A few years back, i became a resident at a mental hospital after a nervous breakdown. If you haven't ever stayed at a mental hospital, you aren't missing much. It wasn't exactly horrifying, but it certainly wasn't pleasant. I live in a rather small, kinda hickish town, so there weren't a lot of other residents.
The people there weren't like Chris or ADF, they were all so severely damaged they couldn't even interact with people. One of he ways i used to cope with my situation was to give everyone there nicknames.
There was a chick there i called Vamps, if she was just a little bit saner, she'd probably be a goth. She never got much sun, so her skin was REALLY pale, to a point where if she stayed in direct sunlight for even a few minutes, her skin would start to get all red. She had black, waist-length hair that was an absolute mess, it made her look feral. You couldn't really have a conversation with her, if anyone tried to talk to her she'd just rub her hands together, look around, and mutter something from Lovecraft.
There was also Mandingo, Mandingo was a big black guy (obviously) who scared the fuck out of me. He had Bipolar Disorder, and they were keeping him there until they could find the right dose of medication for him. Most of the time i saw him, he was heavily drugged and usually drooling. Whenever he wasn't like that, he was absolutely terrifying to be around. He would throw these MASSIVE tantrums over the stupidest shit, like if someone moved his pillow, or drank his lemonade (he had some kind of weird obsession with lemonade) he would go fucking BERSERK, they'd have to call in like, twenty staff members to subdue him, and even then a whole punch of people would end up with black eyes or some shit.
There was Mr. Swartzwelder, i didn't really have a nickname for him, because i never really saw him. He'd never talk and always stay in his room, if you so much as glanced at him, he'd go bug eyed and slam the door shut.
Then there was Liam, and he was something else entirely.
I first met Liam in the middle of the night, in the hallway. He was smacking at a vending machine and yelling. Apparently, his candy got caught on something inside. So, i smacked the side of it, and it fell out. Liam really appreciated that.
He thanked me and starting asking me a whole bunch of questions. He asked me what my name was, what room i was in, what i was diagnosed with and what medication i was on. Up until that point, i never really talked to anyone at the mental asylum much, so this was a really big thing for me.
Starting that day, me a Liam were friends. What i didn't know at the time was that my friendship with Liam would get me into some deep shit.
Liam was something totally different from all the other residents. For me, this was both a good thing and a bad thing.
One thing i really liked about Liam was he was one of the only people in the institution who had the mental capacity to carry on an actual conversation. Which was a real blessing for me, since the only other person who could do that here was my Therapist, Dr. Walters.
Liam was pretty bright, and a little bit arrogant, but he was a pretty nice guy otherwise. Would usually end up talking about movies or TV shows we used to watch before we got here. Liam was so well composed, i honestly wondered why he was even there.
It turned out to be because he was delusional.
Some people have trouble separating fantasy and reality, for Liam, fantasy WAS reality.
Liam was a massive bullshiter, and as a i spoke to him more and more, this become even more obvious. He would claim the most ridiculous things, like that he was only in the institution because he fucked a senator's daughter, and that he was a famous racer in an illegal racing circuit, or that he had a big mansion and dozens of girlfriends.
His main delusion, though, was that he was a high-ranking Underboss in the Irish Mafia. This delusion was the backdrop for all his other delusions. He claimed that he had a whole gang on the outside, just waiting for him to get out so they could get back to fighting a gang he called "The Castillian Lords", i think he meant the Latin Kings, but we were nowhere near New York.
Despite his arrogance and his delusion, i really like hanging out with Liam, and Liam really liked me. By the time we started to become good friends, he would start to include me in his delusions, saying that when i got out, he was gonna put in a good word for me with the other Underbosses in his gang, that he was gonna throw a couple of his girls my way, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I knew it was all bullshit, but it was really nice of him anyway, i felt.
Liam was a real troublemaker though, which is something about him i really didn't appreciate. He didn't like the other residents of the institution, and he made that very clear. He would run around the halls, shout at people, make fun of the staff, things like that.
One of the most horrifying moments i had hanging out with Liam was when were playing checkers in the wreck room, and he saw Mandingo walking to the vending machine. Liam was a hardcore racist, and he never tried to hide it, not even a little.
He stood up and started shouting at Mandingo, calling him a monkey, shouting "N****r!" over and over again, making monkey noises, and asking him if he'd like a banana.
I got up and starting begging Liam to be quite, to not upset Mandingo, to calm down, but he wouldn't listen. I actually started to cry, i was completely sure Mandingo was gonna come over and beat the shit out of us. Luckily, this happened to be one of the days where he was so doped out he could event walk straight, so we were fine.
Despite the fact that Liam always started so much shit, he was virtually ignored by the other residents and the staff. He tried to tell me it was because everyone was afraid of him, because he had connections. Me? I thought it was just because everyone there was either lethargic or insane.
One person who took particular interest in Liam was my Therapist, Dr. Walters. Before i met Liam, i'd barely say anything when during my sessions. After i met Liam, i finally had something to talk about.
Dr. Walters used to ask me a lot of questions about Liam. How he was doing, what he did today, what i talked to him about today, and what he was doing. I remember asking him "Why aren't you asking Liam all these questions?" and he just shrugged it away.
When i told Liam about the questions Dr. Walters kept asking me, he said it was no surprise, since Liam never talked to anyone, especially not Dr. Walters.
Having someone to talk to really did wonders for me during my stay at the institution. I finally built up the courage to talk to other residents, but none of them were really worth conversing with. The only time i ever really interacted with a patient who wasn't Liam was when i would play board games with Vamps. Turns out she wasn't good at talking, but she was really good at Connect Four.
One of my most vivid memories during the stay at the institution was during a game with Vamps. Liam was watching, making snide comments about how bad i was, and how even a Schizo could beat me, when Dr. Walters walked in with a camera.
He told me he was making a scrapbook with pictures of all the patients, and that me and Liam were the only ones he hadn't photographed yet, so me and him posed for a picture together.
After a few months, i found Liam in his room, packing. It turned out he was certified sane and was finally leaving.
After Liam left the hospital, he would still visit every chance he got. Late at night, if he wanted to talk to me and visiting hours were over, he call the payphone outside of my room, which i had to sneak out the window to get to.
One day Liam was visiting, talking about how business was going, and how his men were getting shit in the gang back together, and i found myself laughing.
Liam knew i didn't believe him, so when he left, he told me was coming back tomorrow, "with proof."
The next day, he showed up with a gigantic briefcase, giddy as a motherfucker. He waited until there were no staff members around, and then he showed me what was in it.
The briefcase contained bags of cocaine, tons of them. There must have been 20, maybe forty bags of coke.
Needless to say, i was freaked the fuck out.
I was absolutely horrified, to the point where i started to hyper-ventilate, but Liam was simply amused.
What if someone sees that shit? I thought. What if we both get arrested? Liam calmed me down, told me he was leaving, with the stuff, and that everything was going to be fine.
I finally had proof that Liam really WAS in the Irish Mafia, just like he said. That his delusions weren't delusions, they were just things that really happened to him, maybe a bit exaggerated, but real none the less.
Before Liam left, he once again told me that when i got out, he would put in a good word with the other Underbosses for me, and i might be able to join.
As i lied in bed that night, i couldn't help but get a little excited. I finally had something to look forward to when i got out, and it was a doozy. I was going to be a mob boss, a big shot. Money, cars, women, all that shit Liam talked about.
Suddenly, i heard the payphone outside my room ring. Just like every other night, i sneaked out the window to answer it. Obviously, it was Liam.
Liam sounded hysterical on the phone, he was afraid. For once, he finally wasn't delusional.
It turned out Liam, just as i had originally thought, wasn't in the Irish Mafia. In reality, there was no "Irish Mafia", the only real gang my city had was a gang of Hispanic drug dealers, and, in the stupidest move in Liam's life, he stole those drugs from them.
I'd never heard Liam cry, or even sound scared before, so that was all a big shock for me. He told me all he wanted was to impress me, that he never wanted mixed up in all of this, and that he was going to give the drugs back.
He told me they were coming to kill him, and that i needed to get down to the docks and help him. I didn't have a car, but i knew how to hotwire one.
Mr. Walters was at the institution overnight, looking over some files, so his car was parked right outside. I was sure that after i came back with it and explained what happened, he's understand, he might even be able to help me and Liam get into the Witness Protection Program.
I broke the window, climbed in, hot-wired the car, and headed off to the docks in a hurry. After an hour or so of driving, i made it.
I saw a bunch of Hispanic men lifting a huge garbage bag into the truck of their car and driving off. I thought it was Liam. I followed the car, not knowing what i would do when i caught up, but i knew i had to do something.
I must've followed the car for two hours straight, always following it very closely, but still keeping my distance. By the end of the second hour, i lost track of the car and blacked out.
When i came to, i saw several police cars surrounding me, and Dr. Walters talking to the police. He looked really distressed, and almost guilty.
When he finally fished talking to the cops, he talked to me. I told him all about Liam, and what happened, why i stole his car, and how i needed his help.
He gave me probably the saddest look anyone's ever given me in my life, like i just told him i shot his dog or something.
Dr. Walters looked at me, and began fiddling around in his wallet.
"I'm going to show you something that's probably going to upset you."
Out of his wallet, he pulled out the picture of me and Liam, only there was one big difference this time:
Liam wasn't in it.
It had turned out, after my nervous breakdown, they discovered i had undiagnosed Schizophrenia. One of my symptoms was Auditory/Visual hallucinations. Liam wasn't real, never was. Every conversation i had with him was simply a figment of my lonely sub-conscious.
A couple weeks later, i started taking better medication, and they finally let me out. I pretty glad, you can only play Connect Four so many times before it becomes repetitive.
Vamps got out too. She ended up shaving all her hair off for some Chemo charity thing. I saw at a friend's party the other night and tried to hit on her, she wasn't interested. Can't say i blame her.
Mandingo got out two months after me, when they finally got his medication right. He works as a clerk at my local supermarket now, but i don't shop there anymore, because he still scares the fuck out of me.
I don't know what happened to Mr. Swartwelder, and quite frankly, i don't wanna know. That guy freaked me out.
As for me? I'm just trying to get my shit together. Sometimes, if i mess up my medication or forget to take it, i see Liam again. I don't talk to him though, because even if he's not real, Liam is an asshole.