The Laurel and Hardy of orderlies burst into my room with a wheelchair. “Sorry, hospital procedure,” said the short fat one. I tried not to stare at the tufts of hair sprouting out from the neckline of his pink orderly scrubs.
The tall one with his receding blonde hair and dulled features just stared at me, like I was some kind of freak. A freak among freaks, that’s me. I kept wondering where his bowler hat went. They would both look better in black and white.
I sank into the chair and felt instantly smaller, insignificant.
Laurel started pushing me out the door while Hardy shuffled along beside, staring glumly ahead. Come to think of it, there’s nothing funny about this guy, he’s pure serious.
Laurel was chattering away above my head.
…”London would be so much better if there were less frat brats and more real women…”
I stared at Hardy’s flat white ass and wondered if he was gay. Aren’t most insane asylum orderlies gay? Maybe, but I’m sure Laurel was trying very hard not to stare at my tits.
We came to some double locked doors and Hardy pulled out a key from the huge ring on this belt. It’s crazy ward time.
“Don’t worry,” said Laurel, “they don’t bite.”
“Most of them are so sedated they won’t even notice you,” said Hardy. Oh, he speaks.
The heavy doors swung open and I could see a light at the end of the long hallway. In the distance, I thought I heard screaming, or maybe that was just in my head.
In the stifling elevator an old man, reeking of bad coffee and cigarettes, stared at the bruise on my leg. I fixed my gaze at the numbers and pretended not to notice.
In the decrepit lobby, I shielded my eyes against the sun, took a deep breath and steeled myself for the conflict to come.
I felt the lava lamp gurgling beside me and the leopard spots began dancing in the drums. I was high. But there was no panic, no rush, nothing more than these men, Nastassja Kinski and a snake.
We slept for a long time, his arm slung around my waist. When we woke up, he farted loudly, then reached into the dresser drawer and pulled out a black case, unzipping it.
He swung his feet off the bed and took out a rubber hose and tied it around his arm. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world.
“Can you fix me?” he asked.
“I wouldn’t know where to start,” I said, before realizing what he meant.
another 2,006 words today.
but I can barely move.
Me and mels got together for some tandem writing tonight.
I broke 5,000 words.
My fingers ache, but my soul is on fire.
By Roberta McDonald
I fell in love with photography back in the days of Polaroids and square flash bulbs. The relationship deepened during journalism school, where the dark room was a place of transformative magic and meditation amid the chemicals and scraps of photo paper that littered the floor.
My passion for images was sidelined while pursuing a career as a writer but brought back to the forefront while living in New York City in 2007/8. Manhattan embraced me and I felt secure in the galleries and bodegas of Rivington Street. My practice of visual storytelling was rediscovered and nurtured during long Lower East Side walks with a borrowed Nikon.
The series, Urban Textures, explores my complex relationship with city life. It’s like a topsyturvy relationship with a difficult lover: at times, it’s magnificent, at others, it’s madness. In the subterranean fluorescence of the Brooklyn subway, I found solace on the grimy tiles and in the faces of saxophone buskers. Upon returning to Calgary I found doubt amid the frenetic pace of downtown, and the harsh reality of the East Village but I also discovered serenity on the Crescent Heights ridge, and passionate sincerity in the musicians who give the city a heartbeat.
Since 2009, my images have appeared regularly in Swerve Magazine and the Calgary Herald. My camera collection has also been expanding and I shoot with a Canon 20d, Eos Elan 7e, and a vintage Rollei.
Influences and inspiration include: Louise Merzau, Thomas J. Abercrombie, Cindy Sherman, and rock portraitist Phil Sharp.