapping into the commercial utilities.
We worked under pressure. The steam heat couldn't be turned on in the new cottage until it was turned off in the old. We only had one set of tools, so we could only take apart one bed at a time. It was slow, but frantic going.
We rushed the disassembled bed pieces to the other cottage and put them back together while the old timer waited in an old army ambulance that couldn't be left running. Our kind overseer went home to get his own tools and we set up a second squad. Still, it took too long to get all the seniors moved and the heat transferred to their new cottage. Several died, needlessly. There were only a handful of Jews at the Missouri dungeon-a dungeon not without good intentions and not totally without light. Every Wednesday, Rabbi Stewart drove out from St. Louis and fed our discarded clique - salami and rye bread sandwiches w/horseradish mustard. The cafeteria food was sweet, but bland, and I looked forward all week to the ethnic flavor. Usually, Rabbi Stewart would bring enough for an extra sandwich, and we'd split it five ways - not always equally.
One of our Jewish group named Hal had been a member of Benny Goodman's Band before suffering a nervous breakdown thirty years prior to my own open-ended interment. Hal wore a black coat and tie every day, his jet-black hair slicked back into place. He once asked if Rabbi Stewart had heard from the St. Louis watchmaker who was fixing his Bulova. When the Rabbi said he'd check on it right away, Hal said there was no hurry, that the repair shop had only been working on the Accutron for three years. Hal had already surrendered to time.
The Orthodox Rabbi Stewart was a very compassionate man. During our weekly visits, I think he hurt worse than we did. He paid for the salami and rye bread out of his own pocket. When I asked him to help me understand what I had done wrong in life, tears came to his ancient eyes. Holding my hand, he whispered, "Only God knows."
The entire staff at Farmington was underpaid but not uncaring. While senseless abuse at the Farm was extremely rare, we Rehabers all lived and slept with the threat of a midnight visit to the Lobo Cottage - where they allegedly performed irreversible lobotomies, rumored to be in a basement stall of the defunct dairy barn.
Most ambulatory clients were restrained with chemicals. To additionally help cope with insufferable boredom and frustration, I continued my newfound art of smoking. Finally, I was informed by the well-intentioned staff that they'd arrived at a solution to our mutual dilemma. They planned to send me to a state-funded TV repair school, then claim I was rehabilitated. So, after only half a year at Farmington, I was transferred to Springfield College of Technology.
At SCT, no more than a small storefront in a strip shopping center, I was sleeping in a crowded public dormitory maintained by the state when a homosexual janitor made advances toward me. I managed to forcibly rebuke him and was granted permission by an understanding director to live in a dank basement across the street.
SCT taught me nothing, but they were my venue to freedom (freedom to do what, I tried desperately not to think about).
Three months later (just as the Watergate hearings were wrapping up on the TV we repeatedly fixed for practice), I graduated television school and was ready to go home - but Lump had banned me from St. Louis.
I still remember standing at an outdoor payphone, in a chilling storm, when I was told arrangements had been made for me to join a commune in San Francisco, "If you come to St. Louis, we have no choice but to warn the authorities that you are still considered legally insane in the State of Missouri. For your own good."
I made a deal with Lump's pawns - to drive out to California and stay at the commune for a day. If I didn't like it, I'd be allowed to come home without being handed over to the police.
The Oakland commune turned out to be a fanatic mind-control cult eager to save humanity - but I was already saved enough to know genuine screwballs when I met them.
So I returned to Missouri and lived in a $2 room at the Midwood Hotel. I got used to the cockroaches and rats, but never the puke and beer shits splattered down the narrow corridors and left to putrefy for generations of poor to come. As rough as things were, though, I remained free to wander the urban streets, breathe freshly polluted air, and see how so-called normal people lived. I thought that if I could only be like any one of them, I'd do almost anything - except sell my soul, which already seemed to be in the pawn shop.
In not too many days, though, I started to get sick of my senseless, friendless, hopeless, and purposeless street-wandering...legally free or not. I knew I needed to find something to do or I'd go off the deep end again and get sent back to Farmington. So I became a draftsman, starting a ten year stint as an electrical design and project engineer with Braggs Electric.
I hated most of my very tedious job, but made it to the office every single day for years. Only nicotine was able the curb the uncreative nausea I felt as I scribed straight line after boring straight line (the only drawing I ever did until taking up oil painting in 1992). There was always a Marlboro burning in the moving ashtray mounted on my parallel bar. That way, even if the cigarette wasn't in my mouth, I could still inhale the smoke and cope with the tedium.
At night, creatively visualizing the caretaker of Farmington with a gun to my head also helped. I never took a vacation from Braggs for fear I'd realize just how much I hated the drudgery and never come back. No one was ever going to lock me up again, not even if it meant eating potted meat and frozen pizza six days a week forever to save money for self-support - and chainsmoking my life away in social solitude to keep at bay any one-time ambition for a fruitful life.
During that dreary and long decade at Braggs, my purpose in life had been reduced to filling the executive coffers with a little to trickle down to me. For the most part, I hated the job, but it did help me pass the time until what I believed could be the only salvation of my life, my death.
Absolutely my only ambition was to simply remain outside locked wards and away from electrical shock and sharp scalpels. In the meantime, each isolated night after work, I'd lay on my sweat-stained couch at Canterbury Gardens, stare at the nicotine-stained ceiling, give thanks I was free and self-supporting, then ask God to grant me the strength to endure one more depressing day and maybe eventually earn some sort of salvation, or at least resolution.
In the meantime, a good Christian alcoholic named Dr. Capol continued to hang out at the not-too-distant Jewish country club and kept me loaded on Nullium - gratis, totally free of charge. He never gave up the hope that my case and a few other pro bono's would open his goyem gates to a potentially lucrative Jewish market.
Imagining orderlies with icepicks (in addition to the aforementioned pistol) approaching my eye sockets and temples definitely helped me get to the office every day.
Even though I eventually earned official certification as a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Missouri, my mind was impotent, my emotions spent. I stayed away from any lasting relationship with a woman. I didn't want anything to ever become more important than keeping my job so I would never be locked up again. I used to wonder why Mother Nature hadn't built some self-destruct mechanism into Her humans, in case things became too miserable to bear.
Occasionally, I did seek entertainment, but only when I thought some cerebral variety was absolutely essential to my mental survival. I never really had a good time, figuring a good time was something one outgrew after adolescence. I hoarded most my money and measured savings not in dollars, but in how many months the money would afford me to hide from the overseers in the dirty white orderly suits, in case I ever went off the deep end again.
Of course, I'd completely forgotten the satisfying pleasure of intellectual pondering and cerebral stimulation. The complex science and math problems I solved so easily as a boy were now a thing of the very far distant past.
Only now, at the time of this writing, in the very late 90's, decades later, do I realize how totally the shock treatments had erased my self-confidence and how the drugs kept it and all ambition from redeveloping.
But my Kansas City boss at Braggs, Dave Downer, was naive enough to think I had ambitions to steal his Vice-Presidential position. Before being transferred to Kansas City, I had spent over 3 years living in a motel outside Fort Leonard Wood, as project engineer in charge of a new barracks complex. After it was successfully completed, I was rewarded with the transfer to Dave Downer's domain. Little did V. P. Downer (as he liked to be called) suspect my loftiest ambition was to die unrestrained (as I've mentioned a number of times-I suppose to still re-remind myself of that desire at this late date).
Downer knew I'd just done the nearly four years in a small-town construction motel and would probably quit Braggs if he assigned me to another out-of-town project. He assigned me to a rural powerplant job and I quit. As such I freely discarded what seemed like my only real meal ticket to continued freedom.
I was so lost. So countryclub Capol supplemented my free Nullium with stimulants and sleeping pills to ease the discomfort of material failure. Though I had $10,000 saved for just such a stormy day, I feared when the bread was gone I'd end up back in Farmington's nutrition line.
But - very stupidly-I became involved with a topless dancer in KC. I had met the topless teaser Dana several months before, during an office luncheon arranged and hosted by V.P. Downer. My world of financial independence (and furlough from Farmington) seemed doomed at any rate, so, even though I had never once before in my life used non-prescription pharmaceuticals, I looked Dana up and went ahead and did cocaine with the tall feline for several weeks. Thus blowing my wad and wallet all at the same time.
Coming to my senses (and the bottom of my bank account) in short order, I informed the mattress dancer that our relationship was over. But Capol heard about my tryst and decided coke was the real reason I didn't want to be an engineer anymore.
He called me long distance from St. Louis and told me to start taking Jitterlin. "I've been prescribing it to clubmembers for several years. It doesn't have the obvious side effects of coke."
I told him I only used cocaine for a few weeks and hadn't used it at all in a couple months. But he told me to try the Jitterlin, that I'd like it. So I did, having no idea that it was a chemical concoction for hyperactive children. I took Jitterlin q.i.d. for two months. Until Thanksgiving weekend when Capol suffered one of his so-called whiskey tantrums and told me that he couldn't mail the prescriptions of Jitterlin to me anymore, that I'd have to come to St. Louis to get the "no-good shit."
The day after I took the last tablet, I got so depressed I thought I would die of pain. I wanted to blow my brains out just to vent the intensely sad pressure building in my mind. I'd been clean for four months, but was forced to find some cocaine just to give me the energy to drive to St. Louis for help. I didn't know this particular Thanksgiving depression was Jitterlin withdrawal; Capol surely didn't tell me.
When I was admitted to his hospital, a middle-eastern colleague of Capol's discovered coke in my blood and scheduled me for shock treatments. Thank God, though, at the last minute, I fled to relative freedom in Kansas.
Finally, after several weeks of lonely fatigue, my mind adjusted to the lack of Jitterlin and my depression receded to its normal level. Of course, dedicated Capol still supplied me with sedative Nullium and I continued to take it...in Kansas, far from the jurisdiction of the Missouri Mental Health Department.
Desperate to maintain independence, though I knew not why, I became interested in corporate video. I liquidated my remaining assets ('64 Super Sport, '79 Harley Sportster) and ran a small video production business from my Kansas apartment.
But only a year or so after I got into the video world, I could see it was going to be impossible to develop a secure and enduring financial future for the tiny operation or myself, regardless of the quality of our work...unless I could make the big time, maybe even become some ersatz Spielberg. At any rate, writing, directing, shooting and editing locally acclaimed video during the day, I still lived with the nightly fear that I could and would be returned to Farmington if I could not find a way to permanently support myself. I didn't stop to consider that shortly after my own interment in 1972-3, the powers-to-be had outlawed forced incarceration across the country, if you were neither a danger to society or to your self.
Alas, back to the golden age of video, after three years of very locally-acclaimed productions I was just about on the verge of a national breakthrough with a Harley Davidson "Liberty Ride" tape. But I guess the strain was just too much, and when a local doctor changed my medication from Nullium to Xullium, my system went haywire for real.
I couldn't function anymore; at all; mentally or physically. I had spastic fits worse than ever, and this time they were everywhere. Horribly depressed, my video business faltered and I was certain I'd finally steered myself onto the deadend of life.
But as fate would have it, a Dr. Goodman treated me at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City and withdrew all medication. To the wonder of Mother Nature, following a month-long nightmare of physical withdrawal, my mind, emotions, and various bodily functions began to awake after more than two decades. Until Dr. Goodman weaned me from the drugs, I'd forgotten what it meant to be alive. The St. Louis shock treatments of years before had erased my memories of a clear mind. Thank Heaven, I was triumphantly and forever truly alive for the first time in my adult life, or so I hoped.
During most of 1985, while enduring the physical pangs of withdrawal, I grieved for that large part of my life (21-40) I had seemingly lost forever. For, unlike the prescription narcotics' euphoric effects on many of Capol's countryclubbers, they had driven me into one bottomless pit of depression after another - an invisible, morbid pain that gnawed at my soul - a windowless room with cold concrete for a bed and a bare bulb over a sloppy bucket for companionship.
Very alone and unmedicated in 1985, my freed spirit recalled how so many people over the years had noticed my slurred speech and drugged-out appearance. But when they mentioned it, Capol and Lump had always told me that I paid too much attention to what other people said. I had hated life so much all those years I periodically contemplated suicide. But now in the mid 1980's, naively or not, sedative-free for the first time in my adult life, I wanted all the things everybody seemed to want in life - a wife, a couple kids, and whatever small measure of success I still had time to achieve. For twenty years, I never dreamt of the future during the day or even of the past in my sleep at night. Now I dreamt, and do dream, of everything. Honestly, I had not a single dream for 20 years.
I discovered that my senses had all been numb, my perceptions distorted. My touch, smell, taste, and hearing had all been affected to one degree or another. Physical pain had even subsided, on the conscious level, anyway. I ignored frequent and careless injuries. Often, during those lost years, I would wander outdoors in the middle of winter without a jacket to drive a beat-up motorcycle without brakes. I never smelled subtle perfume or tasted good food. My sense of smell had somehow been numbed by Lump's electric orgasms. Even my hearing had been messed up. What?!? Huh?!? had become my most frequent eloquence during those two dismal decades. But now, in 1985, now that my hemispherical interface circuits were undampened, my sensitivity had already increased.
Capol's chemicals had dried up my entire system. Layers of dead skin used to flake from my scalp and face as my eyeballs languished in sockets of dried saline between red, raw lids. In 1985 I got accustomed to saliva in my mouth for the first time in nearly two decades. All the previous years, my sweat glands were screwed up too. When I exerted myself, I'd overheat and turn beet red. I never perspired.
My sexual drive and performance were crippled too, nearly impotent all those years. On that rare occasion when I was able to complete the reproductive conjugation, my pleasure was very slight. I never felt love or hate, only differing degrees of aloneness. Various other bodily functions had been lethargic, also slow-moving, weeakly at best.
But now, at the end of 1985 at age 40, it was time to pick up where I had left off as a teenager. Or, thanks to the regressive shock treatments, maybe I had to start over from even before, possibly pre-puberty.
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