Al Sullivanís Journal



Packing it in

†June, 30 1972



Mr. Binkley follows me around the hospital, looking to find out where I hide and why I=m not working. Although he knows this place well, I've had time to find niches in which to curl. After two months I=m more at home here than the apartment. This place lacks the ghosts. Binkley might haunt me but he doesn't conjure up visions of Louise and Ed, or all the other men Louise had behind my back. Even when I=m not working, I=m hiding here, too scared of the darkness at home, too frightened of running into the landlord who'll want his rent. I've stalled almost a whole month, easing in the back door after I know he and his wife are asleep. By July I=m sure the city marshals will padlock the place and take possession of my things -- if I can=t sneak them out before hand. I just don=t know where to bring them, certainly not here to the hospital. Let Mr. Binkley get a gander at that and I=d be out a job, as well as an apartment.

†I've talked to Dave Fetterland about living with them. They have a house a few blocks from here and a room off the kitchen where I might stay. That=s a queer twist after all these years, part of a plan Dave and I had as kids before I started running away, before I disappeared for three years. Such and option makes me think I lost all that time, it dropping out of my life as if it never existed and I never hooked up with Louise. But I=m so tired, and confused, and sick of hiding.

†I ought to quit work, too, though without it I couldn't afford the $25 a week rent Dave=s mother wants to charge. Mr. Binkley makes me nervous, not so much his watching and following me around as the games he plays with the packing slips. I keep checking in supply orders and the goods don=t seem to match up with what gets shipped. Blinkley tells me not to worry. But I do. He=s had time to check my police record, time to find out I=d lied on my application when I said I=d not been convicted of a crime. I find the man squinting at me when I come to work, turning his head as if to make out what angle I=m on, as if he and I didn't live in the same universe exactly, yet -- for some reason, he had something in mind for me. Sometimes he slaps me on the shoulder telling me I=m doing great work.

†I keep thinking about those packing slips.

†For the most part, I have the best job in the hospital. I check in orders for the hospital, then deliver them to each department. That includes everything from prescription drugs to scrubbing cleaners like Ajax. I get to meet people, and since I=m the man who brings them their supplies, they treat me well -- all except the blond haired woman from the kitchen who thinks she=s chief surgeon, always staring down her nose at me when I come in. Still, she sort of interests me. I suppose I=m constantly seeking disappointment, trying to rise above my station.

†Hell, I couldn't even take her for a ride. My car sits before my apartment like a grave stone, its windows shattered, its gear shift stuck. I keep expecting the police to tow it, but they never do, merciless torturing me with suspense. Hank wanted me to drive it to Pennsylvania for a concert, a new Woodstock, he tells me, as if we haven=t had a new Woodstock every weekend somewhere since 1969. But the Pocono Raceway is near enough Scranton for me to think I might see Louise there, and maybe convince her to come back -- though with the apartment gone, God knows where I'll put her. But I=m a tortured man with anything so logically clearly beyond my comprehension. Yet even I know I can=t take a car that won=t run. Maybe we'll take a bus, or hitch hike -- or talk Hank=s mother into lending us hers. And maybe, probation or not, I might just keep on going west again.



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