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Exercise #26: Not Wearing It

Dr. Schollman says it doesn’t matter if I wear my hat or not, and that the important thing is that I take the pills, take all the pills, take the pills every day, the blue pills that the pharmacist counts with big steel tweezers on a white tray into the bottle one two three four five and so on until there is one for every day of the month and then I am supposed to come back for more, But it’s very important, Billy, says the pharmacist—this is the pharmacist talking to me now, not Dr. S—It’s very important, Billy, that you take your pill every day.

But I know that the pills are like the hat in the way Dr. S and the pharmacist see the world, the pills are like my hat for not having to see the men without eyes who sit on benches, the men with glasses but no eyes who ride the subway, standing just behind someone, standing out of sight when I look again to see if what I saw the first time was right, that there is a man without eyes who follows me onto the subway, who sits in the park, who sits by the carousel like he is waiting for someone, but I know that it is me that he is waiting for.

Dr. S says, In any case, if these men are real, which I do not concede that they are, mind you, but if these men are real, Billy, do you see any reason to believe that they mean you any harm? And I think I am being very clever when I say that what I see isn’t as important as what they see, since they are the men with no eyes, and when I leave his office, there is one of them using the ATM across the street, I can see the bare smooth eyeless skin of his face reflected in the stainless steel panel above the machine, and I know that he is watching me, though he doesn’t know I know.

I know because I am not wearing my hat. I always see better when I am not wearing it.

Note: The prompt was to write about a piece of clothing that your character refused to wear. Sometimes I like an opportunity to go to a crazy place. Makes me appreciate my sanity, such as it is.

© 2010 Edward F. Gumnick

This post is an exercise that I wrote as part of the Fall 2008 50/50 Workshop, on which I began work in September 2008. (I’m still—again—working on it as of August 2010.) Read a description of the 50/50 workshop, or view all of the Fall 2008 50/50 posts.

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