Brain Case Part Nine

March 17, 2010

Beginning ***PART TWO****

So, after that bit of fun, I was asking Dr. Coker every day what was going on. He’d tell me that he wasn’t getting any answers from either the airline, or the company that made the restraints. Neither company wanted to open themselves to the possibility of a lawsuit by conceding that they were the responsible party. A jury, these days, awards a lot of money for something like this happening. To me it was a no brainer that Brandenhoff was responsible, since it was their plane that had failed, their safety checks that had missed the faulty pod ejection system in the plane. They’d screwed the pooch. Their stance, however, was that my body would have survived, albeit with severe burns, if not for the mortal injuries I’d experienced. Had I not been a brain case because of the damage done to my body when the straps “malfunctioned” as they put it, and instead just had severe burns over the entirety of my body, they’d have been happy to pay my hospital bills.

Now, the company that made the restraints…I’m not saying that they were any better than the airline, but they tried to at least share responsibility with the airline, to compromise with them. They said that the extent of my injuries, just from the burns, would have pushed the emergency team into at least having to consider doing a brain suspension, even if they didn’t go through with it; they’d have to consider it as an option if my condition worsened on the way to the nearest trauma unit.

Of course, the airline countered that that was purely speculation, since I’d experienced burns and injuries from the restraints.

Me, I just wanted to get out of the fucking jar, as I had begun to call it. Dr. Coker, reluctantly, had to arrange the procedure to have an optical input connected to my brain. When he told me, I heard the anger and bitterness in his voice. He knew it meant that whatever happened, I was going to be like this for a long time, or at least until the airline and the restraints manufacturer settled things with regards to responsibility for my condition.

To his credit, Coker did it for free. Actually, he paid for it. He told me it was the least he could do for me. He felt like he’d failed me. If he’d just gotten to me faster, worked harder and found me an available body sooner, he could have gotten me up and walking before the legal bullshit hit the fan.

I liked Dr Coker, I liked him well enough that when he told me he was retiring, I asked if I could retain him as my personal physician. He said no. But he came in, once in a while, to visit with me for a few months. That man was the only visitor I allowed, actually.

We’d become friends, you know? I think he didn’t mean to, but he did. He confided in me about how guilty he felt, and I confided in him how miserable I really was. It was an unspoken agreement between the two of us, you know, that we could both just say whatever we liked about how fucking pissed or miserable we were.

He would come in and see me, even after he retired. He’d ask how I was, but it was polite talk. The raw anger he’d shown when he was still my doctor was gone. It’s like he’d turned it off when he retired. I think the guilt was still there, but the anger at what had happened with me, with my situation…it’s like he’d accepted it. I think I resented him for that, a little bit, like he’d in a way abandoned me. Like we’d been on an island together, and a rescue ship had come and picked him up, and he’d left me there, all by myself.

His visits got more and more infrequent. One day, I said to him, “It’s okay, man. It’s alright. I know you feel like shit, and I know you can’t stop feeling like shit about it, but it’s alright. It’s not like you left a loaded gun around, and my kids shot themselves with it. Ain’t no friggin’ way you could have known they were going to pull that shit. You did what you were supposed to.” He just started crying. Funny that, between the two of us, I was the stronger one. I wish I could have done something to comfort him, put an arm around him, done something to make him understand that it was really okay, that I didn’t blame him for this shit. Intentions count for fuck-all though.

Coincidentally, he stopped visiting around the same time that they took away my TV. I had started freaking out when I was watching it. It was the beginning of my crazies, as Dr Stevens put it. They took away my net, they took away my TV…They took away anything that reminded me of the outside world, anything outside of my little room.

My crazies started getting worse, gradually. Sometimes I could handle watching TV, or the nets, or whatever. Other times..It got bad pretty fast after awhile. Now, I know I said that they wouldn’t let me have them, and I guess I kind of gave the idea that they hadn’t let me have them at all. The virtual space was the only thing I never had at all, even a little. So, yeah, my first bout of the crazies, I was watching the news and they showed a plane crash story. I started screaming at the TV. The orderlies came running in, horrified looks on their faces, thinking I’d died. See, when a brain case dies, it makes the same kind of sound it would make if it’s screaming. And, a brain case doesn’t scream like a normal person. It’s a simulated scream, like static from a radio, all squelching and distorted, but at a much louder volume. The volume of a brain case is controlled, unconsciously, by the brain. So, yeah, they were freaking the fuck out. They cut my voice off, just flipped a switch, and started trying to tell me to calm down after they’d made sure I was still alive. But I wasn’t listening. I was too busy trying to scream with vocal cords I didn’t have.

After that happened a few more times, they cut out my TV completely. No TV, no net. The only thing I got was letters, handwritten by my kids and Holly, or from my family. Once every few days, someone would come in and put them on a stand in front of my camera, and let me read them.

After awhile, even that stopped. I’d start screaming at whoever was bringing them in, told them to get the fuck out if they weren’t coming in to tell me that they had the good news I was waiting for. They’d classified me as belligerent, uncooperative. This was what my last regular psyche doctor told me before I told him to go screw. “WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE YOU FUCKING FUCK? YOU WANT COOPERATIVE? GO COOPERATE WITH YOUR ASS AND FUCK YOURSELF!” Eloquent, right?

The only person I was speaking to with a civil tongue at that point was the orderly I had asked to kill me. I hated him, but he’d been the one regular person I’d seen the entire time I’d been in that damned jar. I was used to him, I guess. I didn’t have any illusions about where he stood, and he didn’t try to patronize me either. Even when he’d said “you gotta hang in there” to me that one day, the tone of his voice told me that he didn’t give one shit or another when it came down to it. It’s not that he didn’t care, he just didn’t give a shit about whether or not he cared about it. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but there’s a difference between caring about something, and giving a shit. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s there if you don’t think too hard about it and just accept it.

One day, I asked him, “How would you feel if you were in my position?” He said, “I think I’d be grateful to be alive, but fuck it. I don’t have to worry about it till it happens to me.” I always got the sense that he had a “yeah, you’re fucked, but better you than me” attitude about things. He helped where he could, and he kept his mouth shut and didn’t bitch about how bad his life might be. He knew, first hand from working in the brain case ward, that whatever twists and turns might happen in life, there was always something worse that could happen. But really, when it came to bad shit that happened to people, he kept his emotions at arm’s length. He didn’t let it push in on him. Otherwise, shit, he wouldn’t have been able to do his job. He’d have bailed on it, like Dr Coker did. Coker never said that’s why he was retiring, but I knew. He felt like he’d failed in his oath as a doctor. I did make him promise that, when the time came to put me in a body, he’d be the one to do it.

Everything kind of blurs together at that point. Me feeling suicidal and the crazy murder fantasies were just icing on it all. That was the end of the first year, that’s how I was. I was starting to have dreams about shit, really bad dreams. I was dreaming about Holly, about playing with my kids, and I’d wake up screaming with that awful sound that the hospital staff had gotten used to hearing from me by then. I was getting quite a reputation as being “special”. That’s what Dr Stevens walked into, when she started coming to see me.

I may make it sound like me and her hit it off, but that’s not the case. I was still hostile towards her, sometimes I told her to get the fuck out of my face and all that shit. That was the self-pity coming through. Goddamn, I can’t say what I want to say the way I want to fucking say it.

It was a few weeks before Dr Stevens and I really started to be able to talk without me going off on her. It was another few weeks before I apologized to her officially for being an asshole. Her response was typical of her. She says, “You’ve been in a jar for a year. You’re allowed to be an asshole sometimes.”

Until she told me that, I hadn’t thought about how long it was. I kept a vague count of how many days it I’d been in there. But to hear her say that I’d been a brain case for a year, that fucked with me a good bit. When she said it, I kind of winced inside.

You know, I’m just going to quit trying to explain what it felt like, sending signals to a face and body I didn’t have any more. It’s not anything you can explain, only experienced. So when I say I winced, I’m saying that it was all in my mind. When I say I smiled, I mean that it was all in my head. When I say I cried, you know that it was all on the inside. And you already know what I mean, when I say that I was screaming.

**********

Buck Stevens…that was his real name, I swear to fucking God…Buck Stevens…go look it up…was Dr Stevens’ stupid sonuvabitch husband. He was still walking with a cane the first day he walked into my room. He comes in, sits down on a stool, looks at me grimly. He frowns, and starts looking through some papers…

I knew he’d be dropping in. His wife had told me about it, and was also somewhat responsible for his being there. Now, adulterous nature aside, the man was a pretty stand up guy. He’d heard about my situation from the news. Oh, yeah, I’ll get around to talking about the news people, don’t worry. Now, he heard about my story, and he was pissed. He was a classic champion of the people kind of lawyer, the kind that had gotten into law because he wanted to fight the boogie men and the monsters that are in this world. One night he’s talking about it after doing some research, and he says to his wife, my doctor, that he would love to sink his teeth into Brandenhoff Airlines for what they pulled. I can only imagine the smile that she must have had on her face when she told him she could introduce him to me.

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