By Carl Hershberger
The identity of the Drunk in the Twin Peaks Sheriff Department holding cell remains a perplexing mystery for fans of the series. Is he Audrey’s lover Billy? Could he be an apparition created by Deputy Chad’s demented mind? What about the man who was bleeding out his nose and mouth mentioned by Roadhouse patron Megan to her friend Sophie at the end of Part 14?
This strange inebriated man hilariously portrayed by actor Jay Aaseng looks as if he is rotting away. He has an infected sore on his face, which is covered with a napkin. Purulent drainage leaks out his mouth, making a brownish yellow puddle upon the cell floor. Twin Peaks jail cells have always been grubby (remember feathers from Ben Horne’s pillow tantrum were still present when Hank was locked up), but this level of neglect by our heroes is difficult to fathom.
You would think the upstanding law officers of Twin Peaks grant him immediate medical attention before he has the chance of going into septic shock? Wouldn’t good guys James Hurley and Freddie Sykes call attention to sick man? Surely pure souls Andy and Lucy would help him. For this reason, I don’t believe the drunk is visible. Only the dastardly Chad seems to acknowledge the his presence.
The Drunk ‘parrots’ almost everyone in the cell block, irritating Chad and driving him into fits of vocal hysterics. Chad’s outbursts in retaliation to something unperceived by the rest of cellmates must have a befuddling experience for them. Then again bizarre happenings seemed to be the norm there. An eyeless woman making monkey noises was in an adjoining cell.
But what is the motivation behind the Drunk’s unique brand of torture? Is he figment of Chad’s own imagination? I don’t think the drug peddling Chad has a conscience. Certainly not one that would condemn him.
I have an alternative explanation. Waldo the myna bird’s spirit is haunting the sheriff station and he has it in for the town’s criminal population! Before you laugh this off as being absurd, let me attempt to explain.
While living with the disgusting drug smuggling human trafficker Jacques, Waldo witnessed much evil taking place, especially the night Laura was murdered. Later Waldo was found and taken into custody by Dale Cooper and Harry Truman and moved to the sheriff station. Left in the conference room, the poor bird was a sitting duck for the reprehensible Leo Johnson, who was terrified of what exactly Waldo could caw out to FBI agents.
Waldo was being recorded on Dale’s dictaphone, and perhaps sensing his impending demise, he tried to implicate the psychopaths Leo and Jacques.
Waldo squawked “Laura? Laura? Don’t go there! Laura? Laura Hurting me! Hurting me! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Leo no! Leo no!” Waldo was all set to be a key witness, but he never got a chance to fulfill his duty at a trial. Leo sniped poor Waldo, parting his spirit from it’s shell.
Josie Packard’s spirit resides in the lumber that makes up The Great Northern Hotel, why can’t Waldo’s ghost inhabit the sheriff station building? Both Margaret Lanterman and Deputy Hawk knew a multitude of spirits were held in the timber cut from Ghostwood Forest. If Josie can be a drawer pull, Waldo can resemble a decaying man with a penchant for repeating what’s said aloud.
Myna birds are arguably the bird species most adept at talking and begin to mimic what they hear over time through repetition. But I think Waldo, possibly acting as an emissary for The Fireman, was highly motivated to fight against the darkness invading the town.
In addition to behavioral indications there are several visual clues that point to the Drunk man being Waldo. For instance, Waldo received a hole blown through him by Leo’s high-powered rifle, and the Drunk has a prominent wound on his face. Waldo’s bloody carcass decomposed a long time ago, and The Drunk is literally decaying right in front of our eyes. Waldo spent his life in a cage. The drunk haunts a barred cell. His face with its mouth hanging wide open is bird-like in appearance.
What Waldo’s psychological warfare accomplished I’m not sure of really. Seemingly defeated, Waldo went into a rage, clawing at his face like an animal when Chad attempts to make a prison break. Luckily there was an English-born security guard with a super-powered green glove available to render Chad unconscious.
Waldo may have been robbed of his revenge against Leo by Windom Earle’s tarantulas, but it’s clear to me that he finally got to see a little justice being served the day Dale Cooper returned to Twin Peaks.