By Derek Hawkins
She lit a cigarette, blew five smoke rings, and said "Welcome. Feel at home and get used to this place, you won't ever leave." She had lit up, blew the rings and spoke after I’d handed her the chit the door man gave to me. She’d said that last part in such a cheery voice I figured it was just part of the resort’s standard greeting. I bet that I’d be hearing it a lot during my stay here. “Follow me, Mr Bishop, and I’ll show you to your table.”
I followed her. Now, I’m usually not one for noticing alien physiology, but she had the sweetest set of posterior tentacles I’d seen in a long time. They swayed and undulated hypnotically as she effortlessly walked/slithered across the floor in front of me.
I looked at the floor, or at least I tried to, what with those sweet tentacles in front of me, and with what I could see of it in the lowered lighting of the grand barroom of the resort, it wasn’t easy. Polished marble flooring held a shine a good six inches deep. At least, it looked that deep. I’d have more time to contemplate the floor’s shine depth from my table. As for right now, the hostess was still talking one of her heads off. She had three of them after all, very useful if you were a waitress and/or a telemarketer. She certainly never lacked for a conversation partner, even if one head knew what the other was already going to say. Vesilian quadro-pi like her had three heads, but only one brain located down in the chest cavity.
I gave her my drink order, and she walked/slithered off to the bar to have it filled. I casually looked around the room and pulled up short in a sort of awed shock. Sitting in a booth maybe a quarter of the way across the room sat Xylox the Muscle. Xylox was a Kitanos, a vaguely wolflike species all averaging on the far side of two and a quarter meters tall. Xylox had been all over the tri-vids a couple years ago when he was tried and convicted on thirty two counts of murder. On the stand, Xylox confessed that he had only done what the voices in his head had told him to do, in order to shut them up. He’d ended up sentenced to the maximum security wing of the Archinon Asylum For The Insane. I wondered what he was doing here.
I sat and watched the room while I sipped on my drink. The hostess was back at her post, greeting someone else. I watched as the new patron handed her his chit, and the she lit up another cigarette and blew three smoke rings. “Welcome. Feel at home and get used to this place, you won’t ever leave.” The same cheery-ness on the end of the greeting. When the hostess came back by from seating the customer, I let her know I was ready to head up to my room.
They watched the video monitor from the office. On screen, a middle aged man was being escorted into the facility. The nurse marked a number “5" on his folder and sat the gentleman down at a table.
“Doctor, the man on the screen, the nurse wrote a ‘5' on his folder. What does that mean?”
The doctor looked down at his notes. “Adam S. Douglas. Paranoia and schitzophrenic tendencies. He is what we call a level 5 type. Mostly harmless.”
Samantha turned to look at her sister. “Sis, are you sure we are doing the right thing?”
Jessie nodded. “It’s for the best. Dad isn’t well enough to take care of himself. The State of California said so.”
Samantha looked concerned. She pointed to one of the people on the monitor. “That’s Joey The Hit Man, the mob assassin. Is dad really better off in here than outside? Is he really that safe in here?”
The doctor cleared his throat. “Ladies, this is the finest institution of its kind in the state of California. It’s safety record is beyond reproach. All of our residents are housed in separate wings determined by their level type rating. The only time the residents of different wings mix is here in the common building, and only then under very carefully monitored situations.”
I sat in the dining hall enjoying a pleasant meal, and staring out the view portal at the immaculately manicured lawns of the Resort. I sliced another bite of steak while I asked my dinner companion, “How are things on the U.S.S. Connecticut, Captain Luckette?”
“No so good,” my companion replied. He was wearing a navy blue coverall with gold stitching and a name tag that read ‘Capt. Richard Luckette, USN’. Under the wording was the dolphins image badge oh a United States Navy submariner. “You’ve left us in a bit of a lurch, sir. My ship and its crew are stuck on the Algerian coast with a Algerian warship in pursuit.”
“Ah, yes,” I said. “You were tangling with that cruiser when I left you last.” I took another bite of steak.
“Sir, when will you be getting around to finishing that up, by the way? The crew and I are anxious to know what happens to us. It has been several years now.”
“I know, Dick, I know. But I’m on a long vacation now, and I don’t have my typewriter with me. Suffice to say, you’ll will come out of it ok.”
My companion visibly relaxed. “Thank you, Mister Bishop. You have taken a lot of worry off my mind.”
I nodded graciously to the officer. “Glad I could be of assistance.”
Jessie turned off the tape. “Doctor, how is our father doing?”
“He’s been in here now for seven years, Doctor. Surely he is getting better?” Samantha asked.
The doctor cleared his throat. “I’m sorry ladies, but there has been no change in your father’s condition.”
“But its been seven years,” Samantha repeated.
“Yes, ma’am, it has. And unfortunately, as the tapes show, your father is still taking to people who aren’t there, holding entire conversations with thin air.” The doctor closed his folder. “Though it pains me so to say this, your father will have to remain in this facility for the foreseeable future. Jackson Bishop may have been an excellent writer, but he is no longer functioning in the real world.”
* * *
The writer leaned back in his chair and smiled. Jackson Bishop had been a fun character to write about. And writing the story he’d just finished as a series ending lagniappe piece was worth it. His readers would hopefully get a giggle out of Jack’s insanity. He sure had.