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!”
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.
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.
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!”
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
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?”
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.
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,
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
We were both children of the sweet Middle Class.
Sara eventually married and had kids and a bank account.
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