”All the lonely people...Where do they all come from? All the lonely people...Where do they all belong?”Just as he reached for the fence, Edward could feel the dogs tug his right shoe and tear the bottom of his overalls. He leaped, and fell prostrate, letting his body be dragged, feeling the heat of hounds’ breath. His hands dug into the tilled soil, and he gagged on the smell of manure. “I don’t belong here!” he shouted. “He’ll kill me if I don’t get out! ...HeHehe! SHUT UP! I’m gonna slit your neck in your sleep, Eddie boy,” someone else who shared his tormented body growled.
–"Elinor Rigby" The Beatles
St. Johnland, 1880:
Back in Men’s Cottage B, it took four nurses and two doctors to get him into the straps. They faced him toward the window, sitting up on the gurney, to prevent him from drowning in his own snot and tears. The window had a calming effect on Edward, and the straps prevented him from harming himself.
In a woman’s voice, Edward sung himself to sleep, focusing on the field flowers he had picked and taped to the top right corner of his window.
“Hush little baby, don’t say a word, mama’s gonna buy you a mockin’ bird…” Tomorrow would be different.
In a small office the size of a closet, Dr. Mack pulled a ledger off a giant shelf and opened to Edward’s file. Filling his pen with ink he scratched a note in the book. “With three days observation, Edward may be allowed to return to work in the kitchen.”
Evelyn looked at the clock. 2:45 A.M. Although her sleepwalking episodes ceased with the discovery of the book in the basement, she now had a new problem: insomnia. The ledger was fascinating, and she couldn’t stop reading it. She was on a quest for these names. The faceless men in Cottage B had a story to tell. Anyway, what else did she have to do on a Friday night?
She opened her laptop and popped up her email. “Evelyn, Got your message. Meet me at Reese’s tomorrow at 2 p.m. We’ll talk about the “funny farm.” Just kidding. (Not Really).
Jeff liked his coffee black, strong enough to discover undissolved coffee grinds at the finish of a cup. He had a vested interest in research related to the Kings County Asylum, since he was the curator of the local history museum and his father owned a 1/3 of the neighboring property. He had maps and documents spread on the table when Evelyn arrived.
“Wow, this really is a working lunch.” Evelyn said, pulling off her coat and pushing aside the menu beside her paper napkin. They had met in grad school, and back then, Jeff had a vested interest in acquiring her. However, that was ancient history, and involved a scathing rejection. Now, he just wanted her book, the treasure from Jack Thurman’s barn.
“You know, he really did not have the right to take that ledger.” Jeff said. It was the private property of the hospital.
Evelyn picked up a crayon from a cup next to the ketchup and drew on her napkin. “But he did, and now I own it.” It’s not that I’m not open to selling it to you Jeff, or even giving it to you for posterity and local history’s sake. When I’m done with my …project.”
“Well, are you going to let me in on this mysterious project?”
“Maybe, when I’m through with it if you tell me everything you know about Kings County Asylum.” Evelyn said.
Jeff picked up his menu and stacked the documents up next to him in the booth. “Alright, these maps are for you to borrow. Now order. We’re going on a little field trip after lunch.”
To Be Continued...
-Above picture taken from The history of Kings Park Psychiatric Center website