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« Words | Main | Heathen Thoughts, and Whirled Peas »

Men in White Suits (A Short Story.)

I noticed the men in white suits always worked in twos. One tall, heavy, an older man in his late forties, maybe fifty.

He stood in the doorway, arms folded, like he was guarding it. Stopping me from leaving, which I wasn’t, but never-the-less intimidating.

A younger man in his early twenties, not much older than me was preparing something on a cart. He turned and handed me some liquid in a small cup.

“Here, drink this.”

It tasted bitter. The young white coat patted the top of a gurney.

“Jump up here.” I did as he asked.

I lay there staring at the fluorescent ceiling lights. It was quiet except for muffled voices off in another room somewhere. I strained my head around to see if the white coats had left. The older one was still there in the doorway. ’The stereo-typical good cop-bad cop,’ I was thinking. Only they weren’t cops, but they represented the same thing. Authority.

I drifted into semi-consciousness. I was vaguely aware of more white suits crowding around me, strapping me to the gurney, placing something on my head, squeezing my face, and shoving a rubber plug in my mouth. Then a screeching sound like feedback through a loud speaker. Wheeeeeeeeeeeee.

For a brief moment zig-jag patterns of light danced left to right across my field of vision. Then nothing, I was unconscious. I awoke in what seemed like a few seconds later. I was still strapped down, but the room was empty. The lights overhead were turned off. There were no widows in the room, just the light through the open door to a corridor. 

The first thing I noticed was that I had pissed on myself. Urine soaked my back, and stung the insides of my thighs. My head felt like my brain was twice its normal size and was pushing my eyeballs out of their sockets.

“Hey,” I yelled, “Anybody there?”

The young white coat came back in the room, “How are you?” he asked. “Do you have a headache?”

“Yes, I have the mother of all headaches. What the fuck did you just do to me?”

“You had ECT, Electroconvulsive Therapy. It’s part of your treatment.”

“I pissed myself.”

“I see that, it’s not unusual. I’ll take you for a bath, and get you some clean pajamas.”

The older white suit suddenly materialized and began removing the restraints.

“Can you sit up? Here’s something for your headache.”

The young white suit helped me up and handed me two tablets and some water. I took them and lay back down. They pushed me down the corridor to a bathroom where they helped me out of my wet pajamas and into a warm bath.   


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Reader Comments (10)


January 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Been there, have you? Or just seen it? It's not a lot of fun, from what I understand. Some think it's better than the alternative. Some don't.

January 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPlain Jim

"One flew over the cuckoo's nest" ?

January 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

WOW! Happened to me years ago

January 9, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

Something familiar relaxed me as I sat in the warm water. What was it? The name tags, the hospital name on those tags. I know it, but why? I know it from, history. Yes, I remember reading about it now, how the hospital was closed years ago. The bath was suddenly not comforting, not relaxing. My mind raced through pages of memories, trying to piece together the story.

Was the water getting warmer, or am I imagining it. A cart rolled by the doorway, long spindly instruments laying in an organized way upon it. Wonder what those are for. The heavy man stood in the doorway, listening to something, or someone. His gaze drifted past me, as if he was waiting for instructions. Yes, the water is getting warmer. I spoke as much to him, and he briefly lowered his eyes to meet mine.

Now the pieces started to create the story. I felt worse than ever, without really knowing what it was. But I had a bad feeling inside, without knowing why. The man was no longer clear, he was blurred, moving closer, reaching out. I felt more hands on me than he should have had. Lifting up, out, down, supine on a cold gurney, towels lay upon me. But I couldn’t move my arms.

The hospital, this hospital was closed because of some weird experiments that were being done. Some kind of government program that was shut down. Or am I just imagining this…

January 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

“It’s the climb, that’s the thing.”

That jolted me, and almost made me throw up. “Mont Ventoux”, was all I could get out. It was the younger white suit speaking to me. I was in a small room, sitting on an exam table with my legs hanging over the edge. He was preparing something at the cupboard. I remembered the ECT, the bath, spindly medical instruments. And a paralyzing sleep.

“You have resilience, drive. That’s important.” He came closer, looked straight at me, and continued: “We’ve lost other cyclists, but you, you have a chance.”
“A chance for what?”, I thought. What was he talking about, and why this hospital? My confusion was short-lived as the older suit walked into the room.
He whispered something to the younger, glanced over at me, and concluded. He held a clipboard, as the other did, turned some pages, made notes with his pen, and let it drop to his side. This only added to my uncertainty. I needed something familiar to grasp, to hold onto. He left the room.

My bike, that’s what I needed. The younger man mentioned racing, other cyclists; maybe he’d understand. I sure as hell didn’t. But I knew racing. That fact gave me brief solace. But it was something, a start. Wish I had a pint to help me finish.

The young suit grabbed another cup, turned and walked to me. “We have to keep things here in your time, your era, to maintain consistency. We have tried everything biologic, even genetic. The only thing left is the mind.”

He spoke slowly, as if I would understand what he meant. I didn’t. But I was anxious to get out of here.

“Drink this Tom. Maybe we will see you again.”
I downed it, though I still wished for that pint instead. I almost thought it would make things clear, make them right. The last thing I heard in this room was the young suit saying in super-slow-motion: “Good luck”. I had a feeling I was going to need it.

January 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

“Take the bottle!” is what I think I heard. I turned my head to keep the wind off my ears, and my manager repeated: “The bottle, take it! It’s the last bottle, you need it.”
“I don’t want it!” I returned. What I meant was “I don’t need it.” What is with people trying to get me to drink something? Never mind. Mont Ventoux. Five kilometers to the summit. I have nothing to prove, but maybe that is why I will catch the break. Because it will prove something.

Damn heat! I wave my water bottle at the car. “See this?” The last bottle, the one I see bouncing around through the window, is supposed to help me in the final push to the summit. Something like: “You can’t win the Tour on mineral water alone”, “You are murderers!”
What about “I escaped by accident”. Like Koblet, maybe I look back, and no one is there. The last bottle can fuck itself. Same with the other stuff I left this morning. Today is different. I turn my cap backwards and stand on the pedals as the team car fades back. This, this is different: I’m catching Aimar’s fragmented group.

At kilometer three I’m suddenly nauseous. I take a drink, drown the sickness. That’s better. On the bike, it seems pain is temporary. Unless it’s a bad day. Today isn’t a bad day.

A boy riding his bike past the rows of homes…what about school…riding in the cold rain…and work?...signing on for my first pro race…yeah, this is work…the Tour…the Yellow Jersey. Mont Ventoux. The boy keeps riding his bike.

Fifteen hundred meters to go. I see my shadow on the road, hunched over, hands gripping the bars. Easy form, sublime; people yelling, cheering, gesturing. I stand, dance, the barren summit closer. So close. I catch another rider. Mont Ventoux: An observatory that allows us to see far into the universe; maybe back into time.
And time is what I take out of the last kilometer. Final push. I catch, then pass the last rider. Au Revoir, Lucien. See you in Carpentras.

“It’s the climb that matters. First on Ventoux, well done Tom!” My teammates hoisted their pints together. Clicking resonated through the restaurant, which we’d turned into our own pub. Some of the French riders never made it, preferring the wine of this region. No matter. I’d rather spend a short time with a few good friends than a lifetime with people I didn’t like.
That’s when I noticed two men in white suits talking to the bar tender, throwing glances at our table. Maybe at me. “Yeah, I’ll autograph your damn handbills, but first I’m going to finish this beer.

January 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteve


(Dedicated to the Hard Men of Cycling)

January 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Thanks Dave.
I used to read lots of short stories. I found a real pleasure in reading the same story over and over, experiencing the emotions and digging deeper into its meanings.
There is something so concise about the form.

January 14, 2016 | Unregistered Commenteredstainless

thanks for your story.

January 19, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbaby bottles

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