At Langston, it is sometimes part of my job to “restrain” patients. No one told me this could be part of my job. I’ve never been trained.On the other hand, I used to be Well trained. I think they looked at me and thought, he can do this job.
She did raise her voice. “Yes! I am! And, when you do, you might go to hell!”
That’s what I was told.
I said, “Okay, Cher. That’s fair. It’s great meeting you.”
I didn’t raise my voice. But I know when someone tells me. I know when I’m not needed. The time comes when you know something.
So I picked up my zippered jacket and walked out the door. I didn’t slam it. I just walked out. It was dark, wet and cold.
What do I do next? Do I have a plan? Search me. On the other hand, it’s obvious. I walked to the place Cher had mentioned I would go to two or three nights a week. She kicked me out, but on the other hand, nothing changed. I walked towards the Blue Anchor. There are a lot of shabby pubs where we live, but the Blue Anchor is the shabbiest of them all. That’s why I went there. I would never go there with Cher. This is the kind of bar where you only see men hanging out. And most of them are pretty rough. I am one of them.
A difficult patient in the hospital, a noisy patient? no problem. I rarely had to use force. That’s because they can see that I can. Otherwise, at Langston they like to be polite. You shouldn’t even say “psychiatric” hospital – it’s a “psychiatric” hospital. In the past, they called these places “sanctuaries.” They used to call the people inside “lunatics.” Now a “patient,” not even a “prisoner.”
But it doesn’t bother me. If they were prisoners, poor bastards, I’d be a fugitive. Anyway, I am a companion. I’m not trained in psychiatry, but I would say, “Relax, man. Keep the lid on.”
Shirley knew I worked at Langston, but she had never been there. Why is she like this? She knew I was going to anchor. Clearly. But she had never been to the anchorage either.
I was going to a place Shirley didn’t know existed and doesn’t know now, St. Mark’s Church, a Catholic church on Winterton Road. The big red brick place is almost always empty. I sometimes stop by there on my way back from get off work. Coffee kiosks are usually, but sometimes, by different routes, Catholic churches. I’m not a Catholic. My father is in Northern Ireland. The king’s hussars. I don’t go to church often, but if you go into church and sit quietly, they can’t kick you out.
That’s what I do sometimes – sit there quietly. I’d see the cupboards and stuff next to it – the confessional – and sometimes I’d think, I wish I could do this, just for the sake of it. No, that’s not what I meant. Just for quiet, to talk quietly with someone you don’t know or even see.
“Father, please forgive me because I have sinned…”.
“Then what crime have you committed?”
“Murder, Father. But I was in the army, in another country, and that was several years ago.”
If you walked into one of those cupboards and you were not Catholic, or even anyone, would they stop you? How do they know?
But that night, when Shirley kicked me out, I didn’t go to the Catholic church. I went to Blue Anchor. The bartender knows me. I mean, he doesn’t know me, but he’s met me a couple of times and he knows my game. I don’t want to make small talk. I just want to sit quietly and have a drink, always at the bar if there’s room. Sitting on a bar stool even though I didn’t want to make small talk with the bartender. What’s wrong with this? That’s a bar.
Bartender? I also guessed both of them. This is his place and he runs it. It wasn’t a big place, but it was the best he could get. There is no doubt that he is in charge. He must be. He’s also a big shot. You don’t want to mess this up. Or most people don’t.
One night I came back from the bar and my face was “all messed up.” At least, that’s what Shirley said. Just a few scratches. “Your face is ruined.”
“It’s nothing, Xue’er. It’s just a little troublesome.”
“What the hell is going on? This has to stop,” she said.
real. She had never spoken truer words. If you want to heal something in yourself, if you want to get rid of it, you stop it. simple.
How much drug dealing happens in Anchor? Search me. Much. But that’s none of my business. This is not my problem. This is not my poison.
That night, I went to Anchor again and sat at the bar. There is a space and I occupy as much of it as I can. Elbows out, shoulders open, I’m not a small person. Always at the bar. Sit down at the bar and say it seriously. So other people in the bar have to reach around or over you when grabbing a drink, or possibly jog up to you as you raise your pint to your mouth.
So I can say, “I’m sorry!”
“Sorry for what?”
“I’m sitting here.”
“You’re sitting there, aren’t you?”
Then, if I had anything to do with it, everything could start. But the bartender will find out that I didn’t initiate it and it has nothing to do with me. I’m just a guy who got knocked over while sitting quietly drinking. Oh yeah?
That night, the bartender must have seen that I was serious. So I let it come. He has met me before. He’s seen my kind before. He himself looks like a man who has seen better days. I mean, it’s not just behind the bar.behind bar, maybe. In the military. In the boxing ring. In Langston Asylum, as far as I know.
You have to understand this before you go to someone, you have to understand how to engage in a fight. My father also served in the military. He loves it. He is a bully. He’s over in Belfast. He asked me to follow family traditions.
The bartender saw me trying them on again. This time I’m serious. He could see it in my face.
“Excuse me!” Beer spilled all over his bar, but it had nothing to do with me.
This time it’s really going to explode. But, before it started, it was all over. Before I knew it, the bartender came from behind the bar and opened and closed the flap. Before I knew it, he was standing behind me and everyone else took a step back. Before I knew it, he had his hands on my arms, not just on my arms, but clamping them tightly to my sides so I couldn’t move them, and then he held me Lift me up – just lift me up, easily – off my stool. , so my legs were hanging in the air and my feet weren’t even touching the ground.