The nurse sent me to a large room, essentially a holding pen, filled with men and women of all ages and all sizes. Each patient would be evaluated eventually and treatment—drugs and/or therapy—would begin. Being a well-bred Southerner, I attempted to make polite conversation with a muscular man, Douglas, a paranoid schizophrenic, who had just been shipped over from a psycho ward in Connecticut.
He started talking about Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight in “Midnight Cowboy“… what a cool bus ride they had together.
Five minutes later, I was lying on the cold linoleum floor spitting out large chips of teeth and lots of blood. Several of the male patients came to my rescue; they pulled Douglas off of me and held him until a doctor appeared.
He injected Douglas with a powerful drug and escorted him into a room with a solid, gray metal door.
After Douglas’s door was bolted, his bloodcurdling, scathing denunciations of me penetrated almost every room of that hospital.
Someone gave me an ice bag to hold on my throbbing cheek.