Deleted scene #2
Deleted scene #2
A LOVE SONG FOR THE SAD MAN IN THE WHITE COAT
Part 1: The Mental Patient
—The Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital, Prague, August 2014—
It was early Sunday morning in August. The boy sat in a small room, the sun painting white stripes on his faded hospital gown through the prison-like window. The room was empty. Very empty. Void. No objects to manipulate, no furniture except for the heavy bed that was screwed to the floor. No decorations. What would be the point? There was literally nothing in the room except faded white paint on the walls and the bed he was sitting on. Nothing to play with, nothing to hurt himself with. Emphasis on the second. He scratched absently on the bandages on his forearms. They itched, the healing wounds under them burned when he moved his hands. Stupid. So stupid.
A nurse peeked inside and her gaze swept over the space, checking. They did that all the time. None of them knocked.
“Everything okay?” she asked, clearly an afterthought.
“The doctor will be here in few minutes.”
He nodded again.
She disappeared behind the door. Just as the door was closing, he remembered.
“What’s the time?” His voice sounded off. He realized he hadn’t used it in two days.
The head appeared again, her face impassive.
“Ten minutes after seven.”
He nodded once more. She closed the door.
He’d been here for thirty-two hours.
The minutes went by. It might have been hours. Maybe seconds. He barely moved. The dust was dancing in the sun. The day would be ugly hot again.
The door creaked and a man in a white coat came in. His sleeves were rolled up. He was older but not that old. The boy couldn’t tell. Everyone above twenty-five looked the same to him until they hit fifty or so. Then they looked still the same but in a different way. The doctor was tall. He looked strict. An adult, exuding lack of free time, a focus on results, cold calculation. The boy shifted on the bed looking away from the shrink.
The doctor brought a chair with him, placed it opposite the bed and sat down. He had a tablet, not a paper notepad. The boy couldn’t help but peer at the gadget from the corner of his eye. Nice.
Polite. The boy smirked halfheartedly.
“How are you today?”
These mundane questions. “Fine.”
The man scrutinized him. It was unpleasant. So, the boy did what he knew. He turned and looked back squarely into the doctor’s face and scowled. The doctor almost matched his expression but then looked back at the tablet, swiping his finger over it nonchalantly. Instead of becoming even more annoyed, the boy stared at the weird man with interest. His name tag said MUDr. Simon Mráz, Ph.D. The doctor had one ear scarred and all torn-up. A piece of his earlobe was missing. Seriously fucked-up. His buzz-cut made the mutilation even more prominent. It was one of those things you knew you weren’t supposed to look at but you couldn’t tear your eyes away from.
“Have you slept?”
“Do you remember what happened?”
“I got drunk and cut my wrists on Friday,” the boy answered bluntly.
The shrink didn’t move a muscle.
“Have you had contact with psychiatry before?”
The questions went one after another, like trains through a station: stop, unload, load, continue.
“Do you think you have a problem with alcohol?”
“Do you feel anxious, guilty?”
“What are your plans for the following weeks? Months?”
And on and on and on. The boy felt numb, detached, like he was observing the conversation from behind a one-way glass. There was somebody else in the white interrogation room with the one-eared shrink. She was there with the shrink. Not him.
“What’s your favorite song?”
The shrink waited, staring at him levelly.
“Radiohead? Good choice, it’s maybe a little retro for you.” The one-eared doctor almost smiled. It was more like a little facial cramp and it disappeared in a heartbeat. “So… I talked to your mother yesterday. She was very upset.”
And suddenly everything became real. The boy snorted dismissively but his hands trembled in his lap. The doctor waited for some verbal reaction but the boy refused to give anything away. After a minute the shrink spoke again.
“Then I called your brother.”
The boy stilled, blanched. That was unexpected. The shrink called Pavel? Why? A rush of warmth went through the boy’s chest but he refused to feel hopeful. It would only make things worse later.
“I have a proposition for you. But you have to answer a few more questions first. Then we might be able to make things easier for you. You ready?”
He sat in his hospital gown and bandages, his very female body scarred and altered—but not enough, never enough. And the doctor was all crispy cleaned-up with his white clothes and his technology. The imbalance of power made the boy fidget. He nodded again like a doll, unable to keep his insecurity hidden.
“Despite your mother’s statement to the police, you didn’t plan on killing yourself.” It was not a question. But the doctor lifted his eyebrows waiting for some kind of acknowledgement.
“No. It was an accident.”
“But you have a history of cutting yourself.”
“But not killing myself.” He kept his voice surprisingly steady.
“I understand. There is quite an assortment of scars on your arms, I see. Those are cigarette burns?” Jeez, the doc is casual. People never asked like that. Out-front, direct.
“You’re a shrink, right?”
“You know what self-mutilation is, right?”
“We don’t call it that anymore, officially,” the shrink remarked offhand. “And the reasons vary from person to person. I have to be sure I’m not wrong about yours before I let you out of here.”
“You’re going to let me go?”
“Not today, no. But soon, if we agree on an arrangement of sorts.”
“Answers first. You’re eighteen. You’re not legally bound to your mother anymore. But you are still dependent on her, are you not?”
The boy grew somber. This was a strange topic. And a very uncomfortable one. He’d rather talk about the scars the whole fucking day. They could catalogue every single one of them: date, measurements, tools used. They could make a party out of it. But talking about his freaking mother? “I want to finish school.”
“You have one year to go, is that correct?”
“What are you planning on doing after you finish applied art?”
“I… I was going to start apprenticing in a tattoo parlor this summer.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“Mother said she’d throw me out.”
“Ah.” The doc typed something on his tablet.
“Did your mother ever hit you?”
“Fuck no!” That earned him a lifted eyebrow. He couldn’t stop the grimace forming on his face.
The shrink typed some more, displaying no emotion whatsoever. “So, all the injuries you’ve had over the past two years were self-induced, is that correct?” He could have been a freaking android.
“Yes,” the boy tried to be equally impassive. He failed. His knee was bouncing up and down. He couldn’t take it anymore “You said you talked to my brother. What did he say?” he asked, and his voice shook. Dammit.
“Yes, he told me you weren’t allowed to contact each other for several years. That must have been hard. Your mother told him recently that you weren’t interested in seeing him anymore. I surmised that was untrue.”
The boy’s heart started beating fast, blood rushed into his cheeks. He felt the heat radiating from his face. “That’s bullshit! I wanted to see him! I wanted to find him,” he paused. There were more words flying around in his head. He couldn’t catch them. “I just didn’t.” So lame.
“I understand.” No, you don’t. “I thought maybe we could add to your documentation that you wish to stop your mother from getting information about your health and your time in here. Unless you give it to her yourself. How about that?”
What? The boy blinked. They could do that?
“Okay,” the boy said in a low voice, carefully.
“If you agree, your brother would like to pick you up when you get out of here in a few days. He offered to let you stay with his family until you’re done with school. Is that something that might make your life easier?”
Seconds went by. “He doesn’t know.”
“He does know about your accident. A friend of yours contacted him, apparently.”
The boy cringed. “He doesn’t know about… the other stuff.”
“About you being transgender? He knows. He says he’d figured it out some time ago.”
The boy gaped.
“Mister Makel, you had your eighteenth birthday weeks ago. You are an adult now. You can make decisions about your life. I understand you have to think about this. We’ll talk again in two days. Your brother would like to visit you today. You can speak to him and then you can tell me what you’ve decided.”
“You said ‘mister.’ I’m a girl.”
The doctor cocked his head. “I’m sorry. Have I misunderstood your situation?”
The boy saw a sliver of hope shine through the doctor’s green eyes. He shook his head infinitesimally. He was so not a girl.
“I’ve put you on antidepressants but it is not a heavy dose, and we’ll probably phase those out after three months. I’m confident you’re going to be fine. But I strongly recommend for you to attend therapy sessions. When you decide to transition, there are many people who will be able to help you. There’s a lady I’m going to put you in touch with. Her name is Hana Poláková and she is a very experienced psychologist. Since you are a student, the sessions will be covered by your insurance of course.”
The doctor still spoke as detached as if he hadn’t just disrupted the boy’s life completely. The boy couldn’t respond. His brain was overflowing.
He took in the shrink’s easy posture, his long limbs folded around the tiny chair like a spider’s legs. The doctor still looked stony, unapproachable, impossible to argue with. His facial expression, his measured tone, and overall cold demeanor were in stark contrast to what he was actually saying. The boy was scared to believe it.
He could move out. He could live with Pavel. He’d be left in peace.
“Is my mother here?” he blurted suddenly accosted by yet another wave of fear.
“No. But she will probably try to visit you during the day. Do you want to see her?”
“No!” he said. Too fast and too loud. But the doctor, MUDr. Simon Mráz, Ph.D., didn’t even blink.
“Okay. And your brother?”
“Yes, I want to see him. He’s coming today?”
“Yes, he said he will visit after lunch.”
The boy exhaled.
The doctor stood, taking the chair with him again. It was sobering to watch. It squashed some of the fresh hope the boy was feeling. The shrink noticed of course.
“There are still rules,” he said in the cold level voice that seemed to be his trademark.
The shrink stopped with the door open, the folding chair in one hand, tablet tucked under his arm.
“You might want to try the tattoo parlor again soon. It would be beneficial for your recovery to have a goal, an occupation of sorts. Are you any good?”
The boy shrugged. What was he supposed to say to that? He could draw. But he hadn’t touched a tattoo gun yet.
“You have any tattoos?” he asked instead.
But the shrink only cracked a smile. No, not a smile. It was again the half-grimace, like a crippled dying version of a real smile. “I will see you on Tuesday. I will inform the personnel that you do not wish to be contacted by your mother.”
The boy blinked and nodded.
He didn’t thank the man. He would later, maybe. It was still all talk. Who knew if the shrink could pull it off? Why did he bother anyway? For the young boy in the empty hospital room, hope was a dangerous and painful thing.