The Patient

Questions were asked. A few answers given. Really not answers. More like a response. Said something just to be saying it. Most of the time, he sat there quietly. Maybe he was plotting. Perhaps he was thinking of a way to get out of it. They’re always thinking of a way to get out of it.

Where’s your license? the detective asked. The suspect sat with his hands on the table. Don’t you have a state id? He shook his head no. No documents?

Mr. I ain’t got nothing but the clothes on my back, he told the officer. What’s all this about anyway? Have I done something wrong?

We just want to ask a few questions.


Yeah. You know. Get to know you, the suspect went back to silence. How long you been living in that condemned house over on 85th Street?

Don’t know. Time slips by me.

Could you tell me what day it is?

Nope. I could not. They all mingle together. All of em mixed up. Saturday’s Monday and Wednesdays are Fridays. I’m very confused most of the time.

You know how old you are?

I don’t know. Forty? Forty-five? I quit counting.

Tell me how you tore your shirt. Get in a fight?

No sir. I ripped it on a nail in the house.

Is that where the blood came from? the detective pointed to the dried black stream lining his arm. I’m going to show you some pictures. You tell me if you know any of these guys. OK? he nodded his head. Brushed his red hair out of his face. He looked at the photos, mug shots. Any of them? he shook his head, no.

You ever hurt anybody?

Don’t know.

Your record says you have. Assault. That’s been a couple of times. Bar fights?

Can’t remember.

No id, huh? Just walk around New York like a ghost? he laughed. Are you a ghost? None traceable? Something that can’t be seen?

I suppose so. I suppose so.

How long you been homeless?

Not sure.

Where are you from?

I forgot. I came here on a bus. Used to sleep at The Port Authority.

That place can be a real shit hole.

Yes sir. Yes, it can.

Do you want to go back to Bellevue? Stay there till we get all this cleared up?

I guess, he said. Sir? Did you ever think you were losing your mind?

Every day. Every day.

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