- Mental Health
Fractured – Part 2
Zach wasn’t used to anyone crossing him and this little snip of a woman would get hers and he’d see to it. Smart mouthed little bitch, just like all the rest.
Lynn wandered over to the tv area, tired of dealing with people already. One resident moved over, offering a seat on the sofa. She hesitated but since choices were limited she sat and stared at the tv screen. “Oh good,” she thought, a friggin soap opera. “Didn’t these people get enough drama from their own lives?” She desperately wanted to go and lie down on her bed or even sit in the chair in her room where she could have some privacy. The constant prattle of voices was getting on her nerves. She could feel anger welling inside again, threatening to burst forth like water from an exploded dam. Everything was irritating from the way people looked, to the very marrow of her bones that felt as if it was vibrating, trying to shatter what contained it. Just then a bell, like those that beckoned school children from one class to another, pierced the air causing Lynn to almost jump out of her skin. Resident’s were being seated at large tables where trays of food were waiting.
“Lynn”, one of the aides was pointing to a chair he expected her to occupy. “Your dinner is here. Sit down and eat now so you can watch the movie later.” An open tray displayed a grilled cheese sandwich, some sliced peaches, beets and a mysterious glob in the last sectioned area. There was a god, however and it had produced a can of Coke. She opened it and drank it down in three gulps, lubricating the inside of her desert dry mouth. At least most of the talking had stopped but it was replaced with various disgusting eating noises, smacking lips, crunching teeth, slurped soup – why didn’t she have soup? She tore her napkin and fashioned ear plugs which she jammed so far into her ears as to threaten bursting her ear drums. The aide was eyeing her so she picked up a triangle of grilled cheese and took an obligatory bite. It was cold, tasteless, greasy and hard. Someone had tricked her and put a cardboard picture on her tray, this was not food. This must be a test to see if she was alert enough to notice the difference. She spit the bite into the remainder of her napkin and tucked it under the edge of her tray. She pierced a piece of beet with her fork, bringing it to her nose to distinguish of it was pickled or canned. Not pickled and she didn’t eat them any other way. She moved to the peaches and watched how the syrup they were canned in clung to them like frosting. Surely this thick liquid would coagulate in her mouth to never be swallowed. That left the mystery glob. It was green and did not resemble a vegetable, not an avocado or a grape. It didn’t move when she pushed it with a spoon so it wasn’t jello. Nope, she wasn’t falling for it – whatever it was. Only she and the suited man remained at the table with the others smoking and drinking coffee or helping to set up chairs where a movie screen and projector had been set up.
“Mr. Waters! Glenn, you haven’t eaten again!” A nurse Lynn didn’t recognize was hovering over the man, a vulture with a chart.
“Good for you Mr. Waters,” thought Lynn, he must know of their trickery too!
“Mr. Waters, we don’t want the glucose drip again do we?” Nurse Ratched couldn’t hold a candle to this one Lynn chuckled to herself.
Mr. Waters replied with the calling out of a woman’s name in a rich splendid voice that held obvious love and admiration for whoever she was. “Gloria Jean,” this time a pleading tone.
The nurse turned her attention to Lynn’s tray taking inventory of the still full contents. Mustering up what Lynn guessed was supposed to be a sweet voice she informed the patient, ”We eat our dinners here and when we do we get privileges like watching a movie or another fun activity. You need to hurry and finish. I believe I smell the popcorn being prepared. I’ll give you another chance and five minutes.”
Lynn stared at the tray. So much for the cardboard sandwich test theory. She rearranged the beets and piled the peaches into a pyramid. They stuck together perfectly as she knew they would. She was adding some of the mystery glob to the beet juice, making a breathtaking pastel when the nurse returned with two aides. They lifted Mr. Waters from his chair so quickly his legs were still bent in a sitting position and when he stumbled, they none too gently carried him down the hallway with the nurse trailing after, telling him he would spend some quiet time and be fed by the drip again until he felt more cooperative. Lynn watched as they unlocked one of the doors that was kept closed and disappeared inside with Mr. Waters plaintive cry for his Gloria Jean filling the air.
Lynn looked around for help but most of the patients were happily munching popcorn and watching an antiquated movie, via projector. A small group was at the coffee table but they seemed oblivious to Mr. Water’s plight. The little kid, what was his name? Jim? John? James, that was it, James! James was at the table smoking and talking to another resident. Lynn dumped her tray, dug out a cigarette and headed for James to get a light and find out why no one was helping this poor man. She had two drags from her cigarette and a warning to stay out of other people’s business when Nurse Rogers came flying at her like a winged creature from the pits of Hell.
‘We do NOT dump our trays! We do NOT leave an area without permission. And we certainly do not have a lit cigarette when there was no one authorized to light one. Tell me how you got it lit, right NOW.”
“Found one not quite out in the ash tray and blew on it to get it going again and Voila, a light,” Lynn gave her a big grin.
“Put that out and follow me.” Nurse Rogers started toward a table and chairs away from the coffee area. Lynn watched her, imagining Hitler’s soldiers goose-stepping past her and saluting. She grabbed an ash try and a cup of coffee and joined the woman.
Lynn was being put on report, she learned while deeply enjoying her cigarette and lighting another from it. She would read the rules and they would have another discussion the next evening as the other residents enjoyed the nightly reward for appropriate behavior. Lynn would be tested with questions about the rules and schedules and if she passed, Nurse Rogers would give her yet another chance, if, and only if, she ate every morsel of every meal from now until then and it would be charted. Did she understand?
“Um Huh, do you get enough sex in your professional opinion, Nurse Rogers, because you seems highly frustrated to me.” Lynn raised her voice to the back of the retreating nurse. “Of course I’m not a professional.”