Route 7 Review - Page 123

kill him and his family members one by one. He wanted to snap their cocking heads and see them twitch and die in their own blood, but he was too afraid to touch them. The fact that he could never get close enough to kill one was part of the fear. They were too fast. He was afraid to purchase a gun because the crows might just force him to turn it on himself. Even if he killed hundreds, he knew that a thousand more would hatch from eggs gestating in nests of thorns beneath a mocking autumn moon. “Jimmy, you’re zoning out.” Jeffries waved his hand in front of Jimmy’s eyes. Before Jimmy could reply, the one sound he dreaded most in the world found its way through the open window and into his ear drums. Ca-caw! After the meltdown in Dr. Jeffries’ office, Jimmy was strapped to a stretcher, loaded into an ambulance, transported to Van Wie Psychiatric Hospital. He stayed there for a week and a half, but beds were in constant demand and his father’s insurance would not cover the full two weeks he needed, so he was discharged early. Though he was glad to be home, the treatment had been incomplete. All they did was remove one Z and put a T, Thorazine, in its place. He found that this new regimen only muddied his thought processes instead of addressing the actual problem. It made it difficult for him to arrive at any concise emotion besides complacency. His sense of identity had been melon-balled out. Each day he’d go for long walks, usually ending up at the mall where he’d spend all of his cash on Taco Bell, candy bars and CDs. Boosting his serotonin levels was his only motivator. Even on the new meds, Jimmy felt dull twinges of nervousness every time he saw a crow. Whenever this happened, he’d perform a mental exercise his counselor at the hospital had taught him. He would focus on the spaces in between thoughts, and picture negative thoughts as boxcars just going on by. As time went on and the unwanted thoughts became more intrusive, Jimmy found he ha d to do this exercise often. Thirty days after his discharge, he had to perform it once every other minute. There were just too many crows and other birds pecking, flapping, twitching, and arrogantly cocking their heads. They reminded him of his mother, whose cancer had spread to her brain. His father had broken that news over dinner. Upon hearing it, Jimmy speared his piece of steak with a fork, threw his plate against the wall and stormed upstairs. Instead of sleeping that night, he ruminated over the empty socket behind his mother’s eyepatch: a hole infinitely black, similar to a crow’s eye. What kind of consciousness dwelled behind those glassy marbles? How did crows perceive the world around them? What did they think of us if, in fact, they thought at all? After another couple of weeks, Jimmy began to hate his meds. The dizzy spells when he stood up and the overall blankness of his mood bothered him more than anything. He stopped taking them. His abstinence from medication lasted only a month. When the police found him ranting and raving about crows in the middle of a city park, he was immediately sent back to Van Wie. Most days, in between therapy groups, he sat on the floor of his room drawing diagrams of crows with a black marker and labeling each of their organ systems in red. He wanted to understand them. What foul magic made them run? Whose sinister design were they? He had to find out. The stability of his existence depended on it. He was in the middle of labeling a diagram of a crow’s heart when he heard a knock on the door. “Jimmy?” A staff person named Edwin was at the door. “You have a phone call.” Edwin led Jimmy to a phone booth with a Plexiglas door. Jimmy flopped into the chair and lifted the receiver. “Hello?” “Hi, Jimmy, it’s Dad.” “Oh. Hey, Dad. What do you want?” “Jimmy, it’s about your mother.” Jimmy’s heart sank. He already knew the outcome of this conversation. “The doctors say she’s got about a month to live.”