Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chapter 54: A Possible Scenario at the Police Station

February 18, 1969

(Sioux City Police Station)

A distraught teenager, Jennifer L. Semple, stormed into the police station, alleging that Harley D. Semple, her grandfather, has been attempting to restrain her against her will.

For her own safety, the girl was moved to a locked interrogation room.

Opal Casey, police matron, interviewed the grandfather and filled out “Mental Illness, Inebriety or Epilepsy,” an informant’s report.

Harley Semple

Jennifer needs help, I’m afraid. I don’t know what to do.

Opal Casey

You could commit her to Cherokee for observation.

Harley Semple

Seems rather drastic, but what choice do I have? She’s so angry, and the drugs...she scares me.

Opal Casey

(Sighing as she scribbles in his name on the information form.) These kids today... (Shakes her head.) Don’t know what’s good for them, what with all these strange drugs and immoral ways. What is the world coming to, anyway?

Harley Semple

(Scratching his forehead.) I don’t know, but if she gets wind of this, she’ll despise me...

Opal Casey

You’re doing the right thing.

Harley Semple

I don’t know if I can do this. (Pauses.) Who’ll pay the hospital bill, anyway?

Opal Casey

(Taps her pen.) I’m afraid you’ll be financially responsible, Mr. Semple.

Harley Semple

(Wringing his hands.) I don’t know. We can’t afford hospital bills; my wife and I are on Social Security and barely making it now. This would kill us financially.

Opal Casey

(Takes in a deep breath and sighs.) I can’t tell you what to do here. It’s your decision.

Harley Semple

(Scratches his chin.) Can’t you sign as informant?

Opal Casey

(She sets down her pen and steeples her hands.) I don’t know the girl. I see she needs help, but, to what extent, I can’t say for sure. It’s really your word against hers.

Harley Semple

(Burying his face in his hands.) Oh, God, I’d rather die than betray her. (Raises his head. Pauses, as if he’s formulating a thought.) It’s not the money, really. If I thought committing Jennifer would help, I’d do it in a blink and worry about the money later. But she doesn’t trust me as it is; this would kill anything between us.

Opal Casey

(Silence. She sighs and picks up her pen again. She taps it against the paper a few times. Then she scratches out “Harley Semple,” and scribbles in her own name.) This is between us, Mr. Semple.

Harley Semple

(Brushes his hair back with his hand. Softly–) Thank you. (Buries his face in his hands and visibly shivers.)

With one scratch of Mrs. Casey’s pen, Woodbury County and Iowa assumed financial and legal custody of the girl.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated.

Memoir Madness Excerpts: Table of Contents


Before the Institution

Prologue: Caged

Chapter One: The Crystal Ship

Chapter One: Blue Moons

Chapter Two: Dark Side

Chapter Two: Flying Solo

Chapter Two: Weed and Seeds

Chapter Two: Funny Little Naked Clowns

Chapter Two: Decision Time

Chapter Two: Thirteen Tabs

Chapter Three: Wallich's Music City and Eleanor's Radio

Chapters Four and Six: New Year's Eve, 1968--Fire

Chapter Eight: Rudy

Chapter Ten: Cops

Chapter Eleven: The Luckiest Hand

Chapter Twelve: Downers

Chapter Twenty Three: Sioux City Blues

Chapter Twenty Four: ..."While I Kiss the Sky"

Chapter Twenty six: The Miracle of Google

Chapter Thirty: There Must be Some Way Outta Here

Chapter Thirty Eight: What to Do With My Life?

Chapter Forty One: My Country 'Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Tyranny

Chapter Fifty One: Nabbed at the Bus Station

Chapter Fifty Three: "Let's See What the Police Have to Say"

Chapter Fifty Four: A Possible Scenario at the Police Station

Chapter Fifty Six: Driven

Chapter Fifty Eight: Driven 2

Memoir Madness Excerpts: The Institution

The First Five Days

The Other Patients: Perky Penny

The Other Patients: Carrie the Cutter

The Other Patients: Joyce

The Other Patients: D.J., The Mighty Sage

The Other Patients: Anna on the Lam

Proving My Sanity

Memoir Madness Excerpts: After the Institution

Denise's Tips

Leaving Sioux City: Dee Dee

Epilogue: A Short History of the Cherokee Mental Health Institute

Memoir Madness Excerpts: Flashbacks (Fall 1968)

October 1968: Rev. Arthur Blessitt and His Place

October 12, 1968: A Mother's Warning

October 12, 1968: The Birthday Party

October 1968: Wild Man Fischer's Merry-go-round

A media-rich version of these excerpts (with photos, artwork, videos, out takes, essays, etc.,) can be accessed here.


About Memoir Madness...

Memoir Madness: Driven to Involuntary Commitment (Amazon)

About Memoir Madness: Driven to Involuntary Commitment...

Christmas Eve, 1968: history is made as Apollo 8 astronauts deliver their Christmas message from orbit around the moon.

On earth, at The Crystal Ship, a rock and head shop near Hollywood, California, Jennifer Semple listens to the iconic broadcast and, through the fog of drugs, ponders the future.

In the ensuing days, the 18-year-old girl experiments with LSD and other drugs; juggles a crumbling relationship with a notorious drug dealer; and tries to make sense of life at 2001 Ivar Street, a Hollywood, California, apartment complex where hippies, drug dealers, freaks, strippers, groupies, college students, Jesus Freaks, counterculture gurus, drag queens, rock stars and wannabe rocksters, svengalis, and con artists converge during one of the most volatile periods in history.

Then her grandfather finds the girl and coaxes her into returning to her Iowa hometown, where, unknown to her, she is still considered a minor.

After a series of events and blowups with her grandparents, she is dragged into the Iowa court system and involuntarily committed to the Cherokee Mental Institute in Cherokee, Iowa.

While incarcerated, she corresponds with Jeff, a new boyfriend, and also interacts with other patients: Wolfie, a psychopath who preys on other patients; Penny, a 17-year-old unwed mother; Carrie, a teen cutter with strange obsessions about rats; Joyce, a young married mother enthralled with “10 ways of suicide”; Drew, a young man facing a stiff prison sentence for possession of marijuana; and D.J., a 42-year-old mentally challenged man and 25-year resident of Cherokee, among others.

Finally released from the institution, Jennifer flees Iowa and settles in Pennsylvania, where she still lives today.

As young Jennifer narrates her late 1960’s memoir, how will the older and wiser Jennifer, now voluntarily returning to Cherokee as a visitor, reconcile that painful time in her history with her current ordinary life as a wife, mother, grandmother, and teacher?