One hundred and sixty-two, so far.

They keep it pretty dark in here, I think. Either that, or I'm partially blind, along with all the other things that don't work. So I can't tell if it's day or night, so I can't count the days. But I can count the number of times they've changed the sheets, and so far it's a hundred and sixty-two. Whether they change them every day, every other day, every week, I don't know. But I can feel them tilting me sideways, rolling me over, then rolling me back, and when they roll me back it always feels like new sheets. No wrinkles, no sweat, no wet spots, nice and clean. I probably wouldn't have noticed something like that back when I was still me, but I guess this is the only one of the five senses that still sort of works.

Not being able to see bugs me a little, but not being able to hear bugs me a lot more. Surely they must say something when they come in to change the sheets. Maybe I have visitors and I don't know it. I can't tell from the smells; it always smells like disinfectant or something in here, except for bedpan time. I used to count bedpan times along with the sheet changes, but I couldn't tell you if I was suffering from irregularity or anything like that, so I decided to concentrate on one function and one function only.

But I'd really like to hear. I'd like to hear some music once in a while. Even if it's something I can't stand, it's still something. Sometimes I get a tune going in my head and it plays for what seems like hours. I remember this used to drive me crazy. Now it's probably keeping me sane, if this is sane. Even the crazy songs help: "Shirley, Shirley, Bo Birley, Banana Fana Fo Firley, Fee Fi Mo Mirley, Shirley." They never do that with Chuck. I told somebody that once and he just looked at me like I was nuts.

I don't really remember what happened before I got here, wherever "here" is. I remember I used to have a life, a job, some friends, a house, even a car. I always wanted a car. And when I finally got one I drove it everywhere, all over the place, sometimes for no reason other than I just wanted to go somewhere. I miss that. I used to know just about every Interstate highway from 4 to 96, and there's a 99 up in Pennsylvania somewhere, I think. Seems like it ought to be farther east than Pennsylvania, but I'm not the one who assigns the numbers.

I guess it could be worse, though. I mean, this isn't much of a life, but it's a life, and it's mine, and maybe I won't have to spend the rest of it counting the number of times they change the sheets. Things happen. At least I can breathe, and they're feeding me.

They are feeding me, right?

Note: The preceding is a work of fiction. For me, anyway.

The Vent

  16 March 2005

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 Copyright © 2005 by Charles G. Hill