Target On My Back
Sometimes the demons are right in front of you. Other times you know they're there but can't see them coming. Still other times they come from nowhere without any warning and take you down without any chance of putting up a fight. Sometimes, depending on the demon, the latter might be preferred. After all, knowing a demon is coming for you is never a good time.
No sooner had the toll painting ended when they brought Jessica back to teach creative writing. Turns out the class size was even larger than had been expected as she already had lots of fans who would have signed up before had they known Jessica was teaching the class. Thankfully for me, Irene and Sabrina weren't interested in creative writing and never saw the teacher student interactions we found quite hard to hide.
Rather than keep my work I always gave it to Jessica for safe keeping and as a means to write letters to her that no one else could see. Besides expressing my obvious emotions I told her of the secrets of Asylumland, the darkness, in hopes that she might somehow be able to shine some light on what was going on in there. I also encouraged her to help reduce the level of prostitution in Asylumland by bringing in things of value that were needed inside. She despised the thought of prostitution being used to supply the most basic of needs and helped out with our economic needs even going so far as to get friends and classmates at her university to donate. But the other... I think she thought those only the ramblings of an obviously insane old man in an insane asylum.
Among other things, the problem with the encomienda system was that the number of men and women living in Asylumland was not a constant. Each time someone new came or someone old left it brought about a power grab as women were viewed as property and a means of income be it as prostitutes or as some other source of tribute for the man to whom they were "entrusted." That wasn't the intent of the system but that's how it came to be.
As luck would have it we had hardly settled into our encomienda system when a new man was placed in our midst. You see, it's not as simple as say, dividing up marbles when another player is brought into the game. Besides the economic benefits of having multiple women paying tribute to one man there was also a matter of favorites. And while it's true that boys sometimes do have their favorite marbles the problems that come with taking away favorite marbles can't even compare to the taking of a favorite woman be it because the man loves her or because she is his #1 financial asset.
The new man, Frank, was a bit of a mystery. For starters, he seemed to like being in Asylumland from day one. It was as if he wanted to come. Now I don't know about you but to this day, other than Frank, I have never met anyone who wanted to live in an asylum-- any asylum-- especially Asylumland.
Then there was how he got there. Usually folks are escorted in or in cases like my own, carried in on a gurney only to awaken inside. Not Frank. We all woke up one morning to find him seated just outside the cafeteria waiting for breakfast as if he'd been there and had free reign of the place all night. Some even believed he had a key and let himself inside.
Frank had some interesting talents as well. Besides some card tricks and slight of hand, Frank was a very accomplished ventriloquist. Now ventriloquy, when part of a stage show involving a dummy with a hand in its back, can be pretty entertaining, ventriloquy, when used on a room full of already paranoid individuals can be quite unnerving. Especially being that Frank didn't come right out and tell us about his ability to throw his voice and happens to throw his voice while at the same time, throwing punches. That's how I would later come to learn of Frank's special talent.
Frank quickly made friends with the more thuggish of the male population while congress set about figuring a way to divide up property without stepping on too many toes. Already myself and others were seeing problems with the encomienda system the others had never thought of when it was dreamed up. As for Frank, he thought it was a great idea and couldn't wait to get a piece of the pie. Problem was, Frank seemed to think his piece of the pie should contain what he considered to be all the best pie filling. I tried not to get involved figuring since I hadn't created the problem there was no need for me to try and fix it. That is, until he set his eyes on Sabrina and Irene.
Yeah, I had sex with them both and I can't say as I ever really loved either one of them. But I felt responsible for both of them. They looked to me to keep them safe because up until then I always had. Before hooking up with me Irene had been abused by every predator in the place and had Sabrina not done the same they'd have chewed her up and spit her out as well. Problem for me was this Frank character was half my age and quite capable of tearing me from limb to limb. He knew it and I knew it.
And who knows, maybe in some twisted way that could only happen in a place like Asylumland, I was as close to love I could ever expect to know.
When the day came to divide up the spoils Frank made it very clear that he intended to have Sabrina and Irene and didn't give a damn what I or anyone else thought about it. Of course, congress recognized my status as the #2 man in government and refused to honor him his request. Frank settled for women from some of the other men's groups but made no secret that when given the opportunity he'd take what he wanted from me.
Right then and there I knew this would never end well and could feel my PTSD starting to rear its ugly head. Prozac was not going to be enough to keep bad things from happening to good people.