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Monday, August 26, 2013

DEEP WITHIN By Charles Day

                                                            By Charles Day


Rain hammered the mountainous regions of the Northern Adirondacks. Howling wind caught many of the crisp leaves which fell from thousands of trees, their naked branches reaching up to the dark sky like extended arms with hundreds of small fingers, a sign that autumn’s sweep through the forest was in full force. This dangerous combination of wind, rain, and wet leaves set the stage for treacherous road conditions just waiting to wreak havoc on unsuspecting drivers. That didn’t stop the dark blue BMW from racing up the mountainous roads to the Moose Hill Psychiatric Hospital. A young and anxious Dr. Steve Evan’s white knuckled hands gripped the steering wheel. The Child Psychiatrist knew he needed to be ever so careful not to go into a spin and wind up in a ditch ten feet below. 
            He slowed the car, not only in hopes he’d reach his destination alive, that was a given, but to personally extend his gratitude to his college friend and fellow psychiatrist for waking him before the birds had a chance to open their eyes and start chirping. Why the hell did he prefer not to discuss his situation on the phone? Instead, Dr. Marty Johnson needed him to come to the hospital and physically see the patient in question right away.
            “Something has gone terribly wrong.” Dr. Johnson yelled into the phone. “I need you to spend some time with this patient, you know, get into his head. You’re the only one I trust. I’d rather not discuss this over the phone. Can you come up later this morning?” Tension streamed from his friend’s voice, a clear indicator that perhaps there was some truth to this urgency. “I know it takes a bit to get up here and all, that’s why I’m calling you so early.”
            Although annoyed by the disruption of a normal late night routine, sleep, Steve agreed to go. Of course he would much rather roll over in bed and catch a few more hours of counting sheep. Nevertheless, it was his college buddy on the other end of the line, the same friend who helped Steve out of a few close calls during their college years together, those last minute study sessions before final exams, and the date Marty set up for him when he thought he’d be going to the college dance solo. Of course it did sound like Marty was in some kind of trouble, so out he ventured into the pouring rain, disgruntled, a bit wet, but willing nonetheless. Why had Marty used all the dramatics over the phone for this patient though? There had to be something else, something beyond the scope of this patient’s mental illness.
            Steve’s thoughts continued to wander while pressing the button on the radio, all the while hoping to get a station with an updated storm warning for the Adirondack region. After a few attempts, it finally hit a frequency that wasn’t playing hillbilly country tunes. The weatherman cut in, informing all listeners to watch out for heavy winds and torrential downpours. Steve imagined he’d see Noah and his boat floating by soon, steering his Ark, gathering two of every creature, for Gods’ wrath is upon us once again - Steve started to laugh until his cell phone began to ring. 
            He’d set the ringer to the 1969 classic Spiderman cartoon song , a true fan since childhood, “Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a Spidey can, spins a web any size….”
            “Hello, hello …Marty? It’s hard to hear you, you’re breaking up.” Steve continued to hold the cell to his ear and tried to catch a word or two through all the noise, while trying to concentrate on the road ahead. The call then dropped. He hit redial.
            Much of the roads up in the Adirondacks were constructed like the shape of a slithering snake, forcing Steve to turn the wheel left and then right. He didn’t want a tire to catch hold of the edge. A rock filled ravine that caught rain water as it drained off the pavement, sending it trickling down the mountain into a passing stream.
            Steve concentrated on the road and knew if he ventured off the side and down the mountain, he’d be screaming Hail Mary, Full of Grace as his car hit those huge trees along the way, bouncing off each one like a ball in a pinball machine.
            His knuckles turned white while squeezing the steering wheel. He could visualize himself screaming and pounding on the side door as his car continued down some dark, black emptiness.
            He still heard the crackling coming from his cell but at least it was ringing. This phone couldn’t get a clear signal tonight if I were holding on to its signal tower at the highest point with one hand, and waved my freaking cell phone in the other. 
            Suddenly, Steve stomped hard on the brakes as a tree limb crossed his path. His immediate reaction was to swerve out of the way, but the large branches made contact with the side of the car as he tried to do so, scraping against its gloss blue paint. A loud piercing noise, like the sound of fingernails scratching a chalkboard, shot straight up his spine. He tugged at the steering wheel, the tires gripping the road best they could before bringing the car back into a straight and forward position. Glass shattered to his left. From the corner of his eye, he caught the broken side view mirror. One of the larger branches had smacked it hard.
            Now agitated by the sudden shock, Steve felt ready to lose his patience. When he looked at his cell, the call had ended. Cell phones never work when you want them to. It’s just unfu…
            Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever…“Steve, it’s me, Marty,” a mumbling voice now getting clearer, more pronounced.
            “Can you hear me now? Hello!”
            “Yes, much clearer this time. Maybe one of the cell phone towers up here in the mountains received a direct hit by lightning in this crazy storm. You think?” He’d hoped his sarcasm gave Marty the impression he was pissed about venturing out this late and in a storm.
            There was a pause for just a second before his friend replied. “Yeah okay… sure. Are you close enough to the facility, so I can meet you by the gate? I’ll wait in the Security booth. I don’t want to get soaked in this storm, you know?”
            Go on ahead and wait at the gate. I hope you forgot your umbrella, because you deserve a good soaking for making me come out tonight. He held this thought and instead responded to Marty more civilized, “Yeah, give me another ten minutes. I’m almost there.”

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