Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 5
From Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 4
Dr. Huan Wong returns to the unit after vacation. Ivy connects with him immediately. He is like no other doctor she has ever met.
She goes to a group and the facilitator , Eben, is eerily familiar but can't place him. Then the unthinkable happens.
Ivy didn’t comprehend anything Eben was saying. She was fixated on his mannerisms, his voice, his Jersey accent. He ran his hand through his curly hair and she felt herself quiver. Why did she feel afraid? She became aware that Morti was being disagreeable again.
Eben’s eyes turned black with fury. “What’s your problem, Morti?” His voice was like a hot poker ready to impale.
It was a Deja vu moment for Ivy.
A shot rang out and she hit the floor.
Flashback With Some Answers
Back in her room, Ivy was imploding. She slumped to the floor and rocked. “Oh God, oh God, oh God, what is happening? Why does that guy terrify me? I can’t breathe.”
A memory flashed through her mind. It was as if it was happening in real time. A man, looking similar to Eben is shouting, shoots a gun at a woman who falls to the floor. She heard the blast and smelled the gunpowder. The sickening thud of the body falling to the floor was followed by the deafening sound of lifeless silence. The man was her father. She remembered him from photos Nana had. The woman was her mother. Did he kill her? Was she just imagining it? It felt too real. But what became of him? She wished Nana was there to answer her questions.
A while later Muriel informed her she had a visitor. “Camilla Trueman. You want to see her?”
“Visiting hours don’t start for another four minutes but I guess I’ll make an exception.”
Ivy followed her to the front desk. The door clicked and Camilla entered the unit. Ivy ran into her arms and they held each other for a long time.
“How are you, Ivy? I’ve been so worried. I brought you some things from home.”
“Security will have to look through that,” said Muriel. “I don’t know how I’m going to get my work done.” She called for security.
When the security officer gave Muriel a thumbs up after looking through the bag that girls went to Ivy’s room.
Ivy nearly forgot about her trauma while talking with her dear friend and unpacking her things from home.
“Towels? Oh my goodness, Camilla, what made you bring towels? The ones here are terrible. Thank you.”
“I work in a hospital, remember?”
She brought Nana’s quilt to her nose and inhaled deeply. The scent of Roses de Chloe brought tears to her eyes. She had a piece of Nana there with her now. Camilla was also thoughtful enough to bring Ivy’s journal, as well as clothing and toiletries.
“So Ivy, how are you doing? You coming home soon?”
“I have no idea. I think it will be a while with the way I’m feeling. You have no idea what it’s like here.” She filled Camilla in on Dr. Stricklin, Dr. Wong, Cloe, the nightmares with the gunshots, and Eben. It was then she lost it and was back in Camilla’s embrace.
"I think my father killed my mother."
“What? Oh Ivy, how awful. Listen, you hang on. You're going to get through this."
“ I’ll be honest with you, if I leave, I’ll probably do it again. I just can’t live with all this.”
“Please don’t say that. Listen, would you like to talk to the chaplain? Pastor Tom left for sabbatical last week but I know the chaplain here. He used to work at St. Francis where I work.”
“I don’t know. I don’t understand what God is doing, or not doing, or something. I’m just angry with him.”
“Your bible is in there under your nightgown. Maybe you should read it. It should bring you comfort.”
Awkwardness stood between them. Camilla hugged her friend and promised her everything would be okay and left.
Ivy wrapped herself in Nana’s quilt and wept.
Coloring, Singing, Confiding
Morti was conspicuously absent at dinner and the air was lighter. From table to table it went around that he was in the safe room because he kept up his threatening behavior.
Ivy was quiet while Cloe quipped and tittered about this and that. There were other people at the table and she didn’t want to bring up what happened to Ivy in Eben’s group. It was announced movie night would start at seven in the lounge. There would be popcorn and red vines. Star Wars brought cheers around the dining room. Ivy and Cloe rolled their eyes.
“Let’s ditch these guys and go color in the rec room,” said Cloe.
“Color? What do you mean color?”
“Coloring with crayons, dopey. Like we did when we were kids. I used to beg my mom for the sixty-four count box at the start of every school year. She was a stickler for details. ‘The teacher's supply list said only twenty-four so that’s what you’re getting,’ she used to say. When fourth grade started Grammie presented me with the sixty-four. I haven’t quit coloring since.”
“How old are you, Cloe?”
“Twenty and three quarters. How old are you?”
“Twenty-nine and I gave up coloring when I was eleven. It’s kind of insulting they have coloring here. It’s not like were babies or imbeciles.”
Cloe sobered. “You totally miss their intentions here. Arts and crafts are soothing. Being creative with our hands and our imagination bring joy and take our minds off all the dark stuff we’re going through. Yes, I’m an art junkie, but it’s good for the soul.”
“I don’t know it feels pretty…”
Cloe took Ivy by the arm. “Look, have some cheese with your whine and come color. You had a bad day and it will do you some good.”
They sat at the beat up table in the rec room surrounded by two large boxes of broken crayons, colored pencils, and markers. Cloe’s face glowed like a child on Christmas morning. She picked up a pile of color books to look through.
“Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it. They got new books since I was here last. Cool beans.”
“How long has it been since you were last here?” Ivy asked.
Cloe looked up at the ceiling and scrunched her eyes. “Let me see, two months ago, I think. Wait, no, two and a half.” She rubbed her hands together, chose a book with intricate patterns, and began coloring with a turquoise crayon.
Ivy was quiet, pondering once again why Cloe was there so often. It made no sense.
“Grab a book, poker face,” Cloe said. “Swallow your twenty-nine-year-old pride and get to work. She tossed Ivy a simple child’s coloring book with animals and flowers in it.
Ivy turned randomly to a picture of a bird in a tree. She grabbed a black crayon and quickly lost herself in coloring the bird. “Morning has broken, like the first morning,” she sang to herself. “Like the first morning. Blackbird has spoken like the first bird.”
“Praise for the singing,” Cloe joined in.
“Praise for the morning. Praise for them springing fresh from the world,” they finished.
Ivy set her crayon down and looked at her coloring friend. “How do you know that song?” she asked.
“Grammie used to sing it to me.”
Tears gathered in Ivy’s eyes. She realized now why there was an instant connection between them. She felt like Cloe was a part of her.
Cloe tenderly swiped a tear off of her face. “Why the tears, Ivy?”
“My Nana sang that to me whenever I was scared or sad or sick. It was our song for as long as I can remember.” Their eyes lingered with an unspeakable knowing, a oneness of hurt and love.
Cloe finally spoke. “We’re not allowed to hug here, but if I could, I would wrap my arms around you and hug the hurt right out of you. Maybe when we get sprung.”
“Pinky swear?” said Ivy.
“Pinky swear.” They hooked pinky fingers and smiled.
"Cloe, my dad killed my mother?"
Cloe stopped coloring. "What?"
"I had a flashback of it in my room after I ran from the group."
"I don't know what to say. I can't even imagine what that must feel like. What happened to your dad?"
"I don't know. Nana told me they died together., an accident. She was always sketchy with the details but I assumed it was a car accident."
"Do you have any family that can fill you in?"
"I don't want to dig any deeper right now. It's enough to breathe. I'd much rather color with my new best friend."
A Scripture came to Ivy. ‘And Jonothan loved David as his own soul.’ She’d never had a friend like Cloe. She prayed that they truly would be friends on the outside. She couldn’t imagine a Cloe-less world.
Thinly Veiled Threat
Whenever Murray Stricklin greeted Thomas Gimmler in that tone of voice, his stomach sank. Thomas was tempted just to hang up on him and tell him there was a bad connection, but Murray was too smart to believe that.
“Hey, Murray,” Thomas said. He tried to play lighthearted.
“I just got a call from Dean Emery. He says he’s been informed by Elizabeth Stratham that I am mistreating patients. What are you doing about it?”
“Really? I was unaware of that. I have a tall stack of pink slips, complaints about your treatment of patients. I’ve talked to Elizabeth in the past and done everything I could to cover for you. Dean is vice-chair so she must have gone around me.”
“Like I said, what are you doing about it?” Murray’s voice was taut and cold.
“Well, since I just found out I’ll need to think on it and form a strategy, but you know, Dean is new and takes these kinds of complaints seriously. For some time I have not even looked at them, but today I got another batch. You know, Murray, you could be a little kinder to patients.”
“They’re mental defectives and twist the truth.”
Thomas cringed at the term and was quiet for a moment. “I hate to say this Murray, but your expression ‘mental defectives’ was a complaint from three staff members on the unit. If you’d just call them patients you wouldn’t have to worry about it.“
“I don’t need you to tell me what I should and should not say. Why don’t you dig something up on Wong and get him fired? That will bode well for me.”
“Are you crazy? Wong is clean as a whistle. The worst thing he’s probably done curse when stubbing his toe. He has been chief physician on the unit for years and well loved and revered by all. If anything, that will stir the pot worse. It will be obvious to them that you and I are just trying to distract them from your issues. It’s a common ploy in politics. I think you’d make a good politician, Murray. Why don’t you run for office?”
“Why don’t you figure out something, Thomas.” His voice was brittle. “I am not going down for petty grievances I didn’t commit. Don’t let me down like you did the last time, understand?”
Questions & Answers
© 2016 Lori Colbo