Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 4
Morning has broken like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing,
Praise for the morning,
Praise for them springing fresh from the world.
~ Morning Has Broken, lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon
From Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 3
Ivy dreamed about the night that felt like the end of the world, when she and Nana heard gunshots on the floor above them where Mama and her boyfriend Roger lived. She was woken by the nurse, still feeling the trauma of it.
Ivy met her new doctor, Dr. Wong, who was a delightful, witty, and deeply caring man.
"Ivy was taken aback at Dr. Wong's sincerity and joy. She shook his hand firmly. A smile broke out on her face. 'I like this guy,' she thought.
"It's nice to meet you too," she said, as she took a seat.
"Ivy, I want put you at ease right now. I love what I do because I love helping people like you. I don't have private practice like other doctors here. This is where my life work is."
"That's nice," she said, relaxing significantly.
"Now, tell me little about yourself, Ivy."
Dr. Weasel Unravels
Dr. Murray Stricklen stormed out of the small office where he met with patients, fury flushing his face. "Muriel, get security up here, NOW!" he demanded.
"And what should I tell them, doctor?" the aging unit clerk said tiredly.
"Tell them we have a threatening patient."
Muriel lifted her eyebrows. "Threatening patient, huh? And just who and what are they threatening to do?"
"Listen Muriel, quit with the twenty questions and just get security up here, already."
"I just need a few details..."
"Didn't you hear what I said? Call now, or I'll put your backside in a sling and my foot to your mouth."
Startled by such aggression, Muriel paused momentarily. Stricklen was more agitated than she'd ever seen him. Clearly he was unraveling and losing control.
Not one to be pushed around, even in such a threatening situation, she stared Stricklen down while picking up the receiver. "Yes, Muriel Hightower, mental health. We have a live one here, we need security up here stat. It's Dr. Stricklen, he's out of control and threatening me. Yes, hurry."
"How dare you accuse me of threatening you. Clock out, Hightower, you're done here at Mercy."
"Listen Dr. Weasel - you do know that's what they call you, don't you? - You have no authority to fire me. And you most certainly did threaten me. I believe your words were you would put my backside in a sling, and put your foot to my mouth. That means bodily harm. I believe you will be toast," Muriel checked her watch, "in about two minutes."
"Ha! My word against yours," he spat.
"No, I heard it, too," said Clara, who stepped into the area from the med room. "I could hear you loud and clear. You threatened Muriel. You need to calm down."
Security officers Megan Lockett and Tucker Murphy, entered the unit and approached the trio. "What seems to be the problem here? There is a report that you threatened Ms. Hightower, Dr. Stricklen," said Officer Lockett.
"That's right, he did." said Muriel. "And you may call me Muriel, Megan. No need to be formal."
Lockett sent Murphy off to secure the unit with the help of staff.
"Now listen, I didn't threaten anybody," said Stricklen meekly. "A misunderstanding I assure you. It is a patient who threatened me."
"What patient? Where are they?" Officer Lockett asked him.
"In there." Stricklen pointed to the office where he met with patients. "Her name's Ludlow, Cloe Ludlow."
Lockett's partner returned. "Murphy, check the office there. Dr. Stricklen says the patient in there threatened him."
Murphy walked with caution and looked through the open door of the office. Cloe was sitting on the desk cross legged reading her file and crossing things out with a crayon. She looked up at officer Murphy with a disturbed countenance.
"Can you please take a seat in that chair, Ms. Ludlow," said Murphy with calm authority.
Cloe hopped off the desk, file still in hand, and sat in the chair.
"Dr. Stricklen says you threatened him. Tell me what happened."
Pop Goes the Weasel
While Murphy interviewed Cloe, Officer Lockett was trying to get to the bottom of the situation between Stricklen and Muriel.
"Muriel, tell me what happened. How did Dr. Stricklen threaten you?"
"When he asked me to call security, I simply asked him to clarify the situation. He got impatient and threatened to put my backside in a sling and a foot to my mouth. He was in my face when he said it, posturing aggressively, and smoke blowing out his...ears."
"Yes, I heard it happen," said Clara.
"Come over here, Dr. Stricklen," said Lockett. They stood about ten feet away. Stricklen was grilled by officer Lockett, and the doctor lived up to his name "weasel."
"Now listen...Megan is it?"
"Officer Lockett, to you. Now just tell me your side"
"Well, Cloe Ludlow threatened me while I was with her in the office. I went out to the desk and asked Muriel to call security."
"Well, you see, Muriel has been verbally abusing all the doctors and patients in the last few months." He lowered his voice for effect. "In my medical opinion, officer, Muriel seems to be displaying the early onset of a type of dementia with symptoms of agitation and aggression."
"Was she verbally abusive or aggressive?"
"Oh, you better believe it. She began shouting names and profanities at me and refused to make the call, that is until I told her behavior was concerning to me, and we may have to look into giving her medical leave to get evaluated."
"Did you threaten to put her backside in a sling and a foot to her mouth?"
"Well, now, Megan, it's just a figure of speech. I would never hurt anyone, especially an old bag...I mean, a mentally challenged elderly woman."
"Okay, come with me."
They returned to the front desk where Muriel, Clara Cyborn, Elizabeth Strathem, the Director of Nursing, and Thomas Gimmler, Hosptial Administrator, stood talking to Officer Murphy.
Gimmler approached officer Lockett. "Listen, Megan, Officer Lockett, this is all a mistake. I can vouch for the exemplary character of Dr. Stricklen. I've known him for many years and he has a fine reputation."
Lockett turned to Murphy. "What did you find out about the patient, Ms. Ludlow?"
"Well, she was cooperative, but clearly upset. She said Stricklen put a diagnosis in her chart that wasn't true and she objected, demanding he change it. She grabbed the file off the desk when he refused and began crossing things out, which she was doing when I went in to see her. She said he then made improper advances toward her, touched her inappropriately, insisting on favors in exchange for taking a diagnosis out of her chart that she objected too. She got angry and told him she would report him and have his sorry self escorted out of Mercy for good. She said he grabbed her arm then, real hard. There were marks on her arm. She said she would scream if he didn't let go immediately."
"Dr. Stricklen?" said Lockett.
"Absolutely not. No way. That little twit came on to me, not the other way around. She's mentally disturbed."
Gimmler interjected, "Murray, come on, let's keep this on a professional level." He turned back to Lockett. "Listen, Officer Lockett, I will put an internal investigation on this immediately and give Dr. Stricklen paid administrative leave until our investigation is complete."
"Now just a minute, Tom, I did nothing wrong. You know me, you know I'm being falsely accused."
"It's paid leave, Murray. You'll be proven innocent. It's standard protocol."
Elizabeth Strathem interrupted. "Mr. Gimmler, Ms. Ludlow's claim is to be taken very seriously, as are the threats to Ms. Hightower. The authorities will be called immediately. You know very well that's also protocol, and the law."
Twenty minutes later Dr. Stricklen was escorted out in handcuffs, struggling against the officers and shouting threats to Gimmler and Muriel, and epithets against Cloe.
As the doors to the unit shut, Muriel looked at the remaining group with a sardonic smile. "Pop goes the weasel!"
Twelve patients on Mercy Hospital's eleventh floor, sat in a circle in the common room, as they did every evening after visiting hours were over. Patients came and went daily, so there were a couple of new haunted faces, and a few absent ones who had been discharged. Eyes were etched with fatigue and anxiety held everyone in it's grasp after the terrible and traumatizing day on the unit, all except one young lady - Cloe Ludlow. She was oddly behaving in a very up mood, chattering like a magpie to Ivy and Jeb, both on either side of her. Ivy noticed Jeb looking more and more agitated. Finally he got up and moved across the circle. Ivy rested her hand on Cloe's thigh and put her finger to her mouth.
"Sshh, Cloe, we're starting."
Cloe quieted down, but could not sit still. Her leg jiggled out of control and she literally shifted in her chair every few seconds.
Amanda Goforth, the night shift social worker, and Garret Van Rossum, the night shift nurse, were there to facilitate the wrap-up group. Ivy hated the group, especially tonight, because there were so many in the group and it took forever. Being as exhausted as they all were, she was filled with dread.
Garrett began. "Welcome to tonight's wrap up group. I'm Garrett, the shift R.N. and to my right is Amanda, social worker." Amanda offered a weak smile, knowing it was a difficult night on the unit.
"We know it's been a very difficult day today, and you are all tired. So we're just going to take volunteers to share, then dismiss early. I'm going be the contact person tonight for all the men, and Amanda for the ladies. If you need to talk, or have any concerns or questions, let us know. There are a few new people tonight so let's go around the circle and introduce ourselves.
As the introductions made the rounds, Cloe was still fidgeting and giggling. When her turn came she began to rock back and forth with her head in her hands.
"I'm Cloe, pink-haired target girl of perverted, knife-throwing weasels."
The room fell quiet with apprehension and concern for Cloe. Most did not know Cloe's part in the incident that day.
"Cloe, would you like to talk privately?" Amanda asked her.
"No, no, no." She rocked harder.
Garrett quietly dismissed everyone while Amanda tried to calm Cloe. She went into a sudden burst of rage, with the kicking of of chairs, throwing of pillows and shouts of profanity. She spent the night in the safe room. But she was not safe from the memories of the day, nor of the past. She sang another blackbird song in the dark, windowless room.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night.
Take these broken wings and learn to fly.
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night.
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see.
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to be free.
Into the light of the dark black night....
© 2016 Lori Colbo. All rights reserved.