I had already been making considerable progress since my encounter with the crazy, crazy psychiatrist. I was living in my parent’s basement, reading about natural sciences, generally “taking it easy,” learning to be a more logical human being. It was on a stainless steel bench in the middle of a holding room, however, that I began to second-guess my advancements.
“Why did the dog sniff your crotch?” said the wide-eyed officer.
“I don’t know, I’m ovulating,” I said, honestly trying to imagine why.
It was funny and sad to me that they didn’t know what it meant “to ovulate.” The chubbier one asked me if it meant that I was on my period. I said no and explained to her that I was fertile, and therefore probably more fragrant to a dog. She looked me over skeptically and proceeded to ask how I KNEW that I was ovulating. I could not think of a response, too startled by the weightlessness of the question.
“I don’t know, I keep track of it,” I said.
“Are you trying to get pregnant?”
The more they went on, the less I felt entertained by the novelty of the situation, and was beginning to feel like my confinement was a real inconvenience. I had already waivered my expectation for freedom or autonomy of any sort, feeling unnecessarily ready for the worst. Most of my favorite writers were imprisoned for what they’d written and in a way I felt flattered by this parallel. I also felt that cops could pretty much do whatever they wanted, especially between boundaries, where law is scanty and people are generally discouraged from trusting each other. I also felt that people demanded far too much from their governments in the first place, human rights seeming more like an invented luxury than anything else.
She slid her hand by the perimeter of my underwear, her latex-covered fingers checking for — drugs? Bombs? Reading material? Meanwhile I kept my eyes from wandering off the point in the ceiling where three edges met to make a corner.
I was abiding by their order, taking off my shoes next to a toilet filled with red/brown stuff, when the smarter one started asking me about my profession. They both had cynical expressions on thier faces, seeming to hide self-indulgent grimaces, as if basking in the power they held over me. I handed them my black leather lace-ups realizing that the insides were very worn and probably smelled like garbage. As I watched them inspect the insides of my shoes, I tried to explain the definition of literary devices such as satire. Nothing I said was registering with the women and I decided that I would rather not try to re-examine; accepting that they’d probably never cared much for scholastics anyway.
My relief only came after I handed them an old, crumpled-up piece of paper that had been left in my pocket, as per their request. On the back of the little receipt, I’d written a few ideas for a story that I wanted to write. The paper read: “Man cuts off own leg and eats it. Mentally-ill gorillas.”
“Mentally-ill gorillas,” she read aloud. “Mentally-ill gorillas?”
“It’s for a,“ I tried
“Are you mentally-ill?”
I looked at her oddly for a second before she restructured her question.
“Do you have a history of mental illness?”
I considered the repercussions if I’d answered either yes or no. I thought if I said yes, which was true, she would probably ask me about the details of the diagnosis, which sounds way worse than it actually is. Then she would probably get freaked out, then I couldn’t guess what would happen next.
If I said no, which would mean that I’m lying, she would most likely continue asking me questions about my intentions and/or personality; or she might detect that I was lying, because I’m bad at lying, and then she would grill me until I admitted it and then she would punish me for lying to a cop, which I guess is illegal, or something, so I said yes.
“Schizophrenia,” she said in low tone, like a caricature of an old detective. She revisited the receipt in her hands, presumably checked the clues to the mystery she’d solved. There was a long pause before she asked, “Are you on medication?”
I shook my head truthfully, but also realizing the inherent value in my response, maybe hamming it up more than I needed to. She handed back the receipt.
“Maybe you ought to be,” she said.
I crouched with a disgruntled sigh of guilt and/or embarrassment, acting as defeated.
They finger-printed me and took my photograph and typed in something in their computer while I waited. The officer handling my file told me that he had to go ask his manager about how to proceed with my case. He disappeared for a few minutes and then reemerged with a man who looked too busy and involved with something of actual importance to care about what was happening. He came back from his manager and dismissed me with a slight air of disappointment, as if he were permanently indebted to the anti-climatic nature of his job.
All in all, perhaps the largest obstruction throughout this whole experience was one in which I’d placed upon myself; to prevent slipping back into the belief that I was, in fact, the subject of a horrible reality TV show created by demons and that my old paranoia was absolutely justified.