Recap of Chapter Two
Susan Cole is running for her life after she murdered Doctor George Benny, her lover in cold blood. She is on her way back to the states, her destination Salter’s Point. Billy Moonwalker, a paranoid schizophrenic, committed suicide by running into traffic. Now staff are trying to cope with his untimely tragic death including his doctor, Ethan Poppy, who is hiding in her office. Social Workers, Cathy Ray, Rachel James and Betty Jo Brewer haggled over the reasons why Billy died in the first place while doctors, Everett James and Mark Brewer look for clues to explain his tragic end. Chapter Three introduces newcomers, Doctor Ethan Poppy and another one of her patients, Robert Harris, a cross dresser. Salter’s Point’s quirky employees like the grumpy doctor, Michael Louis and the nutty attorney, Hiram Gottshalks pay Rachel and Betty Jo an impromptu visit.
Back on the admissions unit, Ethan Poppy was hunkered down in her office trying to stay below the fray. A dowdy and peculiar woman, she wore a long black smock, red high-top tennis shoes and her short white frizzy hair was swept up into a bun. Named after her father, who expected a boy the day she was born, Doctor Poppy joined the psychiatry staff a year ago. Newly divorced, her husband, also a physician, ran off with his gay lover causing the demise of their marriage. Looking for a change, she sold her home in Florida and moved clear across the country to distance herself from the life she had there. However, her adjustment to her new job had been rough, often engaging in verbal scrimmages with the nurses at least three to four times a day.
Her bizarre reputation was comedic fodder around the hospital. Rumor had it she slept in a coffin, and her affinity for high-top tennis shoes and unusual pets was often the main topic in most gossip circles. She owned fifty pairs of tennis shoes she stashed underneath her desk, and she frequently changed her shoes two to three times a day. In a corner behind her desk were three scrawny black rats she kept as pets scurrying around in a cage. When the nurses discovered she had rats in her office, they reported her to the health department. However, the health inspector allowed her to keep the rodents after he found the animals were domesticated. Since then, the nurses refused to visit her office, forcing her to come to the nursing station to sign off on orders instead.
She reached down underneath her desk and grabbed a small bag of carrots. She scooted her chair over to the cage and dropped three carrots inside. The rodents fought over the carrots while she looked on in amusement. Suddenly her office door flew opened and slammed into the wall.
“My word!” She screamed almost falling over in her chair. “You scared me!”
Robert Harris’ six-foot-four-inch frame took up the entire doorway. He sashayed into her office wearing red, spiked high heel shoes and a tight knit black dress. His heavily made-up expressive green eyes sported a hint of dark eyeliner, and his thin lips were smeared with a bold ruby red lipstick. A few weeks ago, he tried to change his sex by snipping his genitals off. He was rushed to the emergency room and when stable, was transferred to Salter’s Point Regional. When he puckered up his lips, his eyes sparkled.
“Well, well, well, I see you got the memo,” he said in a raspy voice.
“What do you mean?!” She said with blazing eyes.
“Don’t you see doc? We’re twins….We got the same colors on today!” He chuckled, as she frowned.
“Next time, don’t barge in here without asking permission to enter first,” she chastised him.
“AW, don’t get your panties in a wad,” he joked. “I didn’t mean to scare you!”
“Robert, what do you want?!” She asked looking pointedly at him.
“Can you pleassssssse give me a pass for the library?” He whined. “I need to get an engineering book for my job.”
Her jaw dropped. “You have a job?!”
“Yes, girl,” he sweetly replied. “I am on medical leave.”
“What do you do?” She asked raising an eyebrow.
“Girl, I thought you knew,” he laughed. “I am an electrical engineer. Once I leave this crazy place, I’m taking my fine cute ass back to work!”
“We’ll see about that, Mister Harris,” the doctor said. “It depends on how well you adjust to your medication.”
Robert bucked his eyes and fluffed his hair up. “I’m doing just fine girl, believe me!”
“We’ll see,” the doctor clarified again.
“Pleeeease girl, can I get a pass?” He whined again with his hands in a praying position.
“Alright,” Ethan said with her brow wrinkling. “But just for the record, my name is not girl!”
“My, My, My, aren’t we touchy this morning with your old lady hairdo,” he teased puckering his lips. She ignored his salty insult and opened her desk drawer. She reached for a pad of blank passes and tore one off. She printed his name on the pass, signed it, then she gave it to him.
“Here you are,” she said. “Remember, the pass is only good for two hours,” she warned. “Keep track of your time.”
He blew her a kiss. “Will do,” he said. “See you in a few! And change that awful old lady hairdo! It’s so boring!”
He then sashayed out the door leaving it wide open. Five minutes later, Everett darkened her doorway. “Hey there Ethan,” he said smiling. “How are you?”
“As well as to be expected,” she sighed.
“What’s wrong?” He said gliding in and shutting the door behind him. He propped himself up on the corner of her desk.
“It’s Robert…….he’s such a nuisance,” she sighed again.
“Yeah, he can be,” he said.”Well, if it’s any consolation, I reviewed Billy Moonwalker’s record, and I didn’t find anything amiss,” he told her. Her eyebrows went up. “Really?” She said.
“Yep,” he replied. “But I thought I’d have Carl review it before we put the matter to rest, do you mind?”
“Oh, go ahead, ” she said nodding her head. “I don’t mind.”
The rats fought each other on the cage floor, and the noise grabbed Everett’s attention. “It’s true! You really do have rats in here,” he exclaimed looking surprised.
“Yes I do,” she said cracking a slight smile.
“Rats for pets, are you serious?!” He asked moving a little closer to get a good look at the scrawny creatures. Her violet eyes crinkled up at the corners. “Do they bother you?”
“Why can’t you get a pet dog or cat like normal people?” He inquired. “A rat for a pet, I have to say is quite weird,” he added not mincing words. Ethan grinned wide. “Maybe to you, it’s weird, but I find rats to be interesting animals.”
He observed the rats for a long moment, and then he said, “Do you want to join me to see Carl?”
“Sure,” she said.
“Well let’s go,” he said. He turned and went out, and she joined him, locking the door behind her. As they headed to Doctor Beebe’s office, Everett checked her out from the corner of his eye. He became tickled and laughed out loud. “What’s so funny?” She said giving him the stink eye.
“I just can’t get over the fact, you have rats for pets,” he said shaking his head again. She let out a small giggle. “Oh you’ll get use to it,” she teased.
“Don’t count on it,” he teased back.
Later in the afternoon, Rachel and Betty Jo were in the nursing station feverishly documenting progress notes in patients’ charts. Soon Cathy Ray came in, and they moved over, making room for her to sit with them. They sat in silence, everyone writing up a storm with no one saying a word. After thirty minutes went by, Rachel broke the silence. “Cathy, I need to tell you something,” she softly said. “Doctor Poppy told me to remind you not to forget to document less restrictive plans on your assigned patients,” she told her.
Cathy bristled up. “I thought I did that!”
“According to her, you forgot,” Rachel said. “Anyway, it didn’t get done.”
“So, she’s blaming me,” Cathy charged with her fuse getting short.
“Well, she did mention it to Beth,” Rachel revealed her voice calm and steady. Cathy threw her arms across her chest in a huff. “I hate that woman!” She hissed. “She’s always criticizing me! Tattling on me! I can never do anything right around her. She reminds me of my stepmother!”
“Well she’s not your stepmother, and you need to slow your roll!” Betty Jo said, her tone abrasive.
“But she’s a nuisance,” Cathy fumed. “And I’m still on probation!”
“I’m sure everything will be fine,” Rachel tried to reassure her. “Just remember to do your plans. It’s part of the discharge process,” she said.
Cathy felt out of sorts and looked down at the floor. “Whatever,” she muttered under her breath.
Rachel glared at her. “Cathy, what’s wrong with you today? Did someone take your damn lollipop?!”
Betty Jo snickered out loud, and Cathy turned beet red. She bolted out of her seat. “I don’t have to take this! I’m leaving!” She sharply announced.
“Suit yourself,” Rachel shot back making a funny face. Cathy snatched the chart she was working on and stomped out the nursing station. Rachel and Betty Jo looked at each other, their eyes wide with utter amazement.
“That little chick needs some serious Xanax,” Betty Jo said.
“No, she needs an ass whupping,” Rachel fumed. Betty Jo looked worried. “Do you think Beth will keep her on after she finishes probation?” She asked.
“Probably,” Rachel sighed. “The hospital needs more social workers, so I think we are stuck with that little witch for a while!”
“Damn,” said Betty Jo scrunching up her face. Rachel shrugged her shoulders. “We just have to find a way to work with the crazy chick,” she said.
“Girl, I don’t know if I can do it,” Betty Jo responded in a melodramatic way.
“You can,” Rachel said. “We just have to check her every time she gets out of hand.”
“I think she and Hiram should get together,” Betty Jo joked. “They both like to stomp around like little toddlers when they get mad!”
Rachel hollered with laughter. “Girl, they’ll end up killing each other!”
“Yeah you are probably right,” Betty Jo said giggling.
No sooner than she uttered her last word, a six-foot yellow bird wearing a blue navy hat with a bright orange beak pranced into the nursing station. Doctor Michael Louis, not far behind, walked in seconds later and the bird hollered, “tweet, tweet” in his face. He scowled, getting very irritated.
“Who left the idiot bag open?” He snarled. The bird threw up one hand in a dignified fashion. “You’re not very nice today my friend!”
“I’m not trying to be nice!” Michael said in contempt.
“Tweet, tweet,” the bird chirped flapping his arms.
“Please go and be stupid away from me!” Michael grumbled. Rachel and Betty Jo giggled like two little bandits. Then Rachel said. “Doctor Louis, that’s mean!”
“Mean? My foot!” He snapped frowning up. “There are too many morons working in this hospital!”
The bird mooned the doctor and then sat on the top of the nursing counter. The bird crossed its legs and made a face. “See, that’s what I’m talking about,” Michael said shaking his head. “An educated moron!”
“Hiram, stop it!” Rachel said laughing her head off.
“Missy, I’m just having fun,” he grinned flapping his arms. He scooted off the counter and broke out into the “running man” dance.
“Are you serious?” Betty Jo said rolling her chair back giving him more room. “You are crazy as shit! Why have you dressed like that anyway?!
He stopped dancing and placed one hand on his hip. “You don’t know?!”
“If I knew, I wouldn’t ask fool,” Betty Jo smarted off.
“It’s big bird’s birthday, and Hiram is celebrating on his behalf,” he declared speaking in third person. Rachel fell out laughing again. “Hiram, you are absolutely out of your damn tree!”
“A straight up fool is more like it !” Betty Jo deadpanned under her breath. Rachel tried to redirect him. “Hiram, is there something you need?”
“Oh, Hiram forgot,” he said taking off his mask. His hazel brown eyes zeroed in on her, and his face suddenly turned serious. “Who you got coming to court on Wednesday?” He inquired.
“I don’t know yet,” Rachel said. “The doctors are still deciding. I should know later this afternoon.”
“Okay, Missy,” he said. He broke out dancing the “running man” again and then took off and jumped over the gate. He stopped a moment to adjust his costume. “I’ll be back!” He hollered. Then he skipped down the hall disappearing through the exit. Rachel and Betty Jo fell out in hysterics. They laughed so hard, tears streamed down their faces.
“This place is so full of nuts, I can hardly stand it!” Betty Jo said barely getting out the words as she dabbed her face with a tissue.
“Girrrrl, you got that right,” Rachel said. “And Hiram is the biggest nut of them all!”
Everett and Ethan were in Doctor Carl Beebe’s office, discussing Billy Moonwalker and Carl, short on answers, looked glum. “I don’t know what to think,” he said. “Sometimes the medicine doesn’t work.”
“But he improved after I put him on Abilify,” Ethan protested. “He was making plans, socializing more and eating again.”
“It doesn’t take long for Abilify to work,” Everett added. “Patients generally get better after taking it for a week.”
“Maybe he wasn’t taking it,” Carl pointed out. “Maybe he was spitting it out when the nurses weren’t looking.”
“That’s possible,” Everett said nodding his head in agreement. Ethan sighed. “I feel bad about all of this,” she said with tears in her eyes.
She bowed her head and stared down at her lap. “I know,” Carl said, with his voice soft feeling sorry for her. “I know.”
By the time six o’clock rolled around Tuesday evening, the nursing staff was all over East Campus searching for Robert Harris, who never returned from his trip to the library. Frantic and upset, Sally telephoned Doctor Poppy’s residence several times, but there was no answer. She called his wife, and there was no answer there either.
So, she left a message on the answering machine and hung up. She then called the City Police, and for several hours, the officers conducted an extensive search. However, Robert Harris was nowhere to be found.
Thirty miles down the road across town in the suburbs, Ethan was curled up in her coffin with the covers over her head brooding and feeling sorry for herself. With her mind consumed with Billy Moonwalker, she never heard the telephone ringing off the hook in the other room.
She had never lost a patient in her twenty-year medical career, and the shock of losing Billy had rattled her. “How did this happen?” She kept questioning herself. What did she miss? Unable to come up with a reasonable explanation, she finally gave up and climbed out of her coffin. The telephone had stopped ringing by this time, and she shuffled over to the kitchen and made herself a hot cup of tea.
While sipping on her tea, she obsessed about work. She wondered how she would ever make it through the day once she arrived there in the morning. Little did she realize her troubles were just beginning and Robert Harris’ disappearance would be the least of her worries.
Three Sheets In The Wind available on Amazon.com in March 2018! Chapter Four will be posted on this blog March 4, 2018. Comments Are Welcome! Thanks for reading!
Categories: Short Stories