Crazy. Lunatic. Nuts. Fruit cake. Insane. Strange. Freak. Weirdo. Queer. Odd. What do these words have in common? Peculiar derogatory statements, thought Cameron Smythe. He had no idea of the term “crazy” or of its similarly insulting puns.
In certain countries before the concept was recognised, all their people were considered “normal”. Witch doctors were a part of the community like the postman was today. However, when foreigners arrived, the witch doctors and shamans were deemed insane and introduced the concept of mental illness to the native population. If anything, the Western concept of crazy was perhaps normal to the average person as globalisation most likely played a key role in making the world a smaller and familiar place. But that’s a different story altogether.
The story here is about Cameron Mitchell Smythe. Aged 29. The tale of tape recorded his height of 5’11” and weighing in at 180 pounds. At first glance, a passerby would think to themselves, “What a nice person, he seems incredibly secure. Not a sign of distress attached to his soul”. There were two schools of thought here. They would be right in saying so because Smythe’s actions over the past week seemed justified as Dr. Greenhalgh pumped over thirty-odd liters of AB+ blood into his veins. Considering the place Smythe was in, injuries were common but not to such an extent where someone cuts their wrists with a pair of garden shears, discharge after discharge, at the same wound.
The other school of thought was how wrong people could be about Smythe because he was doing it on purpose. Smythe was in a place called Kriswood State Penitentiary, a prison located a number of miles from the city and six feet from a shallow grave if one gave another a dirty look. As such, Smythe tried to keep his well-educated head down but it proved to no avail as he constantly had his head shoved down some dark orifice of the prison. He believed they were jealous because unlike most of the animals here, he finished high school with a state average entry score and, unlike the very mass majority, attended university eventually earning his Bachelor in Business (Public Relations) after three years full-time. He finished in the top four in his year and upon graduation, became a junior associate at some lowly firm. The other top three now work for NASA, BP and AXA.
Slowly but surely, Smythe worked his way up to partner after three years and patted himself on the back by awarding himself with cars, alcohol, houses and gold digging girlfriend after gold digging girlfriend. Most weekends consisted of Smythe, his girlfriend at the time and his “entourage” hitting up the clubs and pubs. Jagerbombs were a good way to get the night started and he even tried the dreaded Suicide Bomber. On one particular weekend on an unusually chilly spring night, Smythe downed somewhere between six to thirty Jagerbombs in one hour (he couldn’t remember which) and his later transgressions made him a resident in Kriswood State.
Due to his clean record, and first criminal one, he was given one year at the prison; a light sentence. Not bad considering the rampage, cost of damages, broken bones, spilt blood, destruction of native fauna and disorderly conduct.
“Holy shit,” said his lawyer with a sigh of relief following sentencing. “I thought you had no chance. It was like sticking your dick in a ball of razor wire. But you got out of that like diarrhoea after a night of spicy curry.”
In all honesty about the fauna, Smythe had no idea the Blue Eyed Blue Jay was one in five hundred left in the state. If anything that was the sole reason he was incarcerated, for accidentally stomping on a bird in a drunken haze. But witnesses claimed he stomped on it repeatedly. He didn’t recall doing it repeatedly. Once, maybe, but repeatedly was stretching it.
Paranoia was now a way of life for Smythe. Three months incarceration did things to a sane mind. Rationality became a footnote, flight was more a priority than fight. In the past, he left all his problems to his sexy long-legged secretary, his accountant or his dog. Now he had to cope with his issues head on. He had every reason to be paranoid and desperate. It was prison. More times than not, other inmates would harass him and steal his belongings. Gangs ranging from every pure blood race to sociopaths to rock spiders wanted a piece of him because he was the new “fish”. He hated them all, loathed them all. He didn’t belong and now he had to deal with it by himself. His crime was minuscule compared to the other inmates such as raping children, burning down orphanages and murdering girl scouts to name a few. But to survive, he had to fight the insanity and solve this problem, and was constantly reminded he wasn’t the best at strategic planning.
When Lucy, his girlfriend, showed up for visiting hours and he discussed his “master” plan with her, her eyes blew up to the size of balloons and her lips went all pouty. He hated it when her lips ended up that way. She instantly turned into a subpar kisser; a complete turn-off.
“Are you crazy?” Lucy screamed across the table.
“I’ve been in here for, what, three months now? I’ve been robbed and beaten. What am I supposed to do?” replied Smythe firmly.
“Have you lost your mind?” she hissed.
“Lady, I won’t have a mind if this goes on. I have to hurt myself.”
“There has to be a better way.”
“That’s what your mother said when she gave birth to you!”
Lucy paused, slowly grinding her teeth into a fine powder. “Fine, I’m leaving. I’ll still be here next week…”
“No! I’m leaving! Bitch!”
He instantly regretted that decision. Essentially, Smythe was in a dilemma. A trifecta of constant bullying, beatings and robberies led to “penetration” and he wasn’t having any of that. He had to think fast to avoid all the fears and punishments he would experience. Inmates like Roland Grixs, Murdoch and Carlton scared the shit out of him and the gay inmate, Ecston, grossed him out more than performing enema with bin juice while having electrodes attached to his balls. In the meantime, going toe to toe with Jimbo Dicker was a mission in its own considering the white boy thought he was black and spoke English like he received a lobotomy. Smythe had reason to fear Dicker because he was a moron and morons in prison got people killed. So Smythe kept his distance in the event he was to be stabbed by the dumbfuck.
Also, a visit from his lawyer didn’t ease his mind in the slightest. The spectacle-wearing sleazeball from an overpaid law firm gave him advice on how to deal with life behind bars ranging from working out, not affiliating with gangs, not doing drugs and strangely, to fully take off his underwear when using the can. It was better to look stupid fighting than to be stupid getting beaten up with your pants down. Literally and metaphorically.
“You’re a lawyer. How do you know all this?” said Smythe.
Smythe took the advice from the sleazeball but the crafty prisoners, in all their guile, were far more cunning than anticipated. The attacks continued, his life more at risk. His plan of the century came after those three months in prison and after venting to Lucy, he was feeling a lot better about himself.
There was reason to fear prison based on the fact that he could be killed at any moment, at any time. He wanted to live. It was an injustice to have him incarcerated for a small offense. Who gave two shits about a bird? The flying pests… But how to get out? He used his over-educated brain and thought of escape but that wasn’t plausible. Transferring to another prison was out of the question as his transfer papers got lost in the mail. He tried talking to Warden Vichis about being sent to solitary confinement and was met with laughter and denial; there was simply not enough room to accommodate his needs and he was in no immediate danger. Smythe argued but Warden Vichis laughed sadistically and would only move Smythe if there was an explicit threat to actually kill him. His efforts to bullshit a threat were paper thin and met with more laughter.
Self-harm was his last resort, the only way. The objective was to not commit suicide - that would’ve defeated the purpose of trying to remain alive during his one year sentence. No, he wanted to hurt himself so badly that he’d be admitted to the infirmary where he would be under constant watch from the COs (correctional officers) hence no one could hurt him. And here’s where the genius in Smythe came out. He signed on for gardening duties and when no one was looking, he slit his wrist with a pair of garden shears.
This came with mixed results. He achieved his primary objective of avoiding the prisoners for four whole days while he recuperated. The bad news was that he was scared stiff at the sight of other peoples’ blood from Lucy’s used tampons to his own. A simple nosebleed caused him to run around in circles for several minutes. A self-inflicted cut to the wrist caused him to run around in larger circles for several minutes before tripping over his own foot and knocking himself out on the steel door handle of the shed. He freaked out again, almost killing himself from shock when Dr. Greenhalgh transfused blood into his body just to save his life. Following heavy sedation, a slap to the face that was swept under the rug and four days rest, Dr. Greenhalgh discharged Smythe from the infirmary.
“Okay, Smythe. You take care now, I’ll see you later,” said the doctor gently.
“Yes… I’ll see you later also. Yes…” Smythe grinned cunningly.
Smythe was back in the same bed thirty minutes later. He found a piece of broken glass and cut himself, again resulting in him running around in large circles and knocking himself out as he tumbled down the stairs like an out of control slinky. Dr. Greenhalgh was more generous this time: six days in the infirmary. Smythe thought if he wanted to be in the infirmary, why not let the prisoners beat the living shit out of him? After all, both parties were in a win-win. It was the easier option but more dangerous. It’s like trying to direct a blind driver to a destination, it just wasn’t feasible. No, it’s easier if I hurt myself, he thought and left the conversation with his conscience at that.
During his second stay in the infirmary, he was blissfully left to his own devices. To him, in Kriswood, this was the closest thing to paradise. He got breakfast in bed, his bedpan made and he could do a shit on the floor and no one would blame him. He was injured. Injured people got away with anything besides necrophilia. Essentially, he got what he wanted and that was safety from the more aggressive and harrying inmates. It was good to be surrounded, albeit shortly, with people of intelligence like Dr. Greenhalgh. One day short of a week, Dr. Greenhalgh waved one finger at Smythe’s one open eye.
“Now, be very careful with what you do. I don’t want to see you like this anymore.”
Smythe nodded but immediately forgot what he said upon his exit. While he was escorted back to his cell, Smythe feverously thought of ways to hit that jackpot. After all, he succeeded in the first and second attempt but there had to be an “easier” way. Using trial and error, he had thought of a good way, but now was the time for improvement. All this blood nonsense was affecting him to the point where he might actually be insane. In the meantime, he’d have to stick with slashing wrists.
Soon enough, the inmates heard what was happening and kept their distance from him. Suicide or attempted suicide seemed to make people afraid even though they don’t get hurt themselves. It was like finding out someone had cancer and not wanting to approach them for fear they would catch it. Carlton, the Irish gangster, backtracked every time he saw Smythe coming towards him while Roland Grixs gave him a stink eye every time they crossed paths. It appeared to be working like a charm as not only had the inmates backed off but also the entire prison staff too. Dr. Greenhalgh frowned whenever the name appeared in conversation while CO Buckley waved Smythe along like he was a bad smelling fart.
However, it became difficult to cut and slice his wrists considering the COs (on order of Warden Vichis) frisked him and shook down his cell more times than he could count. By the end of the week, there was no sharp object left in sight and he had his imperfect plan thwarted by upper management. Smythe tried to borrow a razor blade from one inmate but it wouldn’t do the job well. The plastic knives during meal time proved as flaccid as a quadriplegic’s penis while the dinner tray’s edges were unable to create the desired effect. Paper cutting his wrists using a Bible was useless as the pages tore far too easily.
To make his job more difficult, Dr. Greenhalgh told Warden Vichis about the Smythe situation after delayed conversations, who relayed the message on to the COs to keep a close eye on Smythe. CO Buckley heatedly claimed it would be better if Smythe did kill himself so then they wouldn’t have to keep watch every single time and focus on other important issues but Warden Vichis laughed sadistically and claimed if Smythe did kill himself and an internal investigation was formed, would CO Buckley like to go back to selling insurance for a living? CO Buckley’s mouth snapped shut like a bear trap and did the prescribed job pugnaciously.
This form of babysitting greatly annoyed Smythe. He was saving himself from the menace but was prevented from doing so. As such, he faked chronic diarrhoea by mixing his feces with the cleaning water in the clean mop bucket just so another admission was justified.
“Who the fuck shits in a mop bucket!” CO Brant yelled at him.
In any case, Dr. Greenhalgh sighed happily knowing Smythe’s visit wasn’t as serious.
“Ah, Smythe. Glad we could meet under better circumstances.”
“Yeah, whatever, listen. I thought of the mop thing on the fly. Any excuse to get back in here. The reason why I hurt myself is because I’m saving myself from danger. You see, those motherfuckers… are animals. That black dude, Murdoch… he’s a motherfucker. Literally. I heard he fucked his mother.”
“Hmm, that’s generally the definition of the word.”
“It’s a war zone out there. Just let me cut my wrists from here on out for safety, okay?”
“Eat this tablet,” said Dr. Greenhalgh almost automatically. “It’ll cure that diarrhoea.”
“No!” yelled Smythe, slapping the tablet out of the doctor’s hand. “I don’t have goddamn diarrhoea!”
“…What the hell?” frowned Dr. Greenhalgh. “That shit costs money.”
“Then I’ll have to send you back. Plus, you now owe me an Imodium pill.”
“No! I can’t face these Neanderthals anymore. Just do what you have to do to keep me here. I’m on my knees!”
Smythe leapt off his bed and landed heavily on his patella. Grimacing through the pain, he listened as Dr. Greenhalgh let out a depressed, almost bored, sigh.
“Your blood type is AB+, yeah?”
“There’s nothing I can do to help you.”
“Give me one good reason!”
“There’s not enough of your blood type left.”
“…Come again?” Smythe paused.
Dr. Greenhalgh sighed again but this time the cracks of his lips made a wicked smile. “Your two trips to the infirmary have used up more blood than we receive for a whole month.”
“I’ll come back in a month.”
“That’s not the point.”
“I’ll beat up someone just to get the blood.”
“That’s not how it’s done.”
“Yeah, it is. I punch someone’s face, blood comes out. You get blood.”
“Not in that way. It’s much too unhygienic and they could have AIDS.”
“Fine, I’ll donate my own blood.”
“Oh my Christ, no!” groaned Dr. Greenhalgh, face palming himself.
“I have a right to donate blood.”
“I know your intentions with it.”
“Bullshit you do,” lied Smythe. “It’s for the benefit of the inmates.”
“I may be a doctor, but I’m not an idiot.”
“Do you want to see me die?”
“Right now I do. Get lost.”
Dr. Greenhalgh pressed a button at the wall and two COs entered the infirmary. Smythe turned to face CO Vander and CO Kaiser, two hulking giants with biceps the size of ham hocks and the strength to crush walnuts between their pinkie and thumb.
“Officers, escort Smythe back to his cell,” said Dr. Greenhalgh.
“C’mon, Doc,” pleaded Smythe. “Give me a chance.”
Dr. Greenhalgh jabbed a finger at Smythe and the COs made their way toward him. Smythe stood and faced the two guards only to discover he seriously underestimated their bulk and height. His head was up to their chests while their torsos were wider than highway lanes.
“C’mon, bird killer. Back to your cell,” sneered CO Vander.
“Make me,” said Smythe with false bravado.
“You threatening us?” asked a smirking CO Kaiser.
“You bet I am.”
Smythe sat in his cell massaging his testicles, all thanks to CO Kaiser for scrunching them to death with his bare hands and iron fingers. He grabbed far too forcefully for it to be just simple punishment… Like he wanted to massage them first.
Smythe wasn’t about to give up. But there were no other ways to slash his wrists, none that he could think of. He had to try another method, the time for festering experimentation was over, it was time for action. And he thought of something that could solve his problems…