70 - The Man in the Straight-Jacket
The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you.
Rita Mae Brown
An ambulance sits in an empty parking lot. Two men, dressed in white, put a straight-jacket on a third man. He wears shorts, and a Hawaiian shirt. They slide the jacket over his arms, then make him turn around while they lace it up the back. One of the white-jacket men speaks to the man in straight-jacket.
"How you been, Gabriel?"
The man in the straight-jacket turns around again, so they can cross his arms and pull the sleeves tight.
"Do I have to wear this, Jonesy?"
Jonesy smiles, pats him on the shoulder.
They put him in the back of the ambulance, and start to close the door.
There's a house facing on the parking lot, and a young girl comes running from the house, carrying a conch shell.
You know her. Her name is Julie.
"Wait a minute!" you say to Jonesy, "Please?"
Jonesy shrugs, stands aside.
Julie climbs in beside you.
"Thanks—for everything," she says, "You know. I wanted to say good-bye. I don't want to be a dolphin, but I do want to be like you."
She puts the conch down beside you.
"I hope you can understand this. You were willing to give up your freedom for me—you stayed, and tried to help, when you could have run. Well, I'm giving up my freedom for Mom—for her dream. You can understand that, can't you?"
She kisses you on the cheek. You'd like to hug her, but you can't move your arms, and for once in your life, you can't think of a thing to say.
Julie smiles at you, a little sadly.
"Maybe you did help me become a dolphin after all."
She flees to the house.
Jonesy swung the door closed, and hopped into the shotgun seat in front. The other guy started the engine, and circled the lot toward the exit.
Julie reached the house, just about the time we reached the road. I think she waved, but I couldn't see for sure.
The trees obscured my view.