*Names have been changed to protect the guilty. And the innocent.**
**I feel really weird about posting this one cause it is something that happened but memory is a fickle thing. I have no idea how much I’ve exaggerated things in my mind over the nearly two years between these events and the original time of writing.
***I added a little to the ending that I couldn’t originally fit in the space limits so if the tone changes, please forgive me.
**** Yes, I still work at the same place, at least part-time since I’m currently in an accelerated BSN program.
“Where are you heading to?” one of the corridor deputies asked as I passed by him.
“Dog,” I responded. The metal tray full of medicine cups shifted slightly as I moved to the other side of the long hallway to let some inmates pass by. They had smiles on their faces and the pink slips in their hands that indicated they were on their way to release. I liked when people got released, especially on the second floor. Three fewer guys to yell and curse as me because I didn’t have a medication record for them or couldn’t give them something to help with their headaches or withdrawals.
“Are you sure? They’ve flooded three times today,” he commented to me then to the radio mic and speaker on his shoulder, “two CP to two Dog, you’ve got the nurse. Outer two Dog, please.”
“Thanks for the head’s up. Maybe they’ll chill out after they’ve gotten their medications,” I commented then turned left to face the green, heavy metal and hurricane glass door. It slid open, releasing a whoosh of fetid, humid air. Shit, piss, and a faint odor of burnt paper assaulted my senses, causing me to cough and my eyes to start watering.
“Amber! Great timing, we just finished cleaning up the last flood. The entire 200 side has their water turned off,” Turner, a young, tall, dark haired deputy hollered over the noise of people banging their cups on the windows and doors of their cells. I passed two shop vacs, three squeegee mops, and a broken broom on my way to the desk in the middle of a Y-junction.
“They broke a broom?” I asked loudly, as I noted that there was at least two feet of wood missing from the handle.
“Yeah, Smith, Thomas, and Gallegos used them to keep their door flaps open. Peters is stomping out the fires. Luckily they soaked the carpets enough that they’re only smoldering.”
“Wait, actual fire?” I looked to the right where Peters, a towering, heavy man was kicking at some blackened paper on the carpet just in front of the cells. “Holy shit, you weren’t kidding, there’s actually fucking fire!” I watched another flaming ball of paper fall from the second tier and roll in front of Peters. It puttered out just in front of him.
“Let’s start over on the 100 side. They’ve actually been good today. I’ll probably have Peters go to the 200 side. I’ve been antagonizing them all day,” he said with a sardonic smile.
“Okay, sounds good.” He clicked the mouse on his computer a few times and opened the slider between the desk and the 100 side of the pod then put on some gloves. We’d worked together multiple times and had the routine down. I told him who I had next on the tray and he opened the 18 inch by 4 inch flaps of each patient’s cell, or told me if they had moved within or out of the pod. By the time we had passed medications to nearly every one of the twenty four patient’s on that side Peters was back behind the desk.
“I’ll meet you up there,” he told me when I was in the small loft between the two sides of the pod. Turner went back the way we came to take over control of the doors and monitoring everyone on the cameras. The door to the 200 side popped open, the banging and yelling was overwhelming. Peters, easily six foot two, held the door open for me then allowed it to slam shut behind me and I got my first look at the mess that was the second tier walk way. There was at least a quarter inch of dirty water on most of it with things, I refused to actually acknowledge what they were, up against the railing. Three flaps were stuck open and the inmates in those cells were throwing out burning paper and fabric. I took a deep breath then turned to Peters, “Okay, let’s do this.” He opened the first flap.
“Mr. Taylor, what’s your birthday?”
“Why do you need my fucking birthday, just give me my pills you fucking whore bitch.”
“Come on man, is that the way you talk to a woman? She’s just verifying that she’s got the right person.”
“Fucking bitch, you don’t need to know that, just give me my damn Seroquel.”
“I’m sorry sir, but I cannot give you medication without verifying your birthday. Using a second patient identifier is standard nursing practice.” The response was rote, I wasn’t even aware that I was saying it until the end.
“Fuck you bitch,” he yelled before spitting at me. Angry guy next to me, fire in front, and I decided at that moment that I wasn’t going to deal with this shit.
“Nope, I’m out,” I turned and banged on the door to the loft. It felt like an eternity before it popped open, though was probably less than a few seconds. Enough time for raving man in the cell to make another go at spitting on me, but not enough for him to do much else.
“What happened?” Turner asked, genuine concern in his voice.
“Fucker spit at her, that’s what.” Peters commented.
“So… no meds tonight, got it.” The door back to the 100 side popped and Peters escorted me across the walkway, down the stairs, and back to the officer’s desk. It gave me enough time to shake off my surprise and for my anger and frustration to take over. “You want to press charges?”
“Huh, what?” I thought for a moment before shaking my head, “I don’t think so? He just got the corner of my top.” I looked across the way to the guys standing on the bottom tier at their cell windows, cups in hands. “I’ll come back for everyone else here after I’ve finished the rest of the floor. Can you let them know?” I asked, pointing to the ones at their windows.
“You sure?” Turner and Peters asked in stereo.
“Yeah, it’s not their fault the dumbasses up there decided to be worse than usual tonight,” I shrugged, “and, it’s, y’know, my job or something.”
“If you’re sure,” I nodded, “we’ll see you later then.”
“Try not to have too much fun!” I waved bye as the slider opened back to the hallway.