The Chronicles of Bob
I am Bob. I am Bob. My name is Bob. Although yesterday it was Harvey, and tomorrow it will be Randall, for now my name is Bob. Each day I choose a new name, it’s part of my condition, but it’s not really a condition, I consider it vacation.
Where I live the walls are white, just white, I don’t know why. When I asked them why they’re white, they tell me they’re not white. They tell me they’re beige. Call it what you will, they’re white. But beige is soothing, they tell me. I tell them so is sex, but I don’t want to have it 24/7.
The rooms are four walls, always four walls. Every room is four walls, even if they’re not beige. I sometimes wonder why there aren’t three walled rooms. I think triangle rooms would be unique, if a bit impractical, and I’d color them anything other than beige.
But my name is Bob, like I said, I am Bob. Everyday my friends have to ask me what my name is. Every morning is something new. And if they aren’t around for breakfast, they have to ask me at lunch. This happens a lot here, we wander away in the day, and we get in trouble for it. I tell them we wouldn’t wander if we weren’t spaced out all the time
It’s the drugs, by the way, that space us out. Well, actually I’ve never spaced out, I’ve never taken the drugs. Never have. Never do. Because I’m on vacation, remember?
I wear white a lot. Scratch that, I wear beige a lot. But it’s still white. White shirts, they tear easily though. They’re made so they tear; the same thing with the sheets. They make them that way in case we try to hang ourselves. We try to hang ourselves a lot. Well, they try to hang themselves a lot. Bob doesn’t hang himself. And since the sheets and shirts tear, sometimes they have to improvise. But Bob’s never tried to hang himself.
And you know what the weird thing is? I’m not crazy. Nope, not a bit. I’m right as rain up in the old noodle-noggin. I put myself in here. I’m a volunteer. It’s my vacation.
They insist I’m not crazy, I insist I am. I know I’m not crazy, I just insist I am. I like it here. I like the beige. I like the tears. I like the four-corner rooms. But most of all I like being Sam. I like being Frank. I like being James and Harvey and Randall.
And I like Bob. I like Bob, because Bob doesn’t try to hang himself. And they call me Bob. They all call me Bob. I am Bob.
Hello, welcome to my world. We’ve met, I’m sure, remember? It is I, the artist formally known as Bob. But I’m back to Bob. I like Bob. I love him.
Bob’s become a philosopher. The walls are beige, I know, you can fool me twice, thrice, but I’m Bob, and Bob needs a break from this place. Bob needs a salvation, a release. Bob needs to get away from the needles. Bob needs a woman. We’ve forgotten women. We’ve forgotten love. Perhaps it’s the 24/7 sex. Oops, Bob went a bit far there.
Bob doesn’t have friends anymore, now that he’s taken the drugs. Drugs are good. Bob’s better now. See Bob noticed that his fellow acquaintances took the drugs. How could he not, they used to eat grapes off the wallpaper. Then Bob noticed that some who did got out. Bob’s better. He’s better. I…I’m getting better.
Bob and I-wait, Bob is I. I’m Bob, sorry, I’ve realized that there is a world outside these four walled rooms. Worlds of sweets, of love, of happiness, and Bob intends to meet it head on. Hopefully he'll be able to avoid a concussion. Bob used to like being lit up when he didn't behave. He used to like the monthly trips to the museum, but now Bob's depressed.
Bob spoke to shrinks, men who use words like flim flam, wish wash, and severe schizophrenia to describe my condition, a condition six months ago they were convinced Bob didn’t have. Flip floppers, the lot. It’s not a condition, but it’s far from vacation. See, Bob’s not happy anymore. Bob misses life. Bob misses Joe Pesci movies, the smell of a lover’s hair, the warm feeling you get inside when you bite into a big chocolate cookie, the sound...the sound of birds calling beyond my door. And Bob knows that he can never leave. Not now. Not while his condition is vacation and his vacation is condition.
Bob looks beyond his windows, away from his Barnaby Jones and I Love Lucy reruns, and sees light. He sees birds flying, hears their song. When he places his face to the glass, warm from the sun, he feels home, and he smiles.
But if I, Bob, a man of my condition, can see, then maybe I can live. Maybe I can see the birds that fly beyond the glass. I can see all the pretty things of the world. I can know. I can know the love of a woman. Know the taste of cookies with milk. Know that every breath I take may be one worth living. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll hope. For I am Bob, I am Bob, and I will live again.
What the hell is Bob doing? Bob is running. Yes, that’s most certainly it. He must be, seeing as how his legs are swinging. Why is Bob running, you ask? Simple; running is what one does when one is being chased, or when one wants to be a showoff in front of people who drive cars.
A few weeks ago Bob realized that by taking drugs, some of his friends left vacation, so Bob started taking the drugs too. Then Bob realized that after leaving vacation, most returned for more vacation. So once again Bob stopped taking drugs. Bob’s had a busy schedule.
So Bob jumped off a moving vehicle. Bit far ahead? Bob took the bus to the museum. It seems like the only people visiting museums anymore are people like Bob. That and old people, but when it comes right down to it, what’s the difference?
So, since Bob had his epiphany, Bob assumed that apparently he can check in, but Bob can’t check out. So Bob is running. Running from Barnaby Jones and exercise time. Running to super bowls and birthday parties. Bob feels tired, and no wonder, there’s a dart in Bob’s backside! Bob’s finding it very hard to run with a numb backside. In fact, Bob’s having a hard time running at all…
Bob’s back. Back inside. They caught Bob. They caught me. Bob’s taken the rope made of wallpaper from under his bed, tied it tight. Maybe someone will say something nice about Bob when he’s buried, but Bob doubts it. Bob failed. One more meal with friends, one more name change, one more look at those damn beige walls, and Bob will be gone.
Bob’s eating macaroni for dinner again. The nasty mac and cheese with too much salt and little cheese. A close friend of Bob confides in him, congratulates him on his escape, and hugs him. Bob feels more free at this moment then he’s ever felt in the last two years. Bob’s good friend asks him why he ran. Bob tells him, because of the cookies. Because of family and his children. His friend asks him why he doesn’t just check out. Bob screams.
Bob rolls and shouts and asks him if it’s true. Yes. The men in beige come running. Bob raises his hands, smiling and wagging his fingers, giving them the old middle finger salute. Bob can leave, and Bob isn’t scared anymore. Bob cries.
Bob’s running again, but not because he’s being chased. No one’s chasing Bob this time. There’s no darts in Bob’s ass this time. Bob’s not running from them. He’s running to a car. He’s running to a home. He’s running because he’s free. Bob’s free. I’m free…