Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Working In the Looney Bin

After treatment, I started taking college courses and working full time. I was working at the restaurant part time in the evenings. I found a part time day job as an activities person at a "rest" home. It wasn't an old folks home, it was a home for mentally challenged people. I was in charge of playing games, reading and taking them to doctor or shrink appointments.

I really enjoyed the rest home job. Everyday was a new experience. Some of the patients scared me. Like old Dolly. Dolly would yell in a high pitched wicked witch of the west voice, "You little whore, I'm going to get you my pretty." She'd wait until I'd leave the door open to the office and sneak up behind me, screaming and pinch my arm, hard. I learned quickly to keep the office door locked because they'd eat my lunch, drink my diet cokes or wear my sweater/jacket or coat.

I watched he nurse giving out medication one morning. She was giving Helen some pills out of a birth control packet. I was shocked, why was Helen taking birth control? I had remembered one time, she had started her period and comes running down the hall waving her panties. "I'm bleeding to death help me!" The nurse informed me all female patients got the pill because they were sexually active. I didn't believe her until I saw Helen screwing Chuck in the woods. She came back all smiles and informed me she had three babies growing inside now. Two white and one black baby, all boys.

I tried to do nice things with them. Once I took them to pick strawberries. Everyone got a bucket and they were very excited. I was going to make shortcake at home and we'd have a party the next day. When I told everyone it was time to go and to bring me their buckets, one sweet old man handed me his bucket of green berries proudly. I told him he did a great job. I quickly threw them into the woods so I didn't have to pay for them when he wasn't looking.

I had some favorite patients. Eddie was my very favorite patient. He was in his late 60's, his file said " schizoid", but most of all the patients were diagnosed as schizophrenic. Eddie called me his "angel" and when I'd sit on the porch to read with him, he'd get really upset if a fly would land on me. "NO FLIES ON MY ANGEL!" and he'd shoo them away.

I'd asked Eddie if he'd like to go to Mc'Ds for lunch one day after his Dr.'s appointment. He said he was scared because black men weren't supposed to go out with white women, he may get beaten. I tried to reassure him it was 1997 but he didn't understand. He asked me to buy him a pack of Pall Mall's instead. Cigarettes were like gold at that place. Cigarette owners were like God.

Eddie's very favorite book was a book I had when I was a kid, Koko's Kitten.

It's a book about a gorilla named Koko and her trainer named Penny. Eddie loved to pretend that he was Koko and I was Penny. His favorite Koko picture was when she had her mouth wide open. Eddy had dentures he kept perfectly clean, he was always shaven and well groomed. He loved to open his mouth real wide and show his teeth like Koko.

One day, I couldn't come into work and called in sick. The following day I returned and Eddie wasn't waiting on the porch like he normally was every morning I pulled up. I found him still in his bed and I asked the nurse what was going on. I guess he acted badly when I didn't come into work and starting throwing things. They decided to up his medication to calm him down. Now he was in a drugged stupor. I went out to my truck and got Koko's Kitten. I brought it in his room and showed him his favorite open mouthed pictured.

He opened his mouth like Koko for a second and realized his dentures weren't in. He got upset and told me he didn't want to look at the book anymore.

The next day I came in, Eddie was gone. They said he'd try to slash his wrists and they sent him to the state mental institution. I was really sad. I never got to say good-bye. I would have given him my childhood book. I decided to call the state hospital and I got to speak with Eddie on the phone. I told him I was going to come and see him a week from Saturday. He just kept repeating "My Angel, my angel!" I asked if he wanted anything special to eat. He told me he would like some croaker or spot fish. I called all the seafood restaurants in the area but none of them had that type of fish.

My husband came with me that Saturday afternoon. It was over a two hour drive and I appreciated the company. We stopped when we got close to the institution and bought Eddie a fried flounder lunch and a pack of Pall Malls. I brought Koko's kitten with me too. I was excited to see Eddie, I hoped he remembered I was coming.

When we arrived, we had to sign in and they went to get Eddie. He staggered down the hall and he had googly eyes, like those puffy stickers. He hadn't shaved for a long while but he had his teeth in. I introduced him to Don and we went outside to eat lunch. When we got outside, I'd realized I forgot to bring drinks. Don offered to go inside and buy some Coke.

When Don left, Eddie started talking.
"I missed you Angel. Why did you bring him with you?"

"Thanks Eddie, I missed you too. I hope you are feeling better."

"I'd feel better if you'd spread your legs."

Whoa there cowboy. I couldn't believe what I had just heard. I decided to ignore that comment because Eddie had never been perverted before.

"Hey look Eddie, I brought you Koko's kitten. It's your favorite book and I want you to have it."

"I want to lick your pussy like creamed corn." He tried to pull me toward him.

"I don't like you talking to me like that. It's rude and I'm in a relationship with Don."

I was feeling very uncomfortable because I was with Eddie outside alone. We were also locked outside, I couldn't open the door to get back in. It felt like Don was taking forever to get the drinks. Most of all, I didn't want to get Eddie in trouble. If he grabbed me and someone saw or i got scared and screamed, I'd knew he'd be in big trouble. This wasn't the Eddie I knew, it was the drugs that were talking. Whatever medication he was on made him act ugly and violent.

Just as he was about to say something else I probably didn't want to hear, Don came back. Eddie never uttered another sexual word while Don was around. My heart ached though because I knew my Koko was lost for good. He had no interest in the book, he'd just stare at me with googly eyes. I never saw him again.

I still think about Eddie. I hope someone adjusted his meds because he is a dear, sweet soul. I miss him and the way he would shoo the flies away from me. Nobody else has ever done that for me since.
****I just removed Vanilla Ice's video because Don said "Take it off or buy me earplugs!"***


At 7:58 PM, Blogger Miss Jenny said...

Your stories remind me of when I was a social worker, that same mix of sweet and charming memories tossed with a few really creepy ones.

At 8:51 PM, Blogger Swordfish said...

I'm with Don on the Just Say NO to Vanilla Ice mantra .

Madge ? Like the cleaning lady. LOL!

With curves like she has I was thinking more like Tina...as in Turner.

Are you selling the goats to fund some race wheels ; )

At 10:44 PM, Blogger Bolder said...

i'm glad you understand that the meds contributed as much as the underlying disease to Eddie's unsavoury behavior in the end.

and, that you are able to remember him for the good things. i'm sure that would be how he wanted it.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Chris said...

You're quickly becoming one of my most favorite stops in the morning, Mojo. Your stories always crack me up. :)

Sorry to hear about Eddie's turn for the worse. Hopefully, it was just the meds and they doctors did adjust them accordingly. Like Bolder said, try and remember him for the good things that he did and not those things for which he was under the influence.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Jessica A. Freas "Freeze" said...

Great story! Honestly, I had my volume on mute and then saw what you had up there and TURNED IT UP! Hahahaha! Yeah, not proud!

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