Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Gegangen Fischen (Gone Fishing)

Lanny had hated hospitals since the time he was a kid.

He really hated institutions of all variety.

He hated school. In school they take you away from the finer things in life. Like fishing; or hunting, or damned-sure just about anything besides being in school.

School was a place they educated you. And a hospital...well hell, it was just a place for the lame, sick and dying.

Living, for Lanny, was being anywhere besides cooped up inside four walls.

When he was about five years old, his family took him to Johnson City to visit his sick uncle at the Veteran's Hospital. He could still, all these years later, close his eyes and see the puke green tile on the walls, smell the sickening sweet smell of the alcohol on the ward, and just picture in his eyes the chicken wire windows and the ominous shadows they cast on that dirty tile floor.

His stomach still twisted in knots at the memory of his Fahter's voice "I wouldn't bring my dog here to die, much less my brother".

Lanny hated these damned institutions. They stunk of the government. Of fat men in straw hats with cuds of tobacco in their fat, filthy cheeks peppered pink with engorged blood vessels and three-day stubble.

"We're from the government, Mrs. Davis, and we are here to help you".

His family had always lived by the code "ain't no kinda help for them, can't help themselves".

No kinda help's right.

And here he found himself again, trapped by four walls and that sickening sweet smell.

It tore him up inside to watch his best friend, tubes down his throat, stickin' out of his spine and and even shoved up his privates.

Institution ain't no kinda place to be, for a free man. No kinda place.

"Tomorrow, I take the kayak down Tellico Plains way, out past Toqua and Razor to the mouth of the fingers. Tomorrow, I catch fish. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll be free."

And with that Lanny took his friend's listless hand and drifted off to dream of a heaven that would never be defined by the walls of a cold and Godless institution where men seem to just die a little more each and every day.

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