EPUB

Luke T. Bergeron - Neither a Borrower

By Kristen Adams,2014-10-31 13:21
10 views 0
Luke T. Bergeron - Neither a Borrower

    Neither a Borrower

    luke t. bergeron

     Published:

     2008 Tag(s): "science fiction", debt, student debt, debtor, "debtor prison", sick, virus,

    "neither a borrower"

    This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product ofthe author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons,living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

    ?

    Neither a Borrower ? 2008 luke t. bergeron

    Cover Photo ? 2009 luke t. bergeron

    Cover Design by Angela Sels

?

     is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoNeither a Borrower

    Derivative Works 3.0 license. This means that the work can be freely shared and distributed,but cannot be sold, attributed to parties other than the author, altered, transformed, or builtupon without the express written permission of the author. For more information about thislicense, go to http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/.

    ?

    ?The author can be reached at valentineclouds@gmail.com or found online at http://mispeled.net

    ?

    For Angela, with love.

    The heat of summer and the heat of fever already seem to go together, although it’s only beena few weeks since they brought me here and infected me with my sentence.

    ?

    Jack came to see me the first week, before the fever came on. My arm still felt sore from wherethey injected me. It ached deep down in the muscle, like a tetanus shot. I begged him tosmuggle me a pen and a sheaf of paper. He was reticent, worried that we would get in trouble,but I’d only been allowed to bring one book and I knew it wouldn’t last me more than a coupleof days. I was desperate for a way to while away the hours.

    ?

    He finally agreed, and snuck a pen and paper to me stuck in the center of a large stack oflegal forms I needed to sign. They let you have legal paperwork here.

    ?

    I didn’t have the chance to write anything down at first. After I got back to my room with thesupplies I collapsed. The first onset hit me right then and I woke up in the infirmary two dayslater. Nurse Gunderson was looming over me – I could see her fat head and watery eyes swiminto my blurry vision.

    ?

    Nurse Gunderson.? This one’s finally awake.

    ?

    I sat up in my bed. A short pudgy man in a white coat waddled over to me and timed my pulsewith his wristwatch. His fingers felt cool on my neck. Then he checked my temperature. Therewas sunlight coming in through the windows.

    ?

    Pudgy man. You’ll live.

    Me. What happ-

    ?

    Before I could finish the question, the doctor interrupted me. His answer didn’t stop him fromwalking away. It happens to everyone, he said. First dose is big. Your body’s just gettingused to it.

    They kept me in the infirmary for another two days, then sent me back to my room. I didn’thave much time to write then, either. I was still getting used to the daily routines. They werenew and tough before I got sick – they were less new but tougher now:

    ?

    6 AM – Lights on, Roll Call

    6.15 AM – Breakfast

    6.45 AM – Shower

    7.15 AM – Classes:

    ????????? Debt Management

    ????????? Financial Planning

    ????????? Personal Finance

    10.15 AM – Group

    12 PM – Lunch

    12.30 PM – Outside Recreation

    2 PM – Skills Training

    4 PM – Daily Speaker

    5 PM – Dinner

    5.45 PM Free Time

    7.30 PM – Lights out

    ?

    That’s the schedule for every day except Sundays, which skip morning classes for an optionalreligious service. I know why everyone here has such a strained look all the time – it’stiring. There’s so much to do everyday. It doesn’t seem that bad at first glance, but it’sso much more being sick on top of it.

    It turned out that they don’t care if I have a pen and paper. When we have unstructured timesome people in here do things, others just sit and stare, or stay in their beds as much as theycan, but the people watching us don’t really care what we do. With everyone sick, it’s notlike any of us has more strength than a newborn kitten on wobbly legs anyway. Two weeks after Icame out of the infirmary I braved taking a couple of blank pages and my pen out into the yardfor outside time. I spread out my blanket in the shade under a tree and started to write. Istarted with just little things, things that wouldn’t matter if my stuff got confiscated, butnothing happened. When the guards finally noticed they didn’t care. Really, it’s a pretty laxplace. It’d practically be a huge, awful bed and breakfast if it weren’t for the fence andthe sickness.

    ?

    But being stuck here really isn’t the punishment – that’s being sick.

    ?

    The first couple of days here weren’t that bad. Being away from my family, from Jack, that wasrough, but I could handle it. They assigned me a room in one of the buildings and showed mearound. Once I was settled in they brought me to the infection office and shot me up. That’swhy I recognized Nurse Gunderson after I woke up – she’s the one that did it.

    ?

    It took a couple of days to come on, they told me to expect that, and then it hit me. I feltlike I was on a carnival ride, the room was spinning and spinning – it wouldn’t stop. Iremember, in my semi-conscious delirium, yelling at the conductor to stop the ride. I told himI was going to throw up on his brand new shoes. I didn’t want to, but I would, if he made me.I woke up in the infirmary, Nurse Gunderson’s bulbous head in the center of my vision.

    ?

    After that I was always sick. That’s the way it works. Some days it isn’t as bad as others –it takes many different forms, nausea, headaches, fever, or just a disconnected, medicine-headfeeling, but it’s always there. It’s a virus they give you. Something they engineered as apunishment – the varied, inconsistent symptoms are planned. They want every day to be amystery – it could be hell, or just purgatory.

    ?

    Once a week every inmate has a standing appointment with Nurse Gunderson for a booster. If theydon’t keep shooting you up your body fights off the virus. They don’t tell you much about it,they don’t want an antivirus engineered on the outside and smuggled in for the patients, it’sall very hush hush, but I know a few things I saw on the news. Everyone knows about the newprisons. Are they really prisons? There aren’t many concrete walls or bars. But I guess theyare. Your body becomes a prison.

    ?

    The virus is short-term, that’s why they have to keep shooting you up. The syringe they stickin your arm is half-virus and half-immunosuppressants, they give you those so they can keep thevirus weak incase anyone from outside, or maybe the staff, gets it. Anyone not getting shot upcan fight it off in a day. Not in here. They keep your body tranqed out. It’s an elegantsystem, in a mad-scientist sort of way.

    ?

    Sometimes, because of the immunosuppressants, the prisoners here get sick with other things –colds, mostly run of the mill stuff, they try to keep the grounds and buildings pretty sterile,but sometimes people get something worse. Then they get sent to Nurse Gunderson in theinfirmary. She’s a cold bitch when she’s shooting you up, but I hear she has a kinder sidewhen you’re infected with something else. I wouldn’t know – I haven’t been here long enoughto catch anything else.

    I haven’t really met anyone here yet. We’re supposed to talk in group everyday, but talkingto the other inmates in a big session isn’t really meeting them. It’s hard to find otherthings to do in my free time. I’ve already read my book three times and I’m sick of it. I’vebeen writing when I had the energy. Mostly, though, it’s not my antisocial attitude that’sstopped me from making friends. It’s this place, this sickness. It keeps people feelinghorrible and subdued. Rarely do I see inmates talking except in group, when Dr. Cruizie makesthem. And by rarely I mean I haven’t seen it at all yet. Even during outside time people justspread out their blankets and lay in the grass in the shade. It’s all anyone seems to haveenergy for. Maybe it’s not just that, though. I think everyone is embarrassed to be here.

    ?

    At least the grounds are beautiful. If it weren’t for the fence and all the inmates splayedout like beached whales in hospital gowns, this place would seem more like a college campusthan a prison. Everyone is just wearing medical bracelets instead of the more fashionablevariety.

    ?

    Huge, thick based trees dot a green carpet of grass around the inmate house. There’s a medicalbuilding, a rec hall, an administration building, and a cafeteria house, but that’s about it.Mostly it’s just all green grass and trees. It’s peaceful here, in a surreal sort of way.

    ?

    The rooms are peaceful, too. Small, with two twin beds covered with rough wool quilts. I havean empty bed in my room because I don’t have a roommate. The inmates who’ve been here longenough, those most adjusted to the ups and downs of the virus, they make things like the quiltsfor the rooms. Each bed has a nightstand and a desk. The more I talk about it, the more itsounds just like that college campus I mentioned earlier. Except everyone is sick, and everyoneis supposed to be a criminal.

    ?

    The security is pretty lax because all the inmates are infected. Just a few guards and a fence.The virus leaves bright red blotches on your skin in random places, so even if anyone didescape they’d have to hide out for awhile while the virus faded. The pamphlet they gave mewhen I was first admitted told me that even though the symptoms of the virus might fade when Ileft, without an injection of the cure when my sentence was complete, the virus wouldeventually kill me. I guess that’s why security is so lax – the promise of a premature deathkeeps the inmates from trying to escape. Who knows if it’s true, but that fear is enough, Iguess. That seems the way with everything nowadays.

    I feel like I’ve been writing this long enough to make some overarching statement about howtime passes here – either quickly or slowly. It’s either a statement like that or jump intothe immediate present, which I hate to do – I love to read the history of the world, butdon’t feel like reading the newspaper. I suppose it’s an eventuality, though. Even as anattempt to stall, I can’t do it, talk about time here, because it’s both fast and slow. Thehours spent in the hot sunlight, or in the damp heat of the shade seem to drag out like arunaway kite caught in an updraft. The seconds tick by in classes like a tense murderer waitingfor an execution stay. The nights, which seem like they would be filled with lonely, endlesshours, they pass quickly in a feverish haze. I have strange, exotic dreams, but they sped by.Maybe they’ve got someplace better to be instead of inside my head.

    ?

    I wish I did.

    ?

    I don’t, really. That’s why I’m here in the first place. Everyone knows this is apossibility – most struggle to avoid it. I barely put up a fight. Maybe that’s sad. Maybeit’s just who I am. I don’t really know, and it’s hard to strive for any self-analysis witha temperature that meanders up and down. Thinking makes my head hurt.

    ?

    Writing makes it a little better, but I’m not really sure if the words are really coming outright. If anyone ever reads this it might seem a little jumbled. Being sick makes your thoughtsjump around. I read this story once by a dead writer, Vonnegut was his name, I think, called“Harrison Bergeron.” It was about this futuristic society that was so in love with makingeveryone equal that they would give all the gifted people handicaps – stuff like weights thathung on strong people to weigh them down and earpieces that beeped in the ears of smart peopleonce a minute to interrupt their thoughts and send them in a different direction. Being sick iskind of like those beeps – it makes your thoughts just jump around. So is debt, I guess.

    I just reread all of what I’ve written so far and realized that it sounds like I wrote it allin one sitting, but I didn’t. I just keep picking up from where I left off. Maybe that’s whyit sounds disjointed, too.

    ?

    I’ve been in here for two weeks now and tomorrow is my day to talk in group. Everyone has totalk on a rotation, when someone new comes they add you to the end of the list you get assignedto. There were thirteen people in my group, Dr. Cruizie’s group, and I got added as thefourteenth. I’m nervous about it. I’ve never been to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting oranything like that, but the group sessions are run like the AA meetings I’ve seen ontelevision and movies:

    ?

    Someone stands up and says why they are in prison, then everyone is supposed to offer advice tohelp out the situation and act better when the inmate gets back to the outside. But it doesn’treally work like that. No one volunteers any advice because no one wants to talk. Dr. Cruizieends up calling on people so they’ll talk. They always say the same things though, and givethe same advice. It’s the same stuff they teach us in class.

    ?

    I really don’t want to talk in group tomorrow. Whenever anyone talks in group they always keeptheir eyes on the floor and Dr. Cruizie always tells them to look up and “face reality.”He’s a patronizing prat. I don’t even know if his doctorate is in psychology. If it is, hecouldn’t have graduated very high in his class to get a job basically babysitting inmatesthrough group. I shouldn’t knock him in writing too much, in case this ever gets confiscated,but I can’t really stand him. Or his little bow ties. He looks like a snarky pundit republicanfrom one of those right-wing debate shows. I know Jack would hate him.

    I just got back from the group where I had to introduce myself and talk. It was horrible. Iknew it was going to be, but I didn’t really know it would be as bad as it was. Right as groupstarted I felt sick to my stomach, it was worse then any of the stomach swings I’ve had sofar. Some of the inmates who look like they been here longer don’t seem to react to the virusswings as much of those of us who seem to be new, but I don’t know how anyone can deal withthis and remain calm on the outside. When Dr. Cruizie looked at me and said my name to get meto stand up, my gut started whirring around like a kitchen mixer set on whip. My vision got allblurry and I wrapped my arms around my middle. I mumbled something about not feeling well, Iasked Dr. Cruizie if I could go another day. The rest of the conversation went something likethis:

    ?

    Dr. Cruizie. No. We can’t alter the rotation. Stand up and tell the group why you’re here.

    Me. I think I’m gonna throw up. Can I go see Nurse ?? Gunderson?

    Dr. Cruizie. It’s just a normal swing. Take a deep breath and get started. You should know thestandard format by now.

    ?

    I took a deep breath and stood up from my plastic chair as best I could. The room spundangerously, but I stayed upright.

    ?

    Me. Okay.

    Me. Okay.

    Me. I’m Sacha. I’m here because I couldn’t pay my student loans from college. My lender gaveme six months to start payments after my grace period, but I couldn’t find a job.

    Dr. Cruizie. Say hello to Sacha, everyone.

    Everyone. Hello, Sacha.

    Me. Hello.

    ?

    I tried to sit down, but Dr. Cruizie motioned for me to keep standing.

    ?

    Me. Um.

    Me. What else am I supposed to say? I don’t feel very good.

    Dr. Cruizie. Tell the group why you couldn’t pay your ??????? loans.

    Me. Oh.

    Me. I couldn’t find a job. My major was in Philosophy and there wasn’t anyone looking for aPhilosophy major. I couldn’t find anything. After awhile my grace period was running our and Ieven tried to get a job at Starbucks. But they told me that I didn’t have the customer serviceskills they were looking for. They told me an ideal candidate had dual degrees in businesscommunication and beverage technology.

    Me. Can I sit down now?

    Dr. Cruizie. Sacha, you’ll need to pay more attention to the proper format or we’re going tohave a problem in here. What’s the proper presentation order, everyone?

    ?

    No on said anything so Dr. Cruizie pointed at a thin black woman who was fiddling with her medbracelet. I don’t know how the woman knew Dr. Cruizie was pointing at her without looking up,but she started talking. I could hear the capitalization in her rattled-off list.

    ?

Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email
cust-service@docsford.com