Two Blind Men and a Fool
by Sherman Smith
Earl Crier wakes screaming from nightmares in which his ship sinks in the Arctic in World War II. He has survived but is now blind. He takes refuge in music and in the kindness of Stella. Meanwhile, other veterans return, and their most serious wounds are not always visible.
Chapter 46: Crazy as a Woodpecker
Elroy, a.k.a John Doe, had passed all his tests. It had taken a while because the authorities needed some level of cooperation in order to evaluate his mental stability. Finally, out of a combination of boredom and a strong desire to get out of the loony bin, he had given them enough cooperation to certify that he knew right from wrong, was a skilled con artist, and career criminal. Crazy? No, but all the certifying powers agreed that he should be locked up for a good long time.
Now he sat handcuffed and chained to a bolted-down chair waiting for his ride back to Omaha and ultimately to the city jail where he would be held until his trial was set for aggravated assault and attempted murder.
Elroy had determined that it was impossible to escape from the insane asylum; he needed to be transferred elsewhere. The hospital in Omaha was just as escape-proof, and he doubted that the Omaha city jail would prove to be any better.
Here he was, waiting for his ride to Omaha, and with any luck he would never see the city limits; somehow he would make his escape. He had never given anyone a clue as to his real identity. Once he was out of the state, he would be a free man.
The chair was uncomfortable, and he shifted the best he could. The guard gave him a rap on the shoulder with a billy club just in case he was thinking of trying something foolish. The door opened and to his surprise in came the ball-busting nurse he had wanted to strangle back in Omaha.
He read her name tag. “Ahhhh, Miss Moldawsky, how nice to see you again. Moldawsky? Polish? It‘s a shame the Germans didn’t get a chance to finish their work. Oh well, perhaps another time.”
“Are we ready, Mr. Doe?” she asked with a curt nod. “I’m afraid the paperwork requires that you pass one more time through my care before you are officially handed over to the police.”
“Please, call me John,” Elroy said to the nurse. “I’ve had some time to think since we last met, and I’m pleased that we’ve got this final time to talk, heart to heart, so to speak. I do hope you don’t think ill of me?”
She remained silent as the guard stepped forward to unlock his chains.
Elroy’s eyes widened as he looked up at the guard, whose expression changed to a shadow of a smile, as Elroy began to sing, his voice high and theatrical as he mimicked the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker.
Everyone thinks I’m crazy
Yesiriee, that’s me, that’s me.
That’s what I’m cracked up to be.
I chop a hole in every tree.
Knock on wood.
So I’m crazy
What can I do?
So are you.
“Oh you are good, John, very good,” she responded with a voice as friendly as burnt toast. “But not good enough. Today they are going to come and take you away, put you behind cold steel bars, hopefully for the rest of your life.”
“It’s nice to finally have some validation.” Elroy cocked his head, giggled, as he mimicked the actor Vincent Price. “I’d like a couple of hamburgers, and I want them raw.” He licked his lips slowly and deliberately. “It’s amazing how long a chap can live with his skull smashed in. Would you like to try an experiment?” The woodpecker returned with a long unnerving laugh.
She stared at him and wondered.
“In my dreams you’re dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. It is such a pleasant dream.” His voice sounded much like Vincent Price’s again.
“Time to go, John, or would you prefer we call you Woody?” The guard yanked up on Elroy’s chains and directed him forcibly towards the door.
This time Elroy yanked back, nearly pulling the guard off his feet. “If you must know,” he said, sounding quite sane, “my name is Elroy, Elroy Hawks. Come on flatfoot, let’s get this show on the road.”
Copyright © 2013 by Sherman Smith