*This was my first story posted and I have yet to give it a thorough edit. Soon to come!
It was hard for anyone to watch. Especially for Glenn. He could only stare in confident disbelief at his wife’s possessed, erratic behavior. Adjacent walls shuttered subtle aftershock from the repeated impacts from Susan flinging herself back-first into the padded calming room door of the padded calming room in Saint Katherine’s Hospital mental health ward. She sang a hellish tune that started a month prior as nonsensical rantings, then, gaining solidity and consistency to an eerie rhyme, to now.
“In the oubliette you go, oh-oh-oohhh-whoaa-woee. Easy to get in, and easy to get out, oh-oh-oohhh-whoaa-woee. All you gotta do is for-get now, so, oh-oh-oohhh-whoaa-woee, in the oubliette you gooo.”
Only her back was visible through the square, plastic window. Even this was difficult for Glenn to witness. He had to turn away.
“If we could, Mr. Hebert, I would like to implement chemical restraints in the event that we cannot manage her physical aggression.”
The stern European accent was that of Dr. Stifka, chief psychologist for Saint Katherine’s Hospital. He was a broad man, with thick gray hair and a thick gray beard. Dr. Stifka was frigid, which Glenn learned just recently was an indication of his sincerity. A curious medical anomaly that I will uncover, was a phrase Dr. Stifka used over and over, something Glenn first received as genuine, but now, disregarded along with the abundance of probable theories her medical team provided. Glenn was rather certain that his own growing theory of Susan’s madness stemmed from Three Elizabeth Street, and from the man who vanished without leaving a piece of evidence behind. This time, the crash of her body heightened in intensity, startling Glenn to his senses. Dr. Stifka waited for a response.
“Is that really necessary?” asked Glenn.
Dr. Stifka’s expression was an unwelcoming expanse of landless, midnight ocean during a building storm.
“It’s for her safety. For unknown reasons, her sanity is degrading at an alarming rate and she is becoming hyper-aggressive. Just last week she –
“Please just help her, Dr. Stifka.”
Glenn knew why a male nurse is out for six-to-eight weeks, and didn’t need a reminder. He also thought that the rugged, comely female staff standing next to Dr. Stifka was a laughable attempt of reassurance.
“Is that consent?”
“Yes,” said Glenn.
Dr. Stifka placed a consoling hand on Glenn’s shoulder, firmly squeezing before he walked away, leaving Glenn and the female staff behind. He was relieved that she remained silent, as he grew less interested in conversing with new faces. His wife had been a patient at Saint Katherine’s for nearly a month, and during this time, Glenn could guess that he was introduced to the entire hospital employee roster, or as he now felt: the professionals with only good intentions.
One woman, though, was ever helpful, and approached now. It was Michelle Dunkirk, Susan’s appointed case manager. Michelle was rail thin with minimal womanly physical features, which she over-compensated with red lipstick that conflicted with her bronze skin. High heels announced her arrival down the hall, and today she wore a pressed beige pant-suit.
“Glenn, I just wanted to stop by before you left and introduce you to Jennifer. She has been working with Susan since this weekend.”
The now named staff relaxed her position, turning to Glenn with a polite, outstretched hand. Her smile was deceptively cute in comparison to her flat jawline and coarse handshake.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Hebert. If there is anything that you think I could know about your wife, her interests, what she likes to listen to for music – anything that could help me build a relationship with her,” he again appreciated the effort form the eager, welcoming staff, but gave no interest to her, which she promptly noticed, and shortened her introduction. “I assure you that I will keep your wife safe and healthy.”
This came across quite the opposite, as Glenn felt that nothing, or anyone for that matter, could offer him reassurance. It was something terrible that stole the woman he loved away, something unnatural to this world, and Glenn didn’t want to waste his time with pleasantries or cozy sit-downs to explain his Susan’s hopes and dreams. It was Three Elizabeth Street, and the man inside that he wanted to talk about.
“Does she talk about the window or the house still? Or the man with the puzzles?”
Michelle stayed silent, while Jennifer spoke right up.
“The only thing I have heard her talk about since I started was about an oubliette – the song, rather – and something about date walk, which usually ends with her screaming something like ‘bloody soil below‘. That is usually the extent of it.”
A thunderous slam erupted from the calming room, and Glenn turned to see a version of Susan that nauseated him with sorrow. Blood trickled down her bruised forehead, cascading down the scabbed bridge of her nose to low cheekbones that shied-away from hollow, menacing eyes. What hair that wasn’t torn-out clustered together in pathetic, split bunches atop her sore scalp.
“So are we, Glean? Are you going to cut me loose so we can go-oh-oh-oohh-whoaa-woee to that sweet oubliette below? The blood will dry up once you dig deep enough. Gotta get-going-gone now, so hurry the fuck up, you small-dicked teenie-weenie man. Spring me outta-here!”
As always, the intentions of the staff were honest, and from a glancing perspective, agreeable. Jennifer had unlocked and yanked the calming room door open in impressive speed and swiftness, but with little foresight to timing. Glenn could see that she was hoping to catch Susan, or to at least stop her from slamming her forehead into the hard, square plastic window again. Jennifer, however, was a little to fast, and Susan fell face first through the suddenly clear doorway, and couldn’t stop the forceful motion of her face plummeting down to the tiled floor with a crunch that nearly caused Glenn to vomit.
“I need help – bring the nurse,” hollered Jennifer down the hall to the nurses station.
Glenn could think of nothing more than aiding his wife, who was now flailing both her arms and legs from a wild supine position. As he stepped towards her, a hand tugged from the back of his thin jacket.
“Mr. Hebert, please, this way,” said Michelle.
“What are you doing?”
A stampede of hospital staff flooded from both directions of the hallway, swarming around Susan, who was on her back with two fistfuls of Jennifer’s short hair. Michelle said nothing, and only pulled him from the now crowded hallway and down to the nurses station. Screams – ones that Glenn could guess were a combination of Jennifer and Susan’s, faded behind them as Michelle led him down a short well lit corridor and around to the nurses station. A male nurse looked up from his work station, and immediately rose from his feet as his eye’s witnessed that his ear’s were correct in guessing that the ominous click-clack indeed belonged to Michelle Dunkirk.
“What are you doing sitting there? GO help them,” she demanded.
“Sorry Mrs. Dunkirk.”
The nurse went out of his way to jog around the opposite end of the poorly configured wooden desks that served as the nurses station. Michelle firmly guided Glenn around to set of rolling office chairs.
“I don’t want you to think… I don’t know, that this is crazy or anything, but something that I just heard reminded me of a story from my childhood,” said Michelle.
Since Glenn was introduced to Michelle, he only knew the look on her face as compassion and care, not of frightful melancholy. She looked around, making sure that they were alone, and then awkwardly pulled herself and the chair by the pointed fronts of her heels, closer to Glenn until their knees touched.
“Something awful happened in Brentwood Falls over forty years ago. I have always lived in the area – by the hospital actually – and I didn’t think of it until Jennifer and your wife talked about the… blood in the soil below,” she started to rush her words, and Glenn strained to understand. “There was an elderly woman who vanished from her home, last seen on a summer night wearing a yellow sun dress with opened-toe shoes. You think that would be easy to find, but no one could, or the husband, for that matter, who was not seen for days until a neighbor went over to check in, and he saw the husband from an outside window of the house. The husband was sitting at a table, covered in blood and doing a jigsaw puzzle. Police went in and the man kept on about blood not drying in the soil and that he was sure she was down there, but forgot where to dig. He died that night in the police station from unknown causes, and the police dug up his dirt basement until they hit solid stone. Even the yard – everything was dug up. Nothing was found. It is probably just a stupid kids story, but I’ve never seen a patient act like this in all my years of working here. I know I am not a doctor, but I work with these patients almost as much as the direct care staff, and I have an understanding of your run-of-the-mill sociopath or schizophrenic, and your wife… your wife is something different. I don’t know… please, say something. Anything. I feel so stupid having said this.”
Michelle felt foolish as Glenn simply stood and walked out of the mental health unit. He wanted to tell her that he believed her, but he needed to get to Three Elizabeth Street. He had never broken into a house before, and thought it would be much easier to accomplish in the daylight.
© Copyright John Potts Jr 2016 – 2017