I can’t believe it’s been twenty years years since I first met Les Miles.
When he first walked into the ward at the Louisiana Institute for the Tediously Insane I had just been shamed into submission by Nurse Hatchet and was dutifully standing in line waiting for my pink and blue pills.
Lester had a way about him, a countenance that made me all of the sudden comfortable, like a fluffy blanket. It didn’t take me long to figure out that we were going to be best friends.
The first time we met was electro-shock therapy. For me, it was due to my unnatural affinity for leaning my intimate parts against washing machines in spin cycle. What had once been a harmless laundry day perk had turned into a near stampede at the “Suds & Duds” on Canal Street in New Orleans. But Lester, well .. Les was something all together different.
Since he was a boy, Les had a thing about clocks. He would walk up to adults and inquire the time. When the grownup would pull back his sleeve revealing a watch, Les would hock a Big League Chew scented loogie onto the offending timepiece and skip away singing “faa la la, there isn’t time to catch meee”.
Things finally came to a head for Lester in his late teens when visiting his grandparents. Hearing the clock strike twelve at nine thirty in the evening, granny entered the living room only to find Les in a carnal embrace with her prized twelve day grandfather clock. It never kept good time again.
The years went by and Les became distant, he would stand in front of the barred window absently chewing a ficus. “Tickety – Tockety, Les needs a Clockety.. he repeated in his singsong voice as he stared absently at the LSU Clock Tower in the distance..
One morning he was gone. At first no one noticed he was late as he wasn’t allowed to keep time and his clock exposure was strictly monitored . The only watch he was allowed was drawn on his wrist at a perpetual high noon with a fuschia Crayola marker.
We were beginning breakfast when we heard a yelp from the corridor. Nurse Hatchet was standing open-mouthed at the door to Les’s cell. A poster of Burt Reynolds in “The Longest Yard” was pulled aside to reveal a hole just large enough for someone to wiggle through..
My friend had escaped from The Louisiana Institute for the Tediously Insane that day. On the other side of the wall they found the only proof that Les had ever lived, a contraband Casio watch catalog, it’s pages stuck together and a metal spork nearly worn to a nub.. I remember thinking there was no place in today’s world for a guy like Les Miles, time is just too important on the outside. I began to weep, feeling sorry for myself after losing a friend, and fell back onto his cot to gather myself.
Looking up at the wall, where the poster had been, through the hole in the distance was the silhouette of the LSU clock tower. It was silent.