Wednesday, July 06, 2011

F3, Cycle 38, The Unwanted Man

"It's time for your medication Mr. Smith," the nurse intoned with as much of her sunny disposition as she could.

"B-bugger off! And my name isn't S-smith. S-stop calling me that." Smith returned to staring out the window, searching the horizon, always searching. He couldn't say what it was that he was looking for but he kept hoping that something would pop up and he would suddenly be gifted with everything he had lost.

The nurse handed him his little white tablet and held out the tumbler of water. "Well what would you like to be called then? Somehow being refered to as a surly pain in the ass doesn't have quite the same ring to it now does it?" Her frosty smile at her own sense of humor rubbed Smith the wrong way but he gulped down the pill and the water if for no other reason than it would send her on her way all the faster. She turned on her heel and left the room to finish her rounds of pill pushing to the drooling imbeciles on the ward. She met the doctor at the door. "Be careful with him today Dr. Kroger. He's in a right state," she warned. Dr. Kroger nodded and gave a knowing smile. He sat down in a chair next to Smith and opened a file, uncapped his pen and looked Smith over with a critical eye.

Smith was of an average height and build with sandy blonde hair. No tattoos or obvious scars other than the small, pink pucker at his right temple where the bullet had entered his head a year and a half ago. He had been found in an alleyway, shot, presumably mugged since no wallet, watch or phone had been found on him. The surgeon who had removed the slug had said it was a tricky business but Smith had quickly regained his strength, but not his memory. The surgeon swore that it would return in time but all Smith could recall for certain was a few dirty words in French and the phone number of a pizza place two blocks from where he had been found. His fingerprints weren't on file anywhere and posters in the neighborhood had turned up zilch.  They had only taken to calling him Smith as they needed something for the forms. "Good morning Mr. Smith," Dr. Kroger began.

"Oh, h-hello Doc. I didn't notice you come in. I-I was hoping you'd be by. I was kinda looking forward to a cig-cigarette. Have ya got one?" Smith's eyes brightened at the prospect. He knew he could only smoke under supervision and the nurses just didn't have the time nor inclination. Dr. Kroger shook two from the pack and lit them both. Smith inhaled deeply and closed his eyes at the rapture of the nicotine. "Ah, now," he grinned, "what did y-you want to talk about today?" Try as he might, Smith just couldn't lose the stutter. The surgeon didn't think he ever would.

"Well, I just wanted to check in. You know, to see if you had remembered anything new. Something that we could use to track down your friends or family. You've been with us here at Shady Acres for some time now Smith and I'm sure you are eager to return to your life." Dr. Kroger took a puff of his own cigarette and tried not to think about the fact that funding for keeping Smith had run out two months ago and it was only his stalling and reshuffling of paperwork that had kept Smith from being turned out on the street.

Smith grinned as he examined the lengthening ash on his cigarette, "N-now that you mention it Doc, something occurred to me yesterday."

"Anything would help," Dr. Kroger encouraged, "What was it?"

Smith snickered, "Y-yesterday Nurse Kelly dropped my anti-depression pill on the floor and as she bent over to pick it up, I recalled that I was more of an ass man than a big tit man. I-if that's of any use, please put it down in my f-file."

Dr. Kroger made a big show of putting a large check-mark in the folder. "Well we know you are heterosexual which I guess is something. I'll write it in next to the fact that you are right handed," Dr. Kroger chuckled. "On a more serious note, I have someone who wants to see you." Dr. Kroger noticed how Smith stiffened with fear at the prospect. "It's all right. It will only take a moment. It's a long shot, but she is the only one to have answered our ad so far. Be brave Smith, and come on." Smith stubbed out his smoke in an empty coffee cup and rose slowly to his feet. Dr. Kroger noticed the sweat that beaded his forehead and upper lip as he slowly followed him to the door. "Sweet Jesus," the doctor prayed, "let this be the one." He lead Smith to the visitor room and ushered him in.

Smith seated himself at the stainless steel table on a chair that was bolted to the floor. "I....I'm ready" he mumbled. Dr. Kroger opened the other door on the far side of the room and a woman walked in. She nervously crossed the room and sat in the only other chair. Her eyes never left Smith. They stared at each other for a full minute before Dr. Kroger broke the silence. "Smith, this is Ellie Griffin. Ms. Griffin, this is Mr. Smith."

Ellie fumbled in her purse and produced a tissue to dab at the single tear that slid from her eye. "It's Mrs. Griffin actually. And your name isn't Smith. It's Gary Oscar Griffin. Your buddies at the department store call you Merv as a nickname. Your birthday is October seventeenth and your favorite food is your mother's meatloaf but you always say that mine is almost as good. At Christmas, you always play Santa. You like to garden and raise tomatoes but you hate ketchup. You vote in every election but always vote out the incumbant. You hate sports but always watch the Olympics. You cry at movies and blame it on alleregies that you don't have. You love dirty jokes and you can translate them into the little bit of French you learned in high school. You...oh God, at last I've found you!" She covered her face and wept. Smith reached out and took her hand and she clutched it with all of her strength.

"I-I've missed you Ellie," was all he could manage to say. She looked up at him and smiled as if the light in her life had been ignited again. Dr. Kroger counted that moment as one of the most rewarding of his career. He was even a little choked up himself.

Dr. Kroger waived from the front steps of the sanitarium as the cab pulled away and Mr. and Mrs. Griffin waved back. Gary settled back in the seat and said, "I can't wait to see our home. Y-you say we've got a garden? Oh that will be nice," his eyes drifted to her's and his grin betrayed the extremity of his joy.

"Oh well," she thought to herself, "at least this Mr. Griffin will be better than the last one. I can train him to be the husband I want and not the drunken lout that had the good sense to get himself lost at sea on a fishing trip. Besides," she reasoned, "this one might be good in bed."


  1. Great story, but somehow I figure the dude will not last long under the circumstances. Correct me if I am wrong but this had a film noir feel.

  2. I really like this story and I'm not certain why. Perhaps it is because two people get a second chance at life and how often does that happen? Smith gets a life that isn't his but it doesn't seem to be a bad life. Ellie gets a warm and loving husband that makes her empty house a home. Dr. Kroger gets the satisfaction of helping a patient who truly needs his help and the nurse is relieved that she doesn't have to put up with the surly Mr. Smith anymore. It is a win-win situation. I tried to make it a little funny as mental illness isn't really that light of a topic. I wasn't shooting for dirty but that is just the way it came out.

    I wanted to do a story about amnesia but if there ever was a more cliched story line, I don't know it, so I felt I had to be more than a little careful and tread lightly. The set up of being shot in the head and losing ones memory I lovingly lifted from a little known Harrison Ford movie called "Regarding Henry". It is the tale of a man who is shot and slowly learns that he was an evil bastard before, only to become this wonderful human being on regaining his memory. I would highly recommend seeing it if you haven't. It is a quiet and subtle movie and a far cry from anything that most people would connect Ford with.

    I chose this prompt for a reason as I have known those who grappled with madness. I dedicate this story to those who struggle every day with sadness and confusion, and may God have mercy on us all.


  3. I liked it. The ending is a good one, and a nice twist on the amnesia tale. And you create sympathy for the fellow very well.
    I'd suggest a brief mention of Mrs. Griffin being top-heavy or flat in the back, to give the doc a bit of doubt.

  4. Having problems with blogger today. Anyway, Nice low key story with lots of potential for mayhem. What if he begins to recover his memory. The Bourne Identity redux. Well done Doc

  5. Nice twist! I enjoyed reading your story.

  6. A tricky subject well handled, and I liked the twist. Good stuff!

  7. I loved this, I totally did not expect the turn at the end! Awesome job (:

  8. Excellent story, Doc! You have created a very sympathetic character here.

    I love the "light" touch, so to speak. You are right... mental illness is no laughing matter, but... a touch of humor doesn't hurt.... trust me!

    I did see Regarding Henry some years ago... cried like a baby, I did!! Now that you have mentioned it, I want to see it again.

    I LOVE the ending... that is fantastic!!! Mrs. Griffin is nothing if not resourceful... I would so love to be invisible in that household for a while! LOL!!!

    I thoroughly enjoyed every word... well done... well done!! :)

  9. I love it when a plan comes together! Nice story!

  10. Great story, yet again, Doc! Loved the finish-up - Ellie gets her man.

    (It put me a little in mind of 'Overboard' - when mega-bitch Goldie Hawn falls off a boat and loses her memory only to be 'claimed' by Kurt Russell, a former employee, who pretends to be her husband with the intention of carting her off to his awful home and wayward three sons to exact revenge!)

    Then again, what if Smith recovered his memory as a wife killer....! :-o

    (btw, my comments are not 'beer-fuelled ravings' - I'm stone cold sober! As for sane..........!?)

  11. What a fine story! I did not expect that little twist at the end, in fact was all ready to shed a little tear at the happy reunion, when it blindsided me. Despite Ellie's machinations, this could work out for them both very well.


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