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This piece of literature was scribed while I awaited my turn at the funny farm back in 2013. I had no idea what was going on in my cranium at the time and felt pretty helpless as I was led to the mental health unit of my local hospital for a thorough examination. My entire life had recently taken a turn for the worse and, only five days earlier, my family home had shut its doors to me for what would be the first and last time. I was lost in the woods with no clue as to how to find myself. Moreover, those around me were questioning my sanity and convinced that the elevator didn’t travel to the top floor. Two years down the line; I’m as sane as sane can be. Sure, I’m different from my nearest and dearest and my mind admittedly throws up some fairly unhinged material from time to time. But my heart is in the right place and my soul is far more accessible now than it has ever been. For the record, the lifelong friend I speak about within, has since proved to be anything of the sort. Anyhoots, without any further ado, I bring you…
One Flew Into The Cuckoo’s Nest
How do you classify insane? Is there a checklist? Do you take a test and score a percentage? How the fuck are you supposed to estimate one’s mental state? Today Grueheads I should find out some of the answers as I am currently all set to undertake a short pilgrimage. A lifelong friend will deliver me from evil and straight into the hands of trained professionals. I trust him wholeheartedly and would expect him to would gnaw away my cancer if such was ever necessitated. This cat has absolutely no filter and, in some respects, is the best kind of person to be acquainted with when your back’s against the wall as mine is now. Sure, he ruffles a few feathers along the way but those who know his soul and drink in his essence, will attest to his staunch loyalty which flinches not.
My friend is preparing for departure as I scribe this, readying himself for our little excursion to the funny farm. It will be just he and I, plus a selection of chin stroking white-coats of course. Should I attempt to flee then he will inevitably restrain me in no uncertain terms. I can envisage it now, me tearing through the surrounding woodlands, screaming like a banshee with this burly juggernaut closely in tow, and never more than half a dozen tree digits behind, hysterically waving, not a chainsaw, but a crook to hook around my throat. Even if I manage to outrun him momentarily; there will be no relenting. Until he has that burlap over my head he’ll simply persevere. With friends like these eh? Of all the friends in the world; I had to choose the a human shit box who makes Gunnar Hansen appear bulimic.
I won’t be running blindly into the nearest gas station to get help. If I do then I’ll likely be feeling Grandpa’s gentle hammer tap on my crown as I stare into a bucket of giblets and bile back at the house. I’ve just got to keep running, like Gump, only without the face beard. You see, facial hair passed me over during puberty and, even now, a mass of unruly whiskers is about all that I can muster. My balls dropped like everyone else’s but, for some unexplained reason, my face was the last to find out about my adolescence. I guess I should be thankful, after all, I’m perhaps the only man in the western hemisphere who shaves using sellotape. No hairy back and shoulders for me; I’m as smooth as a peach and that’s the way I like it. I did however once know a man with a most wondrous beard, one so thick that it doubled up as a canteen. Please allow me to elaborate further as he came with a sidekick too.
The Thinhead and Foodbeard Interjection
When I was at college, many red moons ago, there were two fellows a lot more mature than the average academic at the institution. Probably well into their mid-fifties, both men appeared a little weather-beaten, shall we say. These two were of polar opposite body mass, one looked like a second fiddle Santa, the other like a white Richard Pryor, minus ‘fro, ‘tache, blackness, and rough skin pigmentation. Alright, he looked ever so vaguely like him. Happy now? Peck, peck, peck; I feel like Tippi fucking Hedren here. Anyhoots bird brains, these ragged rascals were endowed with titles by all the chirping birds in the sanctuary, names they heard chanted every day as they removed their bicycle clips. The snickers had already commenced through the grimy canteen windows before they so much as set foot on the premises. I remember the callous chants to this day. “Look everyone. Gather around. They’re here. It’s…Thinhead and Foodbeard!” I kid you not, this pair could have strolled into a Tatooine bar and felt less like freaks.
Thinhead was a slender man with a slight frame. He wore a long mackintosh, prescription glasses which were positively filled to the brim with eyes. Surely magnified by at least 3X, they were like sentinels which, in itself, belied this man’s meek personality. One of life’s shy guys, he was betrayed by his own bifocals in a cruel twist of irony. Such a facial javelin, there was hardly an ounce of fat stretched across this man’s skull, and it’s a mystery to me that his head could facilitate his thick-framed glasses. Folk would leave their lectures midway just to catch a glimpse of his elongated top box but, while his appearance was admittedly rather amusing, I only ever flashed him a friendly smile. My parents raised me never to judge and, as a result, I treated him no differently to anyone else I barely knew and have waited over two decades to ridicule him. Even now I do so affectionately.
His heterosexual life-partner was an overweight and out of shape bearded chap who always wore the same dirty brown slacks, off-colored green sweater and a relic of an anorak which had evidently seen many different presidents come and pass. This rosy-cheeked fun bubble never struggled with hunger pangs. You see, Foodbeard stored supplies within his beard, sometimes a pomme frite, others a half eaten pork pie. He did so involuntarily and, like Cookie Monster, he never got seated at the head of the table. Or maybe he simply enjoyed his meal so much that he kept some for later. They never spoke, even to each other, and neither did I. However, I took comfort from their very existence, paid no malice and sent only benign smiles their way. I never did find out what they studied that year, but this disheveled duo are etched forevermore in my memory.
Back to current affairs and I have still not been successful in fleeing my dogged pursuer. I sit presently in the waiting room awaiting my analysis. As healthcare in the United Kingdom is free of charge; I may yet be here for some time. Analyze this my featherless friends. I already know my mind as it is mine before stepping food in the observation chamber. I consider myself something of a tortured genius and that’s the best way to be right? Ultimately, it’s all about turning your pain into something of beauty. Stephen King did so and he was a heavy alcoholic before he became a scribe. Terry Pratchett continues to write even now as his mental bailiffs slowly dismantle his glorious stronghold.They say great minds think alike and I would be honored to share either of these great men’s thoughts.
I made a promise to the Grueheads and that was to keep writing until I have moved on from my physical shell hopefully to a higher plain. This oath wasn’t sworn under duress and, know this, a promise only stands if it is made of free will not enforced. Of course, I shall honor my vow. While I’m away, I ask only that you keep the cogs greased. Please go to the Rivers and spread this sweet sickness far and wide. You see, this dark battalion consists of every last one of us Grueheads. The Crimson Quill will be firing bloody bullets with constancy while I partake in my short stay. Should I not return from this pilgrimage then know that I’ve gone to a better place with padded walls for me to bounce from gleefully. Anyhoots, the bloodiest of kisses, hugs and handshakes to every last one of you. With a dash of good fortune, and clean bill of health, I will be seeing you on the other side.