I imagined myself in Gracie’s restaurant, throwing down the pints, getting drunk while Gracie offered drinks for the house. Music playing. Dancing on the tables. Me, leading the song, “I’m gettin’ married in the morning. Ding dong the bells are gonna riiiiiiiiiiiing.”

Instead, I answered the door in the middle of the night and welcomed four policemen into the apartment.


Why so many?

Just to serve a couple of papers, drive two people to a mental hospital. They must have expected a fight. Althea and me. Dangerous customers.

Hey, bi-polar love, bi-polar commitment. Togetherness. We rode in the same car, to the same hospital. And they had all of our papers in the same little stack. Then, from the hospital lobby – dark except for the nurses’ station – we went our separate ways; they took us to different rooms.

Althea’s ex, the backbone of this operation, wasn’t there. That’s the way these lawyers work. They arrange the dirty work, but always get somebody else to do it. He was certainly at his home, sleeping. Before bed, he probably had a good chuckle about this one. Using a little of his clout to fuck us up, get those manic depressive love birds good and embarrassed, humiliate them before the wedding. Delay it. After all, there’s no way this would stick. I don’t know what he wrote on those papers, or what he said to the judge, but neither of us were sick right now. Nobody was a threat to anybody. This was a stall tactic, the name of the game in his whacky world. Putting it to work a little in his private life.

So now, after getting about two hours sleep, I had to be evaluated by this psychiatric nurse at this strange hospital.

I told him I wanted to see my regular doctor.

“He doesn’t work in this clinic,” he said.

“Then get him on the phone.”

“We will,” said the nurse. “But we need to go ahead and proceed with the evaluation.”


“You’ve been involuntarily committed.”

“Can’t he send my records over? Here I am in a mental hospital and I don’t have my medication.”

“All of this is being taken care of,” he said. “This is a routine evaluation. It has nothing to do with your doctor.”

“I don’t have any insurance.”

“That’s not my understanding.”

“I’m going to tell my insurance company not to pay. There’s a limit to this shit, and I’m not using up mine for this.”

“That’s not my interest here.”

“Fuck your interest.”

“Excuse me,” he said.

He held up his clipboard, checked something off, and left, shut the door behind him. I grabbed a goddamn Newsweek that was four months old and lay back on the bed.

My doctor was a good man, made a special trip over here, charged the insurance company a fortune, I’m sure. He got me out, told me I could sue, but advised me against it.

“The cost of the anxiety would outweigh the financial gain,” he said.

But Althea!

My apartment returned to its former wrecked condition. All the flowers wilted, lost their color (they lost their water).

Damn if this little episode didn’t do the trick. She was there for four weeks. Came out of there so fucked up she could hardly talk. Went back home to live with her parents. Put me in the position of having to start wooing her all over again.

I walked over there and knocked on the door, talked to her standing on the damn porch steps, like I was a danger.

“Come back,” I said. “What about the wedding?”

“I’m not supposed to make any decisions for the next six weeks,” she said.

She wasn’t smiling like hell.

“Damn it, baby. What’d they give you there, an anti-psychotic? You look zapped.”

“Electro,” she said.


She shook her head. “Said it was easier than medicine.”

“You still remember me?”

“Sure I do.”

“How many fingers?” I said. I held up three.


She didn’t smile.

“You remember the play? Your songs?”

“I’m getting it back. I’ll get it all back soon. It’s not that bad, really. It’s nothing.”

“We were going to get married,” I said. “Your therapist told you to.”

“I’ve got a different doctor now. I’m tired.”

Then she walked back in, shut the door in my face. Didn’t say goodbye, see you later, anything.

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