The past month Malcolm was told that he would have to live in a hospital for the rest of his life. He was also told that he could not do his can recycling business any longer. This was done by his social worker. The next week, he would have a hearing on his commitment to the hospital. His Social Worker got him a haircut and a good pair of clothes to wear for the hearing. A lawyer would represent him from the Bexar County Legal Aid.
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He wanted to do something other than that. He didn’t want to give up his drinking buddies or his other friends. He told himself that he wouldn’t go. He thought that there was another alternative to the hospital.
His Social Worker came to talk with him several days before the hearing. When she left, Malcolm decided to go to the Saint Anthony Hotel. He bought him a beer and after several beers he went to the third floor. Luckily there was an exit to the roof. He found his way and walked to the edge of the roof. He took one step to the edge just like on a diving board and stepped off. One minute later, his life was ended.
Back To The Beginning
At the age of nineteen, Malcolm entered the Army and received a Distinguished Service Cross for his service. His Army career began with Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri with his advanced training at Fort Benning, Georgia as a Green Beret. After completion of his training, he went to the 99th Replacement Company in Vietnam where he was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division and saw a year’s duty in Vietnam. He killed at least 13 VC and helped detonate and clear seventy-five caves. Upon returning from Vietnam, he had one year left of his enlistment. His next assignment was at the Army Medical Training Center as a training sergeant for Green Beret Medical Corpsmen. His duty assignment was to manage the soldiers during their training at the center.
After a year, he was discharged and returned to his hometown. Before discharge, he visited many places in San Antonio near the Training Center. He made a note of all of them and kept the notes for any future use he might have for them.
He didn’t feel like working at all. He started smoking pot a lot. Malcolm even picked up the habit of chain-smoking cigarettes. His parents were afraid of what might happen to him. So they took him to the VA Hospital. There Malcolm was diagnosed as Manic-Depressive with flashbacks. After a stay in the hospital, he was released with some medicines to take.
His VA doctor wanted him to come to the hospital each day for outpatient therapy. While there he was given tests and therapy to help better himself. Malcolm after completion of his therapy got a job at the VA as a kitchen aide. This job was a part time one. He held the job for one year and afterward got a job at a local hospital. This job was a full time one. Malcolm while working at this hospital started talking to himself. The staff wondered why he was doing such a thing. A nurse asked him, “Why are you always talking to yourself? Do you see a doctor for your problem?”
“I see a doctor but he doesn’t prescribe anything for my problem. I take only Lithium Carbonate and a drug known as Elavil. I sort of stopped taking them when I got this job.”
“We have a policy here at the hospital that all employees on doctor prescribed drugs must take them as directed by their physician. If you don’t take them you will have to leave.”
“I think that I’ll quit my job. You can send my final check to my home address. I’ll go punch out.”
Malcolm walked out of the hospital and never looked back.
Twelve days later, he was evicted from his apartment and was on the streets. He had been out of the military for five years. He tried calling his family and explaining things to them. They only wanted him to take his medicines and have his job. He vowed to never call them again. The next day or so, he decided to go back to old San Antonio just to see the sights. The Traveler’s Aid Society gave him a ticket after his telling them that he was stranded and lived with his parents in San Antonio. He gave them an address of General Delivery, San Antonio, Texas, 78234. His ticket was a full paid one way ticket to San Antonio. They also gave him $25 to buy food while on the trip. That afternoon, he was on the bus bound for San Antonio.
Malcolm arrived three days later. In his luggage, he had a complete change of clothes, his shaving kit and a jacket for the foul weather. He also had $10 of the original $25 left. The first thing he did upon arrival was to go to the library to look up certain things. He asked the librarian, “Are there any part time jobs here in the City? Do you have a list of things to see here in town?”
The librarian answered, “I’ll copy a list of things to see here in town. Have you ever tried recycling. All you need for that type of job is a cart and some gloves to protect your hands. That is the only part time job for a man your age.”
“Good! I’ll take the list and I’ll go to a store and purchase a cart. I’ll also need a shop that will take the bottles, cans and plastic containers.”
“Here are the list of things to see here in town and also the recycling centers.”
He took the lists and went to the front entrance of the library after thanking the lady. That afternoon, he went to the Salvation Army to get a bed for the night and something to eat. They very graciously allowed him to spend the night there. He would be able to spend every night there.
The next morning, he got up and found a bag to put his cans in. He would take them to the recycling center at three o’clock each day. His first day, he earned nine dollars. Malcolm on his second night at the Salvation Army was told by the counselor to apply for welfare. The welfare office would help him with some cash money and a place to stay. He went and applied for welfare.
Two weeks later, he received his notice that he was eligible for welfare. They told him that he would not have to take any medicines other than those prescribed by one of their approved doctor’s. They also assigned him to a regular welfare worker in order for him to get housing. They also told him that he could continue to pick up cans and plastic bottles.
Malcolm was amazed has to what his life had become in the past few months. His worker got him just a small studio apartment where he could live and cook his own meals. He asked her how he would be able to get his food. His worker gave him a food stamp application to fill out. He received $300 a month in food stamps. Those he would get each month that he was on welfare. His worker sent Malcolm to a thrift store to buy the utensils that he would need to cook his food.
There was a Von’s Grocery Store right down the block from his apartment. His apartment was only a half a block from Fort Sam Houston on Grayson Street. His worker warned him to not go looking for cans on the Military Post because it was off limits to civilians.
During the next six months, he cooked his own meals and saw a doctor. The doctor was an Internist that prescribed something for Malcolm to take at bedtime. He also asked Malcolm if he had ever been to see a psychiatrist. Malcolm answered him by telling him that he had and why he didn’t want to take any more psych medicines. The doctor told him that he ought to see a psychiatrist. Malcolm told him again that he wouldn’t see one ever again. Malcolm told the doctor that he wanted to live my own life without medicines. The doctor told him that he was mature enough to take them if he wanted to and it was up to him to take them or not.
Malcolm left the doctor’s office in a bad mood. He was tired of doctor’s. His welfare worker would probable me mad at him for not wanting to see a psychiatrist. He called and talked to her on the phone before he got home. She mentioned to him, “Why don’t we try a psychologist? If you don’t want to see a psychologist there is nothing more that I can do to help you!”
Malcolm then told her, “Alright then I’ll live on the streets. I’ll survive and you can go to hell. You’re no damn bit of help and you don’t understand about free rights.”
“I’m sorry Malcolm. The best of luck to you.”
This event took place after Malcolm’s being on welfare for six years. He still had his can recycling business and a buddy of his told him that he could sleep in his yard and use his toilet. He sort of made Malcolm think that he could survive. His can money still brought him $35 every two weeks.
This gave him enough money to buy some food to eat. With this he could afford almost anything to eat. The camping out spot in his friends yard was ok until winter. During the winter, he caught a very bad cold from the inclement weather. It got to be 30 degrees out and all he had to keep him warm was a light jacket. His friend called the paramedics on him. They came and took him to a hospital. He stayed in the hospital until they found out that he didn’t have any insurance. He tried to contact his former worker but she couldn’t be reached. The person Malcolm talked to told him that his case was closed and that it couldn’t be reopened again. They told him that the case could only be opened if he would be able to stay in a hospital on permanent status.
Malcolm answered them, “I’ll think about it and I’ll call you back Monday morning.”
He called her back the next morning and the worker talked with him. “ I need to get you a shave and a haircut with a clean set of clothes for the court hearing at the hospital. If you go to the Salvation Army Thrift Store right near the Salvation Army Domicile you can get you some clean clothes. You tell them to call me?”
He did so and his clothes fit him quite good. The hearing was set for the following afternoon. Malcolm had second thoughts so he headed towards the Saint Anthony Hotel Bar. He had a few beers and went to the third floor. The rest is history.