Every day when I go to work I make a dreaded voyage. I work at a retirement home and, due to construction, must enter through the basement. They call the basement a "Health Center", but that's bullshit. The basement is where they put all of the crazies.

i am walking through a hallway of broken people

I push open the two sets of doors. When the inner one opens, a buzzer sounds, and persists until the door is shut again. I don't know why. Probably to keep the crazies from escaping. It smells stale inside, like something too often washed but never clean.

old urine old decaying flesh old

Stenciled on the wall is a quotation: "Blessed are the peacemakers." I don't know why that is there either. Maybe it is to drown their depression in fleeting waves of religiosity, I don't know. I don't want to be here. There are handrails on the wall to help those few who are not in wheelchairs to move around. The sound of tortured moaning greets my ears.

the withered husks are laughing they're living corpses they're all broken

I gather my courage, inhale a deep breath of the stale-decayed air, and turn the corner. The hallway is littered with old people. Not elderly, truly old, of age beyond reckoning. They lean on walkers and sit hunched over in wheelchairs; not a single one can stand up straight. The man in the red fleece determinedly tries to traverse the hallway with his walker. Every few seconds he pushes it forward three or four inches, then shuffles his feet to catch up. I have never heard him speak. Sometimes I am glad of that.

don't let them talk to me maybe if they don't talk to me i'm not here

I jam my hands into my pockets and begin walking down the hall. I walk quickly, but not quickly enough. Their eyes follow me. "W-where are you going?" rasps a voice from behind me. I don't turn around. I don't want to be here I just want to get out. In front of me an old woman is staring with an intensity found only in insanity. "Do you have one of the red pins?" she demands in a stern voice. I pretend that she isn't there.

red is wine is blood is life draining from this place

There are nurses flitting about, washing things that will never be clean, helping to move and feed the ancient withered bodies. Some of the crazies understand what the nurses are, others don't. The nurses all have pastel uniforms and wear unhappy expressions on their faces. They loathe this place, loathe the halls full of crazy ornery motherfuckers waiting to die. From an open door come reflections of light from a TV and the Jeopardy theme song.

laugh and dance and jump and play, it all ends in this yellow decay

My greatest fear is that I might be one of them, old and decrepit and insane. Perhaps I only imagine that I am seventeen, that I am coming here to wash dishes and earn a paycheck. Maybe I spend my entire day wandering the halls, imagining that I am here for work. Maybe I am withered and broken like them. Maybe I am sitting here just waiting to die.

a wait to die, we die to wait for whosoever weaves our fate

I made it! I have reached the end of the hallway. Quickly, I push open the door and rush through. It is unbelievably comforting to see the timeclock hanging on the textured wall with yellow, chipping paint. Behind me is a hallway full of broken people waiting to die, but I am not one of them!

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