Nothing is ever easy. Right? Today’s PRAY hunting turned up not much, but not quite nothing. I contacted a Bellevue historian and the author of the book I described before as having the bad citation. The latter appears to have not written another book since that one, the former will probably just ignore me, because that is what people do. It is like a new kind of Digital Divide, where we are all looking at each other, we know we are looking at each other, but we do not speak. We stay safe of each other, and ignore.
I was surprised how I welled up a bit when entering Bellevue again. It’s been a few years, at least. I don’t have august associations with the institution, or fond memories of the doctors and nurses. The first nurses were OK — they made it seem like I had been admitted into the Harvard of depression — but the doctor with whom I was supposed to do most of my work was irresponsible, and even offensive in some of her assumptions. No, I don’t get a little weepy over my time at Bellevue, however brief. It is what got me there that came back to drown me. Was I trying to kill myself? I think I was.
But the payphones. O, the payphones! Not one of them worked when I was there as a patient. Today, somehow, at least 5 of them had dial tone, and I made a call that I’ll collect later. A security guard was eyeing me curiously as I went from phone to phone, studying each one up close for traces of PRAY. Maybe I should have asked him if he had heard of her. PRAY allegedly was a nurse at Bellevue before going mad herself and scratching religious exhortations on every surface she could find.
I found other payphones at the nearby NYU Langone building, at the Tisch Hospital. Three lonely payphones stuck in a storage closet, TCC Teleplex branded, with only one providing dial tone. As with Bellevue I have to ask who actually pays for the dial tone. TCC Teleplex is gone, and MetTel, seen on the Bellevue phones, disappeared a long time ago as well.
From the far east side I meandered over to the far west side. I did not find her over there but I did find her in midtown, on a phone where I have probably seen her before. The sightings start to run together.