Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 4
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. "Hightowerl," he said to Muriel, "get security up here."
She looked up over her glasses at him and back down to her paperwork. "And what should I tell them, doctor?" she asked, shuffling her papers. She'd had his number from his very first day. She wasn't going to take any guff from him.
"Tell them we have a threatening patient."
Muriel lifted her eyebrows. "Threatening patient, huh? I haven't heard any commotion. Who is it and what are they threatening to do?"
"Listen Hightower, quit with the twenty questions and just get security up here."
"I just need a few details..."
Stricklen's face puffed up, red and purple vessels breaking out on his cheeks, and the veins in his neck bulging. "Did you hear what I said? Call security now or I'll put your sorry hide in ICU before you can say Dr. Stricklen is in command." He leaned into her nose to nose.
Muriel rolled her eyes. "Your posturing bores me, doctor. Get over yourself and hold on to your shorts." She reached for the receiver, dawdling by removing her earring.
"NOW! Move it." His fist came down hard on the counter.
She stared him down as she got security on the line. "Yes, Muriel Hightower, mental health. We have a live one here, we need security up here stat. Dr. Stricklen is out of control and threatening me." She paused. ""That's right, Dr. Stricklen. You'd better hurry before he punches my lights out or has a stroke." She plunked the receiver down with thrilling finality.
"How dare you accuse me of threatening you. Clock out, Hightower, you're done here at Mercy."
"Listen Dr. Stricklen, you have no authority to fire me. And you most certainly did threaten me. I believe your words were "I'll put you in ICU before you can say Dr. Stricklen is in command." That means bodily harm. I believe you will be toast," Muriel checked her watch, "in about two minutes."
"Ha! My word against yours."
"No, I heard it, too," said Clara, who stepped up to the counter. "Everyone could hear you clear across the unit. You threatened Muriel. Everyone can back me up."
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. "It is a patient who threatened me."
"What patient? Where are they?" Officer Lockett asked.
"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.
"Miss Ludlow, can you please take a seat in that chair," he said.
Cloe hopped off the desk, file still in hand, and obediently 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.
"Ms. Hightower, 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 me in ICU before I could say 'Dr. Stricklen is command.' He was in my face when he said it, posturing aggressively, and smoke blowing out his...ears."
"Yes, I heard it happen," said Clara. "All the patients heard it too. They are all very upset."
"Come over here, Dr. Stricklen," said Lockett. They stood ten feet away. Stricklen was grilled by officer Lockett, and the doctor lived up to the name 'weasel.'
"Now listen...Megan is it?" Familiarity was a tool Stricklen used often to schmooze his way out of things or to entice or lure.
"It's Officer Lockett. Just tell me your side."
"Cloe Ludlow threatened me while I was with her in the office. I went out to the desk and asked Ms. Hightower to call security."
"What you need to know is that Ms. Hightower 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, she is displaying symptoms of a type of dementia that presents in agitation and aggression among other things. I have evaluated and treated this condition many times in my work."
"You've been here a week, is that correct?"
"In this short time, how often have you observed such behavior from Ms. Hightower? Have you or anyone else reported her for this behavior or suggested her need for medical evaluation?"
"I have not and I do not know if anyone else has. I am going mostly by what the other doctors and a few patients have told me. I have witnessed two incidents since I've been here, today being one. I was planning on consulting with Mr. Gimmler, the hospital administrator, and ask if he was aware of it, what is being done, and to make suggestions for her to be put on leave to be evaluated."
"Let's stick with today. Was Ms. Hightower abusive and aggressive toward you?"
"You better believe it. She began shouting names and profanities at me and refused to make the call, that is until I told her her behavior was concerning to me, and we may have to look into getting her mevaluated. That really set her off and she began posturing aggressively."
"Did you threaten to put her in ICU?"
"Well, now, Megan..."
" Officer Lockett. "
"Officer Lockett. It's just a figure of speech I used as a defense against her aggression. I would never hurt anyone, especially a mentally challenged elderly woman. Mr. Gimmler can vouch for my character and my record."
"Okay, come with me."
They returned to the front desk where Muriel, Clara Cyborn, the director of nursing, Elizabeth Strathem, and Thomas Gimmler, hosptial administrator, stood talking to Officer Murphy.
Gimmler approached Officer Lockett. "Listen, Officer Lockett, this is all a misunderstanding. 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 Dr. Stricklen put a diagnosis in her chart that wasn't true and she objected, demanding he change it. She took 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 grabbed her arm so hard it left bruises, which I observed. She got angry and told him she would report him and have him escorted out of Mercy for good. She said she would scream if he didn't let go immediately. Then he jerked her arm hard and left to report her."
"Absolutely not. No way," shouted Stricklen." That whacko is lying. She has a very serious pathological personality disorder and nothing she says can be trusted."
Gimmler interjected, "Murray, come on, let's keep this on a professional level." He turned back to Lockett. "Listen, 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, Thomas, 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, shouting threats to Gimmler, Muriel, and 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 seventh 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 grip after the terrible and traumatizing day on the unit, all except one young lady - Cloe Ludlow. Oddly, she was behaving very hyper, talking rapidly and making random comments that had nothing to do with anything going on around her. Ivy and Jeb were on on either side of her. Jeb, looking more and more agitated, 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 shifted in her chair every few seconds.
Amanda, the night shift social worker, and Garret, 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 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 chattering to herself softly. 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 the arm wrenching, weasel doctor." The room fell quiet with apprehension and concern.
"Cloe, would you like to talk privately?" Amanda asked her.
"No. No." She rocked harder.
Garrett quietly dismissed everyone while Amanda tried to calm Cloe. But she went into a sudden burst of rage, kicking chairs, throwing pillows, and shouting expletives. She spent that night in the safe room, but she was not safe from the memories of the day, nor of her broken past. Her night in the safe room felt more like being trapped in a tomb of despair.
© 2016 Lori Colbo