Short Stories

The Memo: An Excerpt From The Novel, “A Fly In The Wrong Soup.”

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone, here’s a follow-up to yesterday’s encerpt. In the story, the character, Hiram, suffers from manic depressive disorder. The illness’ formal name back in the early 1980s.

Today, it’s called Bipolar Disorder with manic or depressive tendencies. Hiram, a defense attorney for the patients in Salter’s Point Regional, is constantly in a manic state. He prefers to dress up in wierd costumes, and when he communicates with his peers, he speaks in the third person, annoying Jamie.

In today’s excerpt, the hospital is preparing for its Thanksgiving Day feast, and the medical director’s bizzare memo becomes a topic of discussion. Enjoy.

****

    Two days later, it was Thanksgiving, and the admissions unit was buzzing with excitement. Dietary staff was busily preparing the patient dining room for the big feast ahead and male cooks wearing big floppy white hats threw orange table cloths on substantial round tables. Housekeeping staff dressed in tan uniforms, dusted and scrubbed chairs, end tables, and blinds. Even patients got into the act, decorating the tables with fancy silverware, a colorful leafy display along with a small orange pumpkin. 

      The entire atmosphere was filled with a delicious citrus, nutty scent. The kitchen was located in the back of the dining room, and a twenty-five pound turkey roasted in the oven. Hiram, covered with red and brown feathers from his neck to his ankles, sniffed the air like a dog. Inhaling the delicious aroma as he pranced around the dining room. Decked out in a turkey costume, Hiram told everyone he was dressed for the occasion. With his red feathered tail bouncing up and down like a floppy ball,  for two whole hours, Hiram pranced in and out of patient rooms. He was notifying patients about their upcoming court hearings scheduled after the holiday. 

     As he pranced around the dining room, and up and down the hall, Hiram danced a little jig. Patients enamored with his dancing skills soon joined in. They clapped and attempted to dance with Hiram, mimicking his every move. Hiram wasted no time amping up the silliness to his entertaining parody. He wiggled his behind, jumped in the air, and squatted several times. Patients followed suit not missing a beat copying him. When he saw Rachel coming toward him, he quickly switched to the running man. He danced up to her and Rachel stopped in her tracks and fell out laughing. “Hiram, what are you doing? You’re so freaking crazy!”

“It’s Thanksgiving, Missy! Time to celebrate!” As he danced in a circle around her. 

Rachel whirled around in one place, and her head started to spin. “Will you stop it? You’re making me dizzy!” she giggled. Hiram stopped dancing and threw both hands on his hips.  He stood there silent, and Rachel could see his hazel-green eyes blinking erratically at her through the eye holes of his mask. “Stop staring at me, you nitwit! You’re giving me the creeps!”

     Hiram laughed and suddenly loud laughter came from the nursing station. Rachel and Hiram turned to look, then they took off down the hall. “I wonder what’s going on?” Rachel asked walking ahead of Hiram.

“Hell if Hiram knows,” the attorney smirked. 

     After they arrived at the nursing station, they saw nurses huddled together, laughing. “What’s wrong with everybody?”  Rachel wondered out loud.

“Beats Hiram.” Hiram opened the gate and went inside with Rachel following close behind.  Jamie, Sally, and several nurses stood in a big circle, laughing their heads off. Sally fumbled her words as she held up a piece of paper. “Oh, I can’t…I can’t…”  as laughter gurgled deep in her throat. Rachel went over to her. “What the hell is going on here? What’s so damn funny?”

“Yeah, Hiram also wants to know what’s so damn funny,” the attorney piped in. He stood close to Rachel with both hands on his hips and his purple beak was twisted on his face. Beet red with sweat dripping down her face, Sally took one look at Hiram and stooped over with laughter. Jamie rolled her eyes and said nothing. Hiram was one man who got on her last nerves. 

“Girl, Ignore this fool and tell me what’s so funny!” Rachel demanded.

Unable to talk, Sally kept on giggling. More composed, Jamie took it upon herself and stepped in. “Obviously, you two haven’t been to your mailbox this morning.”

“Why, what happened?”

“Doctor Beebe put out a crazy memo this morning. You got to read it. It’s so damn funny and off the wall. I think the man has lost his marbles.” Jamie reached in her coat pocket and gave Rachel a copy of her memo. Rachel read the memo and howled with laughter. 

 “Let me see that.” Hiram snatched the memo away from Rachel and began reading it himself, out loud. 

 Everyone quieted down with all eyes on Hiram. He spoke with enthusiasm putting on a show.

                                   To My East Campus Hospital Staff

                                        From: Doctor Carl Beebe

              Important Subject: Unprofessional Behavior In The Workplace…

“It has come to my attention that some staff in this hospital were engaging in unorthodox sex and barking in the employee lounge during shift hours. Under no circumstances should there be unorthodox sex or unnecessary barking in the employee lounge or in the office of the said person during on-call or shift hours. Please see your supervisor if you have any further questions concerning this matter…in the meantime, keep your sexual escapades, and barking to yourself. Thank you.”

     Everyone roared with laughter. “What does Doctor Beebe mean by unorthodox sex?” Rachel squealed as tears leaked out the corners of her eyes.

“Beats me!” Jamie chuckled, rubbing her nose.

“Who was barking?” Asked another social worker with bright blue eyes and brown hair.  “Can someone explained what Doctor Beebe is talking about?”

“I’ve no idea,” answered another social worker standing behind her. 

“What is this barking? Does anyone know anything about this barking?” A nurse with short curly hair asked with big blue eyes.

“NO,” several people answered her at once.

     Rachel, Jamie, and Sally giggled hysterically as they glanced at each other. Not one of them reveal the name of the staff person responsible for the barking. Instead, the three women remained silent, keeping their little secret to themselves, and Doctor Hornsby’s barking continued to be a baffling mystery amongst hospital staff for many years.

Waving the memo in the air, Hiram stepped up on the seat of a chair. “Hiram has an idea, everybody! Let’s give good old Doctor Beebe a written reply!”

Everyone cheered and stomped their feet in agreement. Sally yelled out. “Whose going to write it? Any volunteers?”

“Hiram will!” The attorney shouted as he hopped off the seat and ran to a typewriter on a counter. Shoving his turkey mask up over his head, he searched the desk for typing paper. Everyone soon joined in as they hovered around the attorney. After finding some paper, Hiram carefully threaded the plain paper through the typewriter’s roller. He sat and straightened his shoulders. Then Hiram began his typing while snickers and comedic comments circled around the crowd. As Hiram typed, he recited the words out loud. 

                                   To Our Dear Doctor Beebe 

                             From: East Campus Hospital Staff

                    Important Subject: Unorthodox Sex With Barking During Off Hours…

“We, the staff at east Campus Hospital, are responding to the memo you sent us this morning. Since we’re banned from barking and having unorthodox sex in the employee lounge during shift hours, can we bark and have unorthodox sex during OFF hours instead? Also, can you clarify for us what you mean by unorthodox sex, and who was barking? Furthermore, since you do not approve of unorthodox sex, does orthodox sex meet your approval, and if so, can we do it in the employee lounge during shift and on-call hours? Is barking allowed? We, the staff, appreciate your prompt response. Our professional work depends on it…Thank you For Your Assistance With This Matter.”

Hiram poked his chest out. “Tell Hiram, how does this sound?”

“Splendid,” said Sally as everyone nodded in agreement. Hiram checked the memo for errors then he stood up. “I think everyone should sign it before I put it in Doctor Beebe’s mailbox,” He suggested.

Hiram passed the memo off, and it made its way through the crowd. After every staff person signed it, the note was back in Hiram’s hands. He danced a jig on his way to the exit. “I’m on my way, everybody. I’ll be right back.”

Everyone clapped as they watched Hiram danced to the door. Once he reached the exit, he turned around, facing the crowd. Hiram wiggled his red and brown tail and pulled the turkey mask over his face. He repeatedly bowed while staff yelped with mirthless laughter. A nurse ran up and unlocked the steel door, shoving it open. Hiram pranced out as faint laughter cackled behind him.

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