He's there again, in the back of my mind. He gets restless sometimes, and starts to push my patience. But I can't let him take control. The last time that happened, they sent me here. And I don't much like this place. They call it the Ward. It's supposed to 'fix us', make us better. But why do I need to be fixed? I have total control of Ross. He's my other half. And there's no way that he can take me over. Because I am, after all, the better half. So why should I be stuck with all of the nuts in this Ward?
There's Harding, the homosexual; Billy, the stutterin' fool; Bromden, the deaf and dumb ol' man; Cheswick, the scared man with the bold face; McMurphy, the wild card; the black boys, the hatin' freaks; and Nurse Ratched, the controllin' hag. They're all stark raving mad, the whole lot of them. My first day's just passed, and I'm in my bed waitin' for my medication to knock me and Ross out.
"Hey, Ryder!" I hear McMurphy whisper at me just as I start to doze.
"What?" I whisper angrily, frustrated that he's stopped my sleep.
"You wanna make a bet?" He's been trying to make bets with me all day. 'I bet I can get an extra smoke' or 'I bet I can get that pretty little Nurse over there to smile at me'.
But I'm tired of his bets now, and want to sleep. So I whisper back a firm, "No."
"Come on! Here, I'll even give you the better odds. I bet that I can make the Nurse break before you. If I win, you give me half a pack of smokes. If you win, I give you a whole pack. What do you say?" He's addicted to gamblin', but he is good for shaking things up. And there isn't much else to do anyways, so I take him up on his offer.
"Sure. But I don't think you know what you're gettin' yourself into." I'm real good at rilin' people up. I just spot what they don't like and find a way to pick at it until they burst. I did it with Ross. He burst a long time ago, and now I'm steerin' this ship.
McMurphy sure doesn't know, cause he just laughs and says, "It's a bet, then." We turn over and fade slowly into sleep, looking forward to our bet tomorrow.
Only something goes wrong in the morning. Ross is real mad, real strong when I wake up. He catches me off guard, just when I've opened my eyes. And we fight, we go at it like we always do. Only this time, he wins. I feel myself pushed slowly, slowly back until I can only watch as he acts. I've lost control, and now he's gonna wreck us.
0I spring into action just as Ryder opens his eyes. I am at the disadvantage, since he is the strong one, but I catch him by surprise. It takes all of my will, but I finally push him back and keep him there. I can feel him grumbling, but I am in the driver's seat now.
"Ready for the bet today?" I turn to see McMurphy getting up beside me, and I know that I have to act fast. Ryder has taken the lead on this group, which means I have to act like him.
"Oh, I was born ready." That sounds like something that Ryder would say, right?
McMurphy chuckles and walks out of the dorms. Bromden is shaken awake, and then pushed into the mess hall. I stride out of the room, my chin held high and proud. We eat and laugh, camaraderie already building amongst us. Ryder is huffing a bit, but I will not allow him to puff. He thinks that he can just dominate me like the moon does the stars. But the stars shine too, and it is about time for him to realize it.
I gather that McMurphy and Ryder have made a sort of bet, but I don't really care about
it. Which is why I'm so content to sit back and watch McMurphy verbally spar with the Big Nurse. From the looks of it, Bromden is too. I see him watching everything that goes on with a smart eye, and know that something is not right with his deaf-dumb act. He is like a snake, patiently waiting to strike. It makes me think of how I was forced to act with Ryder, waiting to attack him at his weakest moment.
I associate most with Bromden and Harding. Bromden for the patience and Harding for the quiet intelligence. Our speech patterns are similar, though I have to admit that I do not use my hands as much when I speak. Now I feel Ryder grumbling again. He is saying that if I'm like Harding, then I must be gay. But that is certainly not true, I know it. I just push Ryder back down. He is a born homophobe. He just never came around to the concept. Myself, I don't mind that much. As long as the man doesn't come after me, it is no skin off of my nose.
This is only one of Ryder's many flaws. He is all brawn and no brain, with a bold mouth that no one can back up. If he had any sense of how ridiculous he always acted, the devil would be freezing. Without a doubt, I am the better half. And now I finally have the control to keep us alive. For example, I am not challenging the Nurse right now like McMurphy, the bucking bronco. I sit quietly in my seat, not waiting to see him broken.
The group meetings are intricate and simple at the same time. I notice that the Nurse can imply one thing and every other patient will jump on board, going at the victim. To avoid conflict, I look around the room. It is funny how they have designed the Ward. They want as little conflict as possible from the patients. We have only white washed walls. The two paintings that decorate the wall only serve to remind of us what we're missing on the Outside: nature. Snow-capped mountains adorned with brisk pines and a brightly shining sun taunt us on the wall opposite me, while a warm meadow lined with wild flowers just bloomed catches our eyes on the wall to my right. Other than that, we are allowed only a few pieces of canvas furniture and wooden tables. The plain surroundings are enough to drive any sane person mad.
The Nurse finally stops tormenting poor Billy, and turns to me. "So, Ryder, is it?" I nod with a controlled dignity. I cannot allow her to scratch me. I cannot afford to lose control to Ryder again. "Tell me about Ross. He is your alter ego, correct? What do you think of him?" What does Ryder think of me? The answer comes immediately.
"He's my bad half. Too sissy to ever do much accept complain." Ryder grunts in agreement with my statement. The Nurse writes a few things down in her manila folder and then looks up. "Any questions for Mr. Guller?" She's opened up the pecking to the patients.
They try to peck away, but I manage to deflect most of the questions until the hour is up. My time in the hot seat is done, and I get up without a word. After a few minutes, McMurphy comes up to me, a wide grin on his face. "Hey there, Ross" I look up at him.
"Why hello. You finally realized that I am not the devil that is Ryder?" McMurphy chuckles and slaps me on the back.
"You're real funny." He lowers his voice a bit, looks around to check if anyone's listening. "That's a good one. I heard that you were declared 'mentally unstable' at your trial too. I could only come up with psycopathy. But schizo? That's a good one. Genius, really."
I look up at McMurphy, confused. Did he think that Ryder was imaginary? How ridiculous. Who could make up someone as uniquely evil as Ryder? Certainly not me. So I merely shrugged and walked away. His accusation was odd, but it got me thinking about Ryder. He was being quiet. Too quiet. I blinked, and the next thing I knew, Ryder was wrestling me to the ground. He had been collecting his strength.
His entire will was pressing against mine, and I had to act quickly if I wanted to stay in control. I surged against him, throwing all of my frustration with him and his supreme attitude. He kept me locked away for years, unable to do anything other than watch as he lived the life that I could have had. Until I pressed up and made a statement. I gained control long enough to get us sent to the war, and then long enough to kill our commander. But he pleaded temporary insanity and we were sent here. Well I was tired of his tyranny. We wrestled, our mental battle starting to get physical.
I was vaguely aware that we were rolling around on the floor, yelling while the others gathered around us. They're confused, to say the least. But I can't focus on that right now. I need to end this, once and for all. I struggle to retain hold of the body, and look around me for something that could be used as a weapon. I see the glass panel of the control room and get an idea. I think of all of the pain that Ryder has caused me over the years and finally manage to get up and surge to the glass. I get close enough and dive through the glass, shattering it and cutting myself in the process.
It hurts but I blot out the pain, telling myself that I will finally be free of this disease, this parasite that has stolen my life from me. I keep telling myself that as I drive the largest shard I can find through my chest. McMurphy and the Nurse come in just a split second. The Nurse is in hysterics, screaming at the black boys for not controlling me. McMurphy is holding my wound, trying desperately to stop the bleeding. I look over at the Nurse, and smile.
"Guess I won that bet, huh McMurphy?" I manage to get out. He just stares with his wild eyes at me. I shut my eyes, too tired to deal with so much frantic energy now.
I can feel myself slipping away now, and know that I am not long for this world. But it's okay, because while I slip away I feel Ryder going too. And I know that finally, I am free.