Prologue: Caged

(February 19, 1969)


I was caged.

Then, I was driven.

Driven to Cherokee.

A hazy memory of riding caged in the back of a police car.

Two shadows in the front seat, the county sheriff and a female escort.

Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” buzzing from a tinny transistor radio.

Outside, the Iowa landscape bleak:

Cloudy and cold, condensation and frost riming the windows, piles of dirty snow dotting the countryside.

I, cargo.

Destination: Cherokee’s other place, the outline on the hill.

Shifting, crossing my legs…

Please, can we stop?

Hot and steamy inside.

Shivering, my teeth rattling.

Please…I have to go!

Hear something, George?

Naw, nothin’ important.


Cargo has no voice.

Madness has no voice.

Listen, crazy girl…

Two voices: We have come to take you away, ha, ha…

“I’m crazy, crazy…”

Fragments, crazy-quilt impressions, acid flashbacks…

I, crazy?

* * * * *

From I, Driven: a memoir of involuntary commitment ("Prologue")

© 2008-2010, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpt may not be used or copied without author’s permission.


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Friday, August 29, 2008

Excerpt--January 15, 1969: "Sioux City Blues"

Harley Semple


Dee Dee’s bugging me in the worst way--says I have three choices: go to my mom’s, Auntie’s (no way), or go back to Sioux City. He’s really acting scary, and Auntie’s turning up the heat.

I’ll pass on Auntie’s and Iowa, thank you.

I’m going stir crazy in this joint. I want to go out for a walk, but Auntie says no.

Hazel Lewis ("Auntie")

“You just want to go and see those damn dirty hippies,” she says.

Yeah, she’s right. Even so, she and Dee Dee can’t keep me locked up forever. Only a few more days of this shit, and I’m splitting into the unknown, though I found out that Dee Dee can make me go back to Sioux City, being that I’m under 21. Bummer. It’s okay for a boy of 18 to be drafted and dodge bullets in Vietnam, but when he gets home his parents can force him to live anywhere they want, even against his will.

One positive: if Dee does make me go, it will be a shorter distance to Pennsylvania. And he’ll think I’m going back to Hollywood--instead, I’ll be headed in the opposite direction.

I miss Jeff in the worst way. I wrote and told him so. Pam’s still putting the moves on him. God, I hope he doesn’t fall for her games. She’s sweet but shallow, a new boyfriend every day–Jeff gets too hung-up, and she’ll break his heart. Pam showed me a letter he wrote while he was on acid, and I’ve never seen him write stuff like that–totally incoherent and far out.

Mo writes everyone I need a psychiatrist; God, she’s so out of it. If everyone who turned onto acid went to a shrink, half the fucking nation would be on the couch.

As soon as Dee leaves, I’m going to hitch cross country--why not? Pam and I were going to take the Greyhound to East Berlin, but it’s $145.00 round trip, and I don’t have that kind of money. I’ll get a map of the U.S. and stick my thumb out.

If Jeff can hitchhike, so can I.

I’ll play Dee Dee’s little game; I’ll stay in Canoga Park. Then when he leaves, I’ll split for Pennsylvania.

Screw Hollywood.


"All Along the Watchtower," Jimi Hendrix


There is only a short time left before Jehovah will destroy this wicked system of things.

The Watchtower
Goodbye, Hollywood, you bitchin’ town.

I leave tomorrow evening for Sioux City, not that I have much of a choice.

I’m coming back, but not to Hollywood. Maybe I’ll come back and hang out in Pasadena–gotta stay out of Hollywood for a while. It’s too hot, what with all the drugs. I’ve learned from my experiences with Stoney and Rudy and the gun; someone could’ve been killed.

You know what really makes me sick? That I chose Stoney over Jeff–he said it kind of hurt him when he saw me with Stoney, but I didn’t think too much of it then. In my last letter, I asked Jeff if it was too late for us. “If it is, I will say no more,” I wrote. “No matter what, though, if Stoney comes back, I’m not going back to him.”

If Jeff doesn’t feel the same way, I hope I haven’t ruined our friendship by blowing off my mouth. I asked him about coming to Pennsylvania, for maybe about a week.


Mo is hysterical; I told Dee Dee that if she lectured me on morals, I’ll simply leave, and I will, too. When I talked to her on the phone, she kept firing off a list of what I could and couldn’t do.

“You’re not shacking up with any dirty hippies,” Mo said.


I heard Peter will be in Sioux City at the same time I’m there. Bad news. I’m not sure I can face him after what I have done, dumping him in that Dear John letter while he was in Vietnam.

Maybe I can avoid him totally.

Tomorrow at this time, I’ll be in the sky, on the way to Sioux City. I wanted to wait until Saturday or Sunday, but Dee Dee says we have to leave tomorrow. I don’t know what his hurry is--it’s not like he has a job or anything.

I have a bad feeling about this trip.


Excerpt copyright 2008, Jennifer Semple Siegel.

Text may not be reposted or republished without permission.



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