I’ve been spending a lot of time at the VA hospital in Long Beach. In the early morning hours, between 2:00 and 4:oo am, the place is deserted and scary. People can walk in off the street at numerous points without going through security. I’ve never seen security, I just see crazy people and wounded vets. I ran into two crazy people Friday night, at least I think they were crazy.
I walked from the cancer ward to the break area, a distance of 600 feet, several times a night. In the early morning, hours before dawn, it is rare to run into people, but I did Friday night.
As I entered the break area a fat unhealthy looking man greeted me. I returned his greeting in kind but noticed that he was reading a big gold-edged bible, so I ignored him. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to work the vending machines, once I scored some hot coffee, I walked toward the exit. The Bible reader said, “You know, I’m going to die.”
“I’m sorry.” I said.
“I’m going to die, and you are too, the Bible says so.”
I had no intention of talking to him, so I made a quick exit. He repeats himself as I leave. His last words, spoken with a hint of hysteria while he pointed a fat finger at his bible were, “I’m going to die.”
I walked away fast. I was in no mood to talk to a nutter with a bible. A few minutes later I made the last turn in the hospital’s rat maze of corridors before arriving at the elevators. Ahead of me in the hallway I saw a man wearing an odd mix of hospital and street clothing. He tore off blue sanitary gloves and threw them to the ground as he jogged toward me. I was frightened and uneasy. The man was sweating profusely, out of breath, had a large grease mark covering part of his face near his right cheek, and was jerky in his movements. I figure him for a tweaker.
He made a right into the elevator a few seconds before I made a left. I hear him say, “Going up?” I nodded yes and stepped into the elevator next to another man you has his back firmly plastered to the wall opposite the tweaker. The other passenger jumped out on the 4th floor. I ask the tweaker if he’s been running. He paced back and forth and yells, “Hell yes I’ve been running.” He pointed at me, “Where the fuck is my bible?”
I don’t answer. Instead, I slid around to a put my back against the wall opposite him. He danced from foot-to-foot while wiping sweat from his face. He looked high and smelled like a sewer. “I lost my bible.” He says. “But I still have time.”
I jumped off at my floor and watched as the door closed. I figure two bible nutters in one night was enough, so I went back to my vigil without taking another break. It’s safer that way.