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A Sign Of The Times (standard:drama, 18277 words)
Author: Reid LaurenceAdded: Dec 16 2008Views/Reads: 1786/1080Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A psychological drama, A Sign Of The Times is a story about a man who sees his life not so much through the eyes of a hero, but as one who must keep pace in a world he could never, and will never connect with. In the end, he seems to lose out and win all


“I just decided... I wanna paint'in too Ray. Course, not like the one
you got on yer wall now. Not a picture a some broad.” “You mean,” 
replied Raymond, startled by the brazen request of the prisoner in the 
cell next to him, not knowing exactly how to answer. Hoping to remain 
elusive and neutral as a deterrent to the violence that erupted every 
now and then, Raymond Mort cleared his throat and innocently tried to 
clarify his neighbors appeal... “You mean the picture I painted of 
Vicky, my girlfriend? Do you like it?” “Yeah, sure, I like it. I like 
it just fine. It's just not exactly what I had in mind though, you 
know? I was think'in more like... a picture a me. You know, like what 
rich people got in their houses an stuff. Like a picture a the old man 
maybe, hang'in in one a those rooms where they got maybe a fireplace 
like, an some books an junk. You get my drift? You know what I mean? 
Can you do that?” “You mean,” returned Raymond meekly, as his outward 
appearance would imply. “You want me to paint your portrait? Is that 
what you want?” “That's it buddy, now your talk'in. That's exactly what 
I want. I want a nice big picture a me, but like, not in these here 
clothes. Someth'in better. A suit maybe. Yeah,” continued the 
outspoken, slightly built man, whose vision of himself as the 
anti-Christ had motivated him to one especially insane day. A day in 
which he tried desperately to stab a Catholic Priest to death, but 
whose effort was thwarted by several quick thinking worshippers. 
“That'll work. A nice look'in suit. Someth'in ta make me look 
extinguished an all. Whaddaya think?” “I think I can do it,” answered 
Raymond, whose talent for rendering people had improved considerably 
with time and effort - a change that had taken place in Raymond, but 
was not necessarily for the better. “But it'll have to wait till 
tomorrow. The lights go out pretty soon, an we better be in bed when 
Officer Johnson takes role call.” “I guess,” replied Mr. Marco Pollo 
stubbornly, but obviously bothered by Raymond's strict adherence to the 
rules at the psychiatric prison in southern Illinois. “But first chance 
we get, I want you should start. You get me?” “Sure Marco, I get you,” 
said Raymond, but then began mumbling quietly and feebly to himself as 
he usually did when he was left alone, answering to the 
self-manufactured voices of relationships that had literally gone dead 
due to his own advanced mental problems and lack of any rational self 
control. “Okay, but don't forget, first thing. An quit mumbl'in 
would'ya, it's driv'in me crazy. I gotta get some sleep.” But Raymond 
only turned his head to the opposite wall and kept his voice to a low 
whisper. Unable to comply with his neighbor's request and helpless to 
stop the voices he heard which kept him company, especially through 
long dark nights, when the prison lights turned completely off and 
every prisoner was left alone to his own dark – sometimes unimaginable 
- thoughts. 

Raymond's neighbor on his opposite side was not usually as rambunctious
as Marco. A young man in his early twenties, he was a victim of manic 
depression who had – every now and then – a temper tantrum that lived 
on in the likes of a sleeping volcano. The problem was, naturally, when 
it erupted it spewed years of childhood conflict for miles around and 
prosecutors thought that the best thing they could do for all the world 
was to put him in a cell next to Raymond and Marco where he at least 
could be watched; given medication and confined – unable to hurt 
himself or others around him. For any army reservist, they thought, 
crazy enough to steal a sixty ton military tank and aim to crush 
everything in it's path must have more then just a bad case of nerves 
and when it came time for him to plead his case, he easily won his spot 
in psychiatric prison, a more subdued jail in which one might 
rehabilitate with the help of staff and the right doses of Thorozine. 
And as rosy fingered dawn arrived to show herself, slowly casting the 
first rays of morning light on the bars of Raymond's cell, Franklin 
Steinberg rubbed his eyes; adjusted himself in his prison uniform and 
politely said, “good morning,” to his friend next door. “Good morning 
Franklin,” replied a well meaning Raymond, always willing to start the 
day with an easy going manner and benevolent display of friendship, 
especially in observance of Franklin's recent compulsion to mash 
things. “How did you sleep last night,” he added, never knowing what 
awful perception Franklin might have to offer that day. “Alright, I 
guess. If it weren't for all the people screaming. That's how I usually 
wake up, anyway... ta people screaming.” “Now, I wonder what would 
bring that on?” questioned Raymond, as Officer Johnson prepared to go 
home for the day, opened all the cell doors in Raymond's block and 
greeted his replacement with a mundane, ‘good morning'. “The war, I 

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