“Could somebody please tell Frank to put some fucking clothes on? Just ‘cause he’s blind and can’t see his own naked body, it don’t mean the rest of us wanna look at his balls all day!”
“Language, Mr. Jenkins.” Bubba, one of the larger orderlies, gave me a menacing glare, but he knew I was right.
Bubba approached Frank with a robe. He reminded Frank that even though he was currently in the male quarters of the mental health facility, his indecent exposure was visible to females from the adjacent common area. I held back a smartass remark about Frank spoiling my appetite so close to snack time. I did not want to seem unruly because Bubba had a reputation as one of the more trigger-happy orderlies. He seemed to enjoy administering that infamous shot that could put a grown man down for hours. I once watched him inject a dozen guys in one day, so I kept my mouth shut. I always hated needles.
I’d been cooped up for four days and never thought a mental health facility could be so damn crazy. No pun intended. I knew I didn’t belong here. Naked Frank was crazy. The chick that went by the name T-seven-minute was nuts, and the rest of the patients were just fucking loony. I, on the other hand, wound up in the
Center on Edgewood Avenue in ,
because my older brother Jermaine was the crazy one. Jacksonville, FL
Insanus omnis fuere credit cetero. In Latin, that means Every madman thinks everyone else is mad. I red that once in the Encyclopedia of Super Villains, but don’t hold that against me. I believe it was Eminem who said, “I ain’t crazy. I say shit crazy to crazy people to make ‘em believe I’m crazy so they can relate to me.” This explained how I ended up in such a wacky predicament, well kind of anyway. Here’s the condensed story of how I got myself in this mess.
I actually grew up in Okechobee, which is about forty-five minutes north of
My big brother, Jermaine, and I were raised by our happily-married
pediatrician parents. We made the most
of living in such a small town. In 1997,
when I enrolled in middle school, Jermaine went off to the University of North Florida
in Jacksonville. He intended to follow in the family business
With big bro’ outta the house, I started to blossom into my own individual during my adolescent years. Some would say I became a little troublemaker. Sure, when I was in the seventh grade, me and my pals planted leftover dissection specimens in the girls’ bathrooms and locker room, but that went down in history as a classic prank. I also picked up a knack for graffiti my freshmen year of high school, and the mural of The Simpsons I did outside the gymnasium wall was a work of art. Principal Payne didn’t see it as art, and I was permanently on his shit list. Of course, getting busted smoking weed in the bathroom sophomore year didn’t help. It was actually my first time tasting the sweet cannabis, but Mom and Dad were disappointed by the news that I was experimenting with drugs. I got the, “You should be more like your big brother….” Speech.
I thought my parents’ lectures were lame and clichéd. They were always busy with work, and nothing could tame my rebel heart. I was a wild child, a class clown, the life of the party. My life was a party, but in November of 2001, my party was pooped. I came home late from school one day stoned out of my face. I tried to play it off, but I sensed that Mom and Dad knew. They were in a good mood though. They told me they were leaving on a flight that night to celebrate their silver anniversary in
Rome. I drove them to the airport in Miami.
“I hope my baby will be okay in the house by yourself,” Mom said.
“Baby? I’m a man now, Momma.” I jokingly deepened my voice of few octaves.
“Of course. Just don’t party too hard, sport,” Dad winked.
“Party? I’m really not the type to throw a big house party when both my parents are outta town,” I lied. I had three kegs on order for the weekend.
“We love you, Dewaun,” Mom said.
“Be careful, and don’t forget to feed the fish,” Dad reminded me as they entered the terminal. “Take care, son.”
I awoke in a daze the following Sunday. The house was trashed. I had only the faintest recollection of the wild party I hosted. It was mess, but there was no structural damage to the house. That meant things didn’t get too far out of hand. Starsky and Hutch, our two goldfish, were floating belly-up in their tank. I thought I remembered to feed them. Then, I saw two empty Grey Goose vodka bottles floating inside their tank. So much for drinking like a fish. I knew cleaning this up by Monday would be a bitch, but the doorbell rang, and I discovered that irony was the biggest bitch of them all. I opened the door to a cop on my doorstep.
“Are you Dewaun Jenkins?” he asked.
I nodded and braced myself for the brunt of a reprimand for my outrageous party. The house still reeked of bud and booze. I should have known better than to throw such an outrageously grand party in such a small town. The sorrow on the police officer’s face was all too telling though. He removed his hat out of respect and delivered the bad news. My parents died in a plane crash on their way back from
Italy. Needless to say, I was very devastated.
We received a life insurance policy settlement and a generous inheritance from our parents that left us fairly well-off. I mourned as best I could. After the funeral, I moved to
Jermaine. It didn’t take long to figure
out that our personalities and lifestyles really clashed. I was a party animal, and he was a med school
nerd. I coasted through my senior year
and graduated in Sandalwood’s Class of 2002.
Miraculously, Jermaine convinced me to pursue post-secondary education. He even pulled a few strings to get me
admitted to UNF. If I only knew this
wouldn’t be the first time he’d have me admitted.
Within a few days at the beginning of the Fall 2002 semester, I had a reputation for being one of the biggest potheads on campus. I decided to smoke out one day and take a trip to
Beach on a Sunday following my first week of
classes. That’s where I met G. He was a laid back cat from Mississippi
who currently resided in Orange Park just south of Jacksonville.
His eyes were as glazed and bloodshot as mine, and it wasn’t from the
salt water. After an engaging
conversation, I unearthed that he also saw it through the eyes of Warren Sapp.
G was a mid-level drug dealer with aspirations to expand his business and capitalize on profits by making his products available on a college campus. We talked, and after convincing G I was not an undercover cop, we set up a business arrangement. He fronted me a quarter pound to test the waters on campus. It went well. I was a natural weed man, but when I was down to my last dime sack, my fortunes turned. A not-so-random dorm search was conducted, and thanks to some snitch, I got busted by campus security.
I was whisked away to the Duval County Detention Facility downtown and booked for possession of marijuana. Luckily, I wasn’t caught with enough weight to be nailed with an intent to distribute charge because I had less than twenty grams on me, but the infraction was enough to get me expelled from UNF. Jermaine bailed me out of jail three days later. He chastised me for my poor decision-making skills and was amazed by how I got expelled so early in my first semester of college.
Jermaine had already gone to my dorm to pack my belongings. We got into a heated argument in the car on our way to our apartment. I was pretty pissed. I said some things I should not have said. He was just riding my ass so hard about doing drugs and being irresponsible. He told me he wanted me out of his apartment in two weeks. Since I was 18, he said I could us my share of the inheritance to find my own place. I mentioned something about wishing I was dead as he pulled into the parking lot of the apartment complex.
Jermaine dropped me off because he had classes later. I stormed out of the car slamming the door viciously on my way out. I entered the two bedroom apartment. I phoned G to let him know what went down. I assured him that there was now way to trace anything back to him. He was very understanding, and we mad an arrangement for me to pay him what I owed in a week. I found a secret stash of emergency herb I had hidden in my bedroom. It was enough for a descent spliff. After my blunt session concluded, the doorbell rang.
“Are you Dewaun Jenkins?” the police officer asked when I opened the door. After I nodded with a not-this-shit-again look on my face, he said, “You’re going to have to come with me.”
“What?” I was confused.
“You’re not in trouble, but you’re going to have to come with me.”
That’s how I ended up in the loony bin. Apparently, thanks to a law called the Baker Act, if a family member thinks that a relative is in danger of harming themselves or others, they can report it, and that person will be escorted to a nearby mental hospital by police for evaluation and treatment. My big brother Jermaine pulled a fast one on me.
This was my fourth day in the mental hospital. The psychological evaluation I received proved I had some symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, but there was not enough evidence for an official diagnosis. Blood tests obviously proved I had high amounts of THC in my system. There was something else interesting about my blood test. The doctors indicated there was evidence of a minor chemical imbalance in my brain. They fed me a bunch of medical mumbo jumbo about a hyperactive brain and something about compounding symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in my early twenties.
“But I’m not crazy, right?” I kept asking.
They could not give me a definitive answer, so I started lobbying for a discharge. It only took a few threats to call my lawyer for them to arrange my release. Much to my chagrin, Jermain was waiting for me outside. I reluctantly walked up to his car and st in the passenger seat.
“What he hell are you doing here?” I asked.
“I’m sorry, but I thought this was he best way to get you the help you needed,” he answered.
“Help? I’m no a damn junkie, and I ain’ suicidal! By the way, didn’t you kick me out, or something?”
“I’ve been rethinking what I said. I want you to stay. I can help you get into a community college.”
“Here you go with that help shit again, Jermaine. I’m not a little kid no more. Jus take me to the crib so I can pack my shit.”
“Well, what are you going to do? Where are you going to go?”
“Imma take my share of the money Mom and Dad left us to buy a car. Then, I guess I’ll go back to Okechobee.”
“That money won’t last forever, Dewaun.”
“Whatever the fuck ever, man. I’ll figure somethin’ out. Don’t worry.”