He was in the loony bin for erratic behavior.
December 20, 2013
A VG Serial: Borrowed to the Bone
The phone call from Colleen woke Ben Tom in the middle of the night. Her voice was an odd combination of terror, anger and slurred speech. “You need to come up here and get your brother. They got him in the loony bin.”
It was mid-morning when Ben Tom finished filling out the paperwork, paying fines and pleading his case to get Willy out of Timberlawn Psychiatric Facility. Willy had almost killed a Mexican that had made advances to his daughter. Colleen had called the police. Willy had resisted. In the Dallas County Jail, he had stabbed a fellow inmate with a pencil. The inmate had broken three of his ribs and damaged his spleen beyond repair.
A week later, the hospital that removed his spleen sent him to Timberlawn because of his erratic behavior. Colleen was fine with Willy being in jail or in a hospital, but not in Timberlawn, not a mental hospital.
Paperwork finally approved, Ben Tom helped Willy into his new Dodge dualie and drove him home. A foreclosure sign was in the yard and a seizure notice for back taxes was tacked to the front door. Willy’s pickup was up on blocks with the hood up. Colleen was under the porch.
“I see your wife is still nuts.”
“It’s that Butamol she takes for asthma.”
“Looks more like crystal meth to me. Either that or she needs to be taking something to calm her down and is not taking it. Thought you got her on some prescriptions.”
Colleen’s claws scratched at Ben Tom’s window. She seemed to have flown from under the porch like a witch on a broom. He rolled down the window and she looked at him with red, slanted, dead eyes. She stared at Ben Tom but spoke to Willy. “See your rich brother has finally decided to pay us a visit. Well, I’ll tell you this. He aint’ welcome here. Him in his new truck and nice clothes.”
Willy stared straight ahead, as if staring into her eyes would put him under her spell. “Least he got me out of that nut hospital. More than you can say.”
Colleen waved her hand to include the coyote’s house, their shack, the well and Willy’s shop. “Your do-good brother left us behind in this shithole to deal with all the problems while he moved out to the sticks.”
Ben Tom could think of nothing other than his beautiful, gentle, soft-spoken Penny and his two handsome well-behaved children. He wanted nothing more than to be home with them at that moment. He turned to his brother. “Get some clothes. You’re going home with me till you get well.”
Willy did not move a muscle. Ben Tom opened the door. “Okay, I’ll go get you some clothes.”
Ben Tom had only been in the house a couple of times before. The stench was overwhelming as he entered. He was shocked at what he saw. Visqueen had been tacked to the living room ceiling and it drooped. When he touched it with a finger, water sloshed and some spilled out. The electricity was off, the commodes stopped up, and no water came from the kitchen faucet. He felt Colleen’s dark presence behind him. He turned to face her. “Where are the kids?”
Willy came in the door in time to answer. Colleen left like she could not bear to be in the same room as Willy. “Waylon is in prison for burglary. Ruth Ann run off with a Mexican. She’s carrying his bastard child.”
“Why have you let the place go like this? At least you could fix the roof. Woulda been easier than hanging that Visqueen.”
“Been trying to stay out of sight. You forget what I told you was in my well? People see me on the roof liable to come by and pluck me off like shooting fish in a barrel. Besides, I spend a good deal of my time watching that Jap art and looking out for the King of Diamonds. I told you he came by and threatened me.”
“And I told you he was in jail and probably dead. Are you working any?”
“Transmission’s out on my truck. I hocked my work trailer and they sold it out from under me. They still got my tools, though. Maybe you could loan me enough to get ‘em out.”
Ben Tom felt helpless for the first time in his life. But only momentarily. He helped Willy stuff some clothes in a garbage bag. “You were right when you said you wanted to get your family out of this hellhole. Should have stayed where you were down there.”
Willy nodded toward the front porch, where Colleen spent most of her time. “She ain’t ever going back out to the country.
“I’ll be back tomorrow with my tools. See what I can fix.”
Ben Tom felt wealth-guilt as he stepped into his ’95 Red Dodge and drove away.
Chapters of the serial are published on Friday.
You can learn more about Borrowed to the Bone and other titles by Jim H. Ainsworth on his Amazon Author Page.