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!

The Hairpiece: An Excerpt From The Novel, She Was A Fly In The Wrong Soup!

 * Doctor Micheal Louis returned to work after being off ill for several weeks. Needless to say, he’s not having a good day. Enjoy.

The next day, it was Tuesday in December. A cold wind whistled violently from the North, and snow flurries swirled in the sky. Twigs, crumpled paper, and dead shrubs blew across the hospital’s parking lot. Doctor Michael Louis parked his black four-door Mercedes sixty yards from the hospital entrance. He wanted to protect his vehicle from unnecessary damage by coworkers parking their vehicles too close to his. He slapped the sun visor down to checked himself in the mirror. Gasping with horror, he noticed thin short hair sticking up from his dusky brown, ratty toupee. Vain to his detriment, Doctor Louis took excellent care smoothing his hair back in place. He smoothed out his thick mustache, giving extra attention to the little gray hairs on his deep crater face. Although Doctor Louis had been off work because of his recent heart attack, the doctor enjoyed spending time with his young wife, Sierra. But now he must face the crazy mayhem at Salter’s Point Regional, and he wasn’t thrilled about it, not one little bit.

Satisfied his hair looked decent, Doctor Louis shoved the sun visor back in place. He opened the door and stepped out of his Mercedes. The strong freezing wind slammed him against the vehicle, and it took all of his physical strength to shut the door too. Shivering, with his false teeth clicking like a soft ticking clock, the freezing wind ripped through his clothes straight to the bone. Doctor Louis buttoned his long black cashmere coat, and after he was done, he adjusted the fuzzy ear muffs on his ears. Then he headed out across the parking lot, the wind hurling his thick body this way and that. The wind blew off his ratty toupee, and it floated like a balloon over the parking lot. When the wind died down momentarily, the hairpiece dropped to the ground.

     Frazzled and panicky, Doctor Louis took off and ran after his cherished hairpiece. Only to be outrun by a menacing big black crow. The crow swooped down like a big freight plane and snatched the ratty hairpiece off the ground. The crow flew to a nearby pine tree and settled on a broad branch. The crow dropped its prize possession in a nest of muddy twigs, and it laughed at the doctor with its annoying hoarse caw. Incensed, Doctor Louis scowled and shook his fist violently at the crow. “You damn, crazy bird! If I had my gun, I would shoot your ass out of that tree!”

The crow laughed again, twitching his head from side to side, cooing and cawing as it danced on the edge of its nest. Doctor Louis scoffed. “Oh, shut the hell up, you dense, crazy bird!” 

Boiling inside, Doctor Louis returned to his Mercedes. The whistling, blistering wind knocked him around like a tennis ball. When he finally made it to his car and unlocked the door, he was exhausted. Breathing heavily with short, quick breaths, Doctor Louis opened the door and bent down. He stuck his head inside and a brisk wind slammed the car door against his backside. He fell in the driver’s seat, bumping his bald head on the steering wheel. Groaning with frustration, again he cursed.“Damn, I just can’t get a break!  This sure is a shitty morning!” 

Aching with pain and beside himself, Doctor Louis massaged his temple as he settled in his car  seat. He shut the door and reached over to open his glove department. The doctor took out his black wool hat and pulled it over his pale bald head. Again he inhaled harshly as he opened his car door. “Okay, I’m going to try this again,” he angrily muttered to himself. 

      Doctor Louis got out of his Mercedes and locked the door. The wind seemed to died down, and Doctor Louis was relieved. He eagerly hiked with ease across the parking lot to the hospital entrance. Once he arrived, Doctor Louis tapped the sensor above the glass door. The door slid open, and he stomped inside. Scowling, he stomped across the lobby with his angry eyes peeled to the floor. He didn’t say a word to nobody, not even to Joyce who was sitting behind the reception counter. Wide-eyed, Joyce took offense to his bad behavior. “So, doctor, you’re not speaking this morning?” Joyce called out to him.

He kept walking, ignoring her enraging the receptionist even more. “Good Morning Doctor Louis! I said Good Morning!”  she shouted at the top of her lungs.

“Humph,” he grumbled dismissing her with a wave. Joyce dropped her shoulders and sighed,  “The grumpy old colonel is back. It’s going to be a long, stressful day.”

Doctor Louis maintain his brisk pace until he arrived at the mailroom. He went inside, and found his box overflowing with weeks of messages. Frowning, Doctor Louis stuffed the notes inside his briefcase. He stomped out of the mailroom, slamming the door behind him. Once he arrived to his office, he stood in the hall fiddling with his keys. Rachel heard him in the hallway. She left her desk and opened her office door. She stood in the doorway smiling at the frustrated doctor. “Good Morning, Doctor Louis,  you’re here, glad to see you!”

Refusing to look her way, Doctor Louis hurriedly unlocked his office door, and growled at her. “What’s so damn good about this shitty morning?”  With that said, he shoved the door open, and went inside. He slammed the door so hard, the frame shook.  She flinched violently with her mouth gaped open. She feared the screws on the door’s hinges were going to pop out. “Geez, what a freaking grouch! I hope he’s not going to be like this for the rest of the day! Lord, Jesus help me!” she pleaded. Hope ypu enjoyed this little excerpt. Happy New Year Everybody!

An Excerpt From The Novel, She Was A Fly In The Wrong Soup.

     The town residents packed in the courthouse early Monday morning. It was the last day in November, and Christmas was around the corner. Elderly women dressed like elves busily decorated the courthouse lobby. Bright red poinsettias were placed in every corner of the hall. Black and white angels and snowmen figurines were set on tables. A nativity scene of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus was constructed on the stage. Men with bulging muscles carried an twenty-foot evergreen tree into the lobby. After they strung it up and stabilized it in the center of the floor, men with ladders ran over to the massive tree. They carefully erected the ladders on the tree, and with Christmas lights in hand, they climbed up the ladders and strung them around the tree’s thick branches.

Loudspeakers belted out an orchestra playing Joy To The World in the background. People bundled up in wool scarfs, coats, and hats continued to pack the courthouse. They scurried around in various directions like big mice, looking for their assigned destinations. A frantic woman wearing a tiara on her long, curly brown hair, sprinted across the lobby in her wedding dress. Crying and throwing a fit in a nearby corner, a little boy about the age of four screamed like a hyena. Calm, his mother stooped down to his level, hugging on him. She covered his cheeks with kisses, and the little boy stopped crying. He giggled as his mother tickled his stomach. Then she picked him up and went on her way. 

      Sitting on the second floor in front of courthouse numbered five, Doctor Beebe and James Cole waited for the judge to approve and sign the warrant. At first, Doctor Beebe was reluctant to file kidnapping charges against his old friend and colleague, Doctor Benny. After an intense discussion with James Cole, he became convinced it was the right decision. Looking haggard with dark circles around his eyes, Doctor Beebe stayed awake all night, unable to sleep, anxious about his visit to the courthouse. With his mind made up, but still deeply troubled, he pondered when it would be the best time to fire Doctor Benny. The medical director knew his timing was everything. He needed to be as strategic as possible.

Finally, around noon, the clerk emerged from the courtroom. Short and dumpy, the woman’s straight, stringy hair was parted in the middle, and her bright light blue eyes were intense. Wearing an outdated black pantsuit with spiked red heels, the clerk strutted over to the two men carrying a sheet of paper. Her lips parted into a sardonic grin. “The arrest warrant has been signed.” She gave Doctor Beebe his copy, and she lingered for a moment, waiting for questions. Doctor Beebe found her frozen smile off-putting. He shifted in his chair, straightening up.

“Do you know when he will be arrested?” he asked. 

“Tomorrow morning,” she answered.

“Why not now? He could leave town by this time tomorrow morning,” he told her. Doctor Beebe looked annoyed.

“I’m sorry,” said the clerk. “But that’s the best the court can do.” She turned her short, dumpy self around and slipped into the courtroom. Doctor Beebe rolled up his copy of the arrest warrant and stuck it in his coat pocket. “I’ll be glad when this is over. This whole situation has been quite taxing!”

“I know, old buddy. It will be over soon.”  James slapped his hat on his head and rose to his feet. “How you plan to break the news to your staff?” 

“Slowly but carefully,” Doctor Beebe half-heartedly joked.

James laughed. Then he turned serious. “But really, have you thought about it?”

“Yep, it’s been on my mind constantly. It’s such a delicate situation.”

“My friend, you don’t have a lot of time left. Once the media gets a hold of this, you’re going be peppered with tons of questions.”

Doctor Beebe let out a harsh sigh. “I know, man, I know. You can’t go to a gun fight with a hammer! I will tell the staff when it’s appropriate.”

Feeling sorry for his old friend, James offered a suggestion. “Let’s head to Sully’s for a drink. You could use a break.”

“Good idea,” Doctor Beebe grinned. “I’ll meet you there.”

 James waved and headed down the hall. “See you in a few.”