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Descent Into the Maelstrom



“Can someone tell me the time? Please! I have things to do. There is more to be written.” He struggled to his feet and the effort made his head swim. He was aware of a faint silvery light in the high window at the other end of the room.

 He’s been in a frenzy all night. No one in the emergency ward has slept, and this morning since four am he’s been asking for the time. He’s had all the time there is, there will be no more time for this madman.

 “Sleep. Sleep, old man,” the orderly looks at him through the barred window in his locked door. “You are dying, old man -- let the rest of us sleep.”

 “Where am I?” he asked.

 “Washington College Hospital, old man. They picked you up in the 4th Ward Polls Saloon.” He wagged his head in admiration. “I never did see a man so drunk.”

 There is no bottle big enough to drown this man’s visions. He has looked deep into the dark soul of perversion - reached in and extracted the monster that hides in all of us.

 “I have every right to drink,” the man assumed a dignity which was pitiful to see as he stood half naked by the side of his unmade bed. He could only see the orderly’s eyes in the small window; they were curious eyes. Pitiless. The eyes of a man waiting for the wire walker to fall, for the suicide to pull the trigger. “I asked you what time it was, my good man. Don’t you know what time it is?”

 “Sure, I know the time. Time don’t mean nothin’ to you, old man.”

 He was not really old - barely past forty, at an age where most men are at the crest of their success - when the training begins to pay off and the world comes to sit at your feet. He sat now, on the very edge of his wrinkled bed ... “Oh God, Oh God -- I’ve been with demons. Come Berenice and Lenore. Come here and sit with me. We’ll listen to the tintinnabulation of the bells. Let us sit on the shore of my kingdom by the sea. Let there be music to make love by ... “ He buried his head in his hands. “Oh God, Oh God, I smell of mortality.”

 “You sure do, old man. Doc says you’re a dead man inside. Lay yourself down again. Be quiet. It’ll be easier for all of us.”

 “Someone give me a pen and paper. There is a story to be told. There’s always one more story.

The End

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