Thursday, August 7, 2014
The Time When I Saw the Mask Come Down
I remember the first time I saw the "real him." It was in the hospital after the motorcycle crash.
The nurse wanted him to get up and walk down the hall with a walker. His leg was in an orthopedic boot. They wanted to keep the blood circulating, get him up and about. I said I'd walk with him, knowing I was going to be the one helping him once we got home.
As an aside: He had no family or friends visit him in the hospital. He was estranged from his father, his mother and step-father didn't come down, no siblings or step-siblings showed up. Only one friend. I found it odd that people in his life didn't bother to be there for him. It was all falling on me. And, again, I'd only known him for 3 months. Red flag? You betcha!
I was walking a couple paces behind him and as he stepped out into the hall, the back of his gown came loose and opened up, exposing his rear end.
He felt the draft.
He turned to look at me.
It was a look I can't forget. Pure disgust.
"You did that on purpose," he sneered.
I just looked at him, confused. "Did what?"
"Let my gown fall open. You're trying to embarrass me."
I went over and tied the gown back up. "No, no! It just fell open as you walked..."
"You think it's funny, don't you? This is all a big joke."
"What are you talking about?" I said. "I didn't untie it!"
"You know what? You can just go the fuck home," he said, getting louder now. "Get the FUCK away from me!"
I felt tears welling up, my face burning. I didn't understand why he was being like this. I hadn't untied the gown. I just wanted to walk with him and help. I remember turning and looking at the nurse. She just looked back at me, with a look of pity. She'd seen the whole thing. I was mortified.
"Do you really want me to leave?" I asked.
"Yes," he said, his eyes blank. Empty. "Get the fuck out of here."
This may sound like nothing to many people. And I guess at the time, as upset as I was, I didn't think it was necessarily beyond the norm. After all, he was in pain and had been in an accident. I did leave the hospital, went outside to get some air. But I didn't go home. I calmed down and went back upstairs and told him I wasn't going to leave him.
He blamed the morphine. He said the drugs made him snap like that. He said he would ask the doctor to change his pain med. The morphine made him do it.
"Yes!" I thought. "Of course! That wasn't really him. The drugs made him react that way!"
With the advantage of 20/20 hindsight, however, he had let down the mask to reveal his true self. And, in retrospect, what was beneath was sinister.