Chapter 4:
Nightsticks, restraints and Hannibal Lecter

I've been waiting in the hospital room for over an hour.  The police pace back and forth past my room like mad dogs.  Only in a small town would one person, such as myself, who hasn't even done anything wrong, be monitored by 3 or 4 policemen.  If I have to piss, one of them wants to be in the bathroom with me.  When they dragged me out of my bed, a little over an hour ago, wrapped my hands behind my back and 'cuffed me, I screamed that they put them on too tight, and that I was going to sue their asses off.  The entire way to the hospital, as my wrists and hands turned blue, I told the person driving that I was going to have the badge of the cop, who also happened to be a guy I graduated with, in the palm of my hand.

20 minutes later, my fellow high-school graduate, turned from jock to cop, enters my hospital room.  "Did I have those cuffs on ya too tight?" He asks, seeming a little afraid that his badge would be, if not in the palm of my hand, retired in his commanding officer's desk.  "Look for yourself," I say, holding out my hands, which have now went from a faint blue to a bright red.  "Geesh, man," the cop says, "I'm really sorry about that."  He seems fairly genuine.  I decide to give him a break.  "It's no big deal," I tell him, "I'm sure the marks will go away."  "Do you remember who I am?" He asks me.  Yes, you were the guy that knocked the  books out of my hands when I walked down the hall in ninth grade, you were the guy that made me feel like less than a human by making fun of my buck-teeth and the retainer I wore to get rid of them.  You were the guy that put tacks on my chair just before I sat down.  You were the guy that pretended I was making faces at my Science teacher, just to get me in trouble.  And now, now you're the guy who slapped handcuffs so hard around my wrists that I still can't feel the tips of my fingers.  "Yeah, you're Slap Happy (name changed to protect something or another)," I say to him, "we graduated together."  "We've both gained some weight," he says, patting his stomach.  "Yeah, I guess we both have," I return, not having to pat my stomach to know it has grown since I was 18.  We both look around at medical supplies for a while, not really having much to communicate about.

"So, you're a cop now, huh?" I ask him, as if the obvious suddenly eludes me.  "Yep.  I should have went into computers, that's where the money is."  "But then," I reply, "you wouldn't be able to do all this fun handcuffing."  I smile, to let him know it's a joke, and he sort of snorts.  I search my mind for something else to say.  "You like that NYPD Blue show?  Is it pretty close to reality?"  The question is inane, because I don't ever remember 3  or 4 cops guarding a hospital patient for violating a bullshit harassment order that shouldn't have been issued in the first place.  "I don't know," he mumbles, "it's okay, but it shows too much roughhousing.  If we were to do something like that, we wouldn't be cops for very long.  I'm a cop to help people.  I'm not in this to rough people up."

The cop hits me in the arm and pushes my face into the hospital wall.

"You guys kinda got stuck with that image," I say, still trying to make nice.  "It's the wrong image," he replies.  "I'm in this to help people.  I'm not here to hurt anybody.  

The cop hits me in the arm and pushes my face into the hospital wall.

At that my doctor comes in.  I used to actually like this doctor.  "I'm putting you on what we call a 72-hour hold," he informs me.  "Is that as bad as I think it sounds?" I ask.  The doctor puts an arm around me, "you're a good man, Alex.  I've always liked you.  I know you probably hate me right now" (he sure had that right) "but this is the best thing that we can do.  After you got that restraining order from the cinema owner, you've been pretty upset, and I wouldn't want you getting in any trouble by trying to contact him to work things out.  You're a person who tries to appeal to a person's better senses, and, in this case, I don't think anyone that has to do with that theater has any sense at all, when it comes to you.  He won't, no matter how friendly you are with him, be willing to come to any sort of compromise."  I look at the ceiling, biting my cheeks in a failed attempt to stop crying. 

"So I have to go to this place for 72 hours?" I ask.  "It could be more," he tells me, "we're going to have a psychiatrist evaluate you, and when he says you can go, you can go."  "And there's nothing I can do to stop this?" I ask.  "I'm afraid not," he tells me, "not even an act of God could let you out of this one."  I can feel my blood boiling.  "I have no intention of contacting anyone that has anything to do with that theater.  You know I'm not crazy.  You're doing this because Mr. Ex-Mayor wants it done.  You're all scared of the residual power he wields.  None of you want to be held responsible if I actually did contact him.  If you screw me enough, maybe he'll give you free tickets for a year."  

The doctor looks me straight in the eye and tells me that he's doing it for my own "protection."  "No one can guarantee you won't call him, or somebody else at that theater.  If you did, you'd be violating a restraining order.  That could get you in pretty big trouble.  I know you're big on this free speech thing, and I just don't want to see you in prison.  Now, let's go."  I'm reluctant to move from where I'm at.  "I haven't even been to his crummy theater in months.  I've been driving hours and hours to avoid it, and him.  I don't want to talk to him.  I have no interest in talking to him.  I have actually never talked to him.  I am fully aware that you can't reason with this guy.  Can't I just go home and back to bed?  I think I'm getting a fever."  The doctor puts his arm around my shoulder, once again, and tells me that the decision has been made, and there's nothing I can do to change it.  "You're making a big mistake," I tell him, "if you think 72 hours will allow me to cool off, you're dead wrong.  It will only make me all the more angry.  This is not how America is supposed to work."  "Maybe you're right," the doctor says, "maybe in a few days you'll be calling me, and I'll owe you an apology."  "It's not a 'maybe'" I tell him.  The doctor starts getting upset.

"We can do this the easy way, or the hard way," he tells me.  "You have nearly a two-hour drive to the in-patient unit, and you're going to go with the police.  You can go in handcuffs, and I already know you don't like them, or you can ride in the backseat of the police car, with your brother up-front, to keep you company.  Which way do you want to do it?"  I finally give in.  "I'll do it the 'easy' way," I tell the doctor.  "Now, I trust you," he claims, and I need you to promise that, if I convince these policemen to let you go without the cuffs and with your brother, that you will behave."  "I'll behave," I promise.  

The doctor talks to the policemen, who all look like eager cats desperate for the catnip that I have suddenly become.  Finally, the one I graduated with, Slap Happy, tells me that they're going to have to put a restraining belt on me.  They wrap this black thing around my waist, and have chains with cuffs at the ends that they lock my hands in.  It's the exact same set-up that Hannibal Lecter had to wear in Silence of the Lambs.  I can't believe I'm being treated like a convicted serial-killer, all for writing a movie theater and asking which Academy Award nominees that they are getting.  Even in my panicked state, I manage to squeeze out a semi-joke, "why don't you just slap that infamous mask on my face and start calling me Hannibal?" I ask, sardonically.  Everyone lets out a nervous laugh.  At that, the cops nudge me along, to the car I'm about to be trapped in for at least 90 minutes.  I get some relief at the thought that my brother will be there.  

Right before leaving, the hospital remembers that it needs to get my vitals.  My temperature, which was normal when I came in, is now over 100 degrees.  My blood pressure, also normal when I came in is something like 173 over 107.  This isn't doing anything good for my health.  After the vitals are taken, I walk along with the cops.  I'm completely dehydrated.  I remember that my mom bought me a can of Minute Maid orange soda, and I slowly turn my head about a quarter of the way before I feel Slap Happy, my fellow high-school graduate, say "none of that" and then push me into the wall. 

I'm a cop to help people.  I'm not in this to rough people up.

I begin screaming.  My temple pressed against the thermostat and my face pressed against the brick wall.  "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" I yell, "I TURNED MY HEAD ABOUT HALF AN INCH TO ASK MY MOM IF I COULD HAVE A SIP OF HER SODA!  THIS IF FUCKING ABUSE!  GET AWAY FROM ME!"  At that, at least two other cops run up to "restrain" me.  I feel Slap Happy twisting my arm and ramming his knee into my tailbone.  Another cop takes out his nightstick and violently holds down my neck.  "YOU CAN'T DO THIS!" I scream.  "Have some respect for the other patients here," Slap Happy tells me, his rank breath blowing into my ear and nose.  "HOW CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HAVING RESPECT?" I retort, "AS YOU'RE HOLDING ME AGAINST THE WALL AND HURTING ME LIKE THIS?  I WASN'T DOING ANYTHING WRONG.  I JUST WANTED SOMETHING TO DRINK."  "Sure you did," one of the cops says, I'm not aware of which one.  "THAT'S ALL I WANTED."  

I remember that I'm in restraints, and couldn't do anything, anyway.  Me in restraints against three or four cops with every kind of weapon known to man.  Did they think I was going to pull a Matrix and magically fly up in the air, run up the wall, and come back down to kick them all in the head?  I know they couldn't have thought I was about to pull a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, being that it has subtitles, and there's no way these aggressive pricks could actually read past a 3rd grade level.  Not to mention, the theater owner cringes at anything that reeks of being artistic, so I'm sure he got Saving Silverman instead.

When the doctor and my family run up, the nightstick disappears from site, and I'm let free from the wall I had been smashed against.  Is there a class on "covering your tracks when you do something wrong" taught in pig school?  "Are you gonna behave" Slap Happy asks me.  "I never wasn't behaving," I reply.  My voice is shaking, both out of fear, and anger.  "You guys think you're so tough with your nightsticks and mace and guns," I say, "why don't you take all of those off and let's see how tough you are."  The doctor, or my mom, I have no idea which, tells me to "cool down," so I let an angry "fuckers" drip from my mouth and get ready for my ride.  

"His brother's not coming with," I hear one of the cops saying.  "Not after that."  "After what?" I wonder to myself.  "After I was abused, for NO REASON by a bunch of cops needing to take out their aggression?"

I'm a cop to help people.  I'm not in this to rough people up.

By this point I'm completely parched.  No one gives me anything to drink.  I'm locked back up in "official" handcuffs AND the restraint, and am thrown in the back of a police car that must be at least 100 degrees.  I'm never offered anything to drink.  The middle-aged cop driving me cranks out country music.  This is going to be a long ride.

Head to chapter five

2001 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].  Copy this, without my permission, and you'll find out just why white rooms are to fancy diners as stinky shit is to pretty flowers!

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