The Delusion of Society


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Scene Title The Delusion of Society
Synopsis Two in-patients disagree on the nature of the world they live in
Date September 19, 2010

St Luke's Hospital

St. Luke's Hospital is known for its high-quality care and its contributions to medical research. Its staff place an emphasis on compassion for and sensitivity to the needs of their patients and the communities they serve. In addition to nearby Columbia University, the hospital collaborates with several community groups, churches, and programs at local high schools. The associated Roosevelt Hospital offers a special wing of rooms and suites with more amenities than the standard hospital environment; they wouldn't seem out of place in a top-rated hotel. That said, a hospital is a hospital — every corridor and room still smells faintly of antiseptic.

Lola's been in the hospital for a couple of weeks now. She hates it, she hates every second of it. What she hates most of it is being in that bed. IT's not the pain - she's had pain before. It's not the drugs either - god knows she's had plenty of drugs. No, it's the idleness. It reminds her of the storm - that great storm that locked her underground for months and months with nothing ot do but wait. Wait to die, to live, to get fat or to wither away. That's what it feels like now, she's just…waiting.

Hoping to aleviate this feeling while she plans her next move, the young faux-redheaded girl has moved out into one of the common areas for people to wander. She's rolled her IV with her, and her left arm is still bandaged six ways from sunday against her body. She sits there with a giant teddy bear set on her lap. Odd, perhaps she's mentally a little shy? Or perhaps she just likes teddy bears.

Milton has only been in the hospital for three days and he's hating it too. His thin face is pinched into a scowl as he sits in the common area, reading an old copy of Vogue for lack of anything better to do. After a few minutes he throws it back onto the coffee table in disgust. "You'd think they'd have newspapers in here at least, the prices they charge for you to be here," he remarks in sullen tones to the girl with the teddy bear.

"They charge?" Lola asks, a little taken aback. Well of course they must but it's certainly something she's never concerned herself with. But as she's a proper citizen now, soon to have a proper address and parole time, it will be a concern. "Do they charge much? Ah mean, they had ta…defibrilate mah heart an give me skin grafts an the like..that ain' too much, is it?" Her country drawl probably does not help any perceptions of her intelligence.

Milton raises his eyebrows. "Well, sure they do. Someone has to keep these doctors in country club memberships and swanky apartments in Connecticut. I hope you've got insurance,lady."

"Ah'm sure one a me does," Lola murmers, though it's mostly under her breath. What an odd thing to say at any rate! "So watcha in for then, sugar?" A question that hasn't rolled off her tongue in awhile, not since her first days in prison. They taught her in those days that in prison you don't usually ask. But this isn't prison, and what a cheerful thought that is! "Me, Ah got…um…let's call it tasered in the park."

"I got stabbed," grunts Milton, "by some lunatic in a diner. He seems to have gotten away in the confusion as well. The police in this city are such jerks." He looks down at his body, where the wound he sustained is covered by pyjamas and a dressing gown. "Could have /killed/ me."

"Aw sugar, stabbed ain' nothin'. Ah got three bullet wounds in mah body an that ain' nothin'. Ye'll get over it soon 'nuff. Ah spoze it's them crazy feckin' Yankees, runnin' around stabbin' folks." Lola drones on, one arms wrapping tighter around that strange, large teddy bear. "Ain' no sense a civility in these fuckin' Yanks."

Milton turns his head and looks at Lola full on. "No," he says coldly, "crazy people are crazy people and it's nothing to do with what goddamn part of the world they come from. The world is /full/ of crazy people." Hanging in the air is the unspoken corollary that Lola is one of them herself, in Milton's opinion.

He wouldn't be the first, nor the last. "Well Ah ain' sayin' Ah know everybody, sugar. All Ah done know is Ah ain' never been tased or shot in Louisianna." Granted, she did some shooting down there, but still. She leans back, looking up at Milton with an amused grin. It's been awhile since she had a plaything! "Aw sugar, don get yer panties all up in a twist. Ain' nothin' ta be so upset about as bein' stabbed. Like Ah said, get shot a few times an ye'll see it ain' nothin'"

"I'd sooner not, thanks all the same," mutters Milton. He falls silent then, as if to end the conversation… but curiosity gets the better of him. "Who shot you?" he resumes, the look of scorn replaced by one of curiosity.

"Oh golly, ain' that a question. Well one from an ol' buddy a mine - that one's a long story - an another cause Ah was in a creepy alley on Staten. Well, that one shot me twice. Apparently armed folks detoxin' on Staten afore it got reclaimed din' much encourage folks ta be trustin'. Or, ya know. Not shootin'. Got over it well 'nuff, Ah imagine. Got some fantastic scars ta prove it." She pulls back the gown from her shoulder, and her shoulder alone, to show him one entrance wound.

Milton eyes the puckered scar somewhat cautiously. "I wouldn't go to Staten," he avows, "not if the bridge was opened again tomorrow." He looks back up at Lola, plainly itching to ask what she was doing there, but this time reticence gets the better of him and the question remains unspoken.

Apparently he doesn't have to ask - Lola's willing to talk if she gets to it. After all, she's Lola now - and none of this is unknown. The doctors saw her scars. "Ah was livin' there. Ah come from a cheap sorta place, sugar. Cheap sorta attracted me. But towards the end there, it got ta be too much, even fer me. Ain' livin' there no more, that's fer sure. It ain' like it used ta be. Used ta be just lonely, sick an twisted sorts mindin' their own business. Now? Hah!"

Milton is finding himself drawn into the conversation despite himself. "Now…? Now it's worse, you mean?"

Lola shrugs. "Well think 'bout it this way. All them small-time criminals an crooks - of which Ah know nothin' about," Surely. "…they all lived happy on Staten. Till big 'ol Uncle Sam swept in an razed the place. Now where all them crimianls gonna go, 'cept to a diner on the mainland? Just so happens they get there 'an they stab a white-breaded fellah like yerself. See?"

Milton bridles a little at the description of him as white-bread… but bottles up his temper. "But why'd they juke me?" he bursts out instead. "I didn't do anything! I was just sitting there when…" He doesn't complete the sentence as the sequence of events returns to his mind, including that sudden burst of near-insane fear and the peculiar vision which came to him immediately before the stabbing. "He said I'd found out his secret," he mutters. "I didn't know the guy from Adam!"

For some odd reason, she bristles a little bit herself. HEaring the name Adam, for a moment, does not make her think of the Christian bible - she is a Santeria follower herself - but the man known as Adam, who has a history of going around killing people. People who have angered him. People like her. "Well did he give ya a name or a description or nothin?"

"No!" Milton protests. "I tell you he just came over to me, said I'd found out his secret, and shoved the knife I'd been eating with into my gut! I suppose I should be grateful I didn't order steak," he adds thoughtfully, "else I'd have had a steak knife and I'd be dead…"

"Well Staten was full a crazies in them days too, ya know. Spoze it don' much matter - folks like that got noplace left to go now, so you'll be seein' more of 'em." Okay, so maybe Lola is having a little bit too much fun with this poor boy. But she's been locked up in this stupid hospital for weeks, and by gosh it is fun to have a little fun!

That prospect is even less welcome for Milton. He puts a hand into the pocket of his dressing gown and pulls out his shades, meaning to put them on his face as a barrier between him and this bumptious, annoying woman. But then he recalls the things he's been seeing ever since that night in the diner when he wears them, and the sunglasses remain in his hand. "Whole damn world's crazy now," he grunts, "ever since the bomb and those… those… people…" He can't quite make himself say 'Evolved'. Not now that he knows, in his heart of hearts, that he really is one himself.

"You ain' fond a them evolved, sugar? Well Ah can' say Ah much blame ya. 'Cept it's prolly a real good thing yer stabby friend weren' one of 'em. Ya might a bin lit on fire or somethin' otherwise." She's never had a real care one way or the other about Evos. She is one herself, but the sort that can hide it, so it doesn't matter to her.

Milton isn't about to admit to his status either. Hell, he can barely even bring himself to admit it internally. "Yeah, tell me about it," he says with a twist of his lip in scorn. "And you can't tell me they wouldn't want to do it, not if they thought they could get away with it…" He falls silent again, imagining himself possessing the power to set anyone he wanted on fire. Oh yes. That guy who stabbed him? Up in flames. This annoying woman with the teddy bear? Set fire to the bear, see how she likes /that/.

But the bear is innocent! "Well who wouldn'? But the point is they can' get away with it no more. Nobody can. Well, nobody 'cept normal people who run 'round stabbin' folks. Like you! Ah mean, Ah figure ya'd have said if they caught the guy. An they didn', so why worry 'bout it so much? It bein' the Evos. Seems like the regular folks is doin' ok."

"Well when the cops spoke to me next day they didn't have him," Milton says, "and they've not bothered to get in touch with me since. So he's doubtless out there ready to stab the next person he imagines has found out his secret. Course," he goes on, "people like that are absolutely symptomatic of society as it now stands."

"Watcha mean, sug?" Lola asks. Somewhere it seems she picked up a pack of smokes and a lighter - actually it was off the janitor, but that's neither here nor there. In the hospital, she lights up. It won't be long before she's caught, but until then she has a nummy, nummy cigarette.

Milton looks at the cigarette with a mix of envy and worry — what if it sets the smoke alarms off? But he's warming to his task in explaining a favorite theory of his to a willing listener. "Society as a whole is sick," he declares. "It's like a body suffering from a mental illness. It's stopped looking after itself, and so its components are starting to fall victim to neglect individually. More lunatics, more sociopaths, more crazies every day. More spree killings, more serial murders, more kids shooting up schools. We're on a roller coaster and it's heading down."

Lola shrugs. "So? Why's that bad? An even if it weren', Ah mean…" She chuckles, shaking her head. "Everyone always thinks that their time is the wrost time ever. Weren' there a buncha kids what got shot back in the 70s at school? An then weren't there mobsters shootin' up Chicago in the 30s? Each a those was the 'worst time ever'. Ah'm sure this will be too - until it's the next time." She puffs and exhales.

"I'm sure the Thirties were the worst time ever, then. They've just got worse since. And will keep getting worse. Mark my words. Until society as we know it breaks down entirely, and irretrievable." Milton seems determined to make his point.

And Lola is determined not to let him have his moment. "Well what 'bout the World War I then? An afore that, wern' there plagues an such? An the Civil War? An the Revolutionary? An then there's all them foreign woars - Ah heard there was a war in France lasted 100 years. Ah mean come on, that's just uneccisary!"

"If society weren't diseased /all/ wars would be unnecessary," fires back Milton.

"But all Ah'm askin is…ooh," She groans a little, touchign her head. She reaches up to cehck her IV bag - nope, still flowing. Things must be going fine then, just a small shot of pain. "How is these the worst a times when there ain' never been a time without wars or murders or diseases or the like? Just seems ta me that all a them things is part a life."

"You say that," Milton says with an air of triumph, "because you're part of the delusion of society. Society can't bear to face the reality that it's sick, it's dying. So it pretends very hard that everything is all right."

"Ah don' pretend that everythin's alright," Lola counters with another puff. A nurse walks by and she tucks the cigarette behind her and behidn the chair, tilting her arm to make it work. The nurse passes with a smile, adn the illegal activity continues. "Ah just…dunno." She shrugs. "World ain' ended in millions a years with all this shit goin' on. Folks smart enough an who care are dealin' with it, just like afore. Ah'm just here for the ride."

"Well, we all are," Milton points out. "The trouble is that even if I'm right, what the hell can I do about it? One man? One poet? Nothing. So, yeah, I'm here for the ride too. But at least when things finally fall apart I hope to be spared long enough to be able to say 'I told you so'."

"So yer just hopin' ta survive ta be a douchebag? No wonder ya got stabbed," Lola doens't seem to be the sort to mince her words, and she sits back comfortably even though she just insulted the man. "Ah mean, ya'd think with all yer 'society's bad!' ya'd try an do somethin' about it. But no, ya just wanna whine. Shit, still got that knife around? I'll slit mah own throat."

"Oh, don't be so useless," growls Milton. "What do you /suggest/ that I do about it? And that dude didn't stab me because I argued about society with him. He came out of the blue."

"Me? Ah'd suggest ya shut up 'bout it, but that's just me. Ah mean if ya hate or like somethin' so much, do somethin. Don' bitch. Hell Ah got shot just fer bein' in the wrong place at the wrong time." And firing a gun. But that's basically a past-time on Staten! "Ah'm over it."

"Fine," snaps Milton. "I'll shut up." He rises to his feet with what he intends to be dignity, but the wince of pain from his midriff that the exertion produces in him rather spoils the effect. "But remember what I said. We'll see who's right soon enough." He begins to stalk away back to his bed.

"Sure will sugar," Lola says idly, tapping the nose of her giant bear that she loves so dearly. She must love it, after all, she carries it around everywhere.

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