Seven fucking years they kept Albert and I in that bloody asylum. Seven whole fucking years. Can you believe it? Eighty-four months of listening to Twinkle, twinkle little fucking star. Two thousand, three hundred and fifty five days and nights with nothing to do except taunt our next-door neighbour. Over sixty one thousand hours with nothing to do but sit and think about what we had done and do you know what the worst part was? The day they put that big old iron key into the lock of his cell door. Albert and I had listened in silence. It wasn’t mealtime. It wasn’t evaluation day, that only took place on the last Sunday of each month. We could hear the mechanism turning, the cogs engaging. What was going on? Why were they opening his door? We should have realised earlier, the clues had been there. He was receiving more frequent treatment. His reaction to Albert’s singing had decreased gradually over recent months, the screams and head banging giving way to mere whimpers, then silence and then the worst of all. The laughter. The bastard started laughing when we sang. Fucking laughing. At us!
That was the day they declared that little bastard Hamid was no longer a danger to himself or others. That was the day the birds stopped singing in the trees, the day our long lost friend returned. The Rage.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be forever. Jesus Christ! We had failed all of those evaluations on purpose just to stay in there, next to him. And then one day they decide to just let the bastard out. Where was the justice in that?
We eventually got a new neighbour but he wasn’t half as much fun. Ronald he was called, Ronald Hughes. He was locked up after trying to commit suicide by lying on a disused railway line for two days. Apparently a woman walking her dog found him, suffering from hypothermia. Now that is one mental bastard.
No, it wasn’t the same when they set Hamid free. It felt like Albert and I were being punished instead. I will never forget that day they let him out, it was a Monday in January, he walked past our cell door and stopped, tapping lightly on the steel. Albert and I put our ears to the cold metal. “Dermott,” he whispered, “It’s been a pleasure, but your daughter was much better company.”