Shooting Text – 12mins
© Copyright Tracy Williams 2010
Insomnia, Doctors or Drug Dealers?
I’m a homicide waiting to be discovered and that’s no joke. I’m not going to confess outright, not right now. I know the word is out on me and I know the end is nigh. In my own time I will confess. But I’m not ready yet. Just don’t tell me I’m making this up and don’t tell me to stop being so melodramatic. Don’t tell me to snap out of it either. Because that’s one of my triggers. And if you pull one of my triggers you’ll know. And believe me, you don’t want to know.
I have a woman chained to my wardrobe. I’m planning to kill her any day now. I am afraid of prison, hence the apprehension to tell all. I can’t tell anyone about her because if I do she might kill me. Tonight it’ll be a stick of fire if she gets really nasty. If I burn her maybe I won’t have to confess at all. She’ll be reduced to ashes and then no one need ever know. It’s morning now. In the mornings I am always twisted with pain after the fight from the night before. Human beings come and go. Men laugh, women chat, children giggle and cry and I despise every one of them.
And now I’m sitting opposite this doctor in a surgery. He’s looking at me, like they always do, with a mix of perplexity and patience. I’m at my wits end with doctors. I’ve never met this one. He seems sort of okay. I hear myself say
‘I’m not depressed.’
Because I know what he’s thinking. It’s what they all think. This woman is depressed. But I’m not! How do you tell a doctor you’re a homicidal maniac? ‘Cos tonight I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna kill the bitch in the wardrobe and then you, dear doctor, will have to send me to prison or section me. Now, how do I articulate this?
Because, you see, even though I have her chained to the wardrobe, this bitch is not afraid of me. She pontificates louder than a rap record and she always talks about how she is going to get me. She’s gonna starve me, make me crawl and beg for food and when I eat she’s gonna kick me in the gut, make me throw it all up, then she’ll stand over me with a stick until I’ve cleaned up the sick and she will do this night after night after night until I die.
Darkness is moving in. I gotta be quick. Here’s what I’ve done: I’ve written her name on an envelope. Inside are all the facts about her, scribbled down at four o’clock in the morning after I punched her unconscious. My plan is to give the envelope to a doctor in the hope that a doctor might be able to assist me before one of us dies.
Maybe he will have me sectioned. Maybe he will turn me in.
Another bout of hysteria shakes my chair. The doctor twists in his.
‘Do you want to be assessed by a psychiatrist?’ he asks.
And I can hear the woman in the wardrobe screaming; If one more fucking psychiatrist asks you about your childhood I’m going to commit…
‘No, please,’ I say, ‘I hate psychiatrists. They never help me.’
‘Maybe they just haven’t found the right medication for you.’
If he suggests any sort of anti-depressants I’m gonna walk out and head for the nearest heavy artillery store. I want a real solution. Not some quick fix green slip with Prozac or Xanax or Amitryptaline or Citalopram or Mirtazipine written on it.
I’m taking the envelope out of my bag. I’m taking it out now. Because I have wandered the avenues of my childhood in vain, up and down the dark corridors of a little girl in pain and no matter how many medics assess me, the little girl won’t stop crying. I am not hysterical, I am not premenstrual, I am here, there and everywhere and I have this terror, this woman that tortures me by night and if I tell you her name, doctor, I beg you, in this moment, not to laugh or wave it off, not to look me up and down and snigger or scoff. Because if I give you her name, she may kill me tonight out of sheer spite and then the darkness will have won.
The doctor reaches forward to extract the envelope from me. He will know – the minute I let go. This is my enemy, this is my secret, please help me with this, doctor, please help me.
S-L-E-E-P: the alpha and the omega of every day we live. Sleeplessness is an endlessness of futility. A struggle then a battle which has long become a war, as ongoing as the sky.
Last night she told me all the filth and horror of which I am guilty. I smell, I bleed, I shit, I eat and I am too much, too much. I am a pathetic, parasitical, in-the-way-of-everybody – unwanted child.
When I got the car into reverse I started screaming. I screamed all the way
to the surgery, the one I am in now. And here he sits, this doctor: my envelope in his hand, reading the chronology of a life spent in servitude to insomnia.
‘How old were you in nineteen eighty four?’ he asks.
Because I was first prescribed anti-depressants when I was eleven. But I wasn’t
allowed to take them. My mother took the medical profession into her own hands and threw
the pills down the drain.
‘She also called the doctor a wanker.’
Excellent, yes. But that was twenty years ago and if something is not done soon, I’m a
memory, doctor, whether you’re a wanker or not. I can’t really hear what I’m saying because
night is coming on. Yet it seems like he is actually listening. He may even be a human
doctor. God. I thought they’d all been discontinued, replaced by a computer-programmed
cult of apathetic, pill pushing, patronizing hypocrites whose sole goal was to get people like
me on anti-depressants and out of their offices as quickly as possible. I won’t bother
mentioning the doctor who told me to ‘stop being a victim and find a lifestyle that is less
stressful.’ But I know where she works. Useless bitch.
‘So when was the last time you slept?’ asks the doctor.
‘I fell asleep in a field for twenty minutes in nineteen ninety two.’
‘You’ve been awake for sixteen years?’ he rolls his eyes. I start laughing. He smiles and reads on.
‘Ah! You have tried medication.’
Medication. Oh yes. My mouth is dry from all the drugs that never rendered the monster in my closet unconscious.
‘Temazepam zombifies me, diazepam has no effect whatever. I take vast
quantities of codeine and paracetamol to console neuropathic pain. In fact my daily intake
is so high I expect my liver may pack up, well – any minute now’
‘Oh dear,’ says the doctor.
‘There’s only one pill that works for me, doctor. And I’ve been told I cannot have it.’
‘What is it?’ He looks at me.
Let him read on. He’s a doctor, he can read. Let him see the date where I found the cure that was prescribed for me with one sympathetic hand and then refused almost instantly by another. Doctors! They don’t know. Most doctors are no more than drug dealers with letters after their names.
This is the drug that saved my life.
‘If I knew who invented zopiclone I’d write them a letter of the most profound thanks.’
The Doc’ says; ‘they’re being duly compensated for their efforts, believe me,’
‘Then why am I always told I can’t have them?’
‘Because they’re addictive.’
‘I was told it’s because they’re expensive.’
‘Look, we doctors are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. We’re under close scrutiny for prescribing benzodiazepines.’
‘Zopiclone isn’t a benzodiazepine,’ I say.
‘No.’ I lean on his desk. ‘Zopiclone is in its own category. It was invented as an alternative to benzodiazepines because of their horrific side effects and withdrawal symptoms.’
The doctor leans forward too.
‘How do you know all this?’ he asks.
‘I spoke to a pharmacist. I read the literature. I wanted to know if my body could produce naturally whatever is in Zopiclone. And it can’t.’
‘Well, I’m impressed.’
‘Sleep is a mystery, doctor, even to the most erudite of sleep-specialists. Nobody really knows why some people can’t sleep. But I know I’m one of them. And – for now – Zopiclone is the cure. What I’m saying is a result of years of trawling through surgerys and psychiatric offices and pharmacies and I now know what life is like with sleep and without it. If I’m depressed, then Zopiclone is an anti-depressant.’
Time is drawing short. Night is coming on. There are other patients in this surgery beyond this door who need medical attention; the physical stuff, the stuff all you doctors can see. And the woman in my wardrobe is waiting for me. I have not had any Zopiclone for over a month. If this doctor refuses to prescribe I’m going to drive to B&Q, buy an axe, then go home and finish the war once and for all. Besides, many a fine drug dealer can be found in prison.
The doctor takes a breath.
‘Okay,’ he says, ‘in view of what’s on this list and because of what you’ve told me, I’ll give you a prescription for Zopiclone for twenty eight days. But this is a temporary thing, okay? I’ll start looking for a sleep clinic. And you will have to see a psychiatrist…’
‘Okay.’ I say.
‘And I’m giving you this prescription on the condition that you can accept one thing.’
He’s holding the prescription, his other hand is beckoning mine to shake on it. ‘Accept what?’
‘That you will be addicted.’
I reach out as we stare at each other and for one big brief moment we lock flesh, as I accept the unacceptable.
There will come lying. There will come dealers. There will come feminine favours in return for the drugs that the doctors will refuse to prescribe for me. But I am not yet addicted – not yet.
All I know at this moment in time, as I glide towards the nearest pharmacy with a green slip in my hand is that I am going home tonight – to sleep. Me and her, the little girl and the mad monster, we’ll be friends tonight. Tonight there will be no blood. She and I – just for tonight; we will become one.