This is a continuation of my hardluck asthma story. In a way, things weren't much different at the asthma hospital than they were back home. The bullies -- different yet the same -- just came out of the woodwork, and followed me to Denver.
So Eric was gone, yet there were still other monsters on 2-May I could not get rid of -- or away from. While Eric was a thorn in my side only when he was briefly my room mate on 7-Goodman and later on 2-May, Grant was a long-term 2-May resident who was a thorn in my side every time I was beyond the safety of the nurses on 7-Goodman, and constantly on 2-May. Now that I was a resident on the same patient floor as he was, 16-year-old Grant Hill, Metallica shirt and all, would continue to be a thorn in my side. He, and his buddies, were an incentive for me to either hide in the unused lobby at the far side of the west hall, or in the confines of my own private room.
A week earlier, while I was reading Frankenstein in the west lobby, Grant chanced a visit, and discovered my hideout. "So, what do we have here?"
I said nothing. Saying nothing, I hoped, was the way to get him to leave, however, deep inside, I suspected better.
"What book are you reading?" He bent forward, pretending to read the cover. "Frankenstein? I love Frankenstein. I like to think of myself as Frankenstein. I'm the tall, lean, mean version of Frankenstein. I am the monster. You probably think of me as the bully, but I'm really a reincarnation of Frankenstein."
"Reincarnation," I said. "That's a big word for you. Are you sure you know what that means." I said. Dumb. This was the masochistic attitude my psychologist referred to when describing me in his interpretation of my visits with him, and what he learned from talking to Ric, my counselor on 7-Goodman. However, while Ric worked hard in closed door sessions with me, acting out scenario after scenario of how to deal with bullies, I rejected this help. Yep, I sought out help, then rejected it. I didn't see it that way at the time, but the experts did. "Doing that isn't going to help me with the bullies," I said to Ric three weeks earlier. "All that will do is nothing. The other kids are going to pick on me regardless."
"How can you be so sure," Ric said back then. "How can you be so sure what we are working on won't work for you. You have to try it and be patient. You can't expect things to change over night. You have to try it for it to work. You can't reject. You have to listen and try."
Well, I knew it wouldn't work. Although, years later, after I forgot my lessons with Ric, after I conveniently forgot all the lessons learned on 7-Goodman because what happened on 2-May were more recent, more intense. And, also, because I later was afraid to mention to anyone later in life about my experience at the asthma hospital because I was embarrassed to have spent three months on 2-May, the so called psychological unit where we were admitted to work on asthma related psychological and family problems. Yet, I suppose, I was naive in this thinking too. However, ironically, it would take me 24 years to figure this out. Kind of like the kids in Stephen King's "IT" forgot their childhood experience, so I would forget my 2-May experience only to remember it when something else happens later in adulthood that forces them (me) to remember.
However, in a strange way, what I learned there benefited me greatly in my life. I have become now, what I am, because of my asthma hospital experience as much as my asthma experience itself.
"You need to be careful what you say to a bully like me," Grant warned. "I could really," he motioned a wide open hand to within in inches from my face, "Mess... you... up." He pumped his hand toward my face, away from it, and to my face again with each word he spoke.
For some reason, however, I knew Grant wouldn't really hurt me. However, based on my basketball experience with him earlier when he pounded on my back because I called his mother a name and got us both sent to level one, I knew he would hit me. I knew he was psychotic enough to hit me. I knew he was mentally screwed up enough to want to cross the line. However, I still had a feeling he wouldn't REALLY hurt me.
Yet Zane, on the other hand. Zane showed up in the lobby. He was looking for Grant. And he found Grant. And when he saw me sitting in the chair, quenched in a cowardly way, his eyes lit up. His eyes were pure evil. His eyelids were squeezed in an inward direction, the little horns could have risen out above his eyes, his face was red as the devil himself. His eyes were dark, deep set, and full of intensity. Lucifer, I mean Zane, unlike Grant, would kill me if given the chance.
Grant was giggling like a hyena -- literally. Now he was flailing his hands up and down, wriggling his body in awkward gestures, while Zane continued to look at me. Then, not wanting to find out what they were going to do with me, I hopped out of my chair and ran. I ran out of the little lounge, past the girl's bathrooms, past all the boy's rooms, past the nurses station and past my room.
Oh, I thought about stopping in my room, but, as I took a quit glance to my left, there were no nurses at the station. So I figured these two clowns would just follow me in there and have me trapped. My only hope was the elevator at the end of the hall. I did not know where the stairs were, so it was the elevator or nothing
Yes, as I passed the nurses station I slowed down a tad, hoping, praying one of the nurses would spot me running, or Zane or Grant who were lumbering behind me. But, to my bad fortune, the nurses and the aides were all seated at a table in the confines of the nurses lounge at this exact moment. Thus, I was once more forced to fend for myself.
I ran past the girl's rooms on West 2-May, and, in doing so, prayed the elevator was open. I prayed the door to the staircases was open. Yet, I also knew leaving 2-May while on level 2 would end me up on level 1 again, and I would lose privileges, or at least lose the few privileges I had. Worse, I would have a harder time in a meeting convincing the counselors I was ready for level 3. Yet I never had to face these fears, because as the end of the hall approached, I fell flat on my face and rolled away from Grant and Zane who, in my confused state, grabbed one leg each and were dragging me to my demise.
"Hurry up! Get him to the elevator. We can kill him in there and leave his body," Zane roared. I did not know Zane when I was on 7-Goodman. It was almost as though he were admitted right to 2-May, which I thought was not possible. Yet Lucifer can do whatever he wants, can't he?
I knew Grant was on 7-Goodman long before I was admitted to 7-Goodman, because I only knew him because the 7-Goodman kids joined with the 2-May kids in school, during aerobics, and on off campus outings. We were all pretty much the same ages, between 15 and 18.
"We can rough him up, but not kill him," Grant said. "We can mess him up. Have a little fun." He laughed his usual dopey laugh. "Then we'll leave him scarred for life." My body quickly moving backwards, I dug into the carpet with my fingernails, my palms, my wrist. I dug my wrist into the carpet pent on saving my life. My wrist burned, and my legs were suddenly free. I looked at the back of my wrist -- it was blood red.
"You got a little owie," Grant whined in a showy tantrum.
"Grab him!" Zane shouted. Grant stood there looking down at me, still smiling, still feigning his goofy laugh.
My heart was racing. For the first time in my life, I felt I was doomed. I had faced bullies many times in my life, but none as hellish as Zane. I hated Grant, but, in a way, I think it was he who distracted Zane just enough to give me time to run. Which I did. Fast. But not to my room. I sat, heart still racing, breath fast and shallow and tight, on the treatment chair next to my room, in the hall, across from the protection of the nurses station. Grant and Zane mossied on by, providing me with an evil look as they did so, and disappeared down the hall.
"Having trouble breathing?" Asiala, the short, stout, Spanish-American, nurse said. She was leaning over the desk, only her head showing from where I sat.
"Yes," I panted. "Can I have a treatment?"
She set me up with one. By the time I turned on the compressor, the audible whir-r-r-r-r-r vibrating the neb in my trembling hands, I was genuinely short-of-breath --yet again.