About the time you start to think about getting your sorry ass out of the Nut, this feeling of utter emptiness walks into the room and reminds you how truly fucked you are. You could call it hollowed out, drained, cleaned clear through, blue blue sky. Doesn’t matter. It’s what brought you to the Nut in the first place, what’s keeping you there. Nothing is inside you. The wind whistling between your ears is deafening, you can feel your own fingers searching around in there looking for your heart finding nada, zip, zero. It’s beyond lonely, because it’s all inside, has nothing to do with the world beyond your body, feelings for other people, their feelings for you. It’s a hole that’s so fucking lazy it doesn’t even get deeper, it just is.
Doesn’t matter that the drugs are working, the Risperdal doing its thing, the Ambien rocking you to sleep every night like a baby. Who gives a shit that the staff in the Nut is solicitous, that the other Nuts all get it, that back home the phone rings with worried calls from family and friends with the message that Everyone Cares. None of it counts. All that matters is a hot dusty breeze reminding you every waking moment of the desert inside you.
You — you’ve spent two-thirds of your life making a living with words and there are no words, just this hollow place where the words used to be, the place they came from, the fountain of words you always depended on, spoken words, written words, whispered words and shouted words, words laden with meaning, words for the sake of words, words that could lift people up, words that could slam them down, words filled with love, words burdened by hate, words thrown about carelessly, words from the deepest place in your heart. What does it feel like to lie there staring up at the fluorescent light fixture in his wire cage totally and completely devoid of words? Helpless, like you’re caught in a rip tide, left out there foundering at the mercy of this suction tugging at you, trying to bring you under. Don’t bother to open your mouth, don’t call for help. No one will hear you, because you cannot speak, you cannot be heard, you can’t even whimper, you can’t even sob.
Words made you who you are. What happened to your words, all those years of having them warm and close in your heart, giving you comfort, holding you, stroking your forehead, making you feel safe, putting you to sleep, waking you up, loving you? What about the words up there spinning around in your brain you used the way other people breathe? You, who could talk yourself out of fights and into jobs, you who whispered words on pillows and yelled them from mountainsides, you who hurled them at evil and soothed the wounded, you who spoke them and wrote them and sang them and sold them and gave them away since you were a boy writing letters to the friends you missed when you moved from one Army post to another, you who snapped off love poems and sold them for $10 to classmates at West Point to send to their girlfriends back home, you who could write 7,500 words on a political convention in a single night and file the next morning…
Where did your words go, Loosh? You for whom words were blood, water, whiskey, the stuff of life, all those lovely lovely words, they just went away. Not present for duty. AWOL. Checked out. No forwarding address.
About this time the med bed starts looking real good to you. This is not because it is a comfortable place to be, with its plastic covered mattress and polyester sheets and stinky foam pillow. It’s because thinking about getting out of the Nut scares the shit out of you. Is anyone waiting for you out there? Will they still love you? Did they ever? Where did everyone go? Can they hear you when you have no words?