XCIX | Some Pleasure

I look at the pill
and the paper cup

in front of me.

I think I can do it.

There’s a plastic knife
in my underwear.

I can pull it out quick—

stab the angmoh nurse behind me,
the two masked nurses in front,
the nurse with the syringe…

It’ll be over in a flash.

I’m angry enough
to pull it off.

Adrenaline burns

in my limbs.

A scream wells up
in my chest.

I scratch the cloth of my pants
covering the hidden knife.



They know about her.
They’ll use her against me.

No doubt about it.


I take the pill.

I swallow it.

I let them check.


Then I recite
the names of the patients



I won’t forget.

I won’t!

Tammie smiles down at me,
her hand on my throat.

She’s oblivious.

As soon as this is over,

I’ll find
the hidden room

and I’ll remember again.

Tammie balances her head
on top of mine,

the weight of her

my weary mind.

She hums the melody
of Moonlight Sonata’s third movement.

My eyes close.

I never said I’ll
stay awake,

just that

I won’t succumb

to the medicine.

I sleep
because Tammie’s humming.

It’s different.




When I open my eyes,
Tammie is gone.

At first, I panic.

Stand up suddenly,
yell her name.

I think the worst.

I always
think the worst.

Eyes stare at me warily.

I sit back down
to gather my thoughts.

I recite the names
of all the patients.

I remember them all—good.

Most of the patients are
at the dining table,


Ibrahim, Pei Xuan, David, Haryati, Callum.

I’m the only one
still in my armchair.

And I know

where to find Tammie.


It’s a Tammie thing to do—

go on with life
as though nothing life-threatening


I push at the red door
of the study room.

It doesn’t budge.

There’s no
handle to open the door.

It’s out of bounds.


I forgot to ask
about the fire.


Outside the studio room,

I meet Benny.

He’s peeking inside,
both hands busy inside his pants.

He’s panting.

Making lewd noises.

Something about this scene
is familiar to me.


I remember
a conversation.

With Gavin.

I was talking to 

when I saw him leave the studio room

where she had been
But he wasn’t there

when I went to find her earlier.

We talked about it.

And then
he was dead.


I watch Benny

for a while.

It’s a bizarre thing
to witness.

(In all the other hospitals,
the separate the two sexes.)

My hand instinctively
goes into my own pants,

under the band
of my panties,

fingers yearning for





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