On recollection of that singularly disgusting building my mind is hesitant to reconstruct the image of the hideous fuchea paint. Which cast over it like a layer of bubbled pink flesh hanging over a rancid rotting skeleton of a building.
The colour of which I might imagine of those many chosen people who were exposed to a noteably vile a substance as cyanide gas intended as such for vermin. Their bodies bloated and pink, skin bubbling like that of a suckling pig slowly roasted over an open flame. The bones of the building that of an old English town house, transported brick by brick from such old haunts as Glastonbury. Home to such tails of wicked faeries that would disappear unlucky travellers who might have the poor fortune to rest upon a certain rock deemed sacred to the cruel ironic justice of the fae folk.
To this day I have seldom the choice to replay this ‘event’ over and over in my head. As it was this soggy new England morning in maine that I was to lose my grip on the mortal coil for better or worse.
It was a notably wet early morning that I was to set foot on the grounds of the Pink Bird mental asylum as it stood in the October of 1994 in the new England town of Presque isle maine.
Having graduated from a university of note some years before I was applying for a newly opened position at the facility. I’d hasten to add I had grown irritated at relaying which university I’d graduated from. As it seemed to invoke strange and morbid fascination from anyone that heard the name which is why I refuse to mention the accursedly wicked place even in these notes I scrawl now. Strange rumours dogged it of doctors coming from there possible forty years hence conducting strange research into the reanimation of dead flesh. I had no interest in such study for it was the mind that interested me. It became increasingly more irritating as people seemed to imbue me with vicarious curiosity at the history and rumours that abound said university of which I deem to remain nameless. It’s past neither in my time there nor in my present state interested me at all.
That being said I can’t help remarking on my present predicament and wandering if the accursed place had some hand in my misfortune.
I approached the building which I had remarked looked like a corpse prepared hastily for an open casket viewing. A make over having possibly taken place in the early seventies had not aged well and as it sat off the beaten track in the back country of new England.
The garden was slightly overgrown, the hedges seemed to crawl out and attempt to swallow the narrow path that led from the road. A large bare tree stood in the court before the building reaching up into the slate coloured sky of that misty morning. The colours of the hedges a mix of deep damp greens and autumnal oranges and browns forming a mash of living and dying rott. The smell of which was slightly sweet.
I approached the building in an old crysler my mother had left me passing a few years prior. The car was in fairly good condition but wide and maneuvered like that of an old tugg boat on choppy waters. As I wasn’t the most robust figure of a man I was prone to car sickness which made me slightly light headed as the car lurched around the tight oval curve of the main court around that old bare tree with it’s dark grey bark.
I parked as near the entrance as I felt was polite as there was no markings of any kind and only one other car parked in a similar fashion. But notably of more refined taste, a dark blue bently with tasteful chrome wheels.
I ascended a steep set of slightly damp stone steps to reach a large but ramshackle white wooden door as cracked and creased as the rest of the paint work on the old building. The whole thing looming over my head looked like a sore open wound crawling with unwanted plant life like dry boney fingers peeling at the cracks in the saturated fuschia paint.
Taken with some odd ceremony I knocked on the old door and was met with silence and then a dull echoing noise I attributed to the age of the building. But sounded oddly almost like a person sighing deeply or the sound of sawing wood.
After getting no response from my peculiar inclination to knock as if it was episode of downtown abbey and I was about to be greeted by some overly verbose woman in a bustiare. I shuddered at the thought and twisted the old rusty doorknob which released a coppery scent and then popped open with a shudder that ripped through the entire frame and an awful creaking scraping noise that went through me like the sound of grinding teeth.
“Oh I’m sorry” A young woman said as I almost fell on her through the door as it gave way faster than I thought it might. “I should have warned you about the door, I heard you knocking I was just…”
I was taken by her instantly, a beauty of note, her blonde hair tied into a tight but full bun secured in place with what looked like a chopstick. A set of small reading glasses perched on the tip of a short sharp nose below of which rested a set of full pursed lips painted with a muted dark pink lipstick which seemed to match the sparse spackling of light freckles on her cheeks.
Her lidded eyes were green and distinctive under neatly plucked eyebrows, perfect eyelashes beating like that of a butterflies wing. Her face a delicate pale canvas of faintly german irish features.
She was wearing a long white labcoat fastened at the front ending just above her knee line. Continued by a set of dark stockings and a set of half heeled black shoes.
I was speechless for a moment. Noticing my awkwardness she let out a nervous chuckle before changing the clipboard from one hand to the other, pushing her glasses up on her face and making a sniffing noise. Then reaching out an unpainted soft hand to me at an odd angle as if half expecting a handshake half expecting me to kneel and kiss it.
“It sticks in the damp” She muttered.
“The door, the building is rather old as you might be able to tell”. She said as she almost did an awkward half curtsy.
Tell I could, now my mind was taken off of this fine specimen of a woman finding myself struck dumb by seeing such a creature in a place such as this, not unlike finding a painting of rare beauty in a dusty shunned cellar. I was then taken to noting my surroundings. I was in a tight entryway not unlike a set of old terrace houses, then opening up into a much larger and grand but far colder reception area. The stone tiling and the antiquated heating of the place, noting radiators that dated back possibly to the sixties were no doubt the reason for the distinct cold.
It felt not unlike entering an old castle, reminding me of the trips I had taken to old England in my early youth to see their many thousand year old struts crumbling in that that dim place. Rising like old teeth in a skull where in many insects had erected their new homes around, daining to look up at it on their morning commutes. I feared no amount of of modern heating could reach every corner in this drafty old building and whats more it would just have to be something gotten used to.
For how could I turn down such a position for fear of being a little chilly when all it took to rectify the problem was a thick sweater and a brisk pace.
“Henry, was it?”
“Err, y-yes, Henry Tillinghast” I stammered as I was caught staring off down one drafty hallway that seemed to go on forever taking odd angles.
“You’ll have to sign in, its our policy” The young woman said as she directed me to the fifties style front reception desk that resembled that of the high rounded desks that are common in hospitals or dentist offices. A stoic round woman sat squat behind the desk with an unblinking blank expression of unbroken displeasure. Her body a misshapen mess of oddly stacked round blocks of fat and flesh. Atop it an almost cylindrical head which was surely an optical illusion created by her oddly ancient looking reading glasses and her also ancient beehive hairstyle of greying candy floss blue hair.
Without changing her expression or moving much more than her hands, the old woman span the sign in book around without so much as clearing her throat.
“This is Myrtle- she’ll warm up to you in time.” The young lady smiled.
“I-I’m sorry I didn’t get your name” I said fighting back that nervous stammer, trying to pull over a cold cloak of professional patter.
“Jane, err, Crowsly, Jane Crowsly” She said, pinning a smile on her face one cheek at a time, pulled as If by drawstrings on a hooded sweater. “Err, I’ve been instructed by the director to give you a brief tour of the facility and then you can meet the director and we’ll sort out the necessary paperwork for your appointment here. Her smile peaked and then dropped and I realised a response was necessary.
“Err y-yes, that sounds err…”
“Ok well, follow me” She said her flat heels tapping on the tiled floors as she walked down the halls.
I gracelessly tottered after her trying to keep my attention drawn on my surroundings and not on her round and apple shaped post- “These are our regular rooms, the more secure cells are located in the basement but it won’t be necessary to show you those as they’re not used very often”.
“Oh you don’t get very many violent patients”
She sighed almost sadly and said “No, we cater to a specific clientele, it’s very private.”
“Like a day spa?”
I followed her down the hallway and it seemed to be distinctly abandoned, most of the rooms were closed and fastened securely but empty. Some of them it seemingly recently and the ones that had occupants were seldom busy. The patient asleep or in some sort of child like state of arrest. The rooms were fairly large and old and probably as equally cold as the hall but the patients seemed to show no signs of awareness of their surroundings at all. One in particular seemed much more preoccupied with capturing illusiory insects that flew around her head.
I looked down the hall the way we came and I could have sworn we’d only walked a few feet but the reception desk was no longer visible, just a stretch of similar looking hallway stretching out behind me. I started to feel a little queezy and evidently Jane noticed.
“You’ve noticed haven’t you?”
“The building is very old and it’s prone to some peculiarities in terms of designs.” She stepped closer to me and pointed wafting an intoxicating smell in my face, cinnamon perhaps? “There’s actually a slight curve to the hall and it creates an optical illusion where it seems straight. We took a corner a few steps back but because of the odd geometry of the buildings your brain cuts it out. Due in part to natural assumptions. A corner should be a corner.”
“I see” I said completely irreducibly befuddled not seeing at all and feeling a little dizzy.
She smiled “You’ll get used to it, I’m sure.”