She Was A Fly In The Wrong Soup: An Excerpt From Chapter Four

Chapter Four

     By mid-week, on Wednesday, a bruising storm-ravaged Salter’s Point forcing the town folks to remain inside. The only time anyone dared to venture out was to go to work or to the grocery store. For two whole days, heavy rain assaulted the town.  Muddy debris mixed with broken branches, paper, and dirt clogged the drains along the roads. Soon water overflowed into the streets, making driving in the area unsafe. Refusing to stay at home, Rachel navigated the treacherous roads taking her chances.  Each day, she witnessed fire personnel dressed in yellow jackets shoveling off twigs and muddy debris off the streets.  By Friday, the rain decimated, and a drier, more cooling front crept in with the sun’s rays warming the area. 

For the first time in a week, Rachel was able to see Mountain Rainier. The snow-capped fourteen-thousand-foot rock wonder looked terrific against the deep blue sky. The mountain stood in Puyallup, a city forty minutes from Salter’s Point. Rachel drove through town on her way to work, admiring the oak trees with their dazzling red and yellow leaves. She chugged up the road to the hospital and noticed pumpkins sitting on the porches of the residents’ homes. With the rain gone and Thanksgiving, only a week and a half away, town residents were looking forward to a festive holiday season. 

 At precisely seven forty-five, Rachel arrived at the hospital, waving at the stoic guard as she passed through the gate. He didn’t smile, but he waved back. A welcomed change from his usual demeanor. The parking lot at South Campus Hospital was almost full. Forcing Rachel to park several yards from the entrance. Once she found a spot and parked, Rachel grabbed her shoulder bag and got out of her car. She locked the door, and the cool breeze whipped around her.   Shivering, Rachel swore the temperature was twenty degrees instead of forty.  Rachel strutted across the parking lot, zipping her black coat to her neck. On her right, she heard soft cooing. She looked and saw pigeons fluttering their wings and hovering over grainy piles of brown mush. 

     Rachel stepped over a pile of mush herself, rubbing her nose when she smelled the rancor odor. She stopped and stooped down to inspect the unusual substance. What is that? She wondered. It sure does stink! Recoiled by the rancor smell, Rachel stood upright and kept going. She reached the entrance and tapped on the button, and the glass doors slid open.  When Rachel strutted into the lobby, she couldn’t believe her eyes. The place had been transformed overnight. 

Strings of paper pilgrims decorated the front of the reception area, and giant pumpkins with rustic glittery wreaths sat on each end of the counter. Orange bright lights hung over the bay window and across the ceiling and over chairs and end tables. The floor was clean and shiny, it smelled like fresh lemons, and Rachel sneezed bothered by the strong scent.  Joyce heard her sneezing, and she came from the back and stood at the counter. Wearing a brown pilgrim dress with a shiny black belt buckled tight around her waist, Joyce’s ample behind appeared two inches larger. “Good Morning, Rachel. Are you alright?”

“I’m fine. I’m allergic to wax. Hell, I’m allergic to anything with a strong scent,” Rachel laughed.

“I’m sorry, dear, but the place needed brightening up.”

“I know. It’s about time.” Rachel gave Joyce the side-eye. “Joyce, why are you dress like that? Thanksgiving is still a few days away.”

Joyce frowned. “Does it bother you?”

“Oh, no, I don’t mean to offend you. I was just curious, that’s all.”

“I like dressing up for the holidays. I will be wearing something like this every day.”

Rachel chuckled. “I see. Well, you looked festive.”


Warm perspiration beaded on her forehead, and Rachel unzipped her coat. She opened her bag and grabbed a tissue, dabbing her forehead. “Joyce, do you know when Doctor Louis will be back to work? I would like to meet him.”

Joyce slapped one hand over her mouth, shaking her head.  “Oh, you don’t know, do you?”

“Know what?” Rachel ‘s eyes widened.

“Come here,” Joyce whispered, looking around. “I don’t want to say this too loud.”

Rachel stepped to the counter and leaned over. “Okay, I’m all ears. What’s going on?”

“Doctor Louis…” Joyce paused, scoping out the lobby again.

“Joyce, will you hurry up! I want to hear about Doctor Louis.”

“Okay, I just want to make sure no one overhears me.”

Rachel laughed. “Joyce, it’s just you and me in this lobby.  No one is going to overhear you.”

“You’re right. Doctor Louis is out ill,” she whispered.

“Huh, huh.”

“The poor guy had a heart attack one evening while having vigorous sex with his young wife, Sierra.” 

Rachel’s mouth flew open. “Rigorous sex, you don’t say.”

“No one knows sure,” Joyce whispered. “But he’s home recuperating. His wife, a registered nurse, is looking after him, you know.”

“Very interesting.”

“I’ll say.”  The sliding doors open, and a tall woman with auburn red hair in a bun pranced in from the outside. Plumb, wearing a black raincoat with matching balloon slacks and toeless heels, her long fake eyelashes blinked erratically over her bright green eyes, and Rachel noticed she had a big shiny diamond on the fourth finger of each hand. Who is this?

“Good Morning,” she quipped in an English accent as she checks out the lobby. “It’s about time someone did something to this dreary, awful lobby. Very festive, indeed.” 

“Thank the housekeeping staff for their hard work. How was your vacation?” 

“Marvelous! My hubby and I went to the Oregon Coast and had a grand old time.” The woman zeroed in on Rachel.  “So, who is this young lady?”

“Our new social worker. She started over a week ago,” Joyce said, glancing at Rachel.

Rachel stepped forward and held out her hand. “I’m Rachel Thomas.”

“Sally Dobbins, please to meet you.” As she shook Rachel’s hand. “Where are you going to be working?”

“On the admissions unit with Doctor Louis.”

“Well, I’m the head nurse on that unit, glad to have you.” Sally leaned over, placing her elbow on the counter. “Speaking of Doctor Louis, I hear he almost met his maker the other day.”

Rachel snickered, and Joyce jumped in. “Yeah, I heard that too.”

“Well, at least it will be pleasant around here for a while. That man ‘s personality is despicable.” Sally looked at Rachel. “Is your office on the unit?”

“Yes, mam, it is.”

“Let’s walk.”

Rachel walked alongside Sally as she talked. “Dear, tell me where you’re from?”

“San Francisco.”

“I love San Francisco. It’s just a lovely place.”

“Married? Have any children?” 

Boy, she’s nosey! “No, mam.”

“So far, how you like working here?”

“It’s okay. I’m still settling in.”

Sally stopped in mid-step and looked at Rachel, her brow deeply furrowed. Rachel wondered why the grim expression. “Miss Thomas, most people working here are a little bit touched in the head.” Sally tapped her temple with her index finger. “Some of these workers need to be hospitalized themselves.” 

“Why? What do you mean?” Rachel placed her hand over her chest. Glad to hear someone other than herself thought some of the employees were a little crazy. 

“They’re nuts. Nuttier than your average fruitcake! But don’t fret, dear. A few of us here, like myself, are very sane, indeed,” she softly chuckled.

Rachel giggled. Sally was funny, and she liked her immediately. As the two women headed to the admissions unit, a man in an electric wheelchair whipped by beating them to the door. He stopped and waited for them. Bald with thick black hair around his temples, the man had bushy black eyebrows and a handlebar mustache. Black-framed glasses covered his almond-shaped dark brown eyes, and he wore a candy-striped shirt with a black bow tie. His slacks and shoes were black, and Rachel struggled not to laugh at the man out loud. Man, he’s peculiar looking. He looks like one of the Three Stooges…that dude Carl Marx!

“Good day, ladies.” His voice was pitchy.

“Good Morning Doctor Beebe,” Sally said.  “Have you met Rachel, Thomas, our new social worker?”

“No, but I’m aware she’s here,” he smiled, glancing at Rachel. “Sorry, I haven’t gotten around to meeting you yet. It’s been quite busy lately.”

“Nice to meet you, Doctor Beebe.”

“Have you settled in yet?” Rachel swore he wiggled his eyebrows like Carl Marx used to do on his television show.

“No, not yet. I have a few things to get for the office.”

Doctor Beebe leaned forward. “What do you need? We may have it here.”

“A couch, a rug, and a coffee stand would be nice,” she smiled.

“I have maintenance to bring those items to your office today. We want you to feel at home here.”

Sally raised an eyebrow. “Really, Doctor Beebe, this looney bin is a far cry from feeling like home!”

“Missus Dobbins!”

“I speak nothing but the truth, sir,” she winked at Rachel. Sally unlocked the door and shove it open. Doctor Beebe whipped on through with Sally and Rachel walking in behind him.

“Good day, ladies.” As he took off down the hall.

“I gathered he’s the medical director,” Rachel surmised.

“Yes, he is. Doctor Beebe is a workaholic, committed to his career. He never married or had any children.”

“Why is he in a wheelchair?”

“He had a stroke a few years ago. He whips around the hospital like he’s in a race. It’s a wonder he never runs into anyone.” 

Rachel laughed. “Sally, where’s your office?

“On the ground floor. Every morning, I stop by the nursing station to get a report before going to my office.”  Sally said, glancing at her watch. “And I’m late. Listen, if you have any questions about this looney place, feel free to ask.”

Rachel placed one finger on her lips. “I do have a question.”

“What’s that, dear?”

“That brown mushy stuff on the ground in the parking lot, what is that? It sure does stink.”

Sally cracked up. “My dear, it’s bat poop.”

“Bat poop?”

“Yes, bats hang out in the trees around the hospital, and at night, they like to hang upside down in the clock tower on North Campus.”

Rachel sighed, dropping her shoulders. “This place never ceases to amaze me.”

“Just wait,” Sally laughed. “You haven’t seen anything yet.”

Thank-you For Reading, Comments Are Welcome! Have A Great Day!

She Was A Fly In The Wrong Soup-Chapter Three

Chapter Three

Monday, November 5th

Rachel hated Mondays with a vengeance. Getting up early to be somewhere on time after a relaxing weekend, got on her nerves. She wished the weekend could last longer than the two days allotted. However, this Monday was different. She was starting a new job. Thrilled and nervous at the same time, a smile came over Rachel ‘s face. She was glad she had a full-time professional job that paid well. She no longer had to pinch pennies to pay her bills. 

This morning brought more fog and rain to the town of Salter’s Point. A thick white mist hovered over the road forcing Rachel to turn on her headlights. As she navigated the slippery road, she could see South Campus Hospital up ahead. Eager to start her day, she was excited about her new job. By the time Rachel reached the hospital and parked, the rain had ceased but the fog was so thick, only the outline of the building was visible. Dark outside, the sun wouldn’t rise until eight o’clock, a common occurrence in the great northwest. 

Rachel turned off the ignition and sat in her car as she prepared her mind for the day ahead. Feeling flush, Rachel reached up and touched her forehead. It was damp with perspiration, and she slapped the visor down. Rachel peered into the brightly lit vanity mirror and beads of perspiration glistened on her face. She reached in her handbag and took out a tissue. Being careful not to mess up her foundation, Rachel lightly dabbed her face. She closed her eyes momentarily inhaling deep breaths. Her anxiety was getting the best of her, and she desperately needed to calm down.

Soon Rachel felt calmer. She slapped the sun visor in place and opened her car door. When she stepped out of the car, the damp air felt cool against her face. With her handbag on her shoulder, she buttoned up her coat. Rachel grabbed her umbrella and locked the car door. She strutted to the hospital entrance with her high-heeled pumps clicking hard on the charcoal pavement. After she arrived, Rachel reached up and rang the buzzer instead of using the button. She waited for the sliding door to open. The door didn’t move so Rachel grabbed the handle trying to pry it open. The door still wouldn’t budge. Rachel pressed her nose against the cold glass door. She stared into the lobby and noticed Joyce sitting at her desk.

Rachel pounded on the door, but Joyce ignored her. Irritated, Rachel pounded on the door even harder. 

“The doors don’t open until eight,” came a rough booming voice from behind. Rachel spun around so quick, she almost lost her balance and fell on the ground. Catching herself, her eyes fell on a tall, slender man about six feet tall, wearing blue sweats and a knit wool hat. He was in the process of chaining his ten-speed bike to the rack. The man’s sparkling blue eyes complimented his silver-gray mustache and beard. “You need a key to get in after hours,” he added.

“Oh, okay,” Rachel replied. She recognized him as the man she saw  riding his bike on her way to her interview two weeks ago. 

“Are you here for an appointment?” 

Rachel cleared her throat. “Um, yes, I’m Rachel Thomas, the new social worker for the admissions unit, and this is my first day.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you, young lady. I’m Doctor George Benny,” he smiled exposing a mustard-yellow grill. Rachel lowered her eyes, unnerved by his smile. 

“Nice to meet you too.” Damn, he looks like an over-grown Cheshire Cat grinning like that!

George walked over. “I heard you were coming. We need a lot of help around here. Where are you heading?”

“To Beth Jones’ office.”

“Allow me to accompany you there.”

“Well, thank you.” Rachel smiled as she stepped aside to allow Doctor Benny to unlock the sliding glass door. He pulled the door open and stepped inside, holding it back until Rachel safely walked through. When he released the door, it slammed shut. Rachel followed him as he walked wide-leg across the lobby, and he waved as he passed Joyce’s desk. Rachel refrained from waving still sore Joyce had ignored her earlier. 

When they arrived at the admissions unit, Doctor Benny unlocked the heavy steel door. He shoved the door open, moving to the side so Rachel could walk in. The door slammed hard behind him and the floor shook beneath them. Rachel walked alongside Doctor Benny the short distance to Beth’s office. Rachel coughed repeatedly, bothered by the strong cigarette smoke in the hall.  George looked over at her with pity on his face. “Are you all right?”

 “I’m afraid I’m allergic to cigarette smoke,” she explained.

“That’s too bad. Smoking is a common habit around here with staff and patients. I hope you can get used to it.”

Annoyed, Rachel coughed again. The doctor’s lack of concern for her health irritated her. How dare he say that? He can get used to it! This smoking is for the birds! FumingRachel decided during smoke breaks she’d go outside. She didn’t mind the cold. She’d rather breathe fresh air than die from smoke inhalation or, much worse, lung cancer. 

Soon they were standing in front of Beth’s office and her door was slightly ajar. Cigarette smoke crept out of her office causing Rachel to cough again. George banged on the door, but Beth ignored him. She was sitting in her high-back swivel chair with her feet propped on the desk, puffing on a cigarette. Her lime-green knee-high granny boots matched her low-cut flowing dress. Pinned on the left side of her head was a flaming lime-green hat. Beth looked like an evil leprechaun in a horror flick, and it took everything in Rachel’s power not to laugh out loud. George pounded on the door again and waited a couple more moments. He grimaced and took the liberty to enter, clearly irritated by Beth ignoring him. He charged into her. 

“What the hell is your problem this morning? Didn’t you hear me knocking?”

“You called that knocking? It was more like pounding,” Beth quipped as she flashed her big green eyes at him. 

George gave her an icy stare. “You’re so despicable at times,” he mumbled under his breath.

“No more despicable than you,” she shot back. It was clear to Rachel, these two didn’t like each other. Beth smashed her spent cigarette in the ashtray and slid her feet to the floor. Straightening up in her chair, Beth gave Rachel an annoyed look as if she didn’t want her there. “Good morning, young lady, I see you made it.”

“Good Morning Beth, I’m excited to be here,” Rachel replied with big eyes. Scared out of her wits, she wondered if a bomb was going to drop soon. Rachel flinched when Beth popped out of her chair wildly waving her hands. 

“Take a seat. You don’t have to stand there looking like a scared goose!”

George rolled his eyes. “Beth, you’ve no class,” he mumbled. Beth glared at him, giving the doctor the silent treatment. Jittery, Rachel pulled off her coat and sat in a chair across from Beth’s desk. She was glad this time the seat was free from cracker crumbs. Styling in a red Liz Claiborne dress with matching two-inch pumps, Rachel realized she was overdressed compared to her new supervisor and Doctor Benny. Tomorrow I’ll wear something more casual.

Sitting like a soldier, erect and straight, Rachel clasped her hands in her lap. Noticing her posture, Beth slyly teased, “Are you okay? You seem stiff.”

“Yes,” Rachel answered, her cheeks warm with embarrassment. She softened her shoulders and crossed her legs. George stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame, looking fierce.

Beth zeroed in on him. “Doctor Benny, have you heard from your patient, Susan Cole? It’s been two weeks since she disappeared from this unit.”

George scowled, curling his lips, snarling at Beth, “Don’t you start with me! I haven’t seen that patient nor heard from her!”

“Huh, huh, I bet.” Beth rolled her eyes heavenward, not convinced. She sucked her teeth as she mockingly looked him up and down.

George jerked his head back. “What do you mean, you bet?”

“Come on! Susan Cole didn’t leave this unit by herself. She had help, and I think you had something to do with it.”

“Hell, you’re speculating as usual!” he growled. “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Beth hissed at the doctor with narrowed green eyes, “The ethics committee is looking into this…”

“The ethics committee can kiss my ass!” George retorted with his face red and contorted. 

Beth stood up. “How dare you speak to me like that! Do you know how serious this is?”

George stepped inside and slammed the door. Beth and Rachel drew back, startled. His nostrils flared, and the sparkle in his deep blue eyes disappeared, replaced with a fiery, steely gaze. George gritted his yellow teeth and sneered, “Get off my case! I’ve no idea how that woman got off this unit. So, again, you and that ethics committee can kiss my royal ass!”

Beth flung her hands on her hips. “There’s nothing royal about your pasty ass!”

Rachel snickered, slapping her hand over her mouth. George looked wolfish, kicking the trashcan against the wall. He swung the door open with such force it hit the wall and a screw popped from the hinges. George stormed out with Beth yelling, “You damaged my door, you big pasty turkey!”

Beth stared at the doorway as if she expected him to return. When he didn’t, she wobbled over and closed the door. She sat in her chair and reached for her half-spent cigarette. She puffed out several drags, and Rachel held her breath. 

Beth spoke a minute later. “I know he’s got something to do with that woman’s disappearance! I know it! He’s too damn defensive.”

Shrugging her shoulders, Rachel had no idea what to say, so she said nothing. She found it odd that Beth suspected Doctor Benny. After all, he seemed professional enough. Why would he risk his career to help a patient escape? What’s in it for him?

Beth interrupted her thoughts as she peered over her bifocals, snuffing out her cigarette. “How much do you know about Susan Cole’s disappearance?”

“I heard it on the news,” Rachel answered as she fidgeted in her seat. “I never knew her name until now.”

Beth’s gaze was stern. “What goes on in this hospital, you need to keep it in this hospital. Do you understand?”

Rachel felt her stomach knot up. “Yes, I understand.”

Beth’s demeanor softened and she changed the subject. “Today, you’re going to hang out with Jamie Lee. She works with that asshole Doctor Benny, but she knows the rules and will show you the ropes.”

“Okay,” said Rachel, forcing a smile. She was stunned by Beth’s choice of words. This woman has got some screws loose!Rachel wondered if she could deal with Beth over the long haul.

“Are you still with me? You seem preoccupied.” Beth’s gaze was heated.

“Yes, ma’am, sorry,” Rachel apologized with her face hot with embarrassment.

“Then pay attention!” 

Rachel sank in her seat, even more embarrassed. 

Beth continued. “First, I’m going to take you to your new office so you can settle in. Then I’ll take you to meet Jamie Lee.”

“Okay,” Rachel murmured. 

Beth bolted from her seat and gestured for Rachel to follow. She opened her office door and took off. Rachel followed the supervisor out and walked alongside her as they made their way down the hall. Oodles of black eyes stared back at them from a sea of thick, white smoke. The patients’ morning smoke break was underway, and Rachel gagged and coughed until they entered the dining room. A smoke-free area, Rachel reveled in the fresh air, taking deep breaths. 

A woman dressed in a puffy, high collar red dress with a paper crown on her head came up to them and curtsied, with a big, cheesy smile on her face. Her eyes drifted to Rachel.

“Hi, my name is Mary, Queen of Scots.” She sounded like a squeaky mouse. “Madam, what’s your name?”

Rachel pursed her lips, stifling a laugh. “Rachel Thomas, your new social worker,” she managed to say.

“Pleased to meet you.” The woman curtsied and cocked her head to the side. “Did you know honeybees hum in the key of F?”

“No,” Rachel replied.

“Well, they do.” The woman curtsied three times and spun in a circle. Facing Rachel again, she giggled. “And did you know flies have x-ray vision?”

Beth stepped in, rescuing Rachel. “Ellen, that’s enough, you need to eat your breakfast before it gets cold.”

“Sure,” Ellen beamed as she hurried away, turning around once to glance back at Rachel. Beth leaned in close to whisper in Rachel’s ear. Her breath smelled like stale cigarette smoke and chocolate candy. Rachel cringed, backing up a little. 

Unfazed, Beth explained, “Ellen dresses in seventeen-century clothing because she’s delusional. Her mother makes her costumes. Last week she thought she was Marie Antoinette.”

Rachel chuckled. “I see.”

They watched Ellen struggled with her big puffy dress as she attempted to sit at the table, knocking several breakfast trays onto the floor. Patients sitting at the table groaned with frustration as nursing staff ran over to clean up the mess. Laughing, Beth and Rachel exited the dining room. They passed Doctor Louis’ office, and Rachel’s was next to his. Doctor Louis’ door was closed, and Rachel wondered if he was in there. 

Beth read her mind. “Doctor Louis is out this morning. You’ll meet him this afternoon.”

“Good, I look forward to it.” Rachel felt uneasy that the supervisor could read her thoughts.

Beth reached in her pocket, taking out two gold keys. One had green plastic trim around the top. “Here’s the keys to your office. The one with the green trim around it is your office key. Now open the door,” she commanded.

Rachel took the keys and inserted the green one in the lock, turning it clockwise. The door clicked opened, and Rachel stepped inside. It was dark, so she left the door open so the light from the hall could shine through. She patted the wall for the light switch, discovering it on the right side, and flipped it on. Her eyes widen as she gave her new office the once over. Surprised to find it half-empty, the only furniture was a cherry wood desk and a high-back swivel chair. The space looked dreary because the office lacked windows. I guess I’ll need to spruce this place up with some wall paintings.

Rachel stepped to her desk and sat in the chair. She spun it around, visualizing decorating her new space. Loud tapping came from behind her and Rachel swung around. Her mouth flew open when she saw Beth in the doorway with both hands on her hips. 

Beth glared at her, tapping her right foot. “Are you finished?”

Rachel scrambled out of her chair. “I’m sorry…I was just…” 

Beth whipped around and left, cutting her off. Embarrassed, Rachel ran to the door. She shut the door behind her, and in two minutes, she was walking alongside Beth. They walked together in silence, and Rachel welcomed it. Relieved she wasn’t going to be scolded, she pondered what lay ahead.  Soon they stop at an office door with a placard scripted with the name Jamie LeeMSW on it. Beth knocks and enters at the same time, and Rachel sees a woman with her feet propped up on the desk reading the Seattle Times Newspaper. Dressed in black, the woman was plain-looking with no make-up and she had a salt and peppered, jazzy pixie haircut. Rachel noticed her sad light-brown eyes reflected a life of pain. 

The woman dropped her newspaper and flashed them a crooked smile. “Good Morning, my people, what’s up? “As she slid her feet to the floor and stood up. Her eyes drifted to Rachel. “So, who do we have here?”

“This is Rachel Thomas, our new social worker. She will be working with you here on the admissions unit,” Beth said.

Jamie offered her hand and Rachel grabbed it. Jamie jerked her forward, gripping her hand so tight, Rachel winced in pain. Jamie didn’t seem to notice. “Hi there, and welcome. I’m Jamie Lee.”

“I’m Rachel. Nice to meet you, too,” Rachel squeaked as intense pain jolted through her hand and arm.

Jamie let go and Rachel took a deep breath, rubbing her sore hand and arm as she glanced around the room for a place to sit. Every seat in Jamie’s office was stacked with books, magazines, and newspapers. Rachel had no choice, so she remained standing. Beth wobbled over and handed Jamie a sheet of paper. 

Squishing her face up, Jamie looked annoyed. “What’s this?” 

“Instructions. Show Miss Thomas the ropes, and see to it she gets a picture ID.”

“Will do.” Jamie sighed, rolling her eyes. “Is there anything else besides what’s on this paper?”

“No, just show her how things are done around here.”

“Okay,” Jamie said. Satisfied, Beth wobbled out of Jamie’s office, slamming the door behind her. Jamie made a face. “I can’t stand that woman. She gets on my damn nerves.”

Jamie saw Rachel looking around the room and pointed to the sofa. “Shove those papers on the floor and have a seat.”

“Thank you.” Rachel gathered the stack of newspapers and set them on the floor, then sat on the sofa, making herself comfortable. Suddenly her eyes teared up, and she felt a tickling sensation in her nose. Rachel sneezed repeatedly, unable to stop as she inspected the sofa she was sitting on. Black fur covered the cushion where she sat, and the place reeked of stale alcohol and musty newspapers. The combination of cat hair and odors was wreaking havoc on Rachel’s allergies. After five minutes, she was able to stop sneezing, but she sniffled, rubbing her nose hard. 

“Are you all right?” Jamie asked, looking concerned. 

“Do you…do you…aaaaachooo! Do you have a cat?”  

“Yeah, why?” Jamie wrinkled her brow.

“I’m allergic to cats,” Rachel squeaked.

Jamie grabbed a Kleenex box off her desk and gave it to Rachel. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know…”

“I know…” Rachel sneezed again. She snatched a tissue from the box and blew her nose hard. It sounded like a foghorn.

“Damn!” Jamie said. “Are you trying to blow your damn brains out, girl?”

Rachel’s laugh was weak. “I’m trying to make sure I get all the snot out.”

Jamie shook her head. “Believe me when I say, there is no more snot in that nose!”

They both laughed out loud. Rachel liked Jamie immediately.

 Jamie pointed to a wood chair by the door. “Move those books and sit in that chair. There’s no cat hair there.”

Rachel got up and moved the books to the floor. She sat, crossing her legs with both hands clasped around her knees. Jamie returned to her desk, looking apologetic. “I’m so sorry about your allergies, but the cat is my pet. I bring him to work with me sometimes.”

“I understand,” Rachel said. She blew her nose again and threw the soiled tissue in a nearby wastebasket. Feeling a little better, Rachel peppered Jamie with questions. “What’s the deal with Beth? What’s her story? How is she as a supervisor?”

“Whoa, girl, one question at a time,” Jamie chuckled.

“Sorry, I’m just curious.” Rachel fell back in her seat. 

“No problem. Let me tell you, Beth is basically bitchy and controlling, arrogant and rude. Slamming my door like she just did earlier is definitely her typical behavior.”

“My goodness!”

“Yeah, she thinks she knows everything, likes to have it her way. When she came to Salter’s Point Regional ten years ago, it was rumored she tried to kill her psychiatrist husband for running off with some scrawny young thing in his office!”

“You’re kidding me? Is it really true? How old was she when this happened?” Rachel sniffled, wrinkling her nose. The tickling sensation still bothered her.

“In her forties, not really sure. When I asked her about it, she denied it, cursing me out.” 

Rachel leaned forward, wide-eyed. “She really cursed you out?” 

“Yup!” Thrilled she had a captive audience, Jamie ramped up the gossip.  “It’s also rumored instead of shooting him, and risking going to jail, she fought back another way.”

“What did she do?” Rachel scooted to the edge of her seat, mesmerized. 

“She drained his bank account, left town with their two teenage boys, got a job and later went back to school to become a social worker.”

“Well, she triumphed at the end. She got her revenge,” Rachel sniffled. 

“Yep,” Jamie agreed.

“So, where are her two sons? Do they live here in Washington State?”

“Yes, they do. She helped them get through law school and now they have families of their own.”

Rachel uncrossed her legs and folded her arms across her chest. “Beth’s weird, but you got to admire her tenacity and determination. How old is she now?” 

“Um, I think she’s about sixty-three years old.” Jamie paused, rubbing her forehead. “She’s been a social worker for twenty-some years, so age sixty-three is about right.”

“Wow,” Rachel answered, impressed.

“Girl, did you know she has a crush on Doctor Louis?” Jamie laughed tilting her head back. “She tries to seduce him by wearing low-cut dresses, but he pays her no mind.”

“Nooo…” Rachel’s eyes were as big as an owl.

“Now listen, girl, that Doctor Louis likes young pussy. He’s married to a woman twenty years his junior.”

Rachel squealed with laughter, slapping her hand over her mouth. “That’s freaking hilarious,” she replied with a muffled voice. 

Jamie laughed, checking her watch. “I’ve got a meeting with Doctor Benny in an hour. Let’s get started.”

“You’re assigned to Doctor Benny?”

“Yep, Beth didn’t tell you?”

“No, she didn’t. What’s Doctor Benny like?” As far as she could tell from Doctor Benny’s and Beth’s disturbing interaction earlier, his reputation around the hospital was murky. She wanted to learn more about his alleged involvement with Susan Cole’s disappearance.

“He’s all right. He can be a bit eccentric at times.” Jamie’s face turned solemn. “When he gets angry, he becomes extremely passive-aggressive. Did you hear one of his patients took off from the unit two weeks ago?”

Bingo! She walked right into it! “Yes, I heard on the news that a patient escaped, but I didn’t know the patient was his,” Rachel fibbed with her eyes peeled on Jamie.

“Yep the patient is his, and her name is Susan Cole. The woman is diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder and her escape is shaping up to be quite a mystery,” Jamie said, lowering her voice.

“From what I read in the literature about patients with borderline personality disorder, they can be difficult to managed,” Rachel whispered back.

“You’re right. Between their attention-getting suicide attempts and sabotaging their own treatment plan, they can be quite a challenge.”

“Do you have any idea how she managed to escape?” Rachel scooted to the edge of her seat.

Jamie shook her head. “No ma’am, but it’s rumored she and Doctor Benny were lovers and he may have helped her escape.”

Rachel fell back in her chair, floored. “Oh, my goodness!” she gasped. Beth’s rude behavior toward Doctor Benny now made sense. Surely the doctor isn’t really capable of committing such an act, messing around with a patient. That’s unethical. 

Jamie changed the subject. “So, I hear you’re going to be working with the colonel,” she said.

“The colonel?” Rachel raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah, the infamous Doctor Louis,” she declared.

“Why do you call him the colonel?”

“Because he’s a retired Army colonel and he runs the admissions unit like a damn boot camp!”

Rachel giggled. Suddenly the hinges on the door rattled like a bag of old bones. Someone was pounding on the door, and Jamie stood up, frowning. “Who in the hell is banging on my door like a damn lunatic?”

The door swung open and hit the wall with a thud. A man burst in and stood in the middle of Jamie’s office scowling. Rachel immediately recognized the scruffy-looking man who had attacked the wig heads two weeks earlier. She popped out of her seat and parked herself behind Jamie Lee, spooked. Jamie twisted slightly around to glanced back at Rachel. “I’m okay. I was trying to get out of the way.”

Jamie shook her head and focused her attention on the scruffy man. She folded her arms across her chest. The man stood in front of her, posing, with his hands on his hips, blinking his long eyelashes. 

“Dude, what is it?”

“Hiram wants your list of patients for court tomorrow,” he growled. He reached back and scratched his behind.

“What?” Jamie’s face contorted into a shape of a pretzel.

“Hiram wants your list of patients,” the man demanded again.

Seething with rage, Jamie handed the man her list. With the list between his right index finger and thumb, he stared at the paper, dropping it on Jamie’s desk. “The patients on this list are nothing but flies in the wrong soup!” the man said flipping his blond locks to one side. Pissed, Jamie shook her finger at the man and Rachel jumped back with her eyes big as saucers.

“Damn it, Hiram! Stop acting like a nitwit and talking in the third person! You’re so ridiculous! Where are your manners? Don’t you see our new social worker standing here? Introduce yourself!”

Hiram looked at Rachel and gave her a big silly grin. “Miss…”

“It’s Rachel Thomas, sir,” Rachel politely blurted.

“Well, hello, missy. My name is Hiram Gottschalks. I’m the attorney for the poor souls unjustly locked up in this hell hole,” he calmly replied.

Rachel fell out laughing. She couldn’t help herself. The man was a spectacle and hilarious. “You can’t be serious,” she muttered pursing her lips. 

“What? Hiram didn’t hear you.” He reached up, flipping his earlobe forward. Rachel regrouped.

“Did you say you’re an attorney?” she politely asked.

“Yeah, missy, and what’s it to you?”

“Forgive me, I don’t mean to offend you.” Rachel struggled not to laugh. She kept her eyes fixed on the floor to avoid eye contact.

“No problem,” Hiram said with his eyes drifting back to Jamie. He poked his chest out, staring at her as if she had horns on her head. With a cunning expression on his face, Hiram told Jamie. “Please forgive me for my rude manners, my sweet sugar tits, but you, my little witch, are as rude as they come!”

Jamie lunged at him. “Get the hell out of my office you weasel of a troll! I’ve had enough of your shenanigans!”

“My, aren’t we bitchy this morning?” he teased with a wicked gleam in his eye. He sniffed the air like a dog as he backed up toward the door. “You smell like a pissy bottle of liquor! Have you been drinking again, Miss Lee?”

Chili-pepper red, Jamie grabbed her empty coffee cup and threw it at Hiram. He ducked and the cup sailed over his head. It hit the floor, breaking into a million pieces. Hiram laughed like a hyena. “Sugar tits, you missed!”

“You son of a bitch!” Jamie screamed. Red-faced, Jamie grabbed another cup and charged the crazy attorney. Hiram bolted out the door, almost falling on his behind as he turned the corner and dashed down the hall. Jamie twisted her face as she stood at the door. She threw the cup at him and missed, and it landed on the floor in big chunky pieces.

“If you come to my office again, you little shit, I’ll kill you!” she screamed. “Do you hear me, you little shit? I’ll kill you!”

Hiram made it to the exit and stopped. He spun around and flipped Jamie the finger. Jamie lurched forward with her hands on her knees, breathing heavily. “Your shitty little troll!” she gasped under her breath.

“Not as shitty as you, sugar tits!” Hiram unlocked the steel gray door to the admissions unit and ran out. It slammed hard behind him. 

Rachel stood over Jamie rubbing her back trying to comfort her. “Are you okay?” she asked, feeling worried.

Jamie was silent, still stooped over, her breathing ragged. She stood up and looked at Rachel with her face etched in pain. 

“My lungs are shot. I stopped smoking a few months ago, but I still get short of breath.” Jamie took a step and stumbled. Rachel grabbed her before she fell to the floor. Jamie leaned on Rachel for a few seconds until she regained her composure. Still unsteady, Jamie held onto Rachel’s arm as the two women trudged back to Jamie’s office. Once they were safely inside, Jamie separated herself from Rachel, stumbled to her desk, and plopped down in her chair. Rachel returned to her chair and remained quiet, waiting for Jamie to speak first. 

As Jamie ducked underneath her desk, Rachel heard rustling papers and wondered what she was looking for. To her bewilderment, when Jamie sat up, she held a half- full bottle of Jack Daniels. “I need a little nip. It’s been a stressful morning.”

Jamie twisted the cap off, and put the bottle to her lips, turning it up. She gulped down the brown liquor with her throat pulsating violently. Jamie stopped a minute and took a breath. She winced and wiggled her nose. “Ahhhh,” she moaned. She finished the bottle and tossed it in the wastebasket. 

Rachel was stunned. She wondered what she’d gotten herself into by accepting a job at Salter’s Point Regional. Not only was the hospital’s attorney a full-blown maniac, but her social worker colleague was a drunk. How did these two crazy people land a job in a psychiatric hospital? Can I work with these people? She shook her head in amazement, resigned to her predicament. I’m here now. I guess I can make it work. Rachel glanced at her watch. She was already exhausted, and it was only eleven-thirty in the morning. Is it time for a break? Boy, did she need a break!

“Are you all right, sweetie?” Jamie asked with glassy eyes, interrupting Rachel’s thoughts.

“Just tired,” Rachel sighed. Jamie left her seat and walked to the coffee pot sitting on an end table. She grabbed a cup and poured herself some coffee. “My dear, would you like some coffee?”

“No, thank you,” Rachel calmly replied. She twirled her thumbs. “What’s the deal with Hiram? He seems a little weird.”

Jamie walked back to her desk and sat, sipping on her coffee. “He’s more than a little weird. That weasel of a troll isn’t normal. He’s simply out of his damn tree!”

Rachel laughed.  “Well, he’s quite an interesting character, so tell me about him.”

“To be truthful,” Jamie sighed. “Hiram is quite intelligent. He graduated from Harvard at the top of his class and instead of going into corporate law, he decided to be a defender for the little man.”

            “How compassionate, I’m impressed.” Intrigued by the unusual attorney, Rachel then asked. “How old is he and has he ever been married?”

              “Boy you sure are nosey!” Jamie laughed.

             “Social Workers are trained to be nosey.”

           “Well, if you must know, nosey girl, Hiram is manic, forty-five years old and divorced.”

“Manic how?” Rachel giggled.

“The man is a nut! Always talking in the third person. It gets on my damn nerves.”

“I noticed that. Why does Hiram do that?”

“Who knows. Two weeks ago, he went to a beauty supply store and bought a bunch of wig heads. He painted their faces, put witches’ hats on their heads and lined them all up on the counter in the lobby.”

“I saw those wig heads when I came for my interview. I wondered why they were there. What possessed Hiram to do such a thing?”

“Crazy,” Jamie chuckled. “He thought the lobby needed sprucing up. He threatened to sue Joyce if she tried to take them down.”

“Well, the lobby is very drab. It could use a makeover.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“The first time I saw Hiram, I thought he was a patient,” Rachel recalled. “He was having a hissy fit in the lobby. He punched the wig heads onto the floor and stomped on them. He… scared the holy shit out of me!”

Jamie laughed. “The man is a knucklehead, but I feel bad for him. I think he suffers from manic depressive disorder.”

“How do you know?”

“Just the way he behaves.”

“Has he ever been diagnosed?”

“No, not as far as I can tell.”

“How does he get away with being so crazy?”

“I don’t know,” Jamie wearily groaned. “He just does.”

Rachel wanted to know more. “Why does he look so dirty? He reminds me of a homeless man.” 

Jamie howled. “Hiram has money, but he chooses to live like a pauper. He lives in a garage in an old auto shop near the beach.”

“I see. What did he mean when he made the comment, about flies in the wrong soup?” 

“Let me explain something to you.” Jamie leaned forward folding her arms on the desk. “Hiram believes the patients in this hospital don’t belong here. He believes psychiatric institutions don’t help them. He thinks patients fare better in the community with outpatient mental health than institutionalized and held against their will. So, he fights for them in court by getting their cases dismissed. Most of the time he’s unsuccessful, but sometimes he’s not.”

“So, he works for the system, but he doesn’t believe in it. The man sounds conflicted.”

“You got it” 

Satisfied for now, Rachel changed the subject. “I’m hungry. When is lunch?”

“Let’s take a break. Meet me back here at one and we’ll go to personnel for your photo ID,” Jamie suggested.

“Cool.” Rachel stood on her feet and left Jamie’s office. Within minutes she was back in her office. She sat in her swivel chair, opened her desk drawer, and took out her lunch bag. Rachel tore into it, took out her peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and took a bite, savoring the thick, nutty taste. She thought about Hiram and Jamie and how insane they seemed to be, amused by the craziness of it all. Rachel took another bite of her sandwich, chewing hard. She swallowed and muttered to herself, shaking her head, “Damn, this is one crazy place! I sure hope I can do this.”

Thank-you For Reading, comments welcome!

She Was A Fly In The Wrong Soup-Chapter Two

The Next Day

Rachel Thomas tossed and turned in her queen-sized bed. She didn’t get much sleep last night because her anxiety was working overtime. At eleven o’clock she would at last be interviewing for a real, professional job with decent pay. Her social work job at the nursing home barely paid the monthly bills.

Fidgety and wide awake, Rachel laid on her back and stretched her legs. She wiggled her toes and repeatedly yawned, each yawn louder than the last. She drew circles with her index finger around each red dot on her pajamas, a nervous habit she’d had since childhood. 

She rolled over and sat on the side of the bed. Her eyes drifted to the alarm clock on the nightstand glowing in the dark, and the time was five minutes to eight. Rachel never set her alarm. She relied on her internal clock and the grace of God to wake her up on time every morning. Because of her faith, in God’s timing, she was never late for work. Rachel scooted across the bed and switched on the lamp. Her dark brown eyes settled on a photograph of her and Picasso Cooper, her ex-fiancé. They look happy together, hugged up in front of the Golden Gate Bridge with Picasso planting a kiss on her cheek. She could still feel his warm lips and tight embrace. Rachel smiled as she reminisced fondly over the memory. Soon her smile dwarfed into a frown. Sadly, they parted ways because of his infidelity. 

Although he hurt her badly, she kept the photo of them together next to her parent’s picture on the nightstand. An only child, after all, she considered Picasso to be family. She had known him most of her life. They met in high school, and she thought they would be together forever, but it wasn’t in the cards. 

Rachel stood on her feet and trudged over to the window. She opened the blinds, and noticed the clouds were dark and angry, threatening rain. She wondered if the rain would even come because it had been bitterly cold for the past few days. Rachel hated the rain, a common occurrence in Seattle, especially during the winter and spring months. She preferred the dry freezing winter weather of her native California.

When the sun was out, Rachel could see Mountain Rainier from her one-bedroom fourth-floor apartment. Although having the view made her rent more expensive, she had no plans to give up her place. Her bedroom was her favorite refuge, her escape. African art decorated the walls and green ivy plants hung by the bay window. In a corner next to her full-length mirror sat her favorite red velvet chair with fluffy black pillows. 

      Disappointed, she couldn’t see the mountain, Rachel turned away from the window and hopped onto the bed. She grabbed the remote from the nightstand and turned on the television. A reporter on KIRO News was reporting on Salter’s Point Regional. A patient with a history of suicide attempts had escaped from the locked unit. Rachel’s mouth sagged open, and she sat straight up on the side of the bed. She turned the volume up and listened more intently. “My word, this is terrible!” she gasped and shook her head. “I hope they find her before she ends up killing herself.”

Rachel sighed heavily and turned off the television. In preparation for her interview, she’d read about the hospital’s sordid past. In the 1940s, Salter’s Point Regional had a reputation for performing frontal lobotomies and using ice baths and electric shock treatments on their patients. Although in later years the hospital had cleaned up its act, Salter’s Point Regional remained a horrifying place to be admitted. Rachel wasn’t bothered by the hospital’s history and reputation. Her career goal was to add mental health experience to her resume. One day, she hoped to start her own mental health practice. 

Rachel looked at the clock, and she panicked. Time was ticking away. It was eight-thirty, only two and a half hours until her interview. Rachel leaped to her feet and darted around her apartment. She ran to her closet throwing suits, dresses, and sweaters on the floor. Fifteen minutes later, Rachel finally settled on a cream blouse, a red suit, and two-inch brown pumps. She stood there for a minute, admiring her selection, and remembering when she wore red, compliments would follow.

Again, Rachel glanced at the clock. It was now eight forty-five. She ran to the bathroom, turned on the shower, and moved to the sink. She carefully unraveled the rollers from her hair, placing them in the vanity drawer. She slipped out of her pajamas, slid on her shower cap, and stepped into the shower.

Twenty minutes later, Rachel was out of the shower, drying herself off with her fluffy red towel. She wrapped the towel around her slender, curvy body and stood at the sink staring into the mirror. Rachel twisted her long black curly hair into a bun leaving a dangling curl in her face. She later wrapped the curl around her right ear as she hurriedly applied her make-up, being extra light on the foundation. Rachel applied bronze eye shadow and deep blue mascara to bring out the dark brown color in her eyes. She topped off the look with a hint of blush and smiled, admiring herself. 

 Rachel hurried out of the bathroom and down the hall to her bedroom. She looked at the clock again, and it was now nine ten. She hurriedly dressed, slipped on her heels, and gave herself an inspection in the full-length mirror, spinning around three times to make sure every wrinkle was smoothed out. After a close examination, she dashed to the kitchen. Her upcoming interview came to mind, and she felt her stomach getting jittery. “I need a strong cup of coffee to calm my nerves,” she muttered out loud.

Rachel made herself a pot of Starbucks Verona coffee, and she microwaved a Danish cheese roll, her favorite. Within minutes she was sitting at the table, a graduation gift from her parents, enjoying her meager breakfast. By nine-thirty, she had finished eating, so she rose from her chair and placed her dishes in the sink. Rachel dashed to the bathroom and hurriedly brushed her teeth. Once she finished, she applied her red lipstick. A brief glimpse in the mirror made her chuckled to herself. Although she was determined to nail the interview, she was nervous as hell. It felt like her heart was about to burst out of her chest and she stood over the sink, breathing deeply. 

Fifteen minutes later, she felt calmer, checking her watch for the time. It was ten o’clock. Rachel rushed to her closet and opened the door. She snatched her raincoat from a hangar and slipped it on. Next, she grabbed her handbag and umbrella, and satisfied she had everything with her, Rachel opened the door and walked out. 

As Rachel cranked up her red Toyota, the grey sky opened up, and hail the size of mothballs bounced off of her windshield. Backing out of her parking space, she whipped the car around and drove out of the apartment complex. Even with the windshield wipers switching back and forth in full force, the icy slushy maze zigzagged across the front window, hampered her view. The traffic was tight, bumper to bumper as she crept along the highway, taking the Interstate Five exit. As she merged into traffic, the rain and hail assaulted her window.

Rachel kept a steady snail-like pace as she cruised along the freeway. She turned on the radio and Prince’s hit song “When Doves Cry” blasted over the airwaves. Rachel sang along with the song, bopping her head to the music. Soon the freezing rain tapered off into a drizzle, making it easier for Rachel to see. She stepped on the gas and zoomed down the freeway. 

Thirty minutes later, a sign scripted with Salter’s Point appeared on the highway. Rachel exited the freeway and made a quick right. She drove down a long stretch of highway crossing over railroad tracks, and soon the road snaked along Puget Sound. The water’s rough waves splashed up on the rocky beach below. On Rachel’s left, tall evergreen trees lined the road. The trees’ green needles dusted with silver-white dew glistened on the branches. The sky brightened as the sun’s red rays burned through the clouds, chasing huge clusters of grey away. 

Up ahead, a man wearing red sweats, a knit striped hat, and brown-tinted sunglasses rode a ten-speed bicycle. When she whipped by the man, he didn’t seem to notice her, he was too focused on the road ahead. 

It wasn’t long before she was driving up a winding mountainous terrain. Rachel struggled with the stick-shift as her Toyota chugged uphill around the sleek curves. Evergreens were everywhere. Their majestic beauty decorated the mountain embankment, and the sun’s intense warmth dried out their water-logged branches. 

“So beautiful,” Rachel whispered to herself as she took it all in.

After a while, a few yards up the road, Rachel saw the iron gate of Salter’s Point Regional and a guard dressed in black stood in a glass booth  trimmed in black wood with an archway. He caught Rachel’s attention as she near the entrance. Dressed in a black uniform and clunky combat boots, the guard looked like Darth Vader. Rachel smirked to herself, amused by his peculiar, dark look. His bushy gray eyebrows hung over his deep-set blue eyes, and the fixed lines in his face disappeared into his thick gray mustache. The lines on his face reminded Rachel of one of those complicated Atlas road maps back in the day. 

The guard signaled Rachel to stop. She stomped on her brakes, bringing her Toyota to a screeching halt. Rachel turned off the ignition and rolled down the window as the guard approached her vehicle. Rachel smiled, but the guard’s face remained hard as a rock. Tension rumbled in her stomach. 

“Good morning, sir,” she greeted him in a breathy, quavering voice. “I’ve got an eleven o’clock interview with Beth Jones.”

The guard poked his head in the window, and Rachel could smell tobacco on his clothing. She leaned back, shifting in her seat, surprised by his lack of personal space. 

“You here to see who?” he asked in a gruff voice. 

“Beth Jones,” Rachel repeated, wide-eyed.

“Young lady, I need to see your ID!” 

Rachel carefully pulled her wallet out of her handbag, unzipping it and taking out her driver’s license. Her hand trembled as she handed it to the guard. He snatched it from her, flashing her a look of disdain. The guard whirled around and hiked back to his glass booth. Rachel watched him as he made a phone call. As her heart quivered in her chest, she contemplated whether to ask him for directions, scared of what he might say. However, by the time he returned to her vehicle, she had mustered up enough courage. With her voice trembling, she asked, “Sir, do you mind directing me to South Campus?”

Frowning, the guard handed her back her license and turned around, glaring ahead. Pointing his thick crooked finger at the gate, he growled, “Go through this gate and past North Campus Hospital. When you reach the top of the hill, you’ll see a gray building on the right. That building is South Campus Hospital. Now get!” 

 The guard backed away from Rachel’s Toyota, turning around and heading back to the booth. He stood in the archway, flipping a switch and the gate slowly opened. The guard beckoned for Rachel to go through, and with her face twisted up, Rachel muttered, “What an asshole!” 

Once she drove through the gate, Rachel noticed red and black rose bushes blooming on each side of the road. On her left, there were clusters of white cottages scattered on the well-manicured green lawn. On her right sat Salter’s Point Regional, a massive brick building with the words North Campus on the front. Above the roof, a clock tower trimmed in gold loomed over the building. The clock’s huge white face had black hands and large roman numerals. It reminded her of one of the clocks in the olden days. The clock’s impressive architectural design added to the hospital’s mystique. Amazed by the hospital’s glamour and lush landscape, Rachel declared, “What a beautiful campus!”

She drove over the hill, and her eyes rested on South Campus Hospital. It was a large gray stone building, not as pretty as the North Campus building, and it was nestled in a grove of evergreen trees. Two men dressed in blue overalls stood outside in front of the hospital’s entrance smoking cigarettes. Jittery, with her heart pounding in her chest, Rachel carefully checked the men out while she parked her Toyota. She sat there for a moment, fiddling with the dangling curl in her face. She slapped down the sun visor and checked her makeup in the mirror. Satisfied with her appearance, Rachel slapped the sun visor in place. Grabbing her shoulder bag, Rachel opened the car door, eased out, and slammed the door shut. 

Rachel strutted to the entrance in a clipped pace. The two men, quiet as church mice, moved aside without looking at her as she stepped to the sliding glass door. Rachel tapped the button, and the door slid open. Relieved, Rachel hurried inside. Her eyes grew big when she stepped to the reception desk. In front of her on the counter sat six white wig heads wearing black witches’ hats. They were sitting in a perfectly straight line with thick yarn for hair. Each wig head had large black dots for eyes. Below the eyes, someone made a red smudge for a nose and drew two crooked lines creating lewd, sinister grins. Rachel chuckled, amused by the scene. 

On the other side of the counter, a woman with a beehive hairdo sat with her back to Rachel tapping away on an Emerson typewriter. Oblivious to Rachel’s presence, the woman’s stubby little fingers clicked keys on the typewriter in a staccato tempo and her silver hoop earrings jingled with the rhythm. The receptionist wore a plain white blouse and her black polyester pants fit snug on her full behind. Clearing her throat, Rachel took a deep breath. “Um…Madam, hello?”

The receptionist, still consumed with her typing, didn’t hear her, so Rachel snapped her fingers and shouted in a high voice, “Hello there, my name is Rachel Thomas!” 

The receptionist spun her chair around so fast she almost flipped out of it. Her brown eyes darted back and forth like a wild animal as she patted her chest. “Oh, my goodness…I’m sorry, have you been standing there long?”

“No, I just got here,” Rachel smiled warmly. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m here to see Beth Jones.”

“I’m Joyce Smith, I’m the secretary here.” The chair squeaked as she shifted her plump bottom. “Please have a seat. I’ll tell Beth you’re here.”

“Thank you.” Rachel turned away and found a seat on the sofa in front of the bay window. She gave the lobby a once over, deciding the place was as drab as a prison. The white walls were void of pictures and there were black marks on the tiled floor. The lobby was sparsely decorated with four end tables with ashtrays filled with cigarette butts, and a sofa and four fluffy tan chairs sat in a rectangle on the opposite side. Messy! Rachel thought as she scooted back on the sofa.

Three male patients dressed in tee-shirts, jeans and sneakers with no shoelaces came through doubled doors on the left side of the lobby. Mumbling to themselves as they paced back and forth like robots, each soul methodically paraded in front of her, the smiles on their faces permanently wiped away by the drugs they were taking. Rachel cringed, and her stomach bubbled. She wondered if she made the right choice in accepting an interview at such a peculiar place. She decided it was. After all, the job paid well, and the extra income would come in handy.

Rachel glanced to her right and noticed steel gray double doors with the sign Admissions Unit overhead. It wasn’t long before she heard a lock click and a woman came through the doors. She was short and chunky and wore a free-flowing glittered orange dress and flaming green high-heeled shoes. Her thick curly gray hair cradled her round chipmunk face, and round framed bifocals sat on the tip of her pudgy nose. The bifocals magnified her big green eyes, and she looked like a jaybird staring through a window. At first, Rachel thought the woman was a patient, but when the woman wobbled over to her, she wasn’t sure. The keyring on the woman’s belt jingled like a pair of cowbells. 

“Good Morning, I’m Beth Jones. You must be Rachel Thomas,” she grinned.

“Yes, I am.” Rachel offered her hand and smiled. As the two women shook hands, Rachel worried her hand was clammy with perspiration, but Beth didn’t seem to notice.

“Glad to meet you, young lady. Follow me.” Beth took off, waddling like a duck through the lobby and Rachel, two steps behind, followed her. 

Beth stopped in front of the steel gray doubled doors and snatched the keyring from her belt. She flipped through the keys like a deck of cards until she found the one, she wanted. Beth leaned into the door while jamming the key into the lock, turning it until it clicked open. With a slight shove, Beth opened the door and stepped inside the unit. Rachel followed her inside, and Beth allowed the steel door to slammed so hard and loud, the weight of it rattled the walls. 

Thick grey cigarette smoke greeted them in the hallway, and huddles of patients stood nearby staring at them and puffing on cigarettes. With no fresh air to speak of, Rachel gagged and coughed. Beth didn’t seem bothered by the smoke, and Rachel wondered how she could stand it. Beth apparently read her mind. 

“The patients are entitled to four smoke breaks a day,” she explained. “I’m a smoker. The smoke doesn’t bother me.”

“I see,” Rachel coughed. 

Beth’s office was a few feet from the steel doubled doors. Patient bedrooms lined each side of the hallway, and Rachel saw patients moving in and out as she waited in front of Beth’s office. On the door hung a large black sign with words scripted in white ink Enter at Your Own Risk. Amused, Rachel wondered what could be so risky in Beth’s office. Beth quietly unlocked the door and slowly pushed it aside as if unveiling something scary. She stepped inside. “Come in,” she demanded.

Rachel followed Beth in, and her eyes grew big. She slapped her hand over her mouth as she viewed the messy, cluttered scene. Books, papers, and patient charts were stacked high on one side of the desk. Cardboard boxes sat in corners with empty Coca Cola cans scattered on the floor. Anchored on the wall behind Beth’s chair was a dear head with a snide toothy grin. White panties and pink socks hung off the deer’s antlers. And the stench, oh it reeked like of rotten eggs. Stale cigarette smoke took Rachel’s breath away, and she wanted to puke.

“Miss Thomas, have a seat,” Rachel heard Beth say. Speechless and queasy, Rachel found an empty chair and sat. As soon as her bottom hit the seat, Rachel lurched right up. She looked down and noticed fine cracker crumbs all over the seat. “Oh my,” she gasped, but Beth didn’t say a word. Rachel discreetly wiped the crumbs off the chair and sat. With her handbag in her lap, she stared at the supervisor as Beth lit a Marlboro cigarette. Beth reviewed Rachel’s resume, puffing on her cigarette until it was spent. When she was finished, she placed the cigarette on the edge of the ashtray, then opened up her desk drawer and took out a Snickers candy bar. She tore the wrapper off with her teeth and gobbled it up in a matter of seconds. Beth’s fat cheeks bulged like a chipmunk as she chewed, swallowing and licking her thin lips. After the candy was gone, Beth peered over her bifocals, staring at Rachel with intense scrutiny. Bewildered, Rachel held her breath. 

“Honey, why do you want to work here?” Beth asked in a sharp tone.

“Um, um.” Rachel cleared her throat. “I’m very interested in the mental health field. I think this hospital will be a good place to get some experience.”

“You don’t say.” Beth reached for another cigarette and lit it up. “Tell me why you think so.”

Beth puffed smoke rings into the atmosphere while Rachel told her story. Beth’s fiery green gaze in the haze of smoke made Rachel so nervous that she thought her heart was going to jump out of her chest. “After I finished graduate school, I decided to stay in Seattle. I like the area and I thought I could begin my career here.” Rachel ‘s voice trembled. 

“I see you graduated from the University of Washington.” Beth stated in a gritty voice. 

“Yes Mam.”

“What makes you suited for this job?”

              “Well, I worked in a nursing home and I ran a caregiver’s support group while there and I also took psychology classes in college,” Rachel replied.  Beth snuffed her cigarette out in the ashtray and dove out of her seat like a jack in a box. Rachel lurched back, blinking her eyes erratically. 

“Honey, this is no nursing home! These folks are off their rockers! Are you willing to work with a bunch of crazy folks?”

Shocked, every nerve ending in Rachel’s body twitched, and she longed to leave. Too scared to move, Rachel sat there, at a loss for words. Beth cocked her head to the side, looking like a big jaybird with glaring big green eyes. 

“Honey, does the cat got your tongue?”

Rachel fidgeted in her seat, and her face was warm with embarrassment. “I’m sorry…yes, ma’am, I can work with crazy people.”

Beth grinned, clapping her hands. She swayed back and forth, from side to side like an excited fan at a football game. Rachel cringed. Beth’s demeanor scared her as she waited for the woman to stop clapping. Finally, Beth settled in her seat, grabbing Rachel’s application. This time, she studied it. After some minutes, Beth popped out of her chair again, and Rachel patted her chest with her mouth sagged open, frightened. 

“The salary is forty-five thousand a year. Honey, do you accept this salary?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Rachel replied. She was burning inside. She resented Beth calling her honey.

“Very well then, you can start in two weeks on Monday morning at eight,” Beth said.

“Thank you.”

“You will work with Doctor Michael Louis on the admissions unit,” Beth clarified.

“Great, I look forward to working with you and Doctor Louis.” Beth’s thin lips parted into a sardonic smile as she stepped to the door. Rachel took this as a clue the interview was over and was relieved. Beth swung the door opened and stepped into the smoky hallway. Rachel followed her out, and Beth locked her office door. When they both reach the unit exit, Beth unlocked the steel doubled doors and shoved it open. 

“See you November 5th, Monday morning, eight o’clock sharp,” she grinned. 

Rachel stepped out into the lobby and smiled at the supervisor. “I look forward to it.” 

Beth released the door, and it slammed shut, rattling the walls. Alone in the lobby, Rachel sighed with relief. She strutted toward the exit, shaking her head at the craziness of it all. Glad to be free from the smoky environment and Beth’s nasty office, Rachel wondered if the second-hand smoke would make her ill. Lord, I don’t want to develop lung cancer. It was an awful thought that she immediately put out of her mind.

Suddenly, Rachel heard a man yelling in the reception area. She stopped in her tracks and whipped around. A hippie-looking, middle-aged man with a red, bloated face was cursing and pounding his fist on the counter. He looked scraggy with his long matted blond hair hanging on his shoulders and a prickly mustache and beard covering his bulldog face. On the tip of his nose, he wore wired framed glasses, and the sleeves on his wrinkled white shirt were rolled up to his elbows. Hanging on his back was a twisted striped tie, and he wore tan high-water pants with black loafers. The man wasn’t wearing any socks.

Joyce, teary-eyed, stood crunched over the counter with the wig heads, tolerating the man spewing obscenities in her face. “Hell, stop crying, woman! What’s wrong with you? Hiram needs his damn patient report!”

Joyce mumbled something that Rachel couldn’t hear. Out of the blue, the man punched each wig head onto the floor. He jumped and stomped on each one as tiny pieces of foam flew in the air. Joyce ducked for cover underneath the counter, and Rachel, who had enough of this unseemly crazy place, made a mad dash to the exit. Two security guards rushed through the main entrance from outside and ran past her. They pounced on the man and wrestled him to the floor. 

“Get the hell off Hiram, you sons of bitches! Get the hell away!”

“Hold down that son of a bitch!” yelled one guard. “Hold him down!”

Rattled and outdone, Rachel made it to her Toyota. She unlocked the car, threw in her handbag, and climbed in. She cranked the ignition, backed up, and whipped her car around. She sped out of the hospital parking lot as fast as she could. Once safe on the main road, Rachel wondered who the looney man was, and why he was so angry. 

As always thank-you for reading, comments are welcomed.

A Word By Dawn Porter

Am I your only black friend? Before you answer, let me add to the question. I don’t mean George from accounting who knows all the ins and outs of last week’s game. I don’t mean the security guard you wave to every morning on your way into work. I mean, do you call them to have lunch? To complain about your kids, your spouse, your boss? Have they been personally and specifically invited to your home?

The problem with well-meaning

I have a lot of white friends, and during the past week a number have reached out to me to see how I am doing. I am conflicted about this. On the one hand, I deeply appreciate that they are thinking of me and my children and how we are reacting in this debilitating time of social unrest. But to be honest, what I would like them to do is reach out to their other friends. Specifically, their white friends. Because right now I need white people to speak to one another. I am wrestling with my own issues at this time; I cannot carry the burden of yours.

How do I feel? Tired. Worried. Anxious. You know what I am not? Surprised. None of my black friends are surprised. The possibility of this type of violence is not surprising to us. We may choose not to speak to you about it because you haven’t ever asked.

Well-meaning people say a lot of well-meaning things. “I can’t imagine how you feel” is right there at the top of the list. Have you tried? I’m asking because I know I don’t need to be Jewish to be distraught and outraged about anti-Semitism. And I know I don’t need to be gay to be disgusted and terrified by homophobia. So why is it so difficult for you to even imagine what it feels like to be black? This is just one reason why Black History Month shouldn’t be a single month.

Why I want you to see color

And then there is “I don’t see color.” Don’t you? If there are “too many” black people at an event, in a room, in your town or your school, do you notice? Does it make you feel uncomfortable, even just a little bit? You see color. Do you give more credibility to information coming from white colleagues than from your black co-workers? You see color. You do not have to wield a baton on a bridge to be a person who has racist thoughts.

Most of us at one point or another will make sweeping assumptions based on race. These range from the mild (all black people can dance, play basketball, etc.) to the more pernicious (black men are dangerous sexual predators, black bodies can withstand greater levels of violence than white bodies). Having racist thoughts does not make you a racist, but failing to question your racially-based assumptions does.

When you say I don’t see color, you are not doing me a favor. It’s as if you are telling me my brown skin is something you have to work to look past, to excuse even, in order to see my humanity. I want you to see my color as much as I want you to notice anything else about me. So please, go ahead and see my color. See me.

Dawn Porter is a documentary filmmaker. Her film John Lewis: Good Troublepremieres in theaters this spring.

Chapter One

Hello Everyone! Here is Chapter One of my new Novel. Enjoy and Happy Monday!

Mid-October 1984

It was almost midnight and the moon loomed like a big orange pumpkin in the dark, clear sky. Curled on the hard-narrow bed in a fetal position with a blanket over her, Susan Cole gazed at the moon’s reflection through the octagonal window eight feet above her. Depending on how she moved her head, the unevenness of the safety glass stretched and squeezed the moon’s image, much like a carnival mirror. Susan was struck by the moon’s brilliance, gazing at it until she saw black spots. She squeezed her eyes shut, and when she opened them again, the black spots were gone. She detected footsteps coming down the hallway and suddenly halting at her door. Bob, the charge nurse, was making his final rounds for the night.

The door opened and a bright light shone in her face. Susan lifted her head and squinted into the flashlight’s beam, then pulled the blanket over her head. The door closed, and for a minute or two Susan listened as Bob walked down the hall. Once his footsteps faded, Susan sat up, wrapping her blanket around her, and stared at the light shining underneath the door. When the light finally went out, Susan knew Bob had settled in for the night at the nursing station.

Now safe to move about, Susan threw off her blanket and hopped out of bed. She stooped to the floor, reached under the bed, and pulled out a shopping bag. She set it on the bed carefully and opened it, trying hard not to rattle the crackling paper. In the bag, she kept three outfits along with a pair of Reebok tennis shoes. She took out her jeans and a black sweater and quickly dressed.

Happy to be rid of the dull tan pajamas she’d had to wear since arriving at the hospital two weeks ago, Susan lingered on the edge of the bed and slipped on her Reeboks, tying the strings into neat bows. Leaping to her feet, Susan tiptoed to the closet, opened the door, and took out her black coat and matching wool hat. She threw on her jacket, buttoning it to her chin. With her hat in her hand, Susan tiptoed back to the bed, sat on the edge, twisted her curly blond hair into a bun, and pulled her hat over her head. 

Then she sat there staring at the door, twiddling her thumbs while she waited on Doctor George Benny. He was her knight in shining armor, her psychiatrist, and her new lover. He promised to whisk her away from this crazy, awful place she’d found herself in. He promised her a better life from the dreary world she had always known.

While she waited, Susan found herself reflecting on the events that brought her to Salter’s Point Regional Hospital. She didn’t know if she’d been born cursed, or if her perpetual bad luck was a result of her father abandoning her to be raised by a drug-addicted mother. On welfare and high on crack most days, her mother just didn’t seem to care about her, so Susan learned to fend for herself. She came to hate herself as much as her mother seemed to, and acted out by sleeping with men and making superficial cuts on her wrists with a small switchblade. She never intended to seriously injure herself, the cutting just made herself feel better. She always treated the cuts and wrapped her arms with thick white gauze, and she wore shirts and sweaters with long sleeves to hide the damage. Except for the nurses and doctors at the psychiatric hospitals she often stayed in, Susan never told a soul about her terrible secret. 

Eventually the cutting and sleeping around no longer soothed her, and she graduated to suicide attempts. She would take a bunch of pills and end up in a hospital getting her stomach pumped. Her intention was never to kill herself, she was just desperate for someone, anyone to care about her. 

Hoping to leave her troubles behind her, Susan moved from California to Salter’s Point six months earlier, but things didn’t go as she’d planned. She couldn’t make enough money waitressing to pay her rent. She lost her apartment and found herself on the streets. Despondent, homeless and broke, Susan resorted to her old bad behavior. After overdosing on Tylenol, a man found her lying on the town sidewalk moaning in pain and he called 911. After spending time in a local hospital ICU, Susan’s doctor committed her to Salter’s Point Regional, her tenth commitment on record. Susan was saved, guaranteed free room and board for the duration of her stay. 

It was at Salter’s Point Regional that Susan met Doctor George Benny. He was working the late shift when she was transferred in, and he assigned himself as her doctor. Susan immediately fell in love with him. When he spoke, she hung on his every word. The doctor’s marginal good looks and charming personality reminded Susan of her estranged father. Caught up in his seductive web, every day they would make love in the doctor’s office. Susan was ecstatic when George offered her a place to stay. 

Together they planned Susan’s escape, and now, finally, the night had arrived. Susan was eager to begin her new life and leave the old one behind. So, with her hands clasped tight in her lap, Susan waited for the doctor. The shopping bag with her two additional outfits sat on the floor next to her feet. Susan stared at the door for some time, and when it opened, Doctor Benny entered the room. Susan’s eyes lit up, and she dove off the bed. She fell in his arms, almost knocking him over, and clung to his waist like an expectant child, gazing lovingly at him with bright blue eyes.

“Whoa,” he laughed, “slow down!”

“I thought you’d never get here!” Susan giggled like a schoolgirl. “I’ve been waiting all day!”

“I’m here now. I told you I would come.” George smiled. He was tall and slender with silver-gray hair and a mustache. George’s eyes were intense and sparkling blue. Years of smoking pipes every day left the doctor’s smile with mustard yellow teeth. 

George embraced Susan and kissed her forehead, then released her and pointed to the bed. “Get your bag. We need to go. We don’t have much time.” 

“What about my medication? I need my pills. They keep me calm.”

“Did Bob give you medication this evening?”

“Yes,” Susan said, snatching her shopping bag and following George to the door.

“No need to worry. I have plenty of medication at home.” He stopped for a moment and looked in both directions. Satisfied the coast was clear, he and Susan tiptoed toward the unit’s exit. When they passed the nursing station, Susan busted out laughing at Bob’s loud grizzly bear snore. 

George became incensed. “Be quiet! You’re going to wake Bob up!”

As soon as those words left his lips, Bob’s snoring stopped. George and Susan held their breath as they stood frozen in place. Susan’s heart thumped hard in her chest as they watched Bob smack his lips and yawn. Seconds later, a soft snore rumbled from his lips, and a stream of clear liquid drooled from his mouth. Susan felt George squeeze her hand, causing her to cringe in agony. “Ouch! That hurts!”

“You almost got me in trouble,” George sneered.

“I didn’t mean to. Bob looks so funny sleeping there,” Susan whined as she poked her bottom lip out.

“Just be quiet, and let’s go!” George dragged her down the hall. Sweat dripped from his face. He fiddled with the key ring, dropping it, and it clanged on the floor. George moaned in exasperation and glanced down the hall to see if anyone was coming. “Shit, I just can’t get it together!”

Susan stooped over and picked up the key, handing it to George. “I think you need some of my medication. You’re a nervous wreck.” George cut his eyes at Susan, and she made a face. “Don’t look at me like that! I was only kidding!”

“If you say so,” George snapped as he unlocked the door. He hurled his slender body against the door, shoving it open. George grabbed Susan’s hand, and together they stepped out. After he closed the door, it automatically locked. The two lovers sprinted through the lobby and out the main entrance. The cold, crisp wind stung Susan’s face as they ran across the lit parking lot. They slowed down to a brisk walk as they made their way to George’s red Porsche.

While Susan waited for George as he fumbled with his keys to unlock and open her door, she looked back at the hospital. Dense white fog hung over the hospital, and its gloomy appearance reminded her of a haunted house. In the clock tower, a small light flickered on and off every three seconds, illuminating the clock’s sizable white face. The clock’s black hands crept to the numeral twelve, and Susan heard the clock chime twelve times. 

Startled by the sound, bats that were hanging off the clock’s wooden ledge took off with their wings roaring like rushing water. They swooped back and forth over the clock tower. Once the chiming ended, the night creatures settled on the clock’s narrow ledge, lined up like big black crows on a picket fence. One by one, they flipped upside down with their naked bodies suspended in mid-air as if posing for a Halloween portrait. Susan shuddered, turning back around as George opened the car door. “It’s creepy around here,” she mumbled under her breath.

Susan slipped into the soft leather seat of George’s Porsche while he dashed around the car, opened the door, and slipped into the driver’s side. They snuggled together briefly, then George zoomed out of the parking lot with lightning speed, passing through the open the iron gate and down the road. Susan suddenly realized she hadn’t seen John, the security guard, in the lobby when she and George left the hospital. 

“Honey, I didn’t see John when we left. Do you know where he might be tonight?”

“Who cares where he is? Be glad we didn’t run into him. Do you want me to go to jail?” George quipped as he stepped on the brake, slowing his vehicle down.

Susan withered in her seat. She hated when George snapped at her. “No, George, I was just asking. He’s usually around.”

George remained silent as he navigated down the sharp, curvy road that snaked through the town of Salter’s Point. Susan gazed out the window at the tall evergreen trees that lined each side of the street. Salter’s Point Regional sat on a cliff, and on the right side of the road was a deep, vast valley. Susan lurched up and strained her neck, trying to look down. All she saw was darkness, and a cold chill rippled through her spine. The whole scene was eerie, and it gave her the creeps. 

Susan sighed heavily and sat back in her seat. She glanced at the clock on the dashboard and realized they’d been driving for fifteen minutes. Eager to see her new home, she cleared her throat. “Um, excuse me, George, do we have far to go?”

“Just another fifteen minutes,” he smiled.

“Cool, I can’t wait!” Susan laid her head on the headrest and gazed out the window, counting stars in the midnight sky. Fifteen minutes later, the car came to a stop and George announced, “We’re here.” 

Susan straightened in her seat. George’s home took her by surprise. Instead of a mansion like she’d envisioned, his house was a modest white bungalow. It had two front windows with windowpanes painted black. Thick fescue grass grew in the front yard, and red roses crept along the white picket fence. A cobblestone sidewalk led up to the porch, with four steps going to the front door. The door was red with a white wicker chair on each side. Susan sighed with disappointment. Very cute! No mansion. Oh, well.

“What are you waiting for? Let’s go!” George said as he flipped the lock and opened the car door. He stepped out, opened the rear door and he grabbed Susan’s bag. George shut the door, and Susan was already out of the car. “I like your home,” she fibbed.

“Thank you,” George said as he reached over and pulled Susan to him. She, in turn, wrapped her arms around his waist. George lowered his head and planted a wet, passionate kiss on her thin lips. He pulled back and stared into her eyes. “Darling, welcome to your new home. I hope you’ll be comfortable here.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll be fine.” Her lips erupted into a childish grin. George opened the gate, and Susan followed him in. They walked up the steps and George unlocked the door,

twisting the knob and opening it. He flipped the light switch on the wall, and the ceiling light came on. Susan heard soft jazz playing in the background as she followed George inside.  He shut the door and Susan looked around wide-eyed.  “I hear music. Where is it coming from?”

“I’ve built-in speakers wired throughout my home so I can play music all over the house.”

“So cool.”  Susan smiled taking in the ambiance of George’s home. In the living room, along the back wall sat a black leather couch. A few feet from the couch was a matching chair. Next to the chair, a CD Player with CDs stacked on each side sat on a cherry wood entertainment console and a large abstract oil painting with red, blue and orange colors hung over the console. Across the room, a huge stone fireplace with ash residue on the hearth sat between two front rectangle windows with white blinds. So, simple!  Susan thought. 

Doubled glass French doors separated the living room from the dining area. George opened the doors and stood on the side so Susan could go in.  The dining room was simply decorated with an oak oval table and four chairs in black upholstery. On the wall hung another abstract painting with black and burgundy colors. The painting caught  Susan’s attention. “George, I love this painting. The colors are so striking.”

“I collect abstract art. I find the art interesting,” he said.

George passed thru an archway leading into the kitchen. Susan followed him and was shocked by the kitchen’s small size. The black refrigerator and stove took up a lot space along the wall. On the other side of the kitchen, there was a black shiny sink, with granite counters. Black painted cabinets hovered over the counters. Susan wondered if black was George’s favorite color.  Boy, he had so much of it.  “George, is black your favorite color?”

“Black is a masculine color. I like decorating with it.”

“Oh, I definitely see that,” Susan replied. She followed George out of the kitchen, passing through the dining room and out the French doors. George turned left stepping into a short hallway with wood stairs. “Time to show you my room.” 

He ran upstairs with Susan on his heels. George pointed to a small room as they walked down the short hallway.  “This is one of the two bathrooms.  The other one is in the master bedroom.”

“Oh,” Susan said taking note. At the end of the hall was another set of French doors. The doors opened into the master bedroom and when George opened them, there sat a king-sized bed with a black comforter. On the wood floor was a black fur rug and to the right was the bathroom. The walls were bare, except for the rectangle window on the far wall. George dropped Susan’s bag and closed the blinds. Susan plopped her behind on the bed and looked around. George walked over and gently pushed her back on the bed. He covered her face with sloppy, wet kisses and Susan wiggled and giggled with delight. Hopelessly excited, Susan knew she had arrived. Despite all the bad things that had happened in her life to this point, she could finally relax and live her happily ever after. 

Thank-you for reading. Comments welcome.


Good Morning Everyone. In the wake of George Floyd’s death, I like to take a moment from my usual postings of funny stories to reflect on the topic of racism in America. This year, I will turn 62 years old. As an African American woman, I have experienced many incidences of racism in my short life. Below is one of my experiences I would like to share with my readers.

     I was twelve years old when I became aware of racism for the first time. In the fall of 1970, my, father, a command sergeant major in the army and a three-time war veteran, received orders to go to Bozeman, Montana for two years, shortly after he returned from Vietnam. We were living in Tacoma, Washington at the time, and I was in the sixth grade.  Two weeks before my father was to report for duty in Bozeman, my parents piled me and my four siblings into their giant Oldsmobile and drove to Montana for the weekend. It was a long and grueling drive, 690 miles one way to be exact. 

Once we crossed the Montana state line, we ran into snow. I remembered the snow piled high on the side of the road and the road appeared to stretch for miles with no ending in sight. By the time we arrived in Bozeman, it was near dusk. I remembered Bozeman as a small town with streetlights flickering on and off.  The town was almost empty except for a few town residents lingered on the sidewalks. Most of the businesses were closed except for the twenty-four-hour diner on the corner.

 Exhausted and hungry, my parents decided to find a place to stay before getting something to eat. My Dad stopped at five different motels with vacancies, and not one of those places agreed to rent to my father. Finally, after two hours of searching for a place, a small motel showed us mercy and graciously allow my parents to rent a room for the weekend. After we checked in, my Dad went to the local diner and got us something to eat then we settled in for the night. 

    The next morning, after we showered and dressed, we piled into the Oldsmobile and went to the local diner for breakfast. As soon as we walked in, everybody in the restaurant twisted around in their seat   and stared. We were the only black people in the restaurant, and the whole town as far as I could tell. I remembered feeling uneasy. They watched us take a seat at the table closest to the door. I remembered my father insisting on sitting on the side where he could view the entry. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. As we sat and waited for the waitress, immediate dread came over me. These people staring at us didn’t want us here. No one said a word. We waited patiently for the waitress. Ten minutes later, she came over and politely took our orders.  Our meals came out twenty minutes later, and we ate most of the meal in silence. My parents had a brief conversation and that was it. Somehow, we distinctly knew, we must stay on guard, ready to leave at a moment’s notice. 

After we finished eating, my Dad paid for the meal and we left. As we exit the diner, the people there continued to stare. Even at the age of twelve, I didn’t want any parts of Bozeman, Montana. I also asked my father why we were even moving there. He told he had orders to the army base outside of Bozeman, and this assignment will be his last one before he retired.  I cringed at the thought of living in this dreary, unfriendly place for two years. I had seen enough and was ready to go back home. I was not happy.

     My parents searched for housing the entire weekend, and although, housing was available, no one in the town would rent to my parents. Racism in Bozeman, Montana was thick like Karo syrup. It was clear, we were unwelcomed there, so we packed our bags and returned to Washington State.  The following Monday, my father called his commanding officer and relayed his concerns about moving to Bozeman. His commanding officer gave him new orders, and his assignment was an instructor for the national guard in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1972, my father retired from the United States Army.  

This experience opened my young eyes to racism. Racism has reared its ugly head off and on throughout my life. Sometimes it’s blatant, other times, it’s subtle and there are times when it hits me with condescending condemnation. I don’t know which is worse, but the outcome is always the same. “Your kind are not welcome”, “You have no seat at the table,” You have no right to justice or self-determination” as a Black American in this country. 

      There are some white Americans oblivious to the pain they often inflict on people of color. They continued to support the mantle of racism despite George Floyd’s cruel death. They used tactics to change the narrative instead of acknowledging the pain of racism. They preferred to rationalize racism’s existence instead of looking for ways to reform this country’s discriminatory practices. They even go as far as using race and religion to justify their reasoning and mindset which is an insult to the black community.

 For example, on FB yesterday, a white colleague of mine posted a statement by a bi-racial black man who stated he had a white mother. His issue was not stamping out racism but addressing sexual immorality and other sins outlined in the bible. This post infuriated me. Did he think he was exempt from racism because he has a white mother? Most black people in America have a white relative in their immediate family or background. 

The mixing of the two races started in slavery. White slave owners raped black women and this violence birthed bi-racial children. Today bi-racial unions are by choice. But these children who come out of these unions are still view as black. They are not exempt from racism, bigotry and inequality.  Does this man not know America’s history? He’s still a black man. Having a white mother does not exempt him from the brunt of racism nor does it give him the special privilege. He will be stopped just like any other black man on the street minding his own business. He will be questioned, harassed and even killed.

    This same friend detested Colin Kaepernick when he kneeled against racial injustice in this country during the national anthem. His mother is white, but this brother had enough sense to realize his blackness, self-determination and boldness was viewed negatively by white American society. Some white Americans changed the narrative and made Kaepernick’s protest about the flag instead of the racism, inequality and injustice of black people he was protesting. They didn’t miss the point. They didn’t want to face their sin.

Therefore, on FB yesterday, my friend tried to invoke another narrative. She refused to acknowledge the crime of racism, and the injustice of black people in this country.  She and others like her failed to see how White America has consistently and persistently benefitted from the oppression of black people. They never see their participation in the enforcement of racism and injustice as a problem. They view it as Black America’s problem.  How can you call yourself a Christian and discriminate against your fellow man of a different race or skin color? Does she and this bi-racial man not know that God is a God of Justice and, he, too, despises racism and injustice just like any other sin on this planet?

It’s seems that all Christians of every stripe and color should want to fight against racism and injustice. Instead of taking responsibility for the sinful, destructive nature racism and injustice have on people of color, especially black people, they blindly focused on other issues and buried their heads in the sand.  

Racism, inequality and injustice are immoralities too. Black lives have suffered way too long under the sin of oppression. It’s time to reform the justice system in this country and make it fair and equal to people of color not just for White America.  If this occurs and the nation successfully makes that change,  then  George Floyd’s death will not be in vain. 

Thank-you For Reading. Comments Welcome.

Prologue: She Was A Fly In The Wrong Soup

Good Morning Everyone!

I know its been awhile since I’ve publish a post. As a hospital social worker, I’ve been on the frontlines helping my patients and families battled the Coronavirus, quite a challenge. On a lighter note, I would like to remind you about my newest novel, She Was A Fly In The Wrong Soup. It’s still in the editing process and due for release sometime this summer. For the next 2-3 weeks, I plan to post the first three chapters giving you some insight into this hilarious, real-life story. Therefore, without further adieu, let’s start with the prologue. Enjoy and Happy Mother’s Day! (Comments are welcome)


Early Spring 

It was noon at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in the town of Salter’s Point. The sun, a raging ball of fire, hung in the bright blue sky and substantial-looking evergreen trees swayed in the light cool breeze. Twigs blew around gravesites, and black crows howled and swooped back and forth. A huge black cat with fiery golden eyes crept among the gravesites, oblivious to the noises around him. 

It had rained all night, and everything in the universe was damp. The cat didn’t care.  With each measured step, he navigated around the cold and gray tombstones, wet hilly inclines, and slippery rocky paths. He knew where he was going. He was heading to his favorite place. The lonely gravesite beneath the big evergreen tree.

This had been the cat’s daily routine since the horrendous fire in the valley three years ago. The cat made his home on Salter’s Point Cliff inside the trunk of a large evergreen tree in the woods behind Salter’s Point Regional Hospital. He would leave his home precisely at noon, run by the iron gate in front of the hospital, and pause to linger in front, looking through the iron bars. Then he would run down the winding road to the town of Salter’s Point at the bottom of the cliff, not stopping until he safely reached the cemetery and the tombstone scripted with the letters “JL.” There he always found a warm bowl of soup left by the old groundskeeper, who would watch from a respectful distance while the cat lapped up the tasty treat.

The cat sat in front of his bowl of chicken soup and observed three flies creeping along the rim. Faint scratchy melodies floated from the flies rubbing their tiny silver wings while the soup’s spicy aroma drew their nosy antennas inside the bowl. The flies teetered on the edge, unaware of the doom that awaited them. Annoyed, the cat swiped the pan with his massive midnight paw, spilling the contents onto the ground. Two flies flew off, leaving one unlucky fellow squirming and wiggling in a sea of chicken soup. The little fellow struggled to save himself, and after a brave fight, he shook himself off and flew on his way. The cat lapped up the remainder of soup and when he was finished, he laid in front of the tombstone, remaining there until dusk. 

When twinkling stars showed in the dark sky and the moon came out from behind the clouds, the cat lurched up and slowly crept away. He soon took off trotting back to the cemetery entrance. He ran out the gate and up the winding road back to his home on the cliff. There he would rest and mourn. His faint eerie cry, a whisper in the wind, a reminder of a tragedy long ago. With sadness on his heart, he would turn in for the night, only to wake the next day and begin the scenario again. Repeating the same routine, traveling the same route, going to the same destination. His only goal in life was to lie on the grave underneath the evergreen tree watching another hungry fly teeter on the edge of his bowl of soup. Just as his mistress had been, it was always a fly in the wrong soup.

New Novel: She Was A Fly in The Wrong Soup

When young social worker Rachel Thomas accepts her first “real” job at Salter’s Point Regional in Washington State, she expects to be working around crazy people. After all, the hospital was once a notorious insane asylum.

Imagine her surprise when she realizes that many of the crazies at Salter’s Point Regional are the professional misfits who are supposed to be caring for the patients. It seems they are running the hospital and creating mayhem of their own. A manic attorney, a sex-crazed psychiatrist, and a drunk therapist are a few of the many professionals with blurred lines of insanity.

Rachel tries desperately to fit in while still caring for her patients. Despite feeling like a “a fly in the wrong soup,” she succeeds in doing her job. Until tragedy strikes and turns her world upside down.

Inspired by true events in a psychiatric hospital in the 1980s, this novel is a revised edition of my first novel, The Cat on Salter’s Point. She Was A Fly in the Wrong Soup is schedule for release this summer! Stay tuned!

John Pimple Butt Lewis: From The Novel, “She Was A Fly In The Wrong Soup!”

Note: Doctor Louis, now back at work, interviews an unusual patient. He soon discovers the patient harbors an interesting scary past.

Nurses and social workers gathered in the conference room for the morning report. Doctor Louis, still wearing his wool hat, sat at the head of the conference table scowling. When Rachel entered the room, she couldn’t help to notice the tension in the air. She glanced over at Doctor Louis, and she immediately realized why. His brooding, intimidating presence had already set the tone. Everyone was in a somber mood, and whispering among one another. A definite change from what she was used to. Rachel inhaled deeply, settling in a chair in a distant corner. She wanted to be invisible, unnoticed. She wasn’t interested in anyone calling on her and asking her questions.

Standing in the doorway wearing dark sunglasses was a tall, dark-skinned man with a colossal-looking afro. Dressed in an army jacket, blue jeans, and combat boots, the man glanced around the room as he strolled in. He took a seat next to Doctor Louis, and the two men shook hands. Rachel’s eyes were big like saucers. Who is this cat? How does he know Doctor Louis?

Rachel carefully checked him out, studying his face. He had high cheekbones, and his smooth ebony complexion was flawless. Mmmmmm……this dude is a bonafide hunk! But why the sunglasses? Are the lights too bright in the room? What is his deal? Damn, I just don’t get it!

“Greetings Everyone!” Doctor Louis’s voice boomed like thunder as he peered over his eyeglasses, glancing around the table. “I know everyone is so glad to see me back!”

Chuckles broke out around the room. The man with the colossal-looking afro didn’t crack a smile. Doctor Louis parted his lips into his crooked grin. He turned, facing the man with the colossal-looking afro. “My friends, this here is Doctor Everett James. He’s covering for Doctor Benny while he’s out for a couple of days.” 

So this is Doctor James! Rachel mused. He’s the same man I saw in the parking lot with Doctor Benny the other day. A doctor dressed like that? Go figured!

     As Doctor Louis carried on, Rachel sat back and observed Doctor James more closely. She wished he would take off his sunglasses so she could see his eyes. When he finally spoke, his deep voice rumbled like a small earthquake, and when he smiled, straight white teeth emerged. “Good Morning, everyone! As Doctor Louis has informed you, I’ll be covering for Doctor Benny. There is no reason to change your routine on my account, just carry on as usual.”

So he’s flexible. How refreshing! To keep from staring at the handsome doctor, Rachel kept her eyes on Doctor Louis as he reviewed patient details on his list. Some of the information provoked laughter among the staff. Doctor Louis told the team about a patient who heard Chinese voices pointing out he was caucasian and only spoke and understood English. He informed staff about another patient who feared his brain was hijacked by green aliens. Police brought him in after the neighbors complained he was shooting at dogs and squirrels in their yards with his little Beebe gun. There was one patient, Rachel, found most amusing as Doctor Louis read his information. This man was found in Seattle, downtown, standing on third avenue mooning pedestrians as they walked by. Doctor Louis made a particular point of telling staff this man had tattoos and pimples on his butt. The team howled with mirthless laughter.  

As Doctor Louis finished up his report, Rachel got an inkling she was being observed. She looked up, and Doctor James was staring right at her. He smiled, and Rachel looked away, suddenly embarrassed. When the meeting was over, Rachel bolted from her seat and went for the door. Doctor Louis stopped her. “Miss Thomas,” he called out.

Panicky, Rachel spun around and looked at Doctor Louis with big eyes. “Yes, sir,” she replied.

“Do you mind meeting me in my office at ten-thirty to interview these new patients?”

Rachel glanced at her watch and saw she had an hour to play with. “Sure, no problem, I’ll meet you at ten-thirty.” And without hesitation, Rachel dashed out the door. She hurried over to the admissions unit and sat in a spot at the end of the nursing station. The nursing station and the patient dining area opened into one big forum. It was designed this way so the nurses could keep watch over the patients. 

Heavy gray smoke hung stagnant in the air. Patients paced back and forth, puffing on their cigarettes. Dying inside while inhaling the suffocating smoke, Rachel coughed repeatedly. Despite her discomfort, Rachel remained in her seat. Weeks behind in her charting, she had to catch up, so she soldiered on fighting with the smoke around her. Suddenly a deep voice rumbled from behind, and Rachel lurched forward. Her heart jumped in her chest as she turned to see who it was. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” Doctor James declared.

“Um…I didn’t realize you were here.” Rachel melted when she saw he was without his sunglasses. He had mesmerizing oval-shaped dark brown eyes she found sexy. He stared at her, and she stared back, covering her mouth as she coughed. Rachel waved cigarette smoke away from her face. “I’m allergic,” she informed him.

“Cigarette smoke can be a pain in the ass if you’re not a smoker,”  he calmly said.

“It’s nauseating, and I hate it. It ends up in your clothes, your hair…well anyway, I don’t mean to burden you with my issues,” Rachel apologized.

“Not a problem, by the way, I don’t believe we officially met, my name is Everett James,” he grinned.

“Um…my name is Rachel Thomas,” she stammered, feeling uneasy again.

Doctor James smiled. “Glad to meet you. I certainly look forward to working with such a lovely lady.”

Rachel felt her cheeks getting hot, and her heart fluttered in her chest. Embarrassed and pleased at the same time by his compliment, she found herself drawn to him. She glanced at her watch. It was ten-thirty. Time to meet with Doctor Louis. “Listen, it’s nice to meet you, but I got to go. I need to get some fresh air, and besides, Doctor Louis is waiting on me,” she said.

“Right, you and he have some interesting patients to interview.” 

“Yep, see you around,” Rachel waved as she dashed out of the nursing station. On her way to Doctor Louis’s office, she fell out laughing to herself. I think I better keep my distance. I can get into some serious trouble with that man!

     Only five minutes late, Rachel knocked on Doctor Louis’s door. She braced herself, anticipating his anger, but when he opened the door, he greeted her with his warm crooked smile. “Great, you’re here. I was just getting started.”

He whirled around and returned to his desk. Rachel walked in and shut the door. Sitting in front of her, was a puny little man with icy blue eyes and a stringy blond ponytail. He dangled his legs over the armrest of his chair, and Rachel noticed he had black smudges on his overalls. When she walked by him, a musky smell assaulted her nostrils. She frowned, wrinkling up her nose. Sally smiled, keeping her lips tight, trying not to laugh out loud as Rachel hurried over and joined her on the sofa. 

For several minutes, no one spoke. Doctor Louis’s loud wheezing broke up the silence. He repeatedly coughed, clearing his throat. A square ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts sat on his desk. Plagued with a bad smoker’s cough, Doctor Louis had no intention of giving up his hazardous vice.  Minutes passed before Doctor Louis finished reviewing the chart. As he closed the record, he  looked over at Sally and Rachel.“Ladies, this here is Bobby Pickett. They found him downtown on third avenue mooning pedestrians. The nurses believe he suffers from amnesia because when they questioned him about the incident, he couldn’t remember.”

“Hi Bobby, my name is Rachel Thomas, your social worker.” Rachel smiled. Bobby just stared at her.

“I’m Sally Dobbins, the head nurse on the unit,” Sally said.

Bobby nodded his head, but he still doesn’t say a word. Annoyed, Doctor Louis snapped at him. “Does the cat got your tongue, son?”

“No, sir,” Bobby made a face and looked up at the ceiling.  

“I’m going to ask you some questions, and I want you to answer to the best of your ability.” 

“If you insist,” Bobby flippantly answered, glancing around the room.

Doctor Louis let out a harsh breath. “Tell us where you came from?”

“New York,” Bobby replied.

“How long have you been here in Washington State?” Doctor Louis leaned forward and folded his arms on the desk. 

“A few days…maybe a week,” Bobby’s icy blue eyes drifted to his lap.

“What made you decide to come here?”

“I needed a change in scenery.”

Doctor Louis rolled his eyes and fell back in his chair. “So let me get this straight,” Doctor Louis clarified. “You traveled three thousand miles across the country for a change in scenery? Are you kidding me? How did you get here?” Doctor Louis had an inkling Bobby wasn’t being truthful. 

“I hitchhiked,” Bobby flippantly said.

“You hitchhiked?” Doctor Louis rolled his eyes heavenward again. “So you were dropped off on third avenue downtown and decided to pull down your pants to show people on the street your pimply, tattooed behind, interesting.”

Unable to hold back, Rachel and Sally fell out laughing. Bobby winked at them with a smirk on his face. 

“So you think what you did was funny.” 

“Hell, it was fucking hilarious!” Bobby joked.

Doctor Louis frowned, shifting position in his seat. Convinced Bobby was lying and hiding something, Doctor Louis pressed on. “I reviewed your chart. You told the admissions nurse you’ve never been diagnosed with a mental illness. Is that true?”


“I don’t believe you.” 

“Why not?” Bobby challenged.

“People who pull down their pants on the street in front of thousands of people aren’t exactly what I call sane,” Doctor Louis deadpanned.

Bobby grinned, wickedly showing two jagged front teeth. “I never said I was sane.”

“Apparently not,” Doctor Louis agreed. He peppered Bobby with more questions scaring the man. “Have you ever heard voices, had racing thoughts, or felt suicidal or killed anyone?”

“Whoa, slow down, doc! I’m not crazy!”

Doctor Louis laughed. “Son, I think you’re crazy as hell!”

Bobby glared at the doctor. “You’re the crazy one!”

“How so?”

“You have crazy looking eyes, and you look spooky in that wool hat.”

“You think you’re tough and scary, don’t you?”

Bobby straightened up and slid his legs off the armrest. “Old man, I’m tougher and scarier than you think.”

Chuckling out loud, Doctor Louis said. “So, you hitchhiked across the country for a change in scenery? I’m sorry son, I just don’t believe that garbage!” 

 Rachel and Sally exchanged glances trying not to bust out laughing. Sally looked down and furiously scribbled on her notepad.

“Who cares what you think, old man!” Bobby hissed as he folded his arms across his chest. “You don’t know what I’ve been through.”

“Oh, you been through something? Tell me about it,” the doctor said.

Bobby looked away. Refusing to look at the doctor. However, Doctor Louis refused to put up with Bobby’s antics. “Look at me, son…I said, look at me!”

Bobby widened his icy blue eyes, and he provocatively stared at the doctor. “Old geezer, Are you satisfied? See, I’m looking at you!”

“You’re running from something, aren’t you? Who are you hiding from?” Doctor Louis knew something was up.

“Doc, all you’re doing is fishing for information, and harrassing me.” 

Doctor Louis shrugged his shoulders and flatly said. “Son, your story just doesn’t add up.”

“Well, you’re wrong, old man!”  Agitated, Bobby tapped his fingers hard on the chair armrest. Doctor Louis took note. “What’s wrong son? You seemed a little upset.”

“What do you want from me?” 

“I want you to tell me the truth? The plain truth,” Doctor Louis said.

“I don’t have anything else to say to you.”  

“Very well then, you can go back to the unit.” Doctor Louis rosed to his feet and walked to the door. When he opened it, he turned to face Bobby. “You can go now.”

Bobby stood up. “How long will I have to be here?”

“I’ll let you know in a few hours.”

As soon as Bobby walked out, Doctor Louis slammed the door. “He’s a lying, and he’s hiding something!” 

Rachel arched an eyebrow getting concerned. “What do you think is going on with him?”

“He’s hotter than a loaded pistol. He’s running from the law,” Doctor Louis said matter flatly. “There’s no rhyme or reason why he’s here. Call the sheriff and see if this asshole has any outstanding warrants,” he demanded.

Rachel hopped off the sofa and ran to the door. “I’ll get right on it!”  She opened the door and ran out. Still scribbling notes on her pad, Sally spoke with angst in her voice. “Michael Louis, I hope you’re right about all of this.”

“Don’t worry, Missus Dobbins, I’m never wrong about these things.”


          Meanwhile, back in her office, Rachel tapped her fingers on the desk. On hold with the phone receiver pressed to her ear, classical music played in the background. Several minutes went by before Rachel heard a hoarse , gritty female voice on the line. “This is Sheriff Beatrice, how can I help you?” 

“This is Rachel Thomas, a social worker from Salter’s Point Regional, I need an emergency background check on a patient we have here in the hospital,” she pointedly requested.

“The name ma’am?”

“His name is Bobby Pickett.”  Rachel heard a click and classical music played in her ear again. Frustrated to be on hold again, Rachel inhaled sharply. Five minutes later, she heard Sheriff Beatrice’s gritty voice again. “Hello. Are you still there?”

“I’m here,” Rachel said. 

“It looks like you’ve got a convicted serial killer in your midst. Bobby Pickett is really John Pimple Butt Lewis. He escaped two weeks ago from the federal prison in New York, and the FBI has been looking for him ever since. You say he’s still there?”

“Yes, Ma’am!”  Rachel responded with big eyes. “A serial killer? Who did he kill?”

“Prostitutes,” the sheriff said. “A helluva lot of prostitutes. He had mommy issues. His momma was a prostitute. He killed her too.”

Rachel gasped. She fell back in her seat, flabbergasted. “What should we do?”

“Keep him there. I’ll send the FBI over.” A dial tone blared in her ear. The sheriff had hung up.

“Unbelievable! Doctor Louis was right!” Rachel stood up and hurried to the door. Jamie crossed her mind, and she stopped in her tracks. “Let me give her a quick call to see how she’s doing.”

Rachel returned to her desk and dialed Jamie’s phone number. The phone rang and rang, but Jamie never answered. Rachel hung up, worried. “I hope she’s okay.” 

She left her office and went next door. Rachel knocked and entered Doctor Louis’s office at the same time. He looked up at her and growled. “So, little lady, what did you find out?”

Rachel stood in front of him with her notes in her hand. “Doctor Louis, Bobby Pickett’s real name is John Pimple Butt Lewis.”

Sally snickered out loud. “Gurl, you’ve got to be kidding me?”

“No, that’s what the sheriff told me.”

“So, do you suppose he got his name from the pimples and tattoos on his pasty butt?” Doctor Louis loved being sarcastic.

Rachel giggled. “Now, sir, I wouldn’t know.”

“With a name like John Pimple Butt Lewis…One would think his momma was high on crack when she decided to give him that name,” Doctor Louis joked.

Rachel and Sally giggled hysterically. “You were right,” Rachel said barely getting her words out from giggling too hard.  “Two weeks ago, John escaped from a prison in New York. He’s a convicted serial killer serving time for killing prostitutes, including his own mother.”

Sally’s eyes were huge, like hockey pocks. “Oh my god! Are they coming to get him?”

“Yes, Sally, they are.”

Doctor Louis reached for his phone. “I’m notifying security, but whatever you do, don’t tip pimple butt off,” he warned them.

“While we’re waiting, do you want to interview another patient?” Rachel was worried she wouldn’t get off on time. They still had six patients to interview before her shift was over at four-thirty.

“No, not right now, let’s take care of pimple butt first,” he said. Security came on the line, and Doctor Louis demanded. “I need two officers on the unit right now…”

Rachel dropped her shoulders, disappointed to learn she will be leaving work late. She headed to the door, leaving the doctor to his phone call. “I’ll see you two later.” As she opened the door and walked out.


     An hour later, six men about six feet and four inches tall dressed in black suits and wearing dark sunglasses swarmed into the admissions unit like a pack of bees. Unnervingly quiet, the men scoured the area searching for their prized prisoner. Nurses stood around, looking helpless with their mouths hanging open. Wondering who these men were in black suits and sunglasses. John Pimple Butt Lewis emerged from his room, walking down the hall. When he saw six FBI agents coming his way, he took off like a jack rabbit sprinting down the hall toward the exit. One agent saw him and yelled. “There he is!” 

John hoofed down the hall like a man on speed. Up ahead, someone left the unit door ajar, and John, an award winning high school sprinter, knew he could make it out the door if he increased his speed. As soon as he quickened his pace, a black suit came out of nowhere  and shoved his butt on the floor. John slid across the cold, laminated-tiled floor and slammed into a cement wall. His whole world went black, and a few minutes later, John woke up. He was bounded in handcuffs,  looking at the floor, and his head and body ached. Blood trickled down his face as two FBI agents jerked him up and stood him on his feet. Red-faced with his forehead throbbing with pain, Bobby sneered at the two agents. They pinned his arms firmly against his back and shoved him forward down the hall. One agent shouted. “Walk, man, walk! I said walk!”

John trudged along with two agents dragging him toward the exit. The other four agents followed from behind. Staff stared at John with their mouths hung open while patients clapped, cheered, and whistled. Still sitting in Doctor Louis’s office, Sally heard the noise and rushed to  the door. She swung it open and stood in the doorway with her mouth sag open. Shocked to see six FBI agents escorting John Pimple Butt Lewis down the hall. The unusual entourage took up the entire hallway as they passed through.”Oh, my god, they got him,” Sally gasped with one hand over her lips. And before she was able to blinked another eye, the FBI agents had carried John Pimple Butt Lewis out the door.  As Always Thank you For Reading!