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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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Excerpt: The Luckiest Hand

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

August 18, 2004

(Delta Flight #5883 to Omaha, Nebraska)

You were the sunshine, baby,
Whenever you smiled
But I call you Stormy today
All of a sudden that ole rain’s fallin’ down
And my world is cloudy and gray
You’ve gone away
Oh, Stormy, oh, Stormy
Bring back that sunny day

–“Stormy,” Classics IV



I would never see Stoney again.

I have no pictures of him, and yet his image remains grooved in my mind–my first real love, however ill-conceived.

Shortly after we parted, I drew a picture of him from memory. I needed to take something from that relationship, to make sense of that whirlwind month.

I may still have that charcoal somewhere, hidden in my attic.

Seems odd now, but I never knew much about him: where he came from; his parents; where he was born and where he went to high school; his thoughts; his real politics (though we all pretended to be liberals); his religion; and his hopes, dreams, aspirations.

I don’t even know if the name he gave me was genuine or fake.

In 1969, this is what I knew about Stoney: he liked rocks, rock music, and dope; he was born February 2, 1948 (or maybe 1949), making him an Aquarius; and he was tall and handsome in a dangerous sort of way: large amber eyes, slightly slanted, with long dark eyelashes; porcelain skin; and dark wavy hair, cut fairly short–above his shoulders.

He reminded me of the smooth-talking, slick version of the devil.

This is what I now know about Stoney: he didn’t like or respect women very much.

The day he split for New York, I was dealt the luckiest hand of my life.



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