Loleeta Morales: The Suicide Watch

Los Portales

1.

We sit in the day room when we’re not pacing the hallways or strapped to a bed
in a seclusion room.

There is always a television in a day room, slung from the ceiling by metal brackets.

The staff take turns on “Day Room Watch” which means monitoring the fights
that break out among patients.

“Give me that cigarette you bitch!”

WHAP!!!

A staff member ambles over to the two patients to advise them that their
behavior is inappropriate.

Inappropriate behavior is anything from stealing a cigarette to puking in another patient’s hair.

There is always a lull in the day room after lunch..

No couch in the day room is as wide as the length of the  average male but I sleep anyway, wrapped in a white blanket, legs dangling over an arm rest. I am the Mummy who rises to haunt the staff. Eyes taped shut. Trapped between the nurses’ station and the ping-pong table, four staff members, male, surround me, a nurse cowers behind them with a hypo. I slam one of them onto the sharp edges of the ping-pong table; I spin and snap the nurse’s arm.
Then Dr. Christopher Morales hops onto the unit to bring everything to a sensible conclusion.

I am asleep on the couch listening to an old Beatles tune.

2.

Locked psych units sometimes smell like public johns.

A janitor arrives in the morning and stirs the floor with his mop.

A psych tech patrols the day room with a can of Lysol  spritzing above her head.

Dr. Christopher Morales is from Brazil.

He is like a frog becoming a prince: frozen in transition.

Dr. Morales watches me eat breakfast with a look of calculated concern.

“You are liking your breakfast?” He asks.

I nod and nibble on the tip of a sausage.

“You are feeling suicidal today?”

I nod and swallow.

“And, how long do you do you intend to feel this way?”

“Until the day I die!” I answer flatly.

And for a moment, it looks as if the Doctor Morales has spotted a fly;
but he stays for the therapeutic hour.

3.

All psychiatric hospital have a system of precautions in place.

The most serious precaution is suicide watch.

A staff person must follow me everywhere.

“But I gotta go twos!”

“You’re on Suicide Watch Miss Morales.”

“But I’ve gotta go twos now!”

“You can control your bowels, Miss Morales.”

Poor Loleeta Morales.

She hates everyone!

Asshole clenched Like toothless gums:

She should go right there so’s the bitch the will
have to clean it up!

Then Bob, her favorites psych nurse arrives:

“I wouldn’t have to go in there with you if you’d get off suicide watch!”
he complains listlessly.

“Oh that’s alright,” a blissful Loleeta replies.

She reaches into her jeans and pulls out a condom: “Here, have a Mento!”

4.

There are six other people on “suicide watch” in the day room tonight.

The other four are on cots scattered between tables and chairs.

A nurse shoots a beam of light into my eyes.

He scratches a check by my name.

George turns and strokes my arm, “This reminds me of day camp,” he whispers.

A patient in the Seclusion room pounds on the door: “I wanna cigarette!”

“Why don’t they give that bitch a cigarette?” George says.

The hand on my arm slips into his pajamas and pulls out a dart.

George grins like a happy dog and aims it at me.

“C’mon! Touch it! The staff don’t care!”

My hand slowly crosses the space between our cots.

George grabs it and rubs it in circles on his chest.

He pauses over a nipple and says, “Squeeze!”

The patient in the seclusion room pounds on the door:

“I wanna cigarette!”

“Give that bitch a cigarette!” shouts George.

Lights up, the nurse: “That wasn’t very helpful Mr. Will!”

“Well I can’t get no sleep with that racket!”

The nurse doesn’t notice my trembling hand on George’s chest.

He tells George to try to relax and to try to get some
sleep and to try to remember that the hospital can be
unpleasant.

Lights out, nurse gone:–George slides my hand to his crotch.

I close my eyes and feel — trapped!

The patient under the ping-pong table releases a sniffle that builds to a wail.

Lights up, the nurse:

“What’s the problem Audrey?”

“I wanna go home to my Farrrrtherrr…”

“How about some Seroquel instead?”

Audrey nods.

I crush George’s balls and he releases a loud grunt.

The nurse shines a light us and laughs: “You kids can do anything you want
when you’re outta here.

But sex is inappropriate in the hospital.

5.

The next morning I compose a love letter to George:

My Dearest George,

Your touch has transformed me in ways that can only be described by an Ann Rice Vampire.
I am dead, yet, preternaturally alive: as if our junk has become one single throbbing organ.

I can’t say that I love you but meeting you has led me to the profoundest reflections.

I remember that once, as a girl who didn’t know the meanings of many words, I
compared the glint behind the blue eyes of the studlet with whom I was in love
to cesspools, shimmering in moonlight.

I thought the word cesspool meant something beautiful.

Alas, my blue-eyed studlet had gone to school.

He fled my trailer, never to return.

Many years later, a less class-addled studlet defined the word cesspool for me.

I had a good laugh!

I’m telling you this story George, so that you’ll know that I mean it to my soul when
I say that you are lie a cesspool…

…shimmering in moonlight.

Love & Kisses,

Loleeta Morales

6.

John Lennon was my model for masculinity.

When the Beatles first arrived in the States , I lived in New York
with my Cousin, Sara.

She was in love with Paul McCartney but she did not adopt
his mannerisms.

We were both children of the sweet Middle Class.

Sara eventually married and had kids and a bank account.

I didn’t.

Remembering John Lennon brings back memories of my favorite dog.

His name was Max and he came when I whistled.

One day I whistled and Max didn’t come.

The end of this story is as predictable as an old Beatles tune:

I’m in the day room and the afternoon lull is over.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2014

The Beatles
Mother Nature’s Son
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15 thoughts on “Loleeta Morales: The Suicide Watch

      1. The AIDS Epidemic, at least in the U.S. was and still is an unacknowledged holocaust and San Francisco was the center of it. I think that Loleeta appeared as a result of the stresses of living in a a community of men who were dying. And no one knew who was next. I have not gotten around to discussing this in my therapy. There was so much violence in my life and AIDS was more violence…But with AIDS it was the covert violence of fundamentalist opportunists who ran around the country claiming that AIDS was God’s judgement. We also had a withered con man as President who decided to pander to his base by ignoring the AIDS epidemic for almost eight years. You can see how the social dynamic replicates the sick dynamic of an abusive family with an identified scapegoat.

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      2. Precisely, here in Australia the fundamentalists saw AIDS as one of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. So far only 4 of my peers have died hiv + or AIDS and one lives a very precarious existence having contracted it in the late 80s. Here their violence was not that covert, perhaps that clarified things. But to ignore it- very maladjusted family.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Almost everyone I marched with is dead. My first partner is still alive and we are grateful to have each other as friends and brothers. But he is the only male from my youth who is still alive.

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      4. Yes, it is like that, I don’t know how many of the old crowd are still alive since I haven’t been to Acceptance in some years. There were a few of the 69ers still remaining but they surely must have passed on.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I think that if my friends had died as a natural consequence of aging It would have been a loss but not the traumatic losses of one after another from a disease that came out of nowhere and took them while they were still in their 20’s. What made matters worse was that I was falling apart in a psychiatric establishment that didn’t accept the possibility of DID, and didn’t understand how it felt to belong to a community of young men who were struck down by a politicized epidemic.

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      6. Yes, politicized is the word, Robert have you written down your ‘Feelings’ and Psychological State during that time – not from the point of view of the others/alters but could you, can you properly own those feelings.

        It has almost always been them against us or seemed that way even now there is an unwritten agenda according to the prevailing theory which guides the Session of Therapy, so what about that struggle, that negation the pulling the rug out from under your feet, the denial of what remained of your reality?

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I have to be honest and say that I don’t understand the question.

        Los Portales is about a patient on a locked unit.

        The patient is stressed by a personal crisis brought on by the violent murder of his Mother, the onset of a social crisis in the form of the AIDS epidemic, a political crisis brought on by a so-called backlash of religious conservatives against liberation theology and what was then a progressive social agenda, and what the patient experienced as the death of the only community that gave him a home.

        I understand the context of this person’s life and do know that theoretically this person is me but he isn’t me. He is someone who lived during the 80’s —and he is the only person who can describe how that felt.

        I do know that he feels called now, and I do sense that he will post something to you in reply to this.

        I hope that my reply doesn’t sound cold or offended. I’m neither.

        It’s just that I have no feelings about this period at all–and I find this patient’s writing a bit too edgy for my taste.

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      8. This is OK, he knows what I mean and when he is ready he will write because he will need too. Don’t worry you do not sound offended, you sound exactly as your words depict, as one who finds well, edgy

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I know that the others dislike my writing, but I find beauty in ugliness, and spiritual depth in the struggle to rise above degradation. The others censor my writing but because we respect you, and because your interest is so genuine I am free to publish a piece as is was written. I will begin to work on it this morning.

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