INT. ALTON PSYCHIATRIC WARD—THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS 2007

You hear water running. Someone flushed the toilet.  Two black orderlies in the men’s restroom.  They’re emptying the trash and restocking the paper towels.  The rolls of toilet paper.  You see three urinals and the same number of stalls and around the corner the shower room.  Open without privacy—the shower heads lining a tiled wall.  Drains in the floor.  Water is running in there too.  You hear it after the toilet’s done flushing.  But the orderlies haven’t turned that corner yet.  They’re busy talking.  The subject has changed from sports.  The NFL playoffs.  Now they’re talking about a co-worker.

ORDERLY 1

Does he owe you money too?

ORDERLY 2

Yeah… He bet the Redskins wouldn’t make it.  Fifty bucks…

ORDERLY 1

I don’t like him…

ORDERLY 2

He does his job.  One of the CNA’s told me he’s getting a divorce.  Only been married four months.

ORDERLY 1

What happened?  Did he owe her money too?

ORDERLY 2

They weren’t having sex…  At least that’s what Rasputia said.  You know—big ass.  Fake painted fingernails against policy.  False eyelashes.  She handles the north wing.  She’s friends with his wife another CNA works a floor down…  You know her.  She was at the Christmas party.  That’s where she told me about Wallace…  Rasputia must be early today.  The Wednesday showers normally don’t start for another hour.

ORDERLY 1

Yeah I hear the water running…  I still don’t like him.  Married or not he owes me money.

ORDERLY 2

Guess his wife didn’t like him either.  What Rasputia said was he got a little excited.  He was done by the time she got her shirt off…

ORDERLY 1

Is the boy too young to know how to kiss a pussy?  Smell it right it gives you patience.  It’s a smell you can’t get in pornography…  When my wife gets mad it helps make her forget all about it.  I might forget to take the trash out at home because I’m always taking it out here, but I know how to bet on my own bed.  Sounds like Wally makes bad bets all the way around.

ORDERLY 2

Well maybe he’ll get old enough to learn…  Takes a while to get to like yourself and even then you forget sometimes.  That’s what folks here need to learn.  The suicides at least.  All of us have our moments when we don’t like ourselves and we wonder how anybody else can like us.  Some folks are just wound too tight I guess.  They get so alone it makes sense.  The fantasies we all have.  The poetic fantasies…  That’s the demons you know.  The demons these folks have.  The demons they see.  That talk to them.  God don’t have no need for fantasies.  Tomorrow ain’t no surprise.  That’s what the demons don’t know.  That’s what we don’t know.  We don’t know when…  Tomorrow is today when it comes to love.  When it comes to the secret of liking yourself…

ORDERLY 1

You still hear that water running?

ORDERLY 2

Yeah…  been in there a long time.  Gonna prune up.  Rasputia must be on her Facebook.

The orderlies leave their supplies and the janitor equipment they wheeled into the men’s restroom.  They turn the corner to the shower room to follow the sound of running water.  Marcus is hanging from the center shower head by a wet towel.  Naked with his eyes open.  His arms hang by his sides, but the way his fingers on his hands are splayed it looks like he’s reaching for something.  On the wooden bench that lines the opposite wall are his clothes.  His hospital pajamas folded neatly.  And on top sits his bible.  Closed and bulging with inserted papers.  It rests to be opened from the left.  The cross on the front cover is upside down.

ORDERLY 1

Oh shit…  we got another one.  Go get the nurse!

CHORUS

It is grace.  It is how you tell the living from the dead.  The living and the dead in Christ.  It is the grace that affects you when you deal with someone that doesn’t have a care in your life.  And maybe they did—once—but they don’t anymore.  They were someone that you used to know.  And this is grace.  Not under pressure.  How you love when you’re not expecting love in return.  When you know someone is lonely and whether or not you continue to instill the feeling that they are alone.  And maybe this is the delineating factor.  Of a good person.  Or a bad one.  In what we admire of this.  Seeing it as strength or weakness.  In what we see of justice when we know we all are treated unjust.  How we show our grief.  Our principles.  Perhaps it shows what we are what we’re truly made of better than all the things we embrace to survive that enslave us.  It is our white noise.  What we see when we try to be God.  And it becomes all our examples…  This is the house of David. Time seen as a progression.  Halted in the moment of reflection and losing its truth, its allusions to a tragedy. It is a bible opened to the left.  Inserted pages falling out.  Torn out.  Page by page.  And cast into the flames…  So soon we must return to the biography and the biographer.  To end the stories told by children.  In what they say it says before they can even read.  The mea culpa of grace…

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