My Paranoia Chair – [Metaphor] written for all retired law enforcement and corrections.
I’m sitting here in my swivel chair in front of my old but faithful desktop writing short stories like I usually do at night when everyone else in the house is busy doing something. Around me is a passive, quiet crowd of four plus an infant not more than a week ago. Their eyes are preoccupied on the screaming and gleaming newborn as I walk by and sporadically see their mesmerized smiling faces rather than the deadened deep sunken skulls I used to see around me not more than five years ago.
The entire setting is pleasant as there are no chills perpetrating or assaulting my body from the past where I shielded myself from the strangers and visitors who came to my office and visited me in my paranoia chair. In fact, the ambiance is so different; I still haven’t gotten used to the peaceful feelings around me and sort of miss the hostilities that once surrounded me daily.
Back then, when I was a prison official, I called my paranoia chair my refuge from the madness around me. I called my favorite chair as I had it positioned so I could see the door at all times and the chair was located behind a huge oak desk in the back corner of the office. I had a perfect view of the entrance to my office and nobody could surprise me.
No one entered, exited or even moved without being under my vigilant and watchful gaze or stare depending on the mood. I used to stare into my phone when it ran and tried to read the caller ID so I could decide whether to answer it or pass it on to the administrative assistant located in the office in front of me. There was no procrastination, there was no deliberation- it was a necessity of the job to answer or ignore the rings that brought the good news or bad, but in my case, mostly bad.
I tested my peripheral vision daily; I watched the body language come and go and determined what actions I should take upon their entrance or exit. Sitting there in my paranoia chair I watched every employee’s movements and mannerisms through my ever wide open eyes and listened carefully and deliberately paraphrased each conversation. I trusted those dressed in brown but even then, I kept one eye open.
Compared to the peace and quiet of today, I used to watch the office door swing without ceasing the whatsoever slightly creak it signaled that it was opening before the knock on the door and although I miss my alarming attitude as the number of employees walked in and out that must have been a few dozen times a day, I now sit here in my swivel chair, relaxed and day dreaming like there is always tomorrow.
Mind you, in the past, I was ever so hyper-vigilant at all times; never forgetting to note each employee’s dress, stature, expression or for some, even scents. I often toiled and focused my sensory perceptions to an overload capacity whenever I walked the yards to inspect the grounds, the units and the open spaces for out of place characteristics and refused to tolerate any non-compliance to the rules and regulations enforced with great difficulty at times, assuring the other strangers there, of my vigilance in sight, smell, sound and smell so I could evaluate my environment on my own without reliance on others.
When my eyes saw something odd or out of compliance, my right eye began to twitch and my hands involuntarily balled into a fist. There was no trembling unless there was anger but with the paranoia in high alert, I could detect the tell-tale signs of a pending war even when the signs were not obvious to the others around me. It was my paranoia that composed my body into a confident composure and my auditory senses were alerted whenever there was noise pollution in the area that was either high or low on volume or content. If one paid attention, my tone, volume and words all changed to meet the need of force or action.
I never cracked under fewer than one thousand and more solid stares from strangers dressed in orange. I kept my conversations short and sweet and to the point as I was taught to listen and speak less. My personal paranoia allowed me to hear the words clearly and associate actions with their words. Sometimes, I would hear a message loud and clear that simulated a teacher’s fingernail screeching across the chalkboard to get our attention. An attention getter, I paid attention to every sound made around me.
I cannot lie that goosebumps did not find me at times. I didn’t fear by itself but it was the fear of the unknown that kept my paranoia on high alert. As I sensed something wrong, I could feel my pulse quicken, my blood rushing and my heart pump faster and faster with each increasingly shallow breath as I prepared for the art of war. Conditioned to fight, I forced my way into the light and sought comfort in the fact that we did what we did to restore the order and make it safe again.
Unlike today, I never let a stranger sit close in front of me or behind me. As one moves around me, my mind detect their zombie eyes and metaphorically I reach for my twisted talons in case there was a dagger in their hidden hands. I never let my guard down and at times, danger found me quicker than my mind materialized or expected. The dagger finds me unsuspecting of harm because I let my paranoid guard down for a moment and left me vulnerable to a close encounter unexpected and unprepared.
I leapt to my feet and rushed the stranger – ducking to the right and blocking a twisted lunge to my neck; I scampered out of danger and grabbed the hand with the dagger to restrain the stranger. Soon, others dressed in brown came running down the run and took the stranger away in handcuffs as he continued his screams of injustice and betrayal. It seemed he was angry at the world and I happened to be in his realm of reality when he saw me and counted me to be the one to catch his wrath.
So now, five years later, I sit here in my swivel chair in an almost empty quiet room. My paranoia is settled down as the dangers have subsided and the noise is almost nil and undetectable to me and others. My refuge is now a quiet room away from the others. I have no corner to sit with my back to the wall, just a chair, a desk and four walls around me. The door is open, the music is loud and I fear no one walking into the space I am sitting.
Sometimes I never even glance up to see who it is walking in but my senses have taught me to tell without looking. The air is cleaner, the ambiance is friendlier and there are no strangers around me like before. My lungs breathe relaxed and no longer living on pins and needles as there is no probability of assault or danger in my house not built of glass. For the longest time, I thought that paranoia would be my partner forever - I was wrong.
Today, there are still dangers; it lurks on the outside of my walls and the darkness when the sun goes down and the nighttime falls. But things have changed; I no longer sit there lying in waiting to find the danger. I no longer gasp for a breath and hold it to steady my aim or my body to fight the feeling to attack. Today, space and time have stopped completely. There is no need for constant paranoia any longer and I have a head full of fresh air, a vein filled with plenty of oxygen and a heart that has softened up a bit to kill the feelings of being a paranoid bitch.
No more icy fingers on the trigger; no more steel toed shoes to keep my feet safe and cold. Nobody is watching me like before and if I didn’t know better, I would say that fear has left me completely until I walk outside the door. There, on the outside, people glance at me up and down, measuring me as I walk the pace that throttles my energy under most circumstances. I am no scared rabbit but my feet can still carry me quickly if the need arises.
Not one to readily run or bolt, I carry my weapon where the crowd may be hostile or risky. Totally aware of the darkness around me, I gasp for a breath and hold it just long enough to be relaxed. Thinking all the time, my fingers, head, legs and backbone are connected to my spine. I still feel the vise grip that protected me in the past and I will never let go of the fact that there are lots of strangers around me, some with sunken black holed eyes and some are zombie skulled freaks. In my mind, I have to go back to my paranoia chair and do it all over again.
Sitting here with my swivel chair and desktop in front, my mind is relaxed and open. For now, I am sitting there in my easy chair; I realize that someday I might have to go back to my paranoid chair. I know nothing is safe forever; I know the home I live in can be violated by strangers with malicious intents as home invasions are more frequent now than ever before. No room is forever safe, no door is forever secured and no danger is ever forgotten.
Thinking back to those moments when orange was the color black was before, I can still truly feel the moment my heart rips out the anger from my rib-cage and I am certain that any day, any moment when I least expect it, danger will truly find me again. I am prepared to fight. I keep my paranoia in the back of my mind at all times as I deflate when the four walls around me tells me it is secure but when the darkness falls, I perpetuate a chemical rush that sends an adrenaline rush to my brain as I lay down my head on my pillow, with one eye open.
No longer does my head feel like it went through a blender. You can say I am stabilized. I don’t work as hard as I did before to keep the paranoia alive and active as if I am sitting in my paranoia chair but in the back of my mind, the time it takes to move from one chair to the other is just a nanosecond away.