“I’ve got a job for you.”
“A job. Get up.”
“Fuck off. I’m on vacation.”
“Get up. It’s time to work.”
I knew it was too good to be true, dammit. Couldn’t even get a decent night’s sleep in the nut house, for fuck’s sake.
“Where’s the job?”
“Here, in B wing. Name’s Colton. Darwin Colton. You’ve got about 20 minutes, then you’re on.”
“Quiet. In and out like a mouse, doll. Hard part’s over already, just a walk and a talk.”
“Well, less cleanup that way, at least. Thanks for the favor.”
“No problem, see ya next time.”
“Yeah, see ya.”
The shadow detached from the window’s ledge and slid out through the cracks between the bulletproof glass and the frame, inking its way back out into the night, and leaving me alone in my room.
Great, now to make my way down to B wing, alley of the lost.
I slide out of the sheets & slip into my fuzzy socks, you know the socks you always get at the hospital – the ones with the little rubber grippies on the bottom, so you don’t slide all over & fall down, causing hospital accidents & lawsuits? Yeah, those fugly slippers. I love these socks. Don’t ask me why. I’m in a mental hospital, I don’t need a damn reason, OK?
At least they don’t make any noise as I move to my door & peer through the peekhole window, checking to see where the nurses & orderlies are. I know their routine pretty well, but every once in a while, they like to mix things up, & run random room checks just to screw with us.
Luck’s with me tonight, everything’s clockwork.
Nurse Hannah is on desk duty, which means she’s got her phone open, & is playing games, Facebooking, scrolling through some dating app or other, and is generally not paying attention to fuckall. Good for me.
That puts Randy, the night orderly, on the roof, smoking, which he does every night about this time, because he comes in at about 15 minutes to shift change reeking of cigarettes & hits the bathrooms to clean himself up & spray room freshener in his pits, like no one notices that trick.
Gotta love predictability.
I glide easy back to my bed & lift the mattress, taking out the skeleton key I hid in the springs – one of the tools of the trade I take wherever I go, & use it to open my door. Doesn’t matter the lock, it always works. In my line of work, it has to. Nature of the biz.
Hannah sees nothing as I work my way down the hall, and hears less, ear buds jammed tightly into her ears.
God, if she were any less clueless, she’d be a toaster.
B wing, here I am.
Key to the automatic lock, a soft click, a passive buzz, and I’m through the door & down the hall, slicker than snot.
Oh…he left it cracked for me, how, thoughtful…wait.
That’s a slippered foot sticking out of the door, dammit.
Five little gray fuzzy socked toes stuck in the door jamb peeking out at me.
“It’s OK, I’m here to take you home.”
“I know, honey, it’s OK. Take my hand.”
“It’s time to get up. There’s been an incident.”
“We need all the residents in the hall. Get up, please.”
I stumble out of bed and blink my way out into the hallway, pushing my rat’s nest hair to the back of my head. Not nearly enough sleep in this damn place.
After “head count” is over, they shoo us back to our rooms to get dressed for the day & for breakfast. Whoopee.
“Didja hear?” Tommy hisses in my ear while we wait in line for the food.
“Some guy on B wing cacked it last night! That’s what the head count was about, they think someone helped him!” Tommy’s face is almost gleeful…sick little shit.
“Oh yeah? Who the hell would do that?”