Quan falls into the patient breakfast line at the hospital for the criminally insane, he peers at the kitchen staff through pushed in black glasses, grips his tray in both hands, nose sniffing right over its plastic surface, checking to perceive odors and blemishes. He mentally calculates the time distance between himself and the food. “Maybe ninety-eight and a half seconds.”
I’m watching Al’s fingers lift his chess knights in the day room of a maximum-security ward at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital for the criminally insane. Al’s an older patient just out of seclusion. Pasty white cheeks, grey stubble, slack mouth, intense brown eyes, with lids that drop unexpectedly, and flutter, and open once again. His fingers hold a castle’s head, then release it. He moves to a pawn, lifts its top.