by Jesus Miguel Mendoza

My friend Scooter had gone insane. I noticed an evident decline in his mental health when he told me he’d gotten a blow-job from a Palestinian man. That was the last time I saw him. He hadn't been around the apartment in days.

His mom was calling incessantly, so I took it upon myself to go out and find him. We lived in downtown San Diego, how hard could it be?

I checked the nearest Barnes & Noble because Scooter and I hung out there on weeknights, desperately hoping to meet females. I approached the information desk where a small, blonde girl named-tagged Shelly was pretending to be busy.

“Have you seen Scooter?” I said, planting my hands on the counter.

It was several seconds before she looked up from the monitor and smiled. “How can I help you?”

“Have you seen Scooter?”

“Is that the title of the book you’re looking for?”

I was scanning the coffee corner. Scooter drank a lot of coffee. “Um... yes,” I said distracted.

“No... it doesn't look like we have it.” Her hair was dyed─ it was obvious. My sister had dyed her hair the same color one time.

“Thanks,” I said and walked out.

I was devastated. If I couldn't find him, who could? I’d exhausted all of my options.

There was a trash-alley a couple blocks from the apartment that collected a lot of bums. Scooter would occasionally ride his bike through it, so I went to investigate. A bum was lying on a half-deflated air mattress, empty bottles of Popov around him like a chalk outline. His body was facing the wall. There was a shopping cart full of dirty laundry.

“Hey,” I said. “Hey!”

He jerked his head up, staring at the wall. His sudden movement disturbed a pack of flies sleeping on his burlap jacket. They swarmed around him.

“Excuse me,” I said. “Have you seen my friend Scooter?”

He rolled flat on his back, squinting at me─ yellow crusties lining his eyelids.

“Burr.... eh?” A waft of pungent stench rose as he slurred.

“Have you seen Scooter?”

“Oh... ul... ver,” and other cheap vodka grumbles. That's all he gave me.

It was starting to get cold so I went home, my spirits dejected. After a shower I called the police and informed them of Scooter’s disappearance. It was a legitimate missing person’s case so they were obligated to take action.

painting by Tom Giesler

It didn’t take long. The next day I received a call saying they’d found him. Apparently he was discovered living on the streets with several stray dogs. He’d suffered some sort of breakdown and was now hospitalized, indefinitely.

Three weeks later, I was finally allowed to visit Scooter. The doctors had denied any non-family visitors before that. Their excuse: “Scooter is in pretty bad shape.”

The inside of the hospital was nice. Smooth gray marble lined the hallways. I thought that tile floors probably made it easier for employees to clean up urine or vomit, or any other bodily expulsions of the insane.

“Just take it slow,” the doctor said before admitting me to the room. “He’s just now starting to feel better.” He left the door open and walked away.

Scooter was sitting on his bed, reading an old copy of Popular Mechanics. I sat down next to him. “What’s up, Scoot?”

He looked up and gave me a huge smile. “Hay bro,” he replied.

The doctors had put him on Lithium and Dopamine. His words came slowly. Sedately.

“How are you feelin’ dude?” I asked not knowing what else to say. There was a long silence. Scooter looked out of his shatter-proof window. Then he turned and said, “Do you want to see my penis?”

I was uncomfortable with this. “Well, no,” I said. I didn't like how the conversation was going, so I left.

“Everything go all right?” The doctor had spotted me leaving Scooter’s room.

“Oh, yeah,” I said. “I’ll come back when I have more time.” Then I signed out from the visitors log and drove away.

I was sad. My friend Scooter had gone insane.

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