“It was a cold, bleak, December morning in Alaska, a place so far north on planet earth that if there were such things as popsicle people, they could live there quite comfortably.-Dew Pellucid
Happy New Year, everybody! I know it’s late, but as most of you know, I am a clinical social worker and an aspiring Novelist. I’ve been in Alaska, the last frontier, the locals say, on a three-month contract working in a rehab hospital in Anchorage. Between the heavy amounts of snow, the scary-looking ravens, and the humongous moose trotting down the streets, stopping traffic, it’s been quite an experience, I must say.
The people here are friendly, much to my surprise. The mountain range is breathtaking on a sunny day. The seafood in most restaurants is to die for. Halibut, shrimp, salmon , and fresh sourdough bread are the Alaskan favorites, and the sausage reindeer hotdog is an acquired taste.
When I arrived here in early December, adjusting to the below-freezing temperatures ( one day, it was -2 degrees), thirty inches of snow, and darkness until ten in the morning took me a while. When I wasn’t working, I stayed inside, snuggled in my wool pajamas, working on my latest novel, Leaving Henry. Inspired by the snowy scenery outside my window, I’ve written twenty-two chapters since I have been here. Writing my mother’s life story has been a rewarding but tedious journey. I’m halfway done. Only twenty chapters to go. Whew!
Working and writing aren’t the only activities I’ve been doing. Donell and I took scenic weekend excursions, driving along the coast. Navigating the icy, curvy roads is not for the faint of heart. But we were fearless, driving through snow and ice to reach our destinations. We visited the Alyeska Resort, which was forty-five minutes from Anchorage, and the City of Seward, a rough, bumpy ride was two hours away. We visited the gift shops and bought odds and ends, and ate at their local eateries while we were there. On the way back from Seward, we left later than we intended, and it was a little scary. Dark like tar and no street lights to speak of. The only light we had was the oncoming cars in the opposite direction. However, we made it back to Anchorage safely. A close call to say the least.
Two weekends ago, my sister, Crys, came for a visit. We stopped by the Anchorage Museum and saw native artwork and artifacts. The history of the indigenous native people was quite impressive. I love their masks and clothing and their love for nature. Take a look at the face masks below. I found it intriguing that the African masks and Native face coverings were similar. Alaska and Africa are on opposite ends of the world, but the cultural differences are not that far apart.
This week the Alaskans are having their annual winter festival called the “Furrondy.” The streets of Anchorage come alive with winter sports, native culture, and many unique events, such as “Running with the Reindeer!” This is not your usual race, and the truth is, it’s pretty remarkable. Instead of getting chased by bulls, you get chased by rambunctious reindeer. Hundreds of people participate in this race, running as fast as they can to outrun the reindeer, and at the end, everyone gets a reindeer hotdog, and the reindeer prepare for the next race. Well, I pass on this one. Not my cup of tea. But I plan to go to the Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market this upcoming Wednesday! I can’t wait to buy some fabulous native jewelry; I got my greens and am ready to shop! Well, that’s all for now. I will settle in for the evening with my novel, Leaving Henry, and hopefully, write and finish chapter twenty-three. As always, thank you for reading!
Strange Occurrences, is a hilarious but dark mystery novel that promises to keep you on the edge of your seat. A sequel to the novel, She Was A Fly in The Wrong Soup, Salter’s Point Regional keeps attracting crazy and peculiar professionals to its ranks.
It’s been three years since the tragic fire, and Rachel Thomas discovers Peepers hanging out at Saint Mary’s Cemetery. Thrilled the big cat is still alive, she scoops him up and takes him home. For a while, all is well until a serial killer emerges, wreaking havoc on the hospital. Rachel accidentally learns the killer’s identity, which turns out to be someone she knows. Shocked and scared, Rachel wonders what to do. When the killer strikes again, Rachel has to do something, but will she risk her life and reveal the killer’s identity?
Once again, Anita Dixon Thomas gives the readers an in-depth look at the wild and wacky, and sometimes dark side of the mental health profession.
Rachel didn’t get much sleep, so she called out sick to take time to get herself together. She wasn’t in any emotional shape to see patients, especially mentally ill ones. Rachel showered and threw on her red sweats. She went to the kitchen and made herself a cup of coffee. With her back against the counter, Rachel contemplated how to spend her day honoring Jamie. She wasn’t the least bit interested in sitting around moping and crying. Her desire was to do something worthwhile.
Antsy, with no ideas in mind at first, Rachel finished her coffee, grabbed her purse, and strutted out the door. She had no idea where she was headed, but she hopped in her Toyota and took off down the road. To her surprise, Rachel found herself turning on the street where Jamie lived, and she decided she would stop by to see if Peepers was there,
Rachel pulled up in front of Jamie’s townhouse and parked. She was surprised to see a green Oldsmobile sitting in the driveway, Rachel wondered who it belonged too. Maybe it’s one of Jamie’s family members,
Determined to find out, Rachel grabbed her purse and got out of the car. She stepped briskly to the door, and boldly rang the doorbell. Swift and heavy footsteps approached from the other side and abruptly stopped. The door swung open, and a man about five foot and seven inches tall stared back at her with deep-set ocean-blue eyes. He had blond hair, which was thick and lustrous, but greying around the temples, and his suntanned face was sharp and well-defined, giving the impression he had weathered many storms. He wore wrinkled black overalls with Nike tennis shoes.
“Can I help you?” he asked in a gruff voice.
“I’m sorry…I…I don’t mean to pry,” Rachel stuttered, terrified. “My name is Rachel Thomas. I’m a friend of Jamie’s, and I also worked with her at Salter’s Point Regional Hospital.”
The man’s face brightened a little. “I’m John Lee, Jamie’s husband.”
Rachel jerked her head back and bucked her eyes, floored. “Oh, glad to meet you. Jamie didn’t tell me she was married!”
“Yep, for ten long years.” For a minute, he seemed to blank out, staring into space as if he was reminiscing, living in another time. When Rachel cleared her throat, he came to his senses. John took a step back and opened the door wide.
“Would you like to come in? I’m packing some of Jamie’s things.”
“Love to,” Rachel said as she walked inside, and he closed the door behind her. She stood in the living room, inspecting the place. Clothes and shoes were sprawled everywhere on the couch and chairs. Cardboard boxes were scattered on the floor, some filled to the top with clothes and others half filled with Jamie’s shoes. John carefully folded Jamie’s sweaters and packed them in a box.
“I see you’re packing up Jamie’s clothes. Are you taking them somewhere?”
“I thought I’d take them to the women’s shelter in town. I certainly don’t have any use for them,” he gruffly answered.
“Sounds like a plan,” Rachel smiled, pleased Jamie’s clothing would be put to good use.
John stopped packing and walked swiftly toward the kitchen.
“Can I offer you anything? Coffee, juice, water? Anything?” Rachel took the liberty and followed him. The color drained from her face, unable to answer when she entered the kitchen. Cardboard boxes were everywhere, and Jamie’s dishes and pots were out on the counter and table. Rage pulsated through her veins, and her cheeks burned. Why is he packing everything up so soon? Jamie hasn’t been dead for a good forty-eight hours, and he’s already getting rid of her belongings! What’s the rush?
“I didn’t hear your answer,” John said, raising an eyebrow.
“I’m sorry,” Rachel replied. “I guess I was taken aback by all of the packing. Why the rush?” Oh, shit, I didn’t mean to say that. Oh, well.
“I realize this looks quick, but I don’t have a lot of time. I pastor a church in Colorado and I’m leaving on a mission trip next week. Although we were separated, Jamie considered me her family. It was her desire that if something happened to her, I would take care of things.”
“I know it’s early, but a shot of whiskey would be fine.”
John’s eyebrows went up, hesitating, and he cracked up laughing. “A shot of whiskey? So, you’re a whiskey drinker like my wife.”
“No, not really. I prefer wine, if you must know.” Rachel chuckled, batting her eyes.
“Then why the whiskey?”
Rachel shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe it’s my way of honoring Jamie somehow.”
“Perverse, but I love it!” John laughed. “Let’s see if I can find some for you.”
He went to the pantry, opened the door, and shoved some canned goods around. “I know Jamie must have some stashed away in here somewhere,” he muttered to himself. Rachel checked John out. She had to admit Jamie had good taste. Handsome, despite his rugged, weathered looks and short stature, John wasn’t her kind of guy. She preferred a taller man, much like the suave, mysterious Doctor Everett James.
“You’re in luck! Look what I found behind a big can of Crisco.” John held the bottle up so Rachel could see it.
“Great,” Rachel smiled as she pulled out a chair and sat at the table. “I just want a little bit. I’m not used to drinking whiskey.”
“At your service.” John went to the counter and twisted the cap open on the whiskey bottle. He found two shot glasses in the dish rack and poured the whiskey, filling both glasses to the rim. He brought the drinks to the table and sat, shoving one over to Rachel.
A box of photos caught his attention, and he pulled it in front of him. John grabbed the first picture he saw on the pile, that was all it took for his eyes to water. He clutched the solid wooden frame tight in his hand, reminiscing over a perfect moment in his past.
“This is Jamie and I when we first got married. The happiest memories hurt the most,” he said in a low voice as he managed to restrain the flood of tears from within.
“You say you guys were married ten years?”
“Yes. Jamie and I grew up together. We both were from a religious family, grew up Catholic. We talked about having our own church one day.” He handed Rachel the photograph, and she looked at it. Rachel marveled at how Jamie’s style had changed over the years, from dressing feminine to more manly. Thinner and looking happy, Jamie looked cute, holding her bouquet of flowers in her little white dress. She had a big smile on her face as she gazed into her husband’s eyes. John looked like a movie star in his double-breasted pinstriped suit. His hair was longer but still swept back away from his handsome face.
“You know, Jamie never talked about her marriage much. What happened between you two? If you don’t mind me asking.” The photograph reflected happier times, and they were such an attractive couple.
“Anne Cleveland happened,” John quipped in a sour tone, frowning. He almost looked wolfish as he briefly recalled his wife’s betrayal. “Jamie met her at an aerobics class, and the rest is history. It took me a while to get over it,” he said in a low, cracking voice.
“I bet.” Rachel could see it was painful for John to talk about it and decided not to press him for more details, but John apparently needed to talk.
“Every time I called her and learned she was still with Anne it would break my heart. I knew I couldn’t live anywhere near the two of them. My ego couldn’t take it.”
“So, you and Jamie never divorced?”
“No, we never did.”
“Well, if it’s any consolation, Jamie and Anne broke up a month ago.”
John’s eyes widened as he fell back in his chair. “Really? What happened?”
“Anne will tell you they broke up because of her drinking, but the real story is, she fell in love with a man who happens to be my ex,” Rachel answered with sourness in her voice.
“Damn!” John shook his head in disbelief.
“Damn is right,” Rachel said, half smiling.
John looked down for a moment at his glass of whiskey. He brought the alcohol to his lips and threw his head back. The bitter sensation of the liquor made his eyes water. John coughed, blowing out his cheeks as he swallowed, and grunted. “Well, I guess we both got burned!” He looked over at Rachel and noticed she hadn’t touched her glass. “What are you waiting for? Drink up! It’s in Jamie’s honor.”
“I know.” Rachel sighed, taking a deep breath. She laid John’s wedding photo back in the box and picked up her glass. Rachel took one sip, almost spitting the bitter-tasting liquor straight out of her mouth. She managed to hold it in, getting it down, screwing up her face as she swallowed. Rachel coughed repeatedly. “Damn, that’s nasty!” she said in a dry, hoarse voice.
John’s eyes gleamed with amusement as his mouth curved into a smile. “You weren’t kidding. Whiskey is definitely not your drink.”
“No, it’s not.” Rachel looked John dead in the face, scrutinizing him. “I don’t believe I ever witnessed a pastor drinking alcohol.” Rachel wanted him to know she disapproved of his behavior.
“They generally don’t, but this one does,” he smirked, winking at her. “Besides, I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
“Well, alcohol isn’t the solution.”
“I’m well aware.” John’s smile slipped into a questioning frown. “So, is there a reason why you stopped by? You knew Jamie is no longer here.”
Rachel’s eyes watered. “I know. I guess I wanted to see if she was really gone, besides I was hoping Peepers would be here.”
“Peepers and Jamie are gone, I’m afraid.” His face darkening a little. They sat quietly for a while each soul a million miles away stuck in their own thoughts. Rachel flinched when John tapped his fingers hard on the table.
“Where are you with the funeral arrangements?” she asked.
“I’m almost done with the arrangements. Jamie is Catholic, so her funeral will be at Saint Mary’s Church.” A muscle in John’s jaw twitched as he gazed down at the table misty-eyed.
Recognizing his vulnerability, Rachel felt empathy for the pastor. “Do you need any additional help with the planning? I don’t mind helping,” she softly offered.
“I’m fine. Jamie and I have talked about this many times. She has a will. I’m following her wishes.”
“When is the funeral?”
Rachel stood on her feet. “Okay. If you need anything, please let me know.”
“You’re so kind. Thank you,” John smiled as he stood up. He escorted Rachel out of the kitchen and into the living room. Rachel walked to the door and she abruptly turned around to face him. “I enjoyed meeting you, John. I wish it was under better circumstances,” she said with a warm smile.
“I do, too. It was nice meeting you, too, Miss Thomas, my wife’s friend.”
She laughed, and John opened the door for her. Rachel waved as she walked out.
“See you soon,” she hollered as she hurried to her car.
On her way home, Rachel stopped by the grocery store and bought a pint of chocolate ice cream. She thought about John and his heartbreak over Jamie. For a brief moment, she scolded Jamie for giving up on her marriage, but her scolding turned to sorrow, when reality hit her again. Damn, I’m going to miss that girl!
Once she arrived home, Rachel went to the kitchen, opened her chocolate ice cream and put two scoops of the dessert in a plastic bowl. She put the rest in the refrigerator, then she went to the living room and plopped on the couch. Exhausted from grieving, Rachel turned on the TV, inserted a movie in the VCR, and ate her bowl of ice cream. For the rest of the afternoon, she watched funny movies, and at dusk, she put on her pajamas and climbed into bed.
As Always Thank-You For Reading, Comments Welcome!
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.
“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.”
“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.”
Rachel walked alongside Sally as she talked. “Dear, tell me where you’re from?”
“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!”
“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.”
“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!
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)
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.
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!
* 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 you enjoyed this little excerpt. Happy New Year Everybody!
It was a hot, sweltering September day in Atlanta, unusually warm during this time of the year. Marigold Applegate’s light brown eyes stared out the window of an old Marta bus as it rattled down Candler Road. She was casually dressed wearing a loose-fitting summery blouse over black stretchy slacks. Marigold sighed deeply as she fingered combed her short, curly, auburn red hair. Always good-natured, she wasn’t in the best of moods. It was Monday, the beginning of the workweek, and Marigold was tired. She didn’t get much sleep from the night before, and she wondered if she had enough energy to make it through the next ten hours.
Employed as a social worker in a psychiatric hospital, most days, Marigold was up for the challenge. She worked the evening shift working with the mentally ill, however, lately, the job’s daily grind and constant program changes grated on her nerves. Exhausted from the daily mayhem, Marigold longed for a cruise. She dreamt of relaxing on a deck in her bathing suit and reading a good book. As she mentally prepared for the evening shift, a malodorous mixture of musky mops and human waste slapped her in the face.
Homeless men in need of a shower sat or laid sprawled out asleep on seats near the back of the bus. Their faces were dirty and motley as their heads bobbed up and down like puppets on a string. Marigold frowned, wrinkling her nose as the musky smell floated through the bus. Between the men’s snores, and the putrid body odor, Marigold was overwhelmed. She rubbed her nose and her brown framed prescription glasses slid down on her face. She pushed them back in place on the bridge of her nose using one index finger.
Marigold tightly pursed her pink lip-sticked colored lips and held her breath. Trying not to inhale, she fought the urge not to pass out. Marigold lost the fight momentarily and took a deep breath. Then she tightly pursed her lips and held her breath again. Soon the bus pulled in front of the hospital, and stopped. Eager to get off, Marigold slid out of her seat. She walked briskly to the front of the bus, and when the doors open, Marigold got off. With her black handbag swinging on her left shoulder and her lunch bag clenched tight in her right hand, Marigold walked through the hospital’s sliding glass doors inhaling deeply, welcoming the fresh air, relieved to be free from the stinky odor. Marigold checked her watch. The time was eleven fifty-five. Although her shift began at twelve-thirty, she often arrived early. She used the time to settled in, chatting with co-workers and reading emails.
Nurses dressed in purple scrubs, doctors in white lab coats, and patients mingling in the hallway waved at her as she scurried by. Marigold waved back as she hurried down the hall. She was focused and she wondered what nonsense awaited her from the weekend. Marigold smiled inwardly as questions weighed on her mind. Did management make up another screwy policy or did a doctor make a crazy decision? “I’ll guess I’ll find out,” she mumbled to herself, rolling her eyes heavenward.
By the time Marigold reached the office, she was mentally ready for the day. With her hand poised on the doorknob, she opened it and eased in. Angela Kennedy and Hallie Smith were sitting at their desk, eating lunch. They waved at Marigold as she hurried past them to the break room. “Enter at your own risk!” Marigold heard Angela yelled from behind.
Marigold chuckled to herself as she stood in front of the break room door. She knew what Angela meant. The break room was always filthy. Staff was either too busy or too lazy to clean up after themselves. A neat freak herself, their lack of cleanliness irritated her. As Marigold twisted the doorknob, and walked in, she took a sharp breath. The place was in disarray as she expected. Dirty dishes were stacked high in the two-bowled sink, and scattered food crumbs were on the counter. Marigold’s shoes stuck to the floor momentarily as she made her way to the refrigerator. Dried, sticky grape juice was splattered all over the floor. “Damn, why don’t these people clean up after themselves,” Marigold muttered out loud as she scrunched up her face.
Marigold shook her head in disgust as she opened the refrigerator door. Her face tightened when she saw what laid before her. Lunch bags of every color and size were jammed packed on every shelf. Marigold sighed harshly making room for her lunch bag. It took several minutes to fit hers in, and once this daunting task was done, Marigold slammed the refrigerator door shut. She whirled around, and her light brown eyes landed on a large paper napkin taped to the wall above the table. Marigold’s eyes lit up, and her mouth gaped open. With an arrow pointing down toward the table, the napkin read in big, bold letters, Please Don’t Put Bougers On The Wall!
Marigold fell out laughing. She grabbed a chair and sat at the table in awe. She laughed so loud, her belly ached drawing both Angela and Hallie running to the break room. Still laughing, Marigold pointed at the wall. When the women saw the sign, they fell out laughing. After Angela gathered herself together, her dark brown eyes stared at the distasteful sign. “Where are we? Are we in kindergarten or in an adult work setting? Unbelieveable!“
“I know,” Marigold smirked.
“Are there boogers on the wall? Did you check?”
“No, I didn’t check,” Marigold laughed lurching out of her seat. She took her glasses off and rubbed her watery eyes. Then she slid them back on as she hovered over the table. Marigold inspected the area below the pointed arrow, bursting out into mirthless laughter. “The wall is clean as a whistle! There are no boogers here!”
“Maybe, someone wiped the boogers off,” Angela suggested.
“Maybe.” Marigold giggled.
“But who would be crazy enough to put a sign like that on a wall at work?” Hallie gasped with her blue-green eyes glistening through her black-framed eyeglasses.
“Beats me,” Angela said, twirling a black curl around her pinkie finger.
Hallie shook her head vigorously with her dark ponytail swishing back and forth. “So disgusting and nasty!”
“Yep! You can say that again,” Angela laughed half-heartedly. Erring on the side of caution, Angela’s face turned serious. “We probably should take this down before someone in management sees it.”
“Before you do that, I need to take a picture. No one would ever believe this.” Marigold said as she pulled her iPhone out of her jacket pocket. She leaned forward and snapped a picture. “There, I’ve evidence now,” she laughed.
Angela shook her head, folding her arms while Hallie reached over the table and snatched the sign from the wall. She crumbled it up into a ball and threw it in a trashcan.
“Send me that picture when you get a chance,” Angela said. “I want to put it on Instagram.”
“Seriously?” Hallie asked, staring at Angela with big eyes.
“Why not? Let’s give the Instagram world a good laugh,” Angela replied with a gleam in her eye.
Marigold laughed hysterically. “You’re so crazy!”
“Not as crazy as the person who put that damn sign on the wall!”
All three women laughed, and Marigold found herself in a better mood. She started her day wishing she was somewhere else but the little napkin taped on the wall with the words Please Don’t Put Bougers On The Wall, drastically changed her tune. It reminded her she worked in an engaging, bizarre work setting, a daily comedy show that has never failed to keep her entertained and engaged. Thank you for reading.
Update: One evening while working at TLC Radio Station, Isabelle is surprised when Jinx shows up.
Sometime later, Jinx and Jo Summers walked in. Isabelle’s mouth dropped open and she gasped. Jinx is here! Hell-bent on meeting Lincoln! Damn! Isabelle watched with amusement while Jinx pretended to be interested in Jo’s orientation. After Jo finished her introductions and left the room, Jinx snuck over to Isabelle’s cubicle.
“Where’s the man?” she whispered, bucking her eyes.
“He’s sitting in the back,” Isabelle whispered back.
Jinx craned her neck to see over the cubicle. A small squeal escaped from her lips when her eyes fell on Lincoln. “Damn, that’s one fine ass motherfucker!”
Isabelle patted her chest. Her heart was flipping somersaults. She withered down in her padded seat, wishing she could disappear. “Jinx! He might hear you!”
“Girl, he’s on the phone! He doesn’t hear or see me!” she said, still checking him out. She pulled up a chair and sat. “Are you sure you don’t want…”
Isabelle cut her off. “Hell no! Now stop it!” she fumed.
“Okay, okay,” Jinx said, batting her eyes. “But if you decide to get some at a later date, I sure as hell don’t blame you!”
Isabelle shook her head in sheer exasperation. “Girl, you are a trip,” she groaned with angst in her voice.
Jinx scooted her chair into the aisle. She stretched her neck to get a better view of Lincoln with her eyes popping out of her head. “Here he comes! He’s a tall ass mother…”
“Shush!” Isabelle scowled. “Don’t you say anything crazy! You hear?”
Isabelle knew her words fell on deaf ears, so she braced herself. Jinx, grinning like a naughty little girl, kept gawking at Lincoln as he glided toward her. “I mean it!” Isabelle hissed again, fully aware she was wasting her time.
“Well, hello handsome!” Jinx said batting her short eyelashes as Lincoln stopped in front of her.
His mocha brown eyes crinkled at the corners, and his shoulders started to bounce. “Lincoln Davis,” he said extending his large manicured hand.
Jinx held his hand. “Are you looking for Isabelle?” she asked in her sweetest voice.
“What is your name ma’am?” he said, ignoring her question.
“Oh, I’m Jinx Collins,” she cheerfully replied as she caressed and patted his large, smooth hand. “So nice and warm. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Isabelle almost threw up.
“Warm hands make a warm heart,” Lincoln teased with nervous laughter.
“I’ll say,” Jinx said, winking at Isabelle as she gingerly dropped Lincoln’s hand. She scooted her chair out of the aisle so Lincoln could step into Isabelle’s cubicle.
Isabelle gouged the bottom half of her face with her fingers and squeezed her eyes shut. Lincoln noticed her discomfort. “Are you all right over there?”
“I’m fine,” Isabelle said, opening her eyes. He shot her a knowing grin, and she returned the favor with a weak smile.
“Jinx, do you plan to take the job?” he asked.
“I’m thinking about it,” she crooned in a low throaty voice. Her hazel green eyes roved up and down his physique, checking out every detail.
Seething inside, Isabelle fought the urge to slap the mess out of her. “Jinx and I work together at Emory Hospital. She needed a part-time job, so I told her to apply,” she hurriedly explained.
“Nothing wrong with a little extra money,” Jinx chimed in, still eyeballing him.
“I heard that,” he said looking amused. “We’re all in the same boat these days.”
Jinx bristled up. “Honey, speak for yourself. I’m rowing my own damn boat, thank you very much!”
His eyebrows went up, perplexed by her outburst. “Interesting,” he said.
Jo intervened just in time, and Isabelle was grateful. “Miss Collins, come with me. I need you to watch a video before you leave for the evening.”
“Sure,” Jinx said, pulling erect. She stood almost as tall as Lincoln, looking him squarely in the eye as she flashed him a naughty grin. “See you around, handsome, you hear?”
His face brightened as if he was embarrassed. “Likewise,” he smiled.
She sauntered off, leaving Isabelle to explain away her flirtatious behavior, however she didn’t have to. Lincoln had another agenda. To find out Lincoln’s agenda for Isabelle, be sure to purchase your copy of Whiskey And Merlot A Love Story on Amazon by clicking on the link below! Thank You For Reading.