A picture of sanity

ELMA: “Oh my god are you okay? whats happened is he okay?”

MADISON: “I’m fine don’t worry, nothing happened, it’s just been a while since I visited and he’s been asking about me. Nothing serious.”

ELMA:”Hmm, well okay then. SHIT. I gotta run, i’m late for class but let me know when your on your way back. we’ll get some face masks and hot chocolate and have a girly night. “

MADISON: “Will do, i’ll see ya later”

I wasn’t looking forward to this at all. Seeing my dad was hard these days. Being in Strangerville is even harder. After the past few days I didn’t want to go alone, Elma left in a rush, Dorian was watching me like a hawk. I guess if .. whatever ‘this’ is… he’s gonna meet my dad eventually right?

MADISON: “Are you busy today?”

DORIAN: “Nah, you anglin’ for me to come with ya?”

MADISON: “Maybe, but it’s in strangerville and its a long drive. You wanna come with me?”

DORIAN: “Strangerville?! ah what the hell, I ain’t got nothin’ better to do. Le’ me go home and get some fresh clothes. I’ll drive ya there. I’ll be right back Mad.

MADISON: “Thankyou, Dorian”

Then he just left, without another word. No hug or anything, he just walked out. I don’t know if it was just paranoia but something felt off. I got dressed, Make-up wasn’t covering anything i ended up just grabbing some shades. I looked and felt like shit. If i can just not have a near death experience today that would be fab.

I spent the 3 or so hours it took him to come back thinking the worst possible things. you know, like a rational adult. When he got back he didn’t even come to the door. Something was up, something had to be up.

We’d been driving for about half an hour in silence; I couldn’t take it anymore. He’d barely even looked at me, I wanted to just jump into his mind and see what was going on. What did I do?

DORIAN: “Y’know..”

I felt like he’d just read my mind.

DORIAN: “I find it fuckin’ weird that he was such a touchy subject and now i’m taking ya on a 5 hour drive to some backwoods hick town in the middle of fucking nowhere to meet the guy…. After everythin’ I told ya about my family, i think i’m due some answers don’t you ?”

He had a point, he’d opened up to me straight away and i’ve been dodging the conversation about my family like the plague. I braced myself with a sigh.

MADISON: “Okay… The short version is; he used to be the town weirdo. He was convinced there was some huge government conspiracy going on, that vampires walked among us, that the plants were evil and he was always super paranoid, he used to say “they” were watching him and other crazy stuff. Anyway he was pretty harmless with it all, and then one day not long after I finished high school something just flipped in him. He went missing for a few days, i was searching everywhere for him and then I got the call from the police saying they found him, he’d been stabbed. He was convinced that vampires held him hostage. Of course, telling the authorities that vampires took you away and drank your blood isn’t the picture of sanity and he got sectioned pretty quickly after that. They said he was becoming a danger to himself and they were worried he’d become a danger to others. He’s been at the Strangerville institute ever since. The guy who is here isn’t my dad, and i hate thinking that way but it feels like i lost him a long time ago. I’ll always love him, but he’s like a stranger these days and it’s awful but I hate visiting, I hate seeing him in there and I hate Strangerville. That’s that.. now you know. Now you know that my family are insane and that i’m a fucking terrible person.

I felt his arm, wrap around me.

DORIAN: “I don’t think ya a terrible person, trust me, I KNOW terrible people. I get it, the part about ’em not bein’ the same. My mom wasn’t lucid a lotta the time towards the end. She was like a completely different person too. Seeing them and spendin’ time with ’em, It’s hard, but its somethin’ we gotta do. Ya never know when it might be the last time, ya don’t wanna have somethin’ ya regret the rest of ya life when ya lose him for real y’know? Even if they ain’t how ya remember, it don’t mean they aren’t still blood. “

I don’t know what kind of answer i was expecting but that wasn’t it. The mood eased a little after that. The drive still felt like an eternity, eventually we arrived in Strangerville. Home sweet home. What a lie, there was nothing sweet about this place. There was a short walk to the hospital from where we parked.

DORIAN: “So this is the place huh?”

MADISON: “..Yup.”

DORIAN: “I expected it to look more…”

MADISON: “Strange? we’re you going to say strange? You know Strangerville is just a name right?”

DORIAN: “Well yeah. Its a fucking asylum on a cliff side in a place called Strangerville of course I was expectin’ it to be ‘strange’ I ain’t gonna think ‘ohh this place is gonna be normal’, am I? “

MADISON: “ahh.. Fair point, you got me there.”

I wasn’t in the right place to be quick witted or have some awesome comeback. I could barely understand why he was even here with me never mind anything else. Here he was some big shot from the city, looking like some old Hollywood actor and here i was, looking and feeling like i’d been on a week long bender. It was surreal. But then again, he wore all black and I wore a sweater… to Strangerville. Do you even know how hot strangerville is?

Dallas was working the reception desk today. Dallas Hyde, An old “friend” from school, she’d been working here since graduating high school. She used to be a real bitch to me but she eased up on me a little after Dad got sent here, but still she was just another reminder for me about why i left this damn place.

MADISON: “Hey, Dallas.. I’m here to see my dad”

DALLAS: “Ugh, name please”

MADISON: “Its me.. Madison.. Madison Dent”

DALLAS: “Oh hush up, no frickin way. Sorry about that, i didn’t recognize ya, don’t ya look pretty as a peach with ya blond hair. Looks like ya could do with some makeup though hen, i don’t know whats goin’ on with all that there'”

Her eyes darted towards Dorian and back towards me.

DALLAS: ” Maddy, girl is he with YOU?”

MADISON: ” Uh thanks, I guess ….and yeah, he is.”

DALLAS: “Well i’ll be … huh, alright, well, he’s expectin’ ya so y’all just sign ya names and go on through.

Dad ambushed me as soon as he saw me, knocking the shades right off my face. I saw his face shift from happy to worried to angry in a heartbeat. He grabbed my face, trying to get a good look at all the damage with his good eye.

NIXON: “Who did this to ya face pumpkin? What happened?”

MADISON: “No one did anything to me Dad, I just had a klutz moment and slipped in the bathroom last night is all. Don’t worry”

I hated lying to him, but I didn’t want him to worry.

NIXON: “Who’s this ?”

MADISON: “Oh, Dorian, this is my dad, Nixon Dent. Daaaaad, this is Dorian Lothario.. he’s .. he’s “

DORIAN: “I’m her boyfriend, nice to meet ya Mr. Dent.”

He reached out to shake my dads hand, dad replied with a grunt before accepting the handshake.

Boyfriend… I squealed a little internally, but it was weird to hear. We were barely even ‘seeing’ each other after all.

NIXON: “Lothario huh? you outta Oasis Springs boy?”

DORIAN: “Whats it to ya?”

NIXON: “I haven’t had the ‘pleasure’ of meetin’ any of Madison’s Boyfriends before… I just want to make sure she isn’t making any mistakes kid”

DORIAN: ” I don’t think I like what ya implyin’ here, Nixon..”

Uh-oh, this wasn’t good. The whole room had become tense, and other patients were starting to look over.

MADISON: “Hey dad, why don’t we all go sit down.”

NIXON: “Hmm, yeah sure kiddo. I’ll show ya my new painting”

We followed him over to an easel, there was a small painting depicting a melon and some apples. It was a decent painting, but my dad had never been into art or anything like that, it was so unlike him.

NIXON: “So whaddya think kid? Your old man is quite the artisté now.”
MADISON: “Its great dad. Good job.. how’ve you been?”
NIXON: “Thanks kid, I’ve been pretty good. I think i’m getting better. “

The three of us sat on some chairs near the painting. Dad and Dorian sat across from eachother. So much for sitting down to ease the tension, they spent more time glaring at each other than anything.


If it wasn’t for Madison I woulda knocked this guy out already. I mean who does he think he is huh? Makin’ out like I’m below him. It was like meetin girlfriends dads back in school y’know. Fucking ‘boy’, this freaky fuck didn’t have no respect. He’d been eyein’ me with his good eye since we sat down. I wanted him to say somethin’ anythin’ else. I was fuckin’ itchin’ to put this guy in his place. Fuck knows how someone that ugly had a kid that looks like Madison. It felt like hours passed while Madison and her dad got their kumbayayas out. I didn’t expect a trip to the squirrel farm to be so damn boring. Jeez. This shit was worse than church. I zoned back in as Madison got up. Hopefully its time to go home.

MADISON: “I’m going to go have a word with Dr. Janus about this Dad. I won’t be long.”

Damn it. I watched the old fuck stand up, he moved his stupid melon painting and got a fresh canvas. He was painting, I was just glad I didn’t have to spend another second lookin at his face. I found myself drawn to his painting.

He was painting so fast, one second the canvas is black the next its covered. He was paintin’ some weird cat picture, a white one and a black one. Time was feelin’ really weird, like was he paintin’ fast or was time just flying by? All the clocks had frozen, this can’t be happening . What the FUCK is going on.

DORIAN: “Hey, Madisons been gone a while, I should probab-“

NIXON “No. shes right here.”

I looked around. She definitely wasn’t back yet.

DORIAN : “Uhmm.. sorry to break it to ya champ but you ain’t playin’ with a full deck y’know. Shes not here.”

NIXON: “Shes watching you”

DORIAN: “w- w- what?? look old man I ain’t got time for your crazy talk alright”

NIXON: “8… 8 …. 8…. 8… “

I’d just about had enough of this shit, i got up and turned him around. His eyes were white, almost glowing. My heart nearly stopped when I heard his voice, because it wasn’t his voice. It was my mothers, but the tone was a mocking one, almost sing-songy.

NIXON ” 8 until she comes for youuu, 8 until your time is duueeee”

His head flopped down afterwards, He groaned as his hands held his head.


The same words my mother screamed at me were bein’ screamed at me again.


I blinked and opened my eyes to both Madison and Nixon looking concerned.

MADISON: “You fell asleep, you must have had a nightmare”

DORIAN: “Noo. I haven’t been to sleep, you left to see some doctor and he was painting that stupid cat pictur–

The melon painting was back on the easel.

DORIAN: “What did you do with it? where did you put it??!

MADISON: “I’ve not left the room at all, i’ve been here this whole time. You fell asleep like half an hour ago. We didn’t want to wake you up. “

DORIAN: “Don’t lie to me okay?! I know you went to see Dr. Janus. I know he painted that fucking painting. Now tell me, you old FUCK, who is ‘SHE’, and don’t play no fucking games with me, okay. ”

NIXON: “sorry to break it to ya champ but you ain’t playin’ with a full deck”

MADISON: “Dorian.. listen to yourself okay. Just listen to yourself, it was just a dream. No matter how realistic it was, it was just a dream. I would never lie to you okay. There is no Dr. Janus and Dads been sat here talking to me this entire time.”

She looked worried. Maybe it was just a dream. Fuck. I hadn’t had a good sleep in a while. Either way, its probably not the best move to have an outburst at a mental hospital. It just felt so.. real.

DORIAN: “Yeah your probably right. I’m gonna go get some air, you wanna head home tonight or should we get a hotel or somethin?”

MADISON: “I don’t have any classes until thursday so a hotel sounds good. I’ll be out soon”


I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. Hopefully some rest will help him.

NIXON: ” Sorry pumpkin, but I think that boys as mad as a wet hen”

MADISON: “Dad, stop, its probably just stress or something. Its been a rough couple of days for both of us. I think its about time I left anyway “

I stood to leave and he hugged me.

MADISON: ” it’s been real good seeing you. You seem a lot better than last time I was here”

NIXON: ” Told ya i was gettin’ better. The new meds are working well. Listen, I don’t know how I feel about that guy. I’ve heard about the Lotharios in Oasis Springs. They’re degenerates and I don’t want my lil girl gettin mixed up in anythin’, You’re a smart girl Maddi, ya always have been. But even smart people make dumb mistakes sometimes”

MADISON: “Dad, You know I love you. I always will, but even if I make dumb mistakes, they’re my mistakes to make. He’s not as bad as you think dad.”

NIXON: “I love you too kiddo, and I guess thats right, you’re a grown woman now, but whether you have brown hair or blond sweetie, I’m always gonna worry about ya. I’ll see ya next month punmpkin”

MADISON: “I’ll see you next month, Dad. I’m sorry I didn’t show last month. I’m never gonna miss it again, I promise”

NIXON: “Its okay, You have your own life now”

We hugged in silence for a while, it was the first time in years that this man felt like my Dad.

I found Dorian smoking on a bench outside; Phone in hand.

MADISON: Hey, sorry I took so long.

DORIAN: “fuggedaboutit, I had to call some people anyway”

MADISON: “Ahh okay.”

MADISON: “How are you feeling?”

DORIAN: ” Better, sorry about losin’ it back there. I dunno what happened.”

MADISON: “Don’t be sorry, I was just worried about you, it was probably the heat here, it makes people go crazy sometimes. Did you book a hotel?”

DORIAN: “Yeah, the heat. I’ll be fine after a good sleep in an actual bed. I booked the hotel, its an hour or so away because fuck stayin’ in this place all night. No offence”

MADISON: “OHH none taken. I fucking hate this place, lets go.”

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