I watched her leave with only a detached interest for my thoughts were already turning in on themselves. I remembered when they had brought Cynthia in to the Sunnyvale Asylum for treatment. One of her friends had found her in her apartment bathroom sitting in the tub clutching her knees and rocking back and forth and sobbing hysterically. Her friend had brought her to a hospital first, Cynthia Matthew Robalski admitted June 9th, 2001. The doctors pulled all the stops doing a complete and thorough diagnostic before declaring her “mentally disturbed”, code for nuttier than a fruitcake. Since she had been taken to the hospital she hadn’t said a word or made a sound of above her whispered breathing and had hardly moved, eating only when directed and the rest of the time she just sat staring into space watching an invisible silver screen. Silent Cynthia, as Al had so aptly nicknamed her, hadn’t responded to any sort of treatment before now and this sudden breakthrough seemed almost too good to be true.
I glanced at my watch, it was time to pack up, my work was done for the day. “Hey Al you wanna go grab a couple of brewskies at Brannignan’s? I yelled cheerfully down the hallway at him.
“Sure but your paying this time Mikie, I ain’t covering your tab again.” He replied accentuating his statement with a roaring belly laugh. I walked out with him to my joking and talking with him in good spirits but all the while thoughts of Silent Cynthia played through my mind.
Where had it all gone wrong? She had been a near perfect citizen, was an undergraduate at a prestigious university, owned a spacious apartment on 42nd street, volunteered on Saturdays at the homeless shelter, had plenty of friends, no unhealthy habits and still she ended up in a whitewashed cell eating with plastic utensils off of a Styrofoam plate.
“Hey Mike you seem a little distracted. Anything on your mind?” Al asked with friendly concern.
“I don’t know Al just one of my patients I guess.”
“You mean silent Cynthia?” he interjected shrewdly “I know what you mean.”
“Yeah she seemed so perfect, so untouchable and now…” There was a small pause of mutual understanding between Al and I about the frailty of things.
“Look Mikie don’t worry about in the end she’s just another patient and our job is to fix ‘em not mull over possibilities.” Al said calmly convinced he had successfully disposed of the subject but for me she wasn’t just another patient.