She sat there watching the darkness blur and taint her. Uncle Tommy had been there, but he had left, and her husband had walked out in fear. Why did Uncle Tommy leave?
She heard her name, Theresa, rapidly being repeated, almost to a shouting level in intervening instances. She was called upon to give the eleven men assurance that she was conscious, not destroyed. Her mind felt words crawling to proclaim bright living, but her mouth was frozen and felt paralyzed. Her mind was desperate and locked away in a large inferno.
Fourteen cheap chairs with red vinyl backs and seats and light aluminum legs and frames, two of them empty. The fluorescent shop lights were shut down. The only light was seeping from dinky tin fixtures with 60-watt bulbs, hanging not far below the high, industrial ceiling. The fixtures caused unusual brightness and shadow on the faces of the eleven men, to the point that there were no faces but amoebas of shapes of cheeks, foreheads, tips of noses and tops of ears, with enormous hollow holes in eye sockets, all of them pointed toward her, waiting for her affirmation, waiting to find that she had not had too much, too many of Uncle Tommy’s pills.
She was sure it was wet brain, but she was no scientist. Later, she knew her soul was trashed. Later, one man told her that after hearing her talk, he was sure that she did not have wet brain, and she spoke to herself, asking herself why they would call it wet brain if it were caused by pills rather than alcohol.
The men were nuts. They continued to repeat her name in the worst chorus of melding liquid sands blaring like French Horns at the beginning of a hunt. She could not make even a slight sound. She wanted to be alone. She wanted to be locked up forever. Maybe Uncle Tommy had medicine for this. She did not have hope, but she continued to wait patiently, dreaming of a day when she might be able to speak again.