INTRODUCTION

 

"Time to take out the trash!" Trash Man proclaimed as he stood valiantly with his hands on his hips and his black cape gently blowing in the spring breeze. "You, Arch Enemy, have plagued the streets of Maryland for the last time."

 

Arch Enemy quivered as he looked up at Trash Man. Trash Man was intimidating as he stood defiantly in the alley of Dorn Avenue. Trash Man's white costume shirt with the blazon brown trash can emblem triumphantly glowed in the dark. The white shirt was the only light in the dark alley. With his chin held high, Cumberland's only superhero approached his trembling enemy. Suddenly, Arch Enemy sprung out of the pothole and at Trash Man.

 

Trash Man took a step back but he had made a critical error. After a few quick punches, he had underestimated his evil opponent. Suddenly, Arch Enemy was on top of the fallen hero. In the darkness, Trash Man could see Arch Enemy's toothless snarl. "Just because I'm stoned doesn't mean I'm slow. I was merely reloading with another shot of heroin. Now, you garbage toting buffoon, your days of picking up litter are over."

 

"Never!" Trash Man grimaced through his clenched teeth. But Pill Zombie's muscles bulged as the heroin ripped through his veins. Trash Man tried to turn off of his back. Pill Zombie was now strong. He grabbed Trash Man and rolled him across the gravels in the dark alley. Trash Man's flame resistant uniform did not rip but he felt the gravels bite at his back. "It's the trash heap for you - aaaaahhhh...." Trash Man tried to speak but Arch Enemy bounced his boot off of the side of Trash Man's head. The hero's mask did not budge. It faithfully covered the fallen hero's head.

 

Trash Man not only saw the darkness but now he could feel it. The kicks came one after another. Trash Man frantically tapped his keys hoping The Garbage Truck would faithfully come to his side. But his super vehicle was not on Dorn Avenue. Only the battered body of Trash Man remained in the alley as Arch Enemy. Disappeared into the night.


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        CHAPTER 1 LAND OF THE BROKEN TOYS

 

 

 

The sun was beating down on me as I stepped out of my car and onto the parking lot at Betty Frazier Hospital in Cumberland, Maryland. By the time my shift would be over, tomorrow's sun would be rising over me.  It was three PM.  I was working a double that would put me back out in this parking lot at seven-thirty AM

Working as a behavioral health specialist in a mental health hospital was the latest crash landing in my career flight. Another career change at fifty was more about survival than mid-life crisis. 

I had been an area manager for a merchandising company for over 15 years but the economy had created hardships for companies like mine causing my company to restructure and lay off most of the middle management including me. 
A man has to eat and I got accustomed to electricity and cable television so here I was at Betty Frazier with the rest of the misfit toys. 

The Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer reference of misfit toys was referring to the staff not the patients. My idea of a real-life train with square wheels was nurses who did not have a license to pass out medications and other staff who had been terminated from medical hospitals and were here because no other hospitals would hire them. And, of course, there were misfits like me who were passed up by Father Time and were left without any other marketable skills. 

The patients were the part of the job I liked. I enjoyed working with patients and helping them face the challenges in their recovery. Now, the staff and administration could certainly be a whole another story at times. Though, the employee uniforms of light blue scrubs was often the only way you could separate the employees from the patients, at least that was the inside joke. My little inside joke was that  each day I could the thin line between being a staff and being a patient get a little thinner. In fact, I remarked several times that I hoped we got employee discounts on rooms. Despite the jokes, I did take my job seriously. It's just that it could be quite stressful at times so it was mentally healthy to try to find some humor in our positions.

 

I put my keys into the glass door on the side of the aging structure and walked into the hallway.  Betty Frazier Hospital was a lock-down facility and so without a set of keys, one was lost, or even worse – trapped.  I walked over to the bulletin board which hosted the assignments or schedule for the day.  My eyes were just recovering from the shock of the sun.  I was a vampire, or in reality’s terms, a midnight guy.  Ideally, I would be nestled up in bed right now but was coming into work a double.  The truth is that the job paid only a couple of dollars an hour above minimum wage but all of the turnover that comes with the mental health industry creates plenty of opportunities for overtime.  And overtime is how low wage earners like me afford to put gas in the car or eat something at McDonald’s that isn’t on the dollar menu.  Working an extra shift can mean the difference between double cheeseburgers or an occasional Subway sub.  When I first got laid off from my last job it seemed like I ate double cheeseburgers every day until I got hired at Betty Frazier.  So if I’m not thankful to Betty Frazier for anything else, I’m at least thankful I haven’t turned into a cow yet.  The overtime has allowed me to discard the hamburger diet for a while and still keep gas in my car.

 

I glanced to see where I would be working and was not surprised to see that it was my home unit Adult Short-term.  But, my attention was diverted as I noticed a yellow post-it note instructed me to go to Carla Clark's office.  Carla is the Clinical Therapeutic Director of the hospital.  This obviously was not good news.  A similar yellow note has historically meant that one was being led to their termination.  But, since I was on the schedule, more than likely it would not be an execution but just some torture.  Carla Clark, a psychologist, lived to engage in the art of mental torture.

 

Adrenalin immediately started to shoot through my veins.  Just the thought of entering Clark's office had me shaking.  “The eyes”, I told myself,” just don’t look into her eyes”. Company legend tells us that one look into her sadistic eyes can turn you into jelly.  Stone, I could deal with, but this psychological Medusa did not give you the satisfaction of being hard, she wanted to take any hardness out of your body and leave you weak and spineless.  She did not have snakes coming out of her hair like Medusa, but she certainly had snake eyes.

 

Regardless of what the smile on her face said, it was those beady little eyes that broke a man down.  Carla was not an ugly woman.  She had dark black hair in bangs. She was big but muscular not fat.  She looked like a softer Xenia The Warrior Princess  The smile was actually pretty if you could separate it from those eyes.  But next to those frozen eyes, the smile became something to fear.

 

Carla Clark was a very expressive woman.  She loved to use facial expressions.  It was almost like she knew that whatever the rest of her face said, that her eyes said something more threatening.  She could be saying “How are you today?” with the biggest smile on her face, but one look at those eyes let you know that she really did not care how you were doing.  So my main goal was to try to avoid eye contact.  But, in a way, that is what she wanted.  The moment you forfeited eye contact, you were forfeiting any power.  It’s like her victims were being castrated by her eyes.

 

She liked men being ball-less, because Carla Clark simply hated men.  It was not a female supremacy-type issue, she just pure and simple hated men.  She liked to keep men in tech positions where she could dominate them.  Although she was a lesbian, it  was not just a matter of sexual preference  that she preferred women, it was more like simple hatred of the human male species. 

 

Clenching my fists to summon every last of courage, I knocked on her door.  “Come in”, she said sweetly.  I walked in and as I saw her lips curl to smile my eyes wandered up too far and was captured by her eyes.  I was so mad at myself.  Despite the fact that I promised to myself not to make eye contact with her, she already had me.  The courage I had built on my trip up the stairs had now vanished.  My legs got weak.

 

Then, suddenly, the smile was gone!  The door seemed to close behind me without being touched like some sort of Venus Fly Trap snapping shut with its victim locked helplessly inside. 

 

“Well, Mr. Tice”, she said sort of toneless.  “I was going through the videos of the other night and came across an interesting incident.  Would you like to take a guess of what incident I am referring to?”

 

“No, Ma’am.  I really can’t imagine what incident you are talking about.  Was I involved in the incident?”  My body became as ice-cold as I have imagined her soul as being because I really did not know what incident she was referring to.

 

The smile was there again.  It was scary smile, a confident smile, a smile that I could imagine that a serial killer wears right before claiming a victim.  “You do not remember anything out of the ordinary as happening Saturday night around 12:30 in the morning on your unit?”

 

I shrugged my shoulders because I really didn’t recall anything out of the ordinary happening.  “No, Carla, I really can’t think of anything special happening.  I mean it was just another Saturday night.”

 

The smile was gone.  The eyes were cutting into me.  My blood was still ice cold but I could feel the heat from hurt eyes burning into my eyes.  I tried to look away but I just could not.  She stepped up from behind her desk.  She put down some papers that she was holding in her hand.  She put her hands on her hips and just looked at me for a few seconds.  She looked to her left for a split seconds then she pointed her left finger at me and focused those burning eyes on me again.  She broke the awkward silence, “Well, Scott, it appeared to me that you had some sort of confrontation was Jeremy Johnson on Saturday night.  Well, that is at least what it looked like when I was watching the films from Saturday.  Do you want to explain why it looked that way on film or do you still need remember it.  Do I need to play it back to jog your memory?”

 

“I mean, I think I may have redirected Jeremy on Saturday.  Yes, I do remember that he was being loud and aggressive with one of the patients and I sent him to his room.  But I did not lay a finger on him.”

 

“Scott, there are different types of aggression.  You do not have to touch someone in order to violate them.  What I saw on those films was pure aggression and intimidation on your part.  It was your intentions to scare him.”

 

“No, it was my intentions to redirect him.”

 

Carla was livid now, she was now almost in my face.  She was being very animated with her hands.  “You were in his personal space. Regardless of what you were saying to him, you were being very threatening with your body language.”

 

“Carla, I was doing what I could to get him to go to his room.  It was better than calling a code in the middle of the night or physically forcing him back to his room.”

 

“Trying to threaten him is not being therapeutic.  That is not the way we handle things at Betty Frazier.  There is not any room for intimidation here.”

 

I was getting kind of aggravated at this point.  “I was not intimidating him.  I was just trying to let him know that his behavior was inappropriate and that he needed to go to bed because he was bothering another patient and he was getting close to waking up the other patients.”

 

“Scott, how tall are you?” Carla said dropping her voice back to a normal tone and bringing back a little bit of that cynical smile of hers.

 

“About 6 foot 5.  But what has that got to do with anything?”

 

“And about how much do you weigh?”

 

“Right around 300 pounds, I’d say although I haven’t weighed myself lately.”

 

“And you look like you may have lifted weights at some time in your life.  Isn’t that right?”

The smile on her face was slowly growing wider.

 

I started to laugh.  “I don’t where my having lifted weights in my life has to do with Saturday night.”

 

“Well, Scott.  How tall would you say Jeremy Johnson is?”

 

“I don’t know.  Roughly around 5 foot 9, I guess.”  I started to see where this question was leading to, or at least I thought I did.

 

Carla Clark was becoming animated again.  She put her right hand on her chin and like a lawyer, she continued to build her case.  “About how much do you think he weighs?”

 

“I guess about 170 or 180.”

 

“So you still don’t think that you were intimidating him?”  She had a big smile on her face and walked back behind her desk and picked up a cup of coffee and took a drink as if she were resting her case.

 

“No, I really do not think I was.  Jeremy knows that I have never put a hand on him and he knows that I have never hit a patient.  He knows me.  He actually likes me but he was acting up and I was just trying to get him to listen.”

 

“So you really don’t think that you were using your size to scare him or bully him.  I mean, did it even work, did he quiet down or go to his room?”

 

“Yes, he did go to his room and he apologized.  So I was able to get him to do what I wanted without having to touch or threaten him.”

 

She leaned over her desk and softly said in a voice just above a whisper, “But you did threaten him.”

 

“I never threatened him.”

 

“Your non-verbal communication threatened him.  You intimidated him.  You DID bully him.  Maybe it was not intentional but it certainly wasn’t therapeutic.”

 

“No, Jeremy didn’t take it that way and it was just my intention to show him I was angry with his behavior.”

 

“Scott, I know it may be hard to understand what you think you were doing,”  She was calming down and speaking in a rational manner.  “I mean, you have always been a big guy and you may not understand how your size makes others feel.  You just do not seem to understand that you tower over others and how it makes them feel.”

 

I looked the other way for a moment and tried to end the situation.  “I’m sorry if if I did anything wrong and it wasn’t my intentions to scare him and I will try to avoid that type of behavior in the future.”

 

She walked out from behind the desk and in front of me again.  “Let’s try this,” She purred.  “Get down on your knees.”

 

“What?”  I asked rather incredulously. This was a sudden surprised and I was kind of stunned.

 

She shook her head yes and repeated herself, “Get down on your knees.”

 

“Why?”  I asked like she was playing a joke on me.  I was waiting for her punchline.

 

“You obviously do not understand how your size intimidates others so in order for you to understand how you make others feel you need to get down on your knees.  Then, you should be able to understand how it feels to have someone tower over you.”

 

I was feeling very uncomfortable.  I was not sure where this was heading but I just wanted this meeting to be over and for me to get to work.  I lowered my eyes and then as I looked down at the floor I humbled myself down to the floor on top of my knees.

 

Standing directly over her, she got a mean and angry look on her face.  “Look at me!” She yelled.  “Look up at me.”

 

I did not want to make eye contact but I slowly raised my eyes up into those beady eyes of hers.

 

She looked down on me with a grimace, “Now how does it make you feel to have me tower over you.  Does it not make you feel low?  Do you not feel threatened?”

 

“Yes.  I guess it doesn’t feel very good.”  I was not lying.  This was one of the weirdest incidents I had experienced.  I really felt violated in some sort of emotional way.

 

“And if I was mad and shaking my fists at you, just think how you would feel.  This is what intimidation feels like.  It doesn’t feel very good does it?”

 

“No ma’am it doesn’t.  I’m sorry if I made Jeremy feel this way.”

 

She just stood towering over me and looking down on me for a few seconds without saying anything.  “Okay, get up off of the floor,” She said walking back behind the desk.  “That was therapy showing you how your behavior was unsafe and therapeutic.  Do you understand now how he feels?”

 

“Yes, Ma’am.  I guess I do.” I said humbly. 

 

“Keep that in mind next time you are in that situation.  Your size and body language send out different messages.  You need to understand how someone feels in that situation.  It may work temporarily to bully someone.  It may get immediate results but it is certainly not therapeutic and we do not condone that kind of behavior here at Betty Frazier.  Do you understand?”

 

“Yes, Ma’am.  I’m sorry.”

 

“Alright, hopefully we never have to have this conversation again.  Now, go on and get to your unit.  And have a nice day.”  She smiled as I left her office. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            CHAPTER 2. NURSE FONZIE

 


I staggered out of Carla's office feeling overwhelmed. Her office was on the first floor which meant that I did not have a far walk to my unit.  I had to stop off at the men's room and get my composure back. 

I was confused from all of my emotions rising to my surface and fighting for supremacy. Of course, anger was one of the emotions. I was a very humanistic staff. I cared about my patients.  I felt like I was scolded for doing something that was my job. 

Sometimes, you have to be somewhat of a bad guy to keep the peace. I was not trying to harm my patient but was trying to make him understand that we have rules and that he has to follow them. I did understand that in a twisted way that Carla was trying to make me understand the same thing but I was not violating the rules.  

Confusion was another of the emotions I was feeling.  I felt like I did nothing wrong. A staff sometimes has to be an enforcer of policy. If I had not gotten Jeremy to his room he could of gotten into a fight with the patient he was being aggressive with. His victim would have had his rights violated and the twenty-four other patients on the floor could have had been unnecessarily awaken. 

I was feeling helplessness. It was like I was emotionally raped. Carla had stripped me of my pride and masculinity. In the name of therapy, she made me get down on my knees. She may as well snipped my balls off with a sharp pair of shears when she did this. I felt weak and powerless when she towered over me. I felt like this was an inappropriate and un-therapeutic exercise for her to be performing. It did not make me think about how my size made smaller patients feel but instead made me feel that she was bullying me. She was showing me that she was my boss and that she was superior and could make me do whatever she wanted me to do. 

I started to wonder if I even wanted this job anymore. I liked my job and needed the money but there were other jobs. Did I want to work in a place where I felt my talents were not appreciated and where I could be easily pushed around?  

I clenched my fists again, swallowed hard, and walked out of the rest room and into the hall. I told myself that I did not care what Carla thought that I cared about my patients and I did what I thought was in their best interest. 

I stepped up to the brown locked doors that led into the Adult Short-Term Unit and stuck my key into the lock. 

The unit was a long hallway that went to the left giving it a 'L' shape. The hardware floors and bright lights definitely gave away the fact that this was a hospital unit.  

When you first walked onto the unit there was a lobby to the left. About seven patients were sitting on the three cream- colored sofas watching television. Two patients recognized me and waved to me. As always the outgoing charge nurse always met with the oncoming shift and relayed information about each of the patients. Dreama, the staff I'd be working with, was coming out of the room as I was trying to walk in.

"Your late," Dreama laughed showing off her straight, white teeth. Her smile had all of my attention. Her long, black straight hair draped onto her shoulders. She was petit and looked sexy even in the generic light blue scrubs that BHS wore. 

"Yep, I had to visit The Dragon lady."  I said turning around and following her out since I missed the report. 

"I saw the note," Dreama said and then added, "at least you survived."

"I guess I survived. I'm not sure about that right now. But, I still have a job if that's what you meant.  Just call me another victim of her warped therapy," I sighed. 

 Clint King the charge nurse for the oncoming shift walked out of the report room. He said, "You look like you came out of it ok. You know that boy Shawn on the peds unit, the one that has been tearing things up and hitting everyone? Carla decided to take him under her wing. She decided to reward him for something good. She gave him some marbles."

I started laughing, “Jesus Christ, you're kidding me.  I bet I know how this story ends."
Clint continued, "Within the hour, he hit the nurse Marsha with them in the back several times."

I said laughing, "Throwing marbles is very therapeutic. It relieves stress."

I liked Clint.  Even though I often referred to him as Nurse Fonzie, I still liked him. He was another misfit toy, probably some kind of warped G.I. Joe. I'd say he was a G.I. Joe doll that got mixed at the toy factory with a Fonzie action figure and came out wearing a leather jacket and riding a motorcycle. 

His look gave away that he was ex-military.  He was in his forties but wore his coal black hair in a just longer than military-buzz style. He spoke in a very matter of fact tone of voide although if he spoke too long he would display some Kentucky twang. 

The Fonzie part came from his coming into the hospital in 90 degree weather wearing his leather jacket and carrying his motorcycle helmet. 

It was hard to tell at times if he was a disciple of military discipline or if he just plain sadistic. But he could be harsh with patients and could bring out the worst in them. 

The acute teenagers on The Adolescent Unit lived in fear of him. One teen gasped when I walked in her room doing a room check. I looked at her and asked what was wrong. 


Relieved, the teen looked at me and said, "I thought you were Clint."

I laughed and said, "Is he that bad?"

She said, "We are here because we want to kill ourselves and he just makes it worse."

Nurse Fonzie had a twisted sense of what therapy was. There were cases when patients came into the hospital in wheelchairs and he would not let them use them saying it was good therapy for them to try to walk.

A 67 year-old patient named Dottie came into hospital and was there for several months. Diana and Nurse Fonzie maintained that Dottie was not a geriatric patient that she just needed therapy to do things for herself.

Finally, eight patients banded together and talked a BHS into sending an email to Carla complaining about the way Nurse Fonzie was treating Dottie. They said that he left her lie in her urine and screamed at her to get up and get out of bed and change herself.

Dottie's family came to a meeting with Carla and Nurse Fonzie but the Fonzie was able to leap over trouble. Eventually Dottie was determined to be a geriatric patient and moved to a nursing home.  

Despite some of his shortcomings, I liked working with Nurse Fonzie. He was not afraid to pitch in and help. Strangely, although his methods were questionable, he seemed to care about his patients. That's why I wondered about what happened to him in the military because I don't think he was sadistic although his methods appeared to be. I think he just really believed that mental illness was caused by the lack of discipline and if you added discipline then everything would be alright.

It sounds strange but Nurse Fonzie did not seem like a bad guy. He could be funny although he still spoke in his monotone voice even when telling a joke. He was also a team player. But at times, his definition of therapy was different than everyone else's...with the possible exception of Carla Clark.

 

Now, let me make it clear right now...because I know I'm sounding negative like a man who hates his job...but I like what I do.  I have seen miracles on a weekly basis.  I have seen patients come in on ice or suffering severe psychosis or both.  I have seen them marching up and down the hall singing "When The Saints Come Marching In" while they were stripping off their clothes.  The same patient could be totally functional in a week or two.  The combination of psych meds, therapy, counseling, and human compassion could bring patients back to baseline in record time.

 

Once I regained my composure, I grabbed the rounds board and started checking on our patients.  We were required to do a round every fifteen minutes.  Our patients could be paranoid about this thinking we were recording their behavior or keeping track of what they were doing.  The truth is that we are required to do rounds by law.  

 

Many of our patients are detoxing, some may be old, many have a history of physical illness, and many are on new medications that may cause physical problems.  If a person goes into cardiac arrest, we have fifteen minutes to revive them or they will die.  This is why we do the rounds every fifteen minutes.  We check to make sure they take at least three respirations.  If they are in cardiac arrests we have equipment to bring in and save them.

 

The biggest problem we have with our patients is to convince them we are here to help them.  Several of our patients have been jail or in juvenile detention facilities so they think we are correctional officers.  Unfortunately, some of the employees thought we were too.

 

I had been on the floor for a little over an hour, when we got the call that we had a new patient in admissions.

 

    

Clint motioned me to the Nurse's station.  He looked me in the eyes and said, "Scott, we have a new patient in admissions."  I had a habit of multitasking, so i was looking down the hall as he spoke.  He moved his hands to get my full attention as he spoke.  He continued, "Now pay attention, Scott.  This patient may be a little violent.  There are some things you are going to need to know.  He has lots of triggers."

 "I'm listening," I assured him, as I straightened up and made eye contact with him.  

 

Clint continued, "Apparently, he thinks he is some type of super hero.  He got in a fight with a drug addict that he thinks is his nemesis.  He got beat up bad.  He was taken to Memorial Hospital."

 

"Interesting, I said.  "What is his name?"

 

"Thomas Carpenter."

 

"I mean his super hero name.  What is his super hero name?" I asked as my interest peaked.

 

Clint murmured, "I don't know.  It wasn't in the report so it must not be important."

 

I spoke up, "Well, actually...it is kind of important.  What a super hero names himself tells you a lot about his personality.  Tells you what he thinks about himself."

 

Clint acted like he did not hear me and shuffled papers around on the nurse's station.  He continued, "He got in a fight at the emergency room and hit two nurses in the head.  One of the nurses, a male, has a concussion.  The fight was because he won't take his super hero uniform off."

 

I chipped in, "Costume.  Super hero costume."

 

Again Clint ignored my comment.  We walked to a consult room as two patients were at the station trying to do what we call in the mental health field - ear hustling.  "We are going to make some room changes while you are getting him.  We are going to put him in a private room.  He is very psychotic with a history of mental illness.  He refuses to stay on meds.  He is delusional and thinks he is a Batman-like crime fighter.  I am going to call Dr. Gravely and get a shot ordered.  There are going to be a couple of other guys at admissions to help bring him over here.  He is a fairly big guy so hopefully we can do this without restraining him."

 

"Just another day at the office," I quipped while slipping on a pair of light blue latex gloves.

 

I passed Dreama who was doing rounds and said, "I've got to go get Batman."

 

Dreama flashed a smile and said, "You better be careful and make sure you don't get your ass kick.  You are just a mere mortal."

 

"Batman is just a mere mortal, too," I countered.  "He does not have any real super powers."

 

Dreama considered that and asked, "What about this guy?  Does he have any super powers?"


 

I shrugged my shoulders and said, "I guess we will find out."


 


 

 

          CHAPTER 3:  THE FALLEN HERO

 

As I walked down the hall to admissions, I could hear loud voices that told me things were not going well.  Three big BHS were apparently trying to get the patient out of the assessment room.  It was obviously not going as planned.

 

The evening nursing supervisor Wendy Cooper was coming from the opposite direction.  Tall and skinny with long curly black hair, she was very professional.  She was very athletic and had a savory dark tan that blended with her black hair to give her an exotic look.  Her face was very expressive and I could tell her sense of urgency by the expression on her face and the way she was moving.

 

The BHS were in the doorway of the assessment room.  Wendy walked up to Darrell Castle.  The big staff was six foot four and close to 300 pounds.  He was a power lifter and ex-college football player at Frostburg State until he tore his ACL his junior year.  He had a shaved head and it teamed with his gigantic shoulders to make him look intimidating.

 

 

Wendy reached up and gently touched Darrell's shoulder and asked with a bewildered smile on her face, "All right guys, what's all the commotion?"  She tried to look like she was joking but she was concerned about the situation.

 

Darrell simply shrugged his giant shoulders and said, "We were called down to escort this new admission to Adult but he's not coming."

 

Wendy patted him on the back and stepped around him into the middle of the assessment room.  The new patient sat in a tan loveseat.  He took up over half of the seat.  He wore a white t shirt with a brown trash can on it.  In red letters Trash Man was written above it. 

 

 The shirt was dirty and tore in places.  He had a pair of black sweats with a hole in the knee.  He had a hospital gown draped over him.  He was a big boy, no doubt about it.  He definitely did not look like a super hero.  He was about 5 foot 10 and about 240 pounds.  He had big arms but he did not have any definition to them.  He would still be a handful if we tried to force him upstairs.

 

Wendy smiled and said, "Hello, I am Wendy.  I am the night supervisor here.  We are here to help you.  Why don't you let us take you up to the unit you will be on?  It's dinner time and we will give you a nice tray."

 

The man looked at her and in a flat tone said, "I am not going anywhere.  You people have kidnapped me.  I am a hero.  I have saved thousands.  You have no right to do this to me."

 

Wendy smiled, "Well, what is your name."

 

The man shook his head, "You bring all of these guys to fight me but now you want to be nice to me."

 

Wendy cocked her head a little and gave a smile, "They are not here to fight you.  It's just that we do have to take you to the unit.  You are here by a mental hygiene."

 

The man became angry.  He stood up and shouted, "I am the defender of the people.  You are choosing to fight with me for no reason.  You are trash. I am Trash Man.  I will take out the trash."

 

His response would not have been so comical if it wasn't for his Trash Man t-shirt.  Billy Hubbard could not contain his laughter.  The big middle-aged staff with short red hair blurted out, "Trash Man?  What kind f super hero name is that?"

 

Even Wendy had a tough time holding in her laughter as a few chuckles leaked out.  She was losing her patience though.  She was usually very good at de-escalating upset patients but she had the beef with her now and was ready to use it to end the incident.  She turned to the staff behind her with her hand in the air to give direction when i put my hand in the air.  I spoke up.  "Let me speak with him for a moment."

 

Wendy raised her eyes wide as if she was surprised by my outburst and answered, "Sure Scott...go right ahead."

 

I backed the others up and then closed the door.  I looked at Trash Man and he looked at me.  I sat down a chair left to him.  There was silence for a few seconds.  I finally scratched my chin as I sat in a very relaxed position.  I said, "Trash Man, I just want to tell you I have a great amount of respect for what you do.  I want to thank you for everything you do for the city."

 

Trash Man snickered, "So this is the great speech that is going to get me to do something I don't want to.  Oh wait, I feel the seas parting.....Staff Boy made a speech."

 

I sat back and rubbed my chin and laughed.  I said, "Well, I thought it was rather Oscar-worthy myself. But, in all truth.  I have heard of you.  I read about you in The Cumberland Times.  I remember a couple of years ago you stopped a guy who robbed a liquor store on Virginia Avenue.  You tackled him.  You took out the trash."

 

Trash Man smiled, "A little bit better speech but I'm still not going."

 

"I look up to you, Sir.  In fact I'm honored to be in the same room with you.  It's just that this doesn't have to be a big deal.  You fought a tough battle.  We are worried because you hit your head hard.  You probably have a concussion.  You help us so let us repay the favor and help you."

 

Trash Man looked at the floor.  He would not make any more eye contact with me.  I was silent for a few seconds.  When I saw that he was not going to speak to me any more, I spoke again.  I took a deep breath a d said, "You won't be here long.  We will run a few tests and you will talk to a few people.  We are on your side.  You need to be at your best to make the streets safe.  We are in the midst of a drug epidemic.  Heroin is everywhere.  We need you."

 

He did not say a word.  He just sat and looked at me.  About thirty seconds of silence passed.  Trash Man stood up.  "Let's go," Trash Man said.

 

I opened up the door and everyone was standing against the far wall.  We started down the hall toward the unit.

 

We walked onto The Adult Short Term unit.  Patients watching television in the lounge gawked at us as we walked in.  Two patients recognized him and started chanting "Trash Man".

 

I led him to the nurse's station and said to Clint, "Clint, this is our new patient....The Trash Man."

 

Clint raised up from the computer and said, "Do not call him that.  That is not his name.  His name is Thomas Carpenter.  You will call him Thomas!"

 

Trash Man stepped up and pounded on the nurse's station.  He yelled in Clint's face, "I am The Trash Man!"

 

Clint leaned back quickly in his chair and then stumbled in his haste to get up.  I went to grab a hold of the patient to pull him back.  He jerked away from me and turned around and pointed at me as to warn me.

 

Clint said loudly, "Scott, get that shirt off of him.  He can't wear that filthy shirt up here!"

 

"Trash Man is not staying here!" the patient yelled.  "Open that door or I'll break it down!"

 

Clint pushed s button and across the intercom went the message, "Crisis team to Adult Unit, Crisis team to Adult Unit".

 

I tried to approach Thomas with my hands up to calm him down.  He squared off in front of me with his fists clenched.

 

I yelled, "Trash Man, I don't want to fight you.  Just calm down.  There's no reason for this!"

 

Clint yelled, "I said do not call him that.  Thomas, you better stay calm!"

 

Trash Man pounded the desk with both fists and yelled, "You do not call me Thomas!  I am Trash Man!  I will take out the trash!"

 

The door to the unit opened and Billy Hubbard and Darrell Castle came running down the hall.  Seconds later Wendy walked on to the unit.

 

More staff followed onto the floor.  The presence of more people seemed to confuse or agitate the patient.  He grabbed his head as if it hurt him.  He started shaking and shifted his weight from leg to leg like he didn't have any balance.  He then fell to his knees.

 

Clint yelled, "Take him down! He's getting a shot."

 

Clint had called and gotten a doctor's order for a cocktail of Haldol and Ativan and had drawn the shot up.  The cocktail would calm the patient down and eventually put him to sleep.

 

 

Trash Man leaped to his feet.  Billy and Darrell moved toward him to take him on the ground and put him in a therapeutic hold.  Trash Man spun to his left to ward off Billy then moved quickly to his right to hold off Darrell.  When he turned to Darrell, Billy jumped from the left side and grabbed him.  Darrell was able to snag him on the right as he struggled with Billy.  They all three hit the ground with a large thud.

 

Billy held down his left arm as Darrell held down his right.  I flopped across his legs and pinned them down.  Trash Man tried to get up but there was just too much beef on him.

 

Clint grabbed the shot.  We rolled Trash Man on his side and Clint put it in his hip.  We held them there for several minutes and then when he got groggy, we helped him to his room.  Clint made us remove his shirt and replace it with one from the donation room.  Clint told me to throw it away but I washed it instead.

 

I put a chair in his room and sat there while he went to sleep.  He was sleepy but still awake when I first sat there.  I asked, "Do you I call you Trash Man or Thomas?"

 

The fallen hero was lying on his bed and answered, "If I have my shirt on I'm Trash Man.  If I'm in normal clothes I'm Tommy."

 

I nodded, "That makes sense.  Thanks Tommy. Your shirt will be cleaned in a bit.  I will put it back in here when it is done.  I will also look for other clothes we have that you can wear.  My name is Scott.  If you need anything just let me know."

 

Tommy was silent for a few minutes and I thought he had fallen asleep when he asked, "What was that guy behind the desk's deal?  Did I fight him and bring him to justice a few years ago?  Is he trying to get revenge on me?  I can't remember everything anymore."

 

I took a deep breath and spoke," Tommy, I know you may not understand this right now, but Clint is trying to help you.  I know at times his methods seem extreme but he cares.  He is the charge nurse and it is his responsibility to make sure the doctor's orders are followed.  He was in the military and he just believes that discipline is the key to mental wellness."

 

Tommy shook his head back and forth and said, "But there isn't anything wrong with me, I'm just misunderstood.  Or it is Arch Enemy trying to frame me?"

 

I answered,  "Tommy, we have some very good people here.  We are going to take very good care of you.  Please trust us.  Trust us to do our jobs."

 

Tommy was silent a few moments and then said before he drifted off to sleep, "I still think Trash Man defeated him before.  I think he is holding Trash Man prisoner as revenge.  I think he is trash.  I think Trash Man will take him out."

 

The rest of my three to eleven was smooth.  I had picked up a midnight shift on Adolescent Unit.  Now on evening shift and days, the kids units were holy terrors.  The kids ran around like water bugs on speed unless they wanted to be sneaky and then they were like cats hunting mice.

 

On midnight shift, the kids were theoretically already asleep by eleven, unless there was a full moon.  They would be woke up at 7 and by the time their eyes would be wide open, the midnight shift would be running for the door at seven-thirty.  Thank God for evening meds...a mental health hospital staffs' best friend.

 

Now, the Adult Unit could be quite different.  The patients there are often more manic.  When the patients first come in and are unmediated, they will pace the halls all night or sit up front and ask staff delusional questions as staff attempts to do midnight paperwork.

 

 

The midnight shift started out quietly.  I had my work done by one and was just doing rounds and monitoring the hall and making sure that the kids didn't get into each other’s rooms.  Suddenly, it was the midnight shift's worse nightmare.  The fire alarm was going off!  This meant all patients had to be woke up and led to the TV room.  The location of the fire came across the speakers.  It was in the business offices.

 

I grabbed the fire extinguisher and headed that way.  The nurse would have to finish waking the kids up and get them to a safe area.

 

When I got to the business offices, there were four other staff huddled around talking.  The doors were locked and only the nursing supervisor had the key.

 

Addy  Baker was the nursing supervisor.  She was nice and I liked her, but she was obviously going through a midlife crisis.  She recently went through a divorce and she was trying to turn into a cougar.  At forty-five years old, she had bleached her hair blond, perked up her eyebrows, laid in the sun until she was as brown and weathered as an old catcher's mitt, and hiked up her skirts a couple of inches.  She had the vocabulary of a sailor who has been out to sea for a month and had downed a fifth of whiskey.  People liked her....of course because she took care of those that did.

 

Donnie Bright leaned against the door.  "This place will burn down before Addy gets here."  Donnie had worked at Frazier for almost twenty years.  He had a good 'ol boy attitude.  He was laid back but he had his co-workers back.  He may not look quick but the moment someone went after a fellow staff, he became greased lightning.  

 

I looked at the bottom of the door and said, "At least there isn't any smoke coming out from under the doors."

 

Janice Roy came walking up with three fireman.  They looked at Donnie as if they wanted him to get off of the doors so they can go in and see what the problem was.

 

Donnie grinned and said, "We can't find the keys to get in.  Well I mean...we know where the keys are, we just can't find the supervisor who has them."

 

Donnie pulled out his cell phone and dialed Addy's number.  "No answer."  He shook his head and laughed.

 

Kimberley Abbott, the staff working with the adults on midnight shift, came waddling up saying ," Her car is still on the lot so she is here somewhere.

 

Janice Roy went to the offices upstairs.  Addy was not in the supervisor's office. Janice found Addy curled up in the doctor's lounge.  She was sound asleep next to a fan which is the reason she could not hear the phones trying to call her.   

 

Addy quickly gained her composure and ran to the business offices.  She walked up to the door and feigned a fake smile as she said, "Sorry, guys.  I've been up in the bathroom throwing up.  I left my phones in the office."

 

She opened up the door and the firemen inspected the offices.  They did not see any signs of a fire so they reset the fire alarm.

 

"It must have been something I ate," Addy said shrugging her shoulders as she played for sympathy.  She tried to save face, "I can just see me in the bathroom sick throwing up and then coming out and the building is on fire and I'm the only one in it.  That's the kind of luck I have."

 

She looked at me and asked, "Is Batman still sleeping."

 

I looked at her and said, "Probably.  I'm on Adolescent now but the shot put him out cold."

 

The rest of the night crept by without anything out of the ordinary happening.  I was just glad to get out the door.  I would be back at three o'clock...less than eight hours.

 

 

I went home and got to sleep about eight-thirty.  The afternoon slipped by as I slept.  At two PM I rolled out of bed.  The good news was today was just a eight hour day.  I'd be off at eleven-thirty.

 

My day definitely did not get off to a good start.  I punched in and headed to the adult unit.  I was about 100 feet away from the unit when Carla Clark came out of the unit.

 

There was nowhere for me to turn or hide.  She was right in front of me.  I kept walking toward her.  She spoke," Scott, since I ran into you again, let's go in this consult room and talk for a moment."

 

"Oh great," I said to myself.  ”Here we go again."

 

Carla spoke soon as we entered the room, "Scott, I heard you did a great job of calming down Thomas yesterday."

 

I was surprised I was expecting to get ripped.  I said, "Unfortunately, he still ended up in a hold."

 

Carla said, "Yes, that was unfortunate but it was good to see that you took the talk we had yesterday to heart.  It is much better to see you talk someone down than to have to use intimidation."

 

I was taken back somewhat with those comments and said, "Well, I had him very calm but Clint kind of bullied him and got him riled up."  I already knew I shouldn't have blamed Clint but I felt like if he would have called him Trash Man or let him keep his shirt none of it would have happened.  Now, I liked Clint but at times him and my techniques were polar opposites.

 

Carla started, “Now, Scott, don't you think bullying is kind of a harsh word to use in this instance?"

 

"Maybe a little harsh," I surmised.

 

"Scott, have you ever been bullied before?"

 

I could see where this was going.  In a defeated tone I said, "Yes."

 

She knew she had me and said, "I thought maybe you were because usually those who think someone is bully someone else say that because they have been bullied themselves.

 

I didn't really get that comment but just wanted out of this conversation.  I just shook my head in agreement.

 

She continued, "You see you and Clint were brought up differently.  You were brought to be more caring and respectful.  Clint was raised a little different.  He wasn't raised to be as open and as good to others as you were, but that doesn't mean he is a bully."

 

I didn't quite understand it but it kind of sounded like it meant it was okay for Clint to be an asshole.  So instead of encouraging this conversation I tried to break away.  I said, “Thanks for setting me straight.  Is it okay to so I won't miss report?"

 

Carla smiled, "Yes.  Keep up the good work.  Just remember that because you don't always understand Clint, doesn't mean he is always wrong.  There are reasons for what he does."

 

 

Clint was off today.  Jasmine Wright was the charge nurse today.  Normally Mandy Russell would be the charge nurse but the meds nurse Barb Scott called in sick.  Jasmine Wright was from another unit but she could not pass meds because she did not have a license so Mandy had to pass them.  This really wasn't fair to Mandy because charge nurses made an extra three dollars an hour but Mandy isn't the type of nurse to complain.

 

As i walked to the report room I passed Barry Andrews, the BHS working morning shift.  Barry was five years my senior but a very hard worker.  He was like a shark in the water, he never stopped moving.  "I heard the Dragon Lady got you yesterday.  She just got me," He said.

 

I looked surprised and asked, "What happened?"

 

He sighed, "I complained because I was working geriatric unit a few times a week and the previous shifts weren't changing some of the patients’ sheets and they were sleeping in pee.  Well, I was going to work down here a couple of shifts so I put my initials and the date on the sheets.  When I worked back there a couple of days later, the sheets were soaked and my initials were there, meaning they had not been changed."

 

I was kind of impressed at his idea and said, "That was pretty smart.  Didn't she get upset at them for not changing the sheets?"

 

Barry shook his head no and added, "I guess I pissed her off because I complained.  She said she would check into it and then immediately asked me to step into a consult room."

 

In the consult room, Carla got a big smile on her face and spoke, “Barry, I've been meaning to ask you something for a while now."

 

Barry was kind of nervous as Carla intimidated him.  He stammered, "Yes.  What is it?"

 

She kept a smile on her face as she seemed to enjoy uncomfortable interrogations like a cat clawing a mouse's eyes out, "I was just wondering if you have ever been diagnosed as manic?"

 

Barry had a confused look on his face and was shocked.  He didn't say anything and she continued, " You know, have you ever gone to a doctor and gotten medicine for being manic?"

 

Barry was stunned and answered, "No.  Why would you ask that?"

 

Carla said, "It's just that you are very energetic for your age.  You work lots of doubles.  How much sleep do you get a day, Barry?"

 

Barry answered, "About five, I guess.  I work a lot and I don't have time to sleep."

 

She shook her head negatively and said, "See that just isn't enough sleep.  Adults need eight to nine hours a sleep.  And you are very creative.  Your mind does things it shouldn't be able to do.  You are always thinking...like those comments about the geriatric unit.  It's not good for your mind to always be working.  Maybe you should see a doctor?"

 

Barry stopped his story and with a serious look on his face said to me, "I'm not sure but I think she just hinted that I am crazy?"

 

I grinned, "You know how she is, Barry...don't let her get you down.  I patted him on the back and moved toward the report room.

 

Jasmine, Mandy, Dreama and I were the oncoming three to eleven shift.  We would be taking report from Billie Ramey, the charge nurse from the seven to three shift.

 

Billie was a cute pixie-like nurse.  Her hair was dark and her face was radiant when she smiled as she lit up the room.  She was very perky and although she was small, her perkiness and personal toughness made her a very good charge nurse.  She was an impressive leader and was working on furthering her education.

 

She started giving reports on all of the patients.  When she got to Thomas, she said, “Thomas Carpenter.  The superhero," she laughed.

 

Dreama quipped, " He looks like he ate Batman."

 

Billie chuckled and then continued, "Thomas, is still refusing meds but we've been giving him shots.  He became agitated this morning because his Trash Can shirt, or whatever it is has been taken.  He was given Haldol and Ativan so he is still sleepy.  He has been asleep.  He's very antisocial and potentially violent."

 

I spoke up, "Why don't we just give him the shirt?"

 

Billie said, “Per Dr. Hodge.  Do not feed into his delusions by making him think he is something he isn't.  Apparently, a goal is to break him of thinking he is a super hero.  He is becoming increasingly aggressive toward others and not only is he a danger to others with it, he almost got himself killed the other night in an alley fight."

 

Dreama asked, “So what are we doing with him?"

 

Billie had a confused expression on her face, “Obviously, he has been doing this for years.  I don't know if we will ever get this fantasy out of his head.  The immediate goal is to medicate him.  He has a history of being manic.  We want to keep him calm.  But hopefully the medication can work on the psychosis.  Hopefully, we can get him in a state where the therapists can reason with him about the super hero nonsense before tries to fly by jumping off of a building."

 

I was kind in the middle on this.  I understand it wasn't healthy but isn't this a symptom of other problems. He had thought he was a hero for such a long time I just couldn't see how he was ever going to stop believing.  It is his whole vision of who he was and who he is.  His whole self-identity would have to be revised.

 

What my colleagues didn't know and probably wouldn't like very much is that I had stopped and got a new Spiderman comic and had it rolled up in my scrub pockets.  I did take the staples out as a safety precaution.

 

I just thought we needed to take baby steps with him.  Plus, I wanted him to like me because I knew I'd have to be one of the ones to bring him down.

 

I went back to his room after report.  He was still woozy from his last shot.  He perked up when he saw me.  I went back and handed him the comic.  I said, " i thought this might kill some time. It's our secret...okay?  Do you know Spiderman?"

 

Thomas rolled his eyes," I know you all think I'm crazy but I know Spiderman isn't real.  I am real.  I have helped cops put people in jail.  I'm not doing all of it in my head.  I'm not fighting the Joker in my imagination.  I'm helping stopped robberies and find lost things."

 

I shook my head and down, "I have heard of you from time to time over the years."

 

He opened the comic book, " I started like you...reading these as a kid and watching Batman and Superman.  But i did become a real hero in my teens.  Yes, my mom did think I was crazy aand tried to put me away a time or two.  But I do fight crime."

 

I sat down next to his bed.  "I know, Thomas.  It isn't easy being a little different.  They don't understand that you have goodness in your heart and you want to help.  They think because you want to help that you must be crazy."

 

Thomas put the book down for a minute and asked me, "Why are you so nice to me and everyone else here is so mean?"

 

I sighed, "Thomas, they really aren't being all that mean.  They are trying to help you...maybe their methods are a little off but they are heroes, too.  They are misunderstood just like superheroes are misunderstood.  That newspaper editor misunderstood Spiderman's intentions and you misunderstood Nurse Clint's intentions.  He just wants to help you lime Spiderman wants to help."

 

Thomas shook his head sideways, “I think your nurses are evil.  All they want to do is take my shirt, deny that I'm Trash Man, and shoot me up with their medicine."

 

I grimaced, I was not a therapist and I was in over my head.  I said, “Thomas, I do understand that you do fight crime.  I see nothing wrong with what you do.  When you quit taking your meds I do believe the illness takes over and you become delusional.  I don't know if you see things that aren't there but I don't think you see things like we do when you don't take your medicine."

 

Tommy slowly got out of bed and stretched.  He said with a yawn, "I need to go home.  My neighborhood needs me.  Crime is out of control."

 

I changed my tone and asked with curiosity in my voice, “Why do you fight crime?"

 

"Why do you do this?" He fired back.  "Why does anybody do anything?  It is who we are.  I care about my neighbors that is why I do that.  I'm not afraid of anything?"

 

I asked him, "Do you have any relatives.  Is your mom and dad still alive?"

 

"I never met my daddy.  My mom died a few years ago.  I'm pretty much on my own.  I need a sidekick.  I need my Robin.  But a lot of crime fighters don't have sidekicks.  Even Robin is on his own.  He is Nightwing."

 

I asked, "How come you won't talk to anyone else.  I mean, you aren't going to get to go home until you start talking to your doctors, therapists, and attending groups."

 

He shook his head, "I'll bust out.  I don't have time for this.  I only talk to you because you are the only one who respects who I am."

 

I left him alone so he could read his comic.  I had lots of work to do.  We were busy all night.  I only saw him when I did rounds.  He came out to eat dinner then went back to his room.

 

I was tired and very happy that I wasn't pulling a double. I had to stay on the floor while midnight shift was given report.  The report ran late.  I had to drop some paperwork off at the supervisor's office.  By the time I got up there it was ten until midnight.

 

I stopped in the hallway and was reading a bulletin board when I heard giggling.  I looked ahead and seen Mick Craig stepped around the corner.  He was looking back and didn't see me.  I tried to blend into the wall when I saw the supervisor Addy Baker grab him by his behind and started squeezing it.  He turned around and as they were kissing the disappeared back around the corner.  They headed into the doctor's lounge and I snuck past them and dropped off my paperwork.

 

 

That was Betty Frazier Hospital...every hospital has its drama but you never know what lurked in Betty Frazier's hallways after dark.  Lion, tigers, and cougars...oh my!

 

I went home and was asleep within an hour.

 

 

 

The next morning I got up early and took care of some errands.  I was feeling sluggish where I had been working so much.  I was going in at three for another double shift.  I came back about one and cleaned my apartment until time to go to work.

 

I got to work at three and to my surprise another post it note was on the schedule telling me to come to the unit manager Betty Shields office.  I gave a long sigh and headed on my way.  I was not sure what it was about but I was sure it wasn't good.

 

Betty Shields was an older heavy set woman with dark black skin and hair just as dark.  She had worked at the hospital for thirty years.  She was fair and appreciated hard work.

 

I walked to her office and knocked on the door.  She answered and invited me in.  To my surprise Nurse Clint was sitting down.  

 

When I walked in, Clint jumped up.  He had the Spiderman comic folded up in his hand. He asked loudly, "Why did you give Thomas this comic book?  I told you not to feed into his delusions. You disregarded a doctor's order by giving him this comic."

 

I was aggravated by his tone of voice.  I stepped forward and said in the same voice he said, "You know Betty, you all preach about customer service and train us how to treat our patients with respect and how to have a therapeutic milieu....then this guy treats our patients like it’s a boot camp.  He totally disregards who Thomas wants to be, who he is, and anything he cares about."

 

Betty sat and watched as Clint and I argued.  Clint said, “You can't do whatever you want.  The doctor decides how we decide to treat a patient.  The doctor says it is not healthy for Thomas to act as he is a super hero.  It certainly isn't mentally healthy and as far as physically healthy, he almost got himself killed.  We are trying to make him understand that he is not a Super Man.  We pound this into his head and then you come along and give him a comic book and call him Trash Man."

 

Betty looked at me and asked.  "Did you give Thomas the comic book?"

 

I shook my head up and down.  I said, “Yes, I did."

 

Betty said, "Scott, you know better.  That is direct insubordination.  I'm going to have to write you up for that."  She handed me a paper explaining why I was being reprimanded.  She continued, "You are also not allowed to be on the Adult Unit until Thomas leaves.  This is for any reason including to talk to someone or to get supplies.  You have built an inappropriate relationship with Thomas.  We do not allow inappropriate relationships.  Do you understand, Scott?"

 

I was stunned, "Yes." I signed the paper.  "He has been Trash Man all of his life...now you just want to take his identity away and just leave him as a shell of himself in some group home."

 

Betty said, "He is not your concern anymore.  You are not to have any contact with him.  Are you clear?"

 

I headed for the door and opened it.  I looked back and said, "Yes, I'm clear."

 

I checked the schedule and I was on The Teen Addiction Unit.  It was an easy unit with only six patients.  I liked the unit because I had a chance to impact kids and discourage those drugs.  Dottie Valentine was a nice older lady who cared about kids and she was the nurse.  She was nice but could be firm when she had to.  I decided I wasn't going to get stressed out about the meeting.  I was just going to do my job.  I was going to try to keep my nose out of the drama and power struggles.

 

The night was going good.  It was a good group of kids and we were having some good discussions about relapse.  It was around eight o'clock when the announcement went out "Crisis Team Adult Unit, Crisis Team Adult Unit!"

 

I jumped up because of my instinct to respond.  Then I remembered that I was banned from the adult unit.  I was curious as to what was going on.  I told Dottie I was going to go up and look through the windows on the doors to see what was going on.

 

I ran down to the Adult Unit.  Other staff were running past me onto the unit.  It was Thomas.  He had gotten a white t-shirt from someone and made another Trash Man shirt out of it.  He put the shirt on.  Clint had told him to take the shirt off.  Thomas was now Trash Man since his shirt was on.

 

Staff had stormed on to the floor.  Trash Man turned to square off against them.

 

Clint yelled, " He can't have the shirt he has on.  We have to get that shirt.  I'm getting a shot together."

 

Trash Man yelled, "I'm Trash Man now!  I'm not taking any more of your shots.  I'm leaving."

 

Clint responded, "The only place you are going is to sleep."  Clint put together a cocktail of Haldol, Ativan, and Thorazine.

 

Darrell Castle jumped at Trash Man but Trash Man ducked away and turned to his right as Billy Hubbard went to grab him.  Trash Man caught him with a hard right to the jaw that sent Billy reeling back.  Trash Man was quick for a big guy, he spun back to his left and connected a short combination into Darrell.  He then reached back and hit Jason Thomas coming in from behind him.  The staff regrouped and Trash Man looked like a super hero as he spun back to the nurse's station and jumped on it.

 

I was now inside the doors and on the unit. Trash Man jumped off of the desk and landed on Clint.  Clint held tightly to the needle.  Staff was now heading behind the station.  

 

Billy reached Trash Man and pulled him off of Clint.  Trash Man shoved him away and got to his feet.  Three staff rushed him and hit Trash Man hard.  He went down hard.  There was not any room behind the nurse's station. 

 

I moved closer to see.  I looked and saw Trash Man on the floor behind the nurse's station.  Blood was gushing from Trash Man's head.  Three staff were on him.

 

Clint jumped on him and was giving him the shot.  I yelled, “Don’t give him the shot!  He is hurt.  He's bleeding!"

 

Clint yelled without even looking at me," You aren't supposed to be up here.  You are done.  You are finished here!"

 

The other staff noticed the blood it was gushing.  Clint stood up and looked at the blood.

 

Trash Man started twitching.  Then he started shaking violently like a seizure.  The three staff were still holding him.

 

The evening supervisor Wendy Cooper walked on the floor.  She yelled "Scott, get back to your unit!"

 

Trash Man had stopped shaking.  He was still bleeding.  

 

Wendy yelled, "The crash cart...get the crash cart!  He's in cardiac arrest!"

 

Wendy pushed a button and the message "Medical emergency adult unit, medical emergency adult unit, medical emergency adult unit" went out over the intercom.

 

Wendy was working feverishly on Trash Man.  Nurses ran on the unit and they were working hard.  Clint walked away from the crowd.  He saw me and said, "You better get your ass off the unit."

 

I stared him down and yelled, "Are you happy?  You killed him!"

 

Clint looked at me and threatened, "I will make sure you are done here!"

 

We stared at each other.  I reached into my pocket and grabbed my keys.  I threw them and hit him in the chest with them.  I snarled, "To hell with you.  I'm not working in this messed up place anymore."

 

At about the same time that my keys hit Clint's chest, the nurses realized that Trash Man was dead.

 

 

 

                  Epilogue

 

Dreama walked me out of the building as I didn't have keys.  I didn't say goodbye to anyone but I knew I'd never go back.  I left a message on Betty's answering service that I wasn't coming back.  I gave no reasons.  I never answered the calls that came over the next few days.  I didn't cate about investigations.  I wasn't ever going to work in the field again.

 

They would cover up the incident as much as possible.  I'd say once the films reveal that Clint gave the shot despite the obvious head injury.....he would be gone.

 

I didn't care.  Trash Man was gone and so was Tommy Carpenter.  Neither one of them bothered anyone.  We do the best we can.  Maybe I was right, maybe I was wrong.  I guess it doesn't really matter now.  I live with myself because I know that if I was wrong, I was wrong for the right reason.  Tommy was happy when he was Trash Man.  He thought he was someone and in my eyes he was.  To many in Cumberland, he was the crazy guy in the cape.  To me, he was a guy who just wanted to help....we don't have a lot of guys like that anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 INTRODUCTION

 

"Time to take out the trash!" Trash Man proclaimed as he stood valiantly with his hands on his hips and his black cape gently blowing in the spring breeze. "You, Arch Enemy, have plagued the streets of Maryland for the last time."

 

Arch Enemy quivered as he looked up at Trash Man. Trash Man was intimidating as he stood defiantly in the alley of Dorn Avenue. Trash Man's white costume shirt with the blazon brown trash can emblem triumphantly glowed in the dark. The white shirt was the only light in the dark alley. With his chin held high, Cumberland's only superhero approached his trembling enemy. Suddenly, Arch Enemy sprung out of the pothole and at Trash Man.

 

Trash Man took a step back but he had made a critical error. After a few quick punches, he had underestimated his evil opponent. Suddenly, Arch Enemy was on top of the fallen hero. In the darkness, Trash Man could see Arch Enemy's toothless snarl. "Just because I'm stoned doesn't mean I'm slow. I was merely reloading with another shot of heroin. Now, you garbage toting buffoon, your days of picking up litter are over."

 

"Never!" Trash Man grimaced through his clenched teeth. But Pill Zombie's muscles bulged as the heroin ripped through his veins. Trash Man tried to turn off of his back. Pill Zombie was now strong. He grabbed Trash Man and rolled him across the gravels in the dark alley. Trash Man's flame resistant uniform did not rip but he felt the gravels bite at his back. "It's the trash heap for you - aaaaahhhh...." Trash Man tried to speak but Arch Enemy bounced his boot off of the side of Trash Man's head. The hero's mask did not budge. It faithfully covered the fallen hero's head.

 

Trash Man not only saw the darkness but now he could feel it. The kicks came one after another. Trash Man frantically tapped his keys hoping The Garbage Truck would faithfully come to his side. But his super vehicle was not on Dorn Avenue. Only the battered body of Trash Man remained in the alley as Arch Enemy. Disappeared into the night.


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        CHAPTER 1 LAND OF THE BROKEN TOYS

 

 

 

The sun was beating down on me as I stepped out of my car and onto the parking lot at Betty Frazier Hospital in Cumberland, Maryland. By the time my shift would be over, tomorrow's sun would be rising over me.  It was three PM.  I was working a double that would put me back out in this parking lot at seven-thirty AM

Working as a behavioral health specialist in a mental health hospital was the latest crash landing in my career flight. Another career change at fifty was more about survival than mid-life crisis. 

I had been an area manager for a merchandising company for over 15 years but the economy had created hardships for companies like mine causing my company to restructure and lay off most of the middle management including me. 
A man has to eat and I got accustomed to electricity and cable television so here I was at Betty Frazier with the rest of the misfit toys. 

The Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer reference of misfit toys was referring to the staff not the patients. My idea of a real-life train with square wheels was nurses who did not have a license to pass out medications and other staff who had been terminated from medical hospitals and were here because no other hospitals would hire them. And, of course, there were misfits like me who were passed up by Father Time and were left without any other marketable skills. 

The patients were the part of the job I liked. I enjoyed working with patients and helping them face the challenges in their recovery. Now, the staff and administration could certainly be a whole another story at times. Though, the employee uniforms of light blue scrubs was often the only way you could separate the employees from the patients, at least that was the inside joke. My little inside joke was that  each day I could the thin line between being a staff and being a patient get a little thinner. In fact, I remarked several times that I hoped we got employee discounts on rooms. Despite the jokes, I did take my job seriously. It's just that it could be quite stressful at times so it was mentally healthy to try to find some humor in our positions.

 

I put my keys into the glass door on the side of the aging structure and walked into the hallway.  Betty Frazier Hospital was a lock-down facility and so without a set of keys, one was lost, or even worse – trapped.  I walked over to the bulletin board which hosted the assignments or schedule for the day.  My eyes were just recovering from the shock of the sun.  I was a vampire, or in reality’s terms, a midnight guy.  Ideally, I would be nestled up in bed right now but was coming into work a double.  The truth is that the job paid only a couple of dollars an hour above minimum wage but all of the turnover that comes with the mental health industry creates plenty of opportunities for overtime.  And overtime is how low wage earners like me afford to put gas in the car or eat something at McDonald’s that isn’t on the dollar menu.  Working an extra shift can mean the difference between double cheeseburgers or an occasional Subway sub.  When I first got laid off from my last job it seemed like I ate double cheeseburgers every day until I got hired at Betty Frazier.  So if I’m not thankful to Betty Frazier for anything else, I’m at least thankful I haven’t turned into a cow yet.  The overtime has allowed me to discard the hamburger diet for a while and still keep gas in my car.

 

I glanced to see where I would be working and was not surprised to see that it was my home unit Adult Short-term.  But, my attention was diverted as I noticed a yellow post-it note instructed me to go to Carla Clark's office.  Carla is the Clinical Therapeutic Director of the hospital.  This obviously was not good news.  A similar yellow note has historically meant that one was being led to their termination.  But, since I was on the schedule, more than likely it would not be an execution but just some torture.  Carla Clark, a psychologist, lived to engage in the art of mental torture.

 

Adrenalin immediately started to shoot through my veins.  Just the thought of entering Clark's office had me shaking.  “The eyes”, I told myself,” just don’t look into her eyes”. Company legend tells us that one look into her sadistic eyes can turn you into jelly.  Stone, I could deal with, but this psychological Medusa did not give you the satisfaction of being hard, she wanted to take any hardness out of your body and leave you weak and spineless.  She did not have snakes coming out of her hair like Medusa, but she certainly had snake eyes.

 

Regardless of what the smile on her face said, it was those beady little eyes that broke a man down.  Carla was not an ugly woman.  She had dark black hair in bangs. She was big but muscular not fat.  She looked like a softer Xenia The Warrior Princess  The smile was actually pretty if you could separate it from those eyes.  But next to those frozen eyes, the smile became something to fear.

 

Carla Clark was a very expressive woman.  She loved to use facial expressions.  It was almost like she knew that whatever the rest of her face said, that her eyes said something more threatening.  She could be saying “How are you today?” with the biggest smile on her face, but one look at those eyes let you know that she really did not care how you were doing.  So my main goal was to try to avoid eye contact.  But, in a way, that is what she wanted.  The moment you forfeited eye contact, you were forfeiting any power.  It’s like her victims were being castrated by her eyes.

 

She liked men being ball-less, because Carla Clark simply hated men.  It was not a female supremacy-type issue, she just pure and simple hated men.  She liked to keep men in tech positions where she could dominate them.  Although she was a lesbian, it  was not just a matter of sexual preference  that she preferred women, it was more like simple hatred of the human male species. 

 

Clenching my fists to summon every last of courage, I knocked on her door.  “Come in”, she said sweetly.  I walked in and as I saw her lips curl to smile my eyes wandered up too far and was captured by her eyes.  I was so mad at myself.  Despite the fact that I promised to myself not to make eye contact with her, she already had me.  The courage I had built on my trip up the stairs had now vanished.  My legs got weak.

 

Then, suddenly, the smile was gone!  The door seemed to close behind me without being touched like some sort of Venus Fly Trap snapping shut with its victim locked helplessly inside. 

 

“Well, Mr. Tice”, she said sort of toneless.  “I was going through the videos of the other night and came across an interesting incident.  Would you like to take a guess of what incident I am referring to?”

 

“No, Ma’am.  I really can’t imagine what incident you are talking about.  Was I involved in the incident?”  My body became as ice-cold as I have imagined her soul as being because I really did not know what incident she was referring to.

 

The smile was there again.  It was scary smile, a confident smile, a smile that I could imagine that a serial killer wears right before claiming a victim.  “You do not remember anything out of the ordinary as happening Saturday night around 12:30 in the morning on your unit?”

 

I shrugged my shoulders because I really didn’t recall anything out of the ordinary happening.  “No, Carla, I really can’t think of anything special happening.  I mean it was just another Saturday night.”

 

The smile was gone.  The eyes were cutting into me.  My blood was still ice cold but I could feel the heat from hurt eyes burning into my eyes.  I tried to look away but I just could not.  She stepped up from behind her desk.  She put down some papers that she was holding in her hand.  She put her hands on her hips and just looked at me for a few seconds.  She looked to her left for a split seconds then she pointed her left finger at me and focused those burning eyes on me again.  She broke the awkward silence, “Well, Scott, it appeared to me that you had some sort of confrontation was Jeremy Johnson on Saturday night.  Well, that is at least what it looked like when I was watching the films from Saturday.  Do you want to explain why it looked that way on film or do you still need remember it.  Do I need to play it back to jog your memory?”

 

“I mean, I think I may have redirected Jeremy on Saturday.  Yes, I do remember that he was being loud and aggressive with one of the patients and I sent him to his room.  But I did not lay a finger on him.”

 

“Scott, there are different types of aggression.  You do not have to touch someone in order to violate them.  What I saw on those films was pure aggression and intimidation on your part.  It was your intentions to scare him.”

 

“No, it was my intentions to redirect him.”

 

Carla was livid now, she was now almost in my face.  She was being very animated with her hands.  “You were in his personal space. Regardless of what you were saying to him, you were being very threatening with your body language.”

 

“Carla, I was doing what I could to get him to go to his room.  It was better than calling a code in the middle of the night or physically forcing him back to his room.”

 

“Trying to threaten him is not being therapeutic.  That is not the way we handle things at Betty Frazier.  There is not any room for intimidation here.”

 

I was getting kind of aggravated at this point.  “I was not intimidating him.  I was just trying to let him know that his behavior was inappropriate and that he needed to go to bed because he was bothering another patient and he was getting close to waking up the other patients.”

 

“Scott, how tall are you?” Carla said dropping her voice back to a normal tone and bringing back a little bit of that cynical smile of hers.

 

“About 6 foot 5.  But what has that got to do with anything?”

 

“And about how much do you weigh?”

 

“Right around 300 pounds, I’d say although I haven’t weighed myself lately.”

 

“And you look like you may have lifted weights at some time in your life.  Isn’t that right?”

The smile on her face was slowly growing wider.

 

I started to laugh.  “I don’t where my having lifted weights in my life has to do with Saturday night.”

 

“Well, Scott.  How tall would you say Jeremy Johnson is?”

 

“I don’t know.  Roughly around 5 foot 9, I guess.”  I started to see where this question was leading to, or at least I thought I did.

 

Carla Clark was becoming animated again.  She put her right hand on her chin and like a lawyer, she continued to build her case.  “About how much do you think he weighs?”

 

“I guess about 170 or 180.”

 

“So you still don’t think that you were intimidating him?”  She had a big smile on her face and walked back behind her desk and picked up a cup of coffee and took a drink as if she were resting her case.

 

“No, I really do not think I was.  Jeremy knows that I have never put a hand on him and he knows that I have never hit a patient.  He knows me.  He actually likes me but he was acting up and I was just trying to get him to listen.”

 

“So you really don’t think that you were using your size to scare him or bully him.  I mean, did it even work, did he quiet down or go to his room?”

 

“Yes, he did go to his room and he apologized.  So I was able to get him to do what I wanted without having to touch or threaten him.”

 

She leaned over her desk and softly said in a voice just above a whisper, “But you did threaten him.”

 

“I never threatened him.”

 

“Your non-verbal communication threatened him.  You intimidated him.  You DID bully him.  Maybe it was not intentional but it certainly wasn’t therapeutic.”

 

“No, Jeremy didn’t take it that way and it was just my intention to show him I was angry with his behavior.”

 

“Scott, I know it may be hard to understand what you think you were doing,”  She was calming down and speaking in a rational manner.  “I mean, you have always been a big guy and you may not understand how your size makes others feel.  You just do not seem to understand that you tower over others and how it makes them feel.”

 

I looked the other way for a moment and tried to end the situation.  “I’m sorry if if I did anything wrong and it wasn’t my intentions to scare him and I will try to avoid that type of behavior in the future.”

 

She walked out from behind the desk and in front of me again.  “Let’s try this,” She purred.  “Get down on your knees.”

 

“What?”  I asked rather incredulously. This was a sudden surprised and I was kind of stunned.

 

She shook her head yes and repeated herself, “Get down on your knees.”

 

“Why?”  I asked like she was playing a joke on me.  I was waiting for her punchline.

 

“You obviously do not understand how your size intimidates others so in order for you to understand how you make others feel you need to get down on your knees.  Then, you should be able to understand how it feels to have someone tower over you.”

 

I was feeling very uncomfortable.  I was not sure where this was heading but I just wanted this meeting to be over and for me to get to work.  I lowered my eyes and then as I looked down at the floor I humbled myself down to the floor on top of my knees.

 

Standing directly over her, she got a mean and angry look on her face.  “Look at me!” She yelled.  “Look up at me.”

 

I did not want to make eye contact but I slowly raised my eyes up into those beady eyes of hers.

 

She looked down on me with a grimace, “Now how does it make you feel to have me tower over you.  Does it not make you feel low?  Do you not feel threatened?”

 

“Yes.  I guess it doesn’t feel very good.”  I was not lying.  This was one of the weirdest incidents I had experienced.  I really felt violated in some sort of emotional way.

 

“And if I was mad and shaking my fists at you, just think how you would feel.  This is what intimidation feels like.  It doesn’t feel very good does it?”

 

“No ma’am it doesn’t.  I’m sorry if I made Jeremy feel this way.”

 

She just stood towering over me and looking down on me for a few seconds without saying anything.  “Okay, get up off of the floor,” She said walking back behind the desk.  “That was therapy showing you how your behavior was unsafe and therapeutic.  Do you understand now how he feels?”

 

“Yes, Ma’am.  I guess I do.” I said humbly. 

 

“Keep that in mind next time you are in that situation.  Your size and body language send out different messages.  You need to understand how someone feels in that situation.  It may work temporarily to bully someone.  It may get immediate results but it is certainly not therapeutic and we do not condone that kind of behavior here at Betty Frazier.  Do you understand?”

 

“Yes, Ma’am.  I’m sorry.”

 

“Alright, hopefully we never have to have this conversation again.  Now, go on and get to your unit.  And have a nice day.”  She smiled as I left her office. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            CHAPTER 2. NURSE FONZIE

 


I staggered out of Carla's office feeling overwhelmed. Her office was on the first floor which meant that I did not have a far walk to my unit.  I had to stop off at the men's room and get my composure back. 

I was confused from all of my emotions rising to my surface and fighting for supremacy. Of course, anger was one of the emotions. I was a very humanistic staff. I cared about my patients.  I felt like I was scolded for doing something that was my job. 

Sometimes, you have to be somewhat of a bad guy to keep the peace. I was not trying to harm my patient but was trying to make him understand that we have rules and that he has to follow them. I did understand that in a twisted way that Carla was trying to make me understand the same thing but I was not violating the rules.  

Confusion was another of the emotions I was feeling.  I felt like I did nothing wrong. A staff sometimes has to be an enforcer of policy. If I had not gotten Jeremy to his room he could of gotten into a fight with the patient he was being aggressive with. His victim would have had his rights violated and the twenty-four other patients on the floor could have had been unnecessarily awaken. 

I was feeling helplessness. It was like I was emotionally raped. Carla had stripped me of my pride and masculinity. In the name of therapy, she made me get down on my knees. She may as well snipped my balls off with a sharp pair of shears when she did this. I felt weak and powerless when she towered over me. I felt like this was an inappropriate and un-therapeutic exercise for her to be performing. It did not make me think about how my size made smaller patients feel but instead made me feel that she was bullying me. She was showing me that she was my boss and that she was superior and could make me do whatever she wanted me to do. 

I started to wonder if I even wanted this job anymore. I liked my job and needed the money but there were other jobs. Did I want to work in a place where I felt my talents were not appreciated and where I could be easily pushed around?  

I clenched my fists again, swallowed hard, and walked out of the rest room and into the hall. I told myself that I did not care what Carla thought that I cared about my patients and I did what I thought was in their best interest. 

I stepped up to the brown locked doors that led into the Adult Short-Term Unit and stuck my key into the lock. 

The unit was a long hallway that went to the left giving it a 'L' shape. The hardware floors and bright lights definitely gave away the fact that this was a hospital unit.  

When you first walked onto the unit there was a lobby to the left. About seven patients were sitting on the three cream- colored sofas watching television. Two patients recognized me and waved to me. As always the outgoing charge nurse always met with the oncoming shift and relayed information about each of the patients. Dreama, the staff I'd be working with, was coming out of the room as I was trying to walk in.

"Your late," Dreama laughed showing off her straight, white teeth. Her smile had all of my attention. Her long, black straight hair draped onto her shoulders. She was petit and looked sexy even in the generic light blue scrubs that BHS wore. 

"Yep, I had to visit The Dragon lady."  I said turning around and following her out since I missed the report. 

"I saw the note," Dreama said and then added, "at least you survived."

"I guess I survived. I'm not sure about that right now. But, I still have a job if that's what you meant.  Just call me another victim of her warped therapy," I sighed. 

 Clint King the charge nurse for the oncoming shift walked out of the report room. He said, "You look like you came out of it ok. You know that boy Shawn on the peds unit, the one that has been tearing things up and hitting everyone? Carla decided to take him under her wing. She decided to reward him for something good. She gave him some marbles."

I started laughing, “Jesus Christ, you're kidding me.  I bet I know how this story ends."
Clint continued, "Within the hour, he hit the nurse Marsha with them in the back several times."

I said laughing, "Throwing marbles is very therapeutic. It relieves stress."

I liked Clint.  Even though I often referred to him as Nurse Fonzie, I still liked him. He was another misfit toy, probably some kind of warped G.I. Joe. I'd say he was a G.I. Joe doll that got mixed at the toy factory with a Fonzie action figure and came out wearing a leather jacket and riding a motorcycle. 

His look gave away that he was ex-military.  He was in his forties but wore his coal black hair in a just longer than military-buzz style. He spoke in a very matter of fact tone of voide although if he spoke too long he would display some Kentucky twang. 

The Fonzie part came from his coming into the hospital in 90 degree weather wearing his leather jacket and carrying his motorcycle helmet. 

It was hard to tell at times if he was a disciple of military discipline or if he just plain sadistic. But he could be harsh with patients and could bring out the worst in them. 

The acute teenagers on The Adolescent Unit lived in fear of him. One teen gasped when I walked in her room doing a room check. I looked at her and asked what was wrong. 


Relieved, the teen looked at me and said, "I thought you were Clint."

I laughed and said, "Is he that bad?"

She said, "We are here because we want to kill ourselves and he just makes it worse."

Nurse Fonzie had a twisted sense of what therapy was. There were cases when patients came into the hospital in wheelchairs and he would not let them use them saying it was good therapy for them to try to walk.

A 67 year-old patient named Dottie came into hospital and was there for several months. Diana and Nurse Fonzie maintained that Dottie was not a geriatric patient that she just needed therapy to do things for herself.

Finally, eight patients banded together and talked a BHS into sending an email to Carla complaining about the way Nurse Fonzie was treating Dottie. They said that he left her lie in her urine and screamed at her to get up and get out of bed and change herself.

Dottie's family came to a meeting with Carla and Nurse Fonzie but the Fonzie was able to leap over trouble. Eventually Dottie was determined to be a geriatric patient and moved to a nursing home.  

Despite some of his shortcomings, I liked working with Nurse Fonzie. He was not afraid to pitch in and help. Strangely, although his methods were questionable, he seemed to care about his patients. That's why I wondered about what happened to him in the military because I don't think he was sadistic although his methods appeared to be. I think he just really believed that mental illness was caused by the lack of discipline and if you added discipline then everything would be alright.

It sounds strange but Nurse Fonzie did not seem like a bad guy. He could be funny although he still spoke in his monotone voice even when telling a joke. He was also a team player. But at times, his definition of therapy was different than everyone else's...with the possible exception of Carla Clark.

 

Now, let me make it clear right now...because I know I'm sounding negative like a man who hates his job...but I like what I do.  I have seen miracles on a weekly basis.  I have seen patients come in on ice or suffering severe psychosis or both.  I have seen them marching up and down the hall singing "When The Saints Come Marching In" while they were stripping off their clothes.  The same patient could be totally functional in a week or two.  The combination of psych meds, therapy, counseling, and human compassion could bring patients back to baseline in record time.

 

Once I regained my composure, I grabbed the rounds board and started checking on our patients.  We were required to do a round every fifteen minutes.  Our patients could be paranoid about this thinking we were recording their behavior or keeping track of what they were doing.  The truth is that we are required to do rounds by law.  

 

Many of our patients are detoxing, some may be old, many have a history of physical illness, and many are on new medications that may cause physical problems.  If a person goes into cardiac arrest, we have fifteen minutes to revive them or they will die.  This is why we do the rounds every fifteen minutes.  We check to make sure they take at least three respirations.  If they are in cardiac arrests we have equipment to bring in and save them.

 

The biggest problem we have with our patients is to convince them we are here to help them.  Several of our patients have been jail or in juvenile detention facilities so they think we are correctional officers.  Unfortunately, some of the employees thought we were too.

 

I had been on the floor for a little over an hour, when we got the call that we had a new patient in admissions.

 

    

Clint motioned me to the Nurse's station.  He looked me in the eyes and said, "Scott, we have a new patient in admissions."  I had a habit of multitasking, so i was looking down the hall as he spoke.  He moved his hands to get my full attention as he spoke.  He continued, "Now pay attention, Scott.  This patient may be a little violent.  There are some things you are going to need to know.  He has lots of triggers."

 "I'm listening," I assured him, as I straightened up and made eye contact with him.  

 

Clint continued, "Apparently, he thinks he is some type of super hero.  He got in a fight with a drug addict that he thinks is his nemesis.  He got beat up bad.  He was taken to Memorial Hospital."

 

"Interesting, I said.  "What is his name?"

 

"Thomas Carpenter."

 

"I mean his super hero name.  What is his super hero name?" I asked as my interest peaked.

 

Clint murmured, "I don't know.  It wasn't in the report so it must not be important."

 

I spoke up, "Well, actually...it is kind of important.  What a super hero names himself tells you a lot about his personality.  Tells you what he thinks about himself."

 

Clint acted like he did not hear me and shuffled papers around on the nurse's station.  He continued, "He got in a fight at the emergency room and hit two nurses in the head.  One of the nurses, a male, has a concussion.  The fight was because he won't take his super hero uniform off."

 

I chipped in, "Costume.  Super hero costume."

 

Again Clint ignored my comment.  We walked to a consult room as two patients were at the station trying to do what we call in the mental health field - ear hustling.  "We are going to make some room changes while you are getting him.  We are going to put him in a private room.  He is very psychotic with a history of mental illness.  He refuses to stay on meds.  He is delusional and thinks he is a Batman-like crime fighter.  I am going to call Dr. Gravely and get a shot ordered.  There are going to be a couple of other guys at admissions to help bring him over here.  He is a fairly big guy so hopefully we can do this without restraining him."

 

"Just another day at the office," I quipped while slipping on a pair of light blue latex gloves.

 

I passed Dreama who was doing rounds and said, "I've got to go get Batman."

 

Dreama flashed a smile and said, "You better be careful and make sure you don't get your ass kick.  You are just a mere mortal."

 

"Batman is just a mere mortal, too," I countered.  "He does not have any real super powers."

 

Dreama considered that and asked, "What about this guy?  Does he have any super powers?"


 

I shrugged my shoulders and said, "I guess we will find out."


 


 

 

          CHAPTER 3:  THE FALLEN HERO

 

As I walked down the hall to admissions, I could hear loud voices that told me things were not going well.  Three big BHS were apparently trying to get the patient out of the assessment room.  It was obviously not going as planned.

 

The evening nursing supervisor Wendy Cooper was coming from the opposite direction.  Tall and skinny with long curly black hair, she was very professional.  She was very athletic and had a savory dark tan that blended with her black hair to give her an exotic look.  Her face was very expressive and I could tell her sense of urgency by the expression on her face and the way she was moving.

 

The BHS were in the doorway of the assessment room.  Wendy walked up to Darrell Castle.  The big staff was six foot four and close to 300 pounds.  He was a power lifter and ex-college football player at Frostburg State until he tore his ACL his junior year.  He had a shaved head and it teamed with his gigantic shoulders to make him look intimidating.

 

 

Wendy reached up and gently touched Darrell's shoulder and asked with a bewildered smile on her face, "All right guys, what's all the commotion?"  She tried to look like she was joking but she was concerned about the situation.

 

Darrell simply shrugged his giant shoulders and said, "We were called down to escort this new admission to Adult but he's not coming."

 

Wendy patted him on the back and stepped around him into the middle of the assessment room.  The new patient sat in a tan loveseat.  He took up over half of the seat.  He wore a white t shirt with a brown trash can on it.  In red letters Trash Man was written above it. 

 

 The shirt was dirty and tore in places.  He had a pair of black sweats with a hole in the knee.  He had a hospital gown draped over him.  He was a big boy, no doubt about it.  He definitely did not look like a super hero.  He was about 5 foot 10 and about 240 pounds.  He had big arms but he did not have any definition to them.  He would still be a handful if we tried to force him upstairs.

 

Wendy smiled and said, "Hello, I am Wendy.  I am the night supervisor here.  We are here to help you.  Why don't you let us take you up to the unit you will be on?  It's dinner time and we will give you a nice tray."

 

The man looked at her and in a flat tone said, "I am not going anywhere.  You people have kidnapped me.  I am a hero.  I have saved thousands.  You have no right to do this to me."

 

Wendy smiled, "Well, what is your name."

 

The man shook his head, "You bring all of these guys to fight me but now you want to be nice to me."

 

Wendy cocked her head a little and gave a smile, "They are not here to fight you.  It's just that we do have to take you to the unit.  You are here by a mental hygiene."

 

The man became angry.  He stood up and shouted, "I am the defender of the people.  You are choosing to fight with me for no reason.  You are trash. I am Trash Man.  I will take out the trash."

 

His response would not have been so comical if it wasn't for his Trash Man t-shirt.  Billy Hubbard could not contain his laughter.  The big middle-aged staff with short red hair blurted out, "Trash Man?  What kind f super hero name is that?"

 

Even Wendy had a tough time holding in her laughter as a few chuckles leaked out.  She was losing her patience though.  She was usually very good at de-escalating upset patients but she had the beef with her now and was ready to use it to end the incident.  She turned to the staff behind her with her hand in the air to give direction when i put my hand in the air.  I spoke up.  "Let me speak with him for a moment."

 

Wendy raised her eyes wide as if she was surprised by my outburst and answered, "Sure Scott...go right ahead."

 

I backed the others up and then closed the door.  I looked at Trash Man and he looked at me.  I sat down a chair left to him.  There was silence for a few seconds.  I finally scratched my chin as I sat in a very relaxed position.  I said, "Trash Man, I just want to tell you I have a great amount of respect for what you do.  I want to thank you for everything you do for the city."

 

Trash Man snickered, "So this is the great speech that is going to get me to do something I don't want to.  Oh wait, I feel the seas parting.....Staff Boy made a speech."

 

I sat back and rubbed my chin and laughed.  I said, "Well, I thought it was rather Oscar-worthy myself. But, in all truth.  I have heard of you.  I read about you in The Cumberland Times.  I remember a couple of years ago you stopped a guy who robbed a liquor store on Virginia Avenue.  You tackled him.  You took out the trash."

 

Trash Man smiled, "A little bit better speech but I'm still not going."

 

"I look up to you, Sir.  In fact I'm honored to be in the same room with you.  It's just that this doesn't have to be a big deal.  You fought a tough battle.  We are worried because you hit your head hard.  You probably have a concussion.  You help us so let us repay the favor and help you."

 

Trash Man looked at the floor.  He would not make any more eye contact with me.  I was silent for a few seconds.  When I saw that he was not going to speak to me any more, I spoke again.  I took a deep breath a d said, "You won't be here long.  We will run a few tests and you will talk to a few people.  We are on your side.  You need to be at your best to make the streets safe.  We are in the midst of a drug epidemic.  Heroin is everywhere.  We need you."

 

He did not say a word.  He just sat and looked at me.  About thirty seconds of silence passed.  Trash Man stood up.  "Let's go," Trash Man said.

 

I opened up the door and everyone was standing against the far wall.  We started down the hall toward the unit.

 

We walked onto The Adult Short Term unit.  Patients watching television in the lounge gawked at us as we walked in.  Two patients recognized him and started chanting "Trash Man".

 

I led him to the nurse's station and said to Clint, "Clint, this is our new patient....The Trash Man."

 

Clint raised up from the computer and said, "Do not call him that.  That is not his name.  His name is Thomas Carpenter.  You will call him Thomas!"

 

Trash Man stepped up and pounded on the nurse's station.  He yelled in Clint's face, "I am The Trash Man!"

 

Clint leaned back quickly in his chair and then stumbled in his haste to get up.  I went to grab a hold of the patient to pull him back.  He jerked away from me and turned around and pointed at me as to warn me.

 

Clint said loudly, "Scott, get that shirt off of him.  He can't wear that filthy shirt up here!"

 

"Trash Man is not staying here!" the patient yelled.  "Open that door or I'll break it down!"

 

Clint pushed s button and across the intercom went the message, "Crisis team to Adult Unit, Crisis team to Adult Unit".

 

I tried to approach Thomas with my hands up to calm him down.  He squared off in front of me with his fists clenched.

 

I yelled, "Trash Man, I don't want to fight you.  Just calm down.  There's no reason for this!"

 

Clint yelled, "I said do not call him that.  Thomas, you better stay calm!"

 

Trash Man pounded the desk with both fists and yelled, "You do not call me Thomas!  I am Trash Man!  I will take out the trash!"

 

The door to the unit opened and Billy Hubbard and Darrell Castle came running down the hall.  Seconds later Wendy walked on to the unit.

 

More staff followed onto the floor.  The presence of more people seemed to confuse or agitate the patient.  He grabbed his head as if it hurt him.  He started shaking and shifted his weight from leg to leg like he didn't have any balance.  He then fell to his knees.

 

Clint yelled, "Take him down! He's getting a shot."

 

Clint had called and gotten a doctor's order for a cocktail of Haldol and Ativan and had drawn the shot up.  The cocktail would calm the patient down and eventually put him to sleep.

 

 

Trash Man leaped to his feet.  Billy and Darrell moved toward him to take him on the ground and put him in a therapeutic hold.  Trash Man spun to his left to ward off Billy then moved quickly to his right to hold off Darrell.  When he turned to Darrell, Billy jumped from the left side and grabbed him.  Darrell was able to snag him on the right as he struggled with Billy.  They all three hit the ground with a large thud.

 

Billy held down his left arm as Darrell held down his right.  I flopped across his legs and pinned them down.  Trash Man tried to get up but there was just too much beef on him.

 

Clint grabbed the shot.  We rolled Trash Man on his side and Clint put it in his hip.  We held them there for several minutes and then when he got groggy, we helped him to his room.  Clint made us remove his shirt and replace it with one from the donation room.  Clint told me to throw it away but I washed it instead.

 

I put a chair in his room and sat there while he went to sleep.  He was sleepy but still awake when I first sat there.  I asked, "Do you I call you Trash Man or Thomas?"

 

The fallen hero was lying on his bed and answered, "If I have my shirt on I'm Trash Man.  If I'm in normal clothes I'm Tommy."

 

I nodded, "That makes sense.  Thanks Tommy. Your shirt will be cleaned in a bit.  I will put it back in here when it is done.  I will also look for other clothes we have that you can wear.  My name is Scott.  If you need anything just let me know."

 

Tommy was silent for a few minutes and I thought he had fallen asleep when he asked, "What was that guy behind the desk's deal?  Did I fight him and bring him to justice a few years ago?  Is he trying to get revenge on me?  I can't remember everything anymore."

 

I took a deep breath and spoke," Tommy, I know you may not understand this right now, but Clint is trying to help you.  I know at times his methods seem extreme but he cares.  He is the charge nurse and it is his responsibility to make sure the doctor's orders are followed.  He was in the military and he just believes that discipline is the key to mental wellness."

 

Tommy shook his head back and forth and said, "But there isn't anything wrong with me, I'm just misunderstood.  Or it is Arch Enemy trying to frame me?"

 

I answered,  "Tommy, we have some very good people here.  We are going to take very good care of you.  Please trust us.  Trust us to do our jobs."

 

Tommy was silent a few moments and then said before he drifted off to sleep, "I still think Trash Man defeated him before.  I think he is holding Trash Man prisoner as revenge.  I think he is trash.  I think Trash Man will take him out."

 

The rest of my three to eleven was smooth.  I had picked up a midnight shift on Adolescent Unit.  Now on evening shift and days, the kids units were holy terrors.  The kids ran around like water bugs on speed unless they wanted to be sneaky and then they were like cats hunting mice.

 

On midnight shift, the kids were theoretically already asleep by eleven, unless there was a full moon.  They would be woke up at 7 and by the time their eyes would be wide open, the midnight shift would be running for the door at seven-thirty.  Thank God for evening meds...a mental health hospital staffs' best friend.

 

Now, the Adult Unit could be quite different.  The patients there are often more manic.  When the patients first come in and are unmediated, they will pace the halls all night or sit up front and ask staff delusional questions as staff attempts to do midnight paperwork.

 

 

The midnight shift started out quietly.  I had my work done by one and was just doing rounds and monitoring the hall and making sure that the kids didn't get into each other’s rooms.  Suddenly, it was the midnight shift's worse nightmare.  The fire alarm was going off!  This meant all patients had to be woke up and led to the TV room.  The location of the fire came across the speakers.  It was in the business offices.

 

I grabbed the fire extinguisher and headed that way.  The nurse would have to finish waking the kids up and get them to a safe area.

 

When I got to the business offices, there were four other staff huddled around talking.  The doors were locked and only the nursing supervisor had the key.

 

Addy  Baker was the nursing supervisor.  She was nice and I liked her, but she was obviously going through a midlife crisis.  She recently went through a divorce and she was trying to turn into a cougar.  At forty-five years old, she had bleached her hair blond, perked up her eyebrows, laid in the sun until she was as brown and weathered as an old catcher's mitt, and hiked up her skirts a couple of inches.  She had the vocabulary of a sailor who has been out to sea for a month and had downed a fifth of whiskey.  People liked her....of course because she took care of those that did.

 

Donnie Bright leaned against the door.  "This place will burn down before Addy gets here."  Donnie had worked at Frazier for almost twenty years.  He had a good 'ol boy attitude.  He was laid back but he had his co-workers back.  He may not look quick but the moment someone went after a fellow staff, he became greased lightning.  

 

I looked at the bottom of the door and said, "At least there isn't any smoke coming out from under the doors."

 

Janice Roy came walking up with three fireman.  They looked at Donnie as if they wanted him to get off of the doors so they can go in and see what the problem was.

 

Donnie grinned and said, "We can't find the keys to get in.  Well I mean...we know where the keys are, we just can't find the supervisor who has them."

 

Donnie pulled out his cell phone and dialed Addy's number.  "No answer."  He shook his head and laughed.

 

Kimberley Abbott, the staff working with the adults on midnight shift, came waddling up saying ," Her car is still on the lot so she is here somewhere.

 

Janice Roy went to the offices upstairs.  Addy was not in the supervisor's office. Janice found Addy curled up in the doctor's lounge.  She was sound asleep next to a fan which is the reason she could not hear the phones trying to call her.   

 

Addy quickly gained her composure and ran to the business offices.  She walked up to the door and feigned a fake smile as she said, "Sorry, guys.  I've been up in the bathroom throwing up.  I left my phones in the office."

 

She opened up the door and the firemen inspected the offices.  They did not see any signs of a fire so they reset the fire alarm.

 

"It must have been something I ate," Addy said shrugging her shoulders as she played for sympathy.  She tried to save face, "I can just see me in the bathroom sick throwing up and then coming out and the building is on fire and I'm the only one in it.  That's the kind of luck I have."

 

She looked at me and asked, "Is Batman still sleeping."

 

I looked at her and said, "Probably.  I'm on Adolescent now but the shot put him out cold."

 

The rest of the night crept by without anything out of the ordinary happening.  I was just glad to get out the door.  I would be back at three o'clock...less than eight hours.

 

 

I went home and got to sleep about eight-thirty.  The afternoon slipped by as I slept.  At two PM I rolled out of bed.  The good news was today was just a eight hour day.  I'd be off at eleven-thirty.

 

My day definitely did not get off to a good start.  I punched in and headed to the adult unit.  I was about 100 feet away from the unit when Carla Clark came out of the unit.

 

There was nowhere for me to turn or hide.  She was right in front of me.  I kept walking toward her.  She spoke," Scott, since I ran into you again, let's go in this consult room and talk for a moment."

 

"Oh great," I said to myself.  ”Here we go again."

 

Carla spoke soon as we entered the room, "Scott, I heard you did a great job of calming down Thomas yesterday."

 

I was surprised I was expecting to get ripped.  I said, "Unfortunately, he still ended up in a hold."

 

Carla said, "Yes, that was unfortunate but it was good to see that you took the talk we had yesterday to heart.  It is much better to see you talk someone down than to have to use intimidation."

 

I was taken back somewhat with those comments and said, "Well, I had him very calm but Clint kind of bullied him and got him riled up."  I already knew I shouldn't have blamed Clint but I felt like if he would have called him Trash Man or let him keep his shirt none of it would have happened.  Now, I liked Clint but at times him and my techniques were polar opposites.

 

Carla started, “Now, Scott, don't you think bullying is kind of a harsh word to use in this instance?"

 

"Maybe a little harsh," I surmised.

 

"Scott, have you ever been bullied before?"

 

I could see where this was going.  In a defeated tone I said, "Yes."

 

She knew she had me and said, "I thought maybe you were because usually those who think someone is bully someone else say that because they have been bullied themselves.

 

I didn't really get that comment but just wanted out of this conversation.  I just shook my head in agreement.

 

She continued, "You see you and Clint were brought up differently.  You were brought to be more caring and respectful.  Clint was raised a little different.  He wasn't raised to be as open and as good to others as you were, but that doesn't mean he is a bully."

 

I didn't quite understand it but it kind of sounded like it meant it was okay for Clint to be an asshole.  So instead of encouraging this conversation I tried to break away.  I said, “Thanks for setting me straight.  Is it okay to so I won't miss report?"

 

Carla smiled, "Yes.  Keep up the good work.  Just remember that because you don't always understand Clint, doesn't mean he is always wrong.  There are reasons for what he does."

 

 

Clint was off today.  Jasmine Wright was the charge nurse today.  Normally Mandy Russell would be the charge nurse but the meds nurse Barb Scott called in sick.  Jasmine Wright was from another unit but she could not pass meds because she did not have a license so Mandy had to pass them.  This really wasn't fair to Mandy because charge nurses made an extra three dollars an hour but Mandy isn't the type of nurse to complain.

 

As i walked to the report room I passed Barry Andrews, the BHS working morning shift.  Barry was five years my senior but a very hard worker.  He was like a shark in the water, he never stopped moving.  "I heard the Dragon Lady got you yesterday.  She just got me," He said.

 

I looked surprised and asked, "What happened?"

 

He sighed, "I complained because I was working geriatric unit a few times a week and the previous shifts weren't changing some of the patients’ sheets and they were sleeping in pee.  Well, I was going to work down here a couple of shifts so I put my initials and the date on the sheets.  When I worked back there a couple of days later, the sheets were soaked and my initials were there, meaning they had not been changed."

 

I was kind of impressed at his idea and said, "That was pretty smart.  Didn't she get upset at them for not changing the sheets?"

 

Barry shook his head no and added, "I guess I pissed her off because I complained.  She said she would check into it and then immediately asked me to step into a consult room."

 

In the consult room, Carla got a big smile on her face and spoke, “Barry, I've been meaning to ask you something for a while now."

 

Barry was kind of nervous as Carla intimidated him.  He stammered, "Yes.  What is it?"

 

She kept a smile on her face as she seemed to enjoy uncomfortable interrogations like a cat clawing a mouse's eyes out, "I was just wondering if you have ever been diagnosed as manic?"

 

Barry had a confused look on his face and was shocked.  He didn't say anything and she continued, " You know, have you ever gone to a doctor and gotten medicine for being manic?"

 

Barry was stunned and answered, "No.  Why would you ask that?"

 

Carla said, "It's just that you are very energetic for your age.  You work lots of doubles.  How much sleep do you get a day, Barry?"

 

Barry answered, "About five, I guess.  I work a lot and I don't have time to sleep."

 

She shook her head negatively and said, "See that just isn't enough sleep.  Adults need eight to nine hours a sleep.  And you are very creative.  Your mind does things it shouldn't be able to do.  You are always thinking...like those comments about the geriatric unit.  It's not good for your mind to always be working.  Maybe you should see a doctor?"

 

Barry stopped his story and with a serious look on his face said to me, "I'm not sure but I think she just hinted that I am crazy?"

 

I grinned, "You know how she is, Barry...don't let her get you down.  I patted him on the back and moved toward the report room.

 

Jasmine, Mandy, Dreama and I were the oncoming three to eleven shift.  We would be taking report from Billie Ramey, the charge nurse from the seven to three shift.

 

Billie was a cute pixie-like nurse.  Her hair was dark and her face was radiant when she smiled as she lit up the room.  She was very perky and although she was small, her perkiness and personal toughness made her a very good charge nurse.  She was an impressive leader and was working on furthering her education.

 

She started giving reports on all of the patients.  When she got to Thomas, she said, “Thomas Carpenter.  The superhero," she laughed.

 

Dreama quipped, " He looks like he ate Batman."

 

Billie chuckled and then continued, "Thomas, is still refusing meds but we've been giving him shots.  He became agitated this morning because his Trash Can shirt, or whatever it is has been taken.  He was given Haldol and Ativan so he is still sleepy.  He has been asleep.  He's very antisocial and potentially violent."

 

I spoke up, "Why don't we just give him the shirt?"

 

Billie said, “Per Dr. Hodge.  Do not feed into his delusions by making him think he is something he isn't.  Apparently, a goal is to break him of thinking he is a super hero.  He is becoming increasingly aggressive toward others and not only is he a danger to others with it, he almost got himself killed the other night in an alley fight."

 

Dreama asked, “So what are we doing with him?"

 

Billie had a confused expression on her face, “Obviously, he has been doing this for years.  I don't know if we will ever get this fantasy out of his head.  The immediate goal is to medicate him.  He has a history of being manic.  We want to keep him calm.  But hopefully the medication can work on the psychosis.  Hopefully, we can get him in a state where the therapists can reason with him about the super hero nonsense before tries to fly by jumping off of a building."

 

I was kind in the middle on this.  I understand it wasn't healthy but isn't this a symptom of other problems. He had thought he was a hero for such a long time I just couldn't see how he was ever going to stop believing.  It is his whole vision of who he was and who he is.  His whole self-identity would have to be revised.

 

What my colleagues didn't know and probably wouldn't like very much is that I had stopped and got a new Spiderman comic and had it rolled up in my scrub pockets.  I did take the staples out as a safety precaution.

 

I just thought we needed to take baby steps with him.  Plus, I wanted him to like me because I knew I'd have to be one of the ones to bring him down.

 

I went back to his room after report.  He was still woozy from his last shot.  He perked up when he saw me.  I went back and handed him the comic.  I said, " i thought this might kill some time. It's our secret...okay?  Do you know Spiderman?"

 

Thomas rolled his eyes," I know you all think I'm crazy but I know Spiderman isn't real.  I am real.  I have helped cops put people in jail.  I'm not doing all of it in my head.  I'm not fighting the Joker in my imagination.  I'm helping stopped robberies and find lost things."

 

I shook my head and down, "I have heard of you from time to time over the years."

 

He opened the comic book, " I started like you...reading these as a kid and watching Batman and Superman.  But i did become a real hero in my teens.  Yes, my mom did think I was crazy aand tried to put me away a time or two.  But I do fight crime."

 

I sat down next to his bed.  "I know, Thomas.  It isn't easy being a little different.  They don't understand that you have goodness in your heart and you want to help.  They think because you want to help that you must be crazy."

 

Thomas put the book down for a minute and asked me, "Why are you so nice to me and everyone else here is so mean?"

 

I sighed, "Thomas, they really aren't being all that mean.  They are trying to help you...maybe their methods are a little off but they are heroes, too.  They are misunderstood just like superheroes are misunderstood.  That newspaper editor misunderstood Spiderman's intentions and you misunderstood Nurse Clint's intentions.  He just wants to help you lime Spiderman wants to help."

 

Thomas shook his head sideways, “I think your nurses are evil.  All they want to do is take my shirt, deny that I'm Trash Man, and shoot me up with their medicine."

 

I grimaced, I was not a therapist and I was in over my head.  I said, “Thomas, I do understand that you do fight crime.  I see nothing wrong with what you do.  When you quit taking your meds I do believe the illness takes over and you become delusional.  I don't know if you see things that aren't there but I don't think you see things like we do when you don't take your medicine."

 

Tommy slowly got out of bed and stretched.  He said with a yawn, "I need to go home.  My neighborhood needs me.  Crime is out of control."

 

I changed my tone and asked with curiosity in my voice, “Why do you fight crime?"

 

"Why do you do this?" He fired back.  "Why does anybody do anything?  It is who we are.  I care about my neighbors that is why I do that.  I'm not afraid of anything?"

 

I asked him, "Do you have any relatives.  Is your mom and dad still alive?"

 

"I never met my daddy.  My mom died a few years ago.  I'm pretty much on my own.  I need a sidekick.  I need my Robin.  But a lot of crime fighters don't have sidekicks.  Even Robin is on his own.  He is Nightwing."

 

I asked, "How come you won't talk to anyone else.  I mean, you aren't going to get to go home until you start talking to your doctors, therapists, and attending groups."

 

He shook his head, "I'll bust out.  I don't have time for this.  I only talk to you because you are the only one who respects who I am."

 

I left him alone so he could read his comic.  I had lots of work to do.  We were busy all night.  I only saw him when I did rounds.  He came out to eat dinner then went back to his room.

 

I was tired and very happy that I wasn't pulling a double. I had to stay on the floor while midnight shift was given report.  The report ran late.  I had to drop some paperwork off at the supervisor's office.  By the time I got up there it was ten until midnight.

 

I stopped in the hallway and was reading a bulletin board when I heard giggling.  I looked ahead and seen Mick Craig stepped around the corner.  He was looking back and didn't see me.  I tried to blend into the wall when I saw the supervisor Addy Baker grab him by his behind and started squeezing it.  He turned around and as they were kissing the disappeared back around the corner.  They headed into the doctor's lounge and I snuck past them and dropped off my paperwork.

 

 

That was Betty Frazier Hospital...every hospital has its drama but you never know what lurked in Betty Frazier's hallways after dark.  Lion, tigers, and cougars...oh my!

 

I went home and was asleep within an hour.

 

 

 

The next morning I got up early and took care of some errands.  I was feeling sluggish where I had been working so much.  I was going in at three for another double shift.  I came back about one and cleaned my apartment until time to go to work.

 

I got to work at three and to my surprise another post it note was on the schedule telling me to come to the unit manager Betty Shields office.  I gave a long sigh and headed on my way.  I was not sure what it was about but I was sure it wasn't good.

 

Betty Shields was an older heavy set woman with dark black skin and hair just as dark.  She had worked at the hospital for thirty years.  She was fair and appreciated hard work.

 

I walked to her office and knocked on the door.  She answered and invited me in.  To my surprise Nurse Clint was sitting down.  

 

When I walked in, Clint jumped up.  He had the Spiderman comic folded up in his hand. He asked loudly, "Why did you give Thomas this comic book?  I told you not to feed into his delusions. You disregarded a doctor's order by giving him this comic."

 

I was aggravated by his tone of voice.  I stepped forward and said in the same voice he said, "You know Betty, you all preach about customer service and train us how to treat our patients with respect and how to have a therapeutic milieu....then this guy treats our patients like it’s a boot camp.  He totally disregards who Thomas wants to be, who he is, and anything he cares about."

 

Betty sat and watched as Clint and I argued.  Clint said, “You can't do whatever you want.  The doctor decides how we decide to treat a patient.  The doctor says it is not healthy for Thomas to act as he is a super hero.  It certainly isn't mentally healthy and as far as physically healthy, he almost got himself killed.  We are trying to make him understand that he is not a Super Man.  We pound this into his head and then you come along and give him a comic book and call him Trash Man."

 

Betty looked at me and asked.  "Did you give Thomas the comic book?"

 

I shook my head up and down.  I said, “Yes, I did."

 

Betty said, "Scott, you know better.  That is direct insubordination.  I'm going to have to write you up for that."  She handed me a paper explaining why I was being reprimanded.  She continued, "You are also not allowed to be on the Adult Unit until Thomas leaves.  This is for any reason including to talk to someone or to get supplies.  You have built an inappropriate relationship with Thomas.  We do not allow inappropriate relationships.  Do you understand, Scott?"

 

I was stunned, "Yes." I signed the paper.  "He has been Trash Man all of his life...now you just want to take his identity away and just leave him as a shell of himself in some group home."

 

Betty said, "He is not your concern anymore.  You are not to have any contact with him.  Are you clear?"

 

I headed for the door and opened it.  I looked back and said, "Yes, I'm clear."

 

I checked the schedule and I was on The Teen Addiction Unit.  It was an easy unit with only six patients.  I liked the unit because I had a chance to impact kids and discourage those drugs.  Dottie Valentine was a nice older lady who cared about kids and she was the nurse.  She was nice but could be firm when she had to.  I decided I wasn't going to get stressed out about the meeting.  I was just going to do my job.  I was going to try to keep my nose out of the drama and power struggles.

 

The night was going good.  It was a good group of kids and we were having some good discussions about relapse.  It was around eight o'clock when the announcement went out "Crisis Team Adult Unit, Crisis Team Adult Unit!"

 

I jumped up because of my instinct to respond.  Then I remembered that I was banned from the adult unit.  I was curious as to what was going on.  I told Dottie I was going to go up and look through the windows on the doors to see what was going on.

 

I ran down to the Adult Unit.  Other staff were running past me onto the unit.  It was Thomas.  He had gotten a white t-shirt from someone and made another Trash Man shirt out of it.  He put the shirt on.  Clint had told him to take the shirt off.  Thomas was now Trash Man since his shirt was on.

 

Staff had stormed on to the floor.  Trash Man turned to square off against them.

 

Clint yelled, " He can't have the shirt he has on.  We have to get that shirt.  I'm getting a shot together."

 

Trash Man yelled, "I'm Trash Man now!  I'm not taking any more of your shots.  I'm leaving."

 

Clint responded, "The only place you are going is to sleep."  Clint put together a cocktail of Haldol, Ativan, and Thorazine.

 

Darrell Castle jumped at Trash Man but Trash Man ducked away and turned to his right as Billy Hubbard went to grab him.  Trash Man caught him with a hard right to the jaw that sent Billy reeling back.  Trash Man was quick for a big guy, he spun back to his left and connected a short combination into Darrell.  He then reached back and hit Jason Thomas coming in from behind him.  The staff regrouped and Trash Man looked like a super hero as he spun back to the nurse's station and jumped on it.

 

I was now inside the doors and on the unit. Trash Man jumped off of the desk and landed on Clint.  Clint held tightly to the needle.  Staff was now heading behind the station.  

 

Billy reached Trash Man and pulled him off of Clint.  Trash Man shoved him away and got to his feet.  Three staff rushed him and hit Trash Man hard.  He went down hard.  There was not any room behind the nurse's station. 

 

I moved closer to see.  I looked and saw Trash Man on the floor behind the nurse's station.  Blood was gushing from Trash Man's head.  Three staff were on him.

 

Clint jumped on him and was giving him the shot.  I yelled, “Don’t give him the shot!  He is hurt.  He's bleeding!"

 

Clint yelled without even looking at me," You aren't supposed to be up here.  You are done.  You are finished here!"

 

The other staff noticed the blood it was gushing.  Clint stood up and looked at the blood.

 

Trash Man started twitching.  Then he started shaking violently like a seizure.  The three staff were still holding him.

 

The evening supervisor Wendy Cooper walked on the floor.  She yelled "Scott, get back to your unit!"

 

Trash Man had stopped shaking.  He was still bleeding.  

 

Wendy yelled, "The crash cart...get the crash cart!  He's in cardiac arrest!"

 

Wendy pushed a button and the message "Medical emergency adult unit, medical emergency adult unit, medical emergency adult unit" went out over the intercom.

 

Wendy was working feverishly on Trash Man.  Nurses ran on the unit and they were working hard.  Clint walked away from the crowd.  He saw me and said, "You better get your ass off the unit."

 

I stared him down and yelled, "Are you happy?  You killed him!"

 

Clint looked at me and threatened, "I will make sure you are done here!"

 

We stared at each other.  I reached into my pocket and grabbed my keys.  I threw them and hit him in the chest with them.  I snarled, "To hell with you.  I'm not working in this messed up place anymore."

 

At about the same time that my keys hit Clint's chest, the nurses realized that Trash Man was dead.

 

 

 

                  Epilogue

 

Dreama walked me out of the building as I didn't have keys.  I didn't say goodbye to anyone but I knew I'd never go back.  I left a message on Betty's answering service that I wasn't coming back.  I gave no reasons.  I never answered the calls that came over the next few days.  I didn't cate about investigations.  I wasn't ever going to work in the field again.

 

They would cover up the incident as much as possible.  I'd say once the films reveal that Clint gave the shot despite the obvious head injury.....he would be gone.

 

I didn't care.  Trash Man was gone and so was Tommy Carpenter.  Neither one of them bothered anyone.  We do the best we can.  Maybe I was right, maybe I was wrong.  I guess it doesn't really matter now.  I live with myself because I know that if I was wrong, I was wrong for the right reason.  Tommy was happy when he was Trash Man.  He thought he was someone and in my eyes he was.  To many in Cumberland, he was the crazy guy in the cape.  To me, he was a guy who just wanted to help....we don't have a lot of guys like that anymore.