by Josselin Kohl
The psychiatrists anticipate that it will be difficult to move Justin from the loft to the psychiatric facility, and they arrive prepared with burly men in white coats and all sorts of restraining devices. But in the end, all it takes is Brian standing near the loft door, holding out his hand and calling, “Justin, it’s time to go.” And Justin comes over and takes his hand, giving Brian a wide grin even, and follows him down to the ambulance, glancing around himself and humming a little bit the way Gus does in the park.
When they get there, Justin moves to get out of the back agreeably enough, but Brian stops him by tugging on the hand he’s still holding. He pulls Justin back, and uses his other hand to cup Justin’s cheek, looking into guileless eyes. He leans in close and presses his lips chastely to Justin’s cheek as a last goodbye. Betrayal with a kiss.
Once inside the facility, Justin’s eyes begin to flicker around the facility skeptically—he doesn’t like it, or he’s starting to pick up on the tension surrounding Brian and his mother. They are led to Justin’s new room, which has sterile white bedding and disgusting mint green walls. Justin has a private room in the best facility in the state, because Brian looked everything up, and when Jennifer protested that she wasn’t sure if Craig’s insurance would cover it, Brian insisted that he’d pay the difference.
Neither Jennifer nor Brian know quite what to say—one of the nurses is giving them a little spiel about the facilities, but Brian’s attention is still on Justin, who everyone seems to be pretending doesn’t exist.
The real trauma begins when one of the orderlies takes away Justin’s colander. Justin shouts a protest, and reaches for it, the orderly holding it away and above his head, and Justin jumps for it like a little kid, screaming.
“Jesus Christ,” Brian swears. “What are you doing? Give him the fucking colander.”
“It’s regulations,” the orderly says, still holding the colander up above his head. “Violent patients aren’t allowed to have anything metal.”
“Besides,” the nurse chimes in, “it’s not good to encourage delusional behavior. Patients have the best prognosis when their delusions are countered with rational explanations.”
“Well start fucking explaining,” Brian barks, gesturing towards Justin, who has now collapsed on the floor, wracked with sobs. “You’re fucking torturing him.”
The nurse dismisses Justin with a glance. “He wouldn’t listen right now. Don’t bother indulging this kind of tantrum.”
Brian swears again, and leaves, slamming out the doors and finally finding himself out in front of the facility, leaning his palms against Jennifer’s sedan and swearing. He gets out a cigarette, blatantly ignoring the “No smoking on the premises,” signs.
Jennifer eventually emerges from building as well. “They said we can come back during visiting hours, if we want,” she says tentatively, but Brian doesn’t respond, he’s staring off into the sky.
Jennifer waits for a moment, then gets her keys out of her purse and beeps the doors of her car unlocked. “Where would you like me to drop you off?” She asks Brian.
He doesn’t say anything, but after she gets into the car, he opens the passenger door and slides into the seat. Jennifer looks over, and she can just make out a tear sliding down his cheek. “My office,” Brian says finally, and his voice is remarkably steady.
Jennifer backs the car out of the lot and starts to head downtown. “Brian, if you need any help with any of his things or anything—“
“I’ll be fine,” Brian interrupts, still staring resolutely out the window.
Jennifer nods, gripping the steering wheel tightly. “All right.”
TO BE CONTINUED