I lived in a box attached in back of the landlord’s house and often talked to her visiting son, Jim, a disciplined college student who usually brought his cute girlfriend. Afterward, his mother would proudly say they were going to get married when Jim graduates which he did after a fifth year, much faster than many.
A few months later, I asked, how’s Jim?
He’s having trouble again, his mother said.
He’s not feeling well. He has trouble talking to people, he’s talking to himself a lot and afraid something’s trying to get him, maybe God, I’m not sure.
I’m really sorry and hope he gets better soon, I said. His mother hoped so, too, and said she’d be taking care of Jim.
Moving home from the dorm he brought two stereo speakers about four-feet high, and when his mother was away he turned them all the way up, making my walls vibrate. I’d go over and say, please turn it down, and medicated Jim, like a zombie, would respond, sure, okay, then a few minutes later crank it up again, and I’d have to return for another gentle request.
Sometimes Jim walked back to my window, stared in, said hello, Tom, and kept standing there a couple more minutes before walking away, and a half hour later he’d return and do the same before retreating inside the house and reigniting the stereo.
Jim’s condition is deteriorating, I told his mother. You’ve got to do something.
She said, he’s upset his girlfriend’s getting married soon.
Sorry, but the problem’s more serious than that.
She said she knew. Yesterday she took Jim to the hospital and wanted to check him in and doctors agreed to compel if necessary but Jim begged his mother not to let them do this, he’d lost so much already he couldn’t take losing freedom, too.
That night his mother called, saying, please come over. We’ve got to get Jim to a hospital. He tried to kill himself, swallowed a whole bottle of mellaril.
I ran over and carried unconscious Jim into the rear of my spacious old car and we rushed to an emergency room entrance where I grabbed him in a bear hug, his face out, and struggled up a damn long ramp, realizing he’d gained much weight. My grip loosened and, as we entered double doors, he slipped through my arms onto the floor and gasped.
Strong helpers arrived to place Jim on a gurney and wheeled him away. After a specialist was called in to examine him, the doctor told Jim’s mother he didn’t know if Jim could survive so much powerful mellaril. They’d have to wait. We stayed till three that morning and left Jim hooked to machines.
The best part of Jim didn’t come out of the coma. He returned with more voices in his head and the walls and said what he was thinking couldn’t be discussed. A few months later I moved to a better place in the same bad area, and driving on a main street about a mile from his mother’s house sometimes saw him looking at the sidewalk as he walked.
I called to ask how he was and his mother said, he’s living in a facility but thinks this life might be worth living after all but doesn’t seem to be able to do anything. He’s so haunted. It’s ruined me too seeing this happen to my son