“I will not explain to you what I have to go through with the amount of foul language I have to endure, as I have discussions with these people,” Jack explained to Norris. “If I did so, it will be hard to explain what you will have to deal with. I rather keep it simple and clear. Ones of a foul mouth lack much of an intellect.”
Norris sat across from Jack, wearing his brand-new crisp suit. Stiff and scratchy, but eventually he would break it in, if he can last at this job.
He looked at Jack, who was thinning on top. Bags forming under eyes that had the faraway look. Occasionally, there is a twitch from the corner of his left eye. Norris knew not to mess with him with his thick neck and shoulders you would see on a linesman on a football team. Norris figured he was pretty thought no match for the man he was looking at.
“At least I still have all of my hair,” he thought. But for how long?
“Do I have your full attention?” Jack asked with a stern look.
“I’m ready,” responded Norris, taking a drink of his coffee.
“Not sure if you are ready, but we will find out in the next week or two,” said Jack as he pulled some folders from his desk drawer and plopped them on his desk. “You came with high regards, so a good start. Fighting a gruesome war helps too.”
“This job will test your psyche. You will find out quick that you think you are prepared, but you are not. The question is how well you adapt. I will know in a couple of weeks if you will fit in, or this is not for you. Understand?”
Norris just nodded his head.
“Good,” he said, grabbing the first folder and opening it. Then he flipped it and pushed it toward Norris so he could see the patient picture and biography. “The first one you will visit.”
Norris checked the first photo, showing a man with short, brown hair that looked like someone put a bowl on his head and cut around it. Two characteristics that stood out more than the hair. First, he had a very large forehead. The length was like the brow to the bottom of his chin. The second is that he had a scrunched-up face as if he just put something sour in his mouth.
“Instead of reading, I can just tell you about this character,” said Jack.
“I am sure you have noticed his very large forehead. One that has caused much misery throughout his life. Picked on by people of all types, including his family. Not a good thing for a psyche.
Time ticked by, and he slowly, but rapidly, went downhill until he ended up here.
Nick believes whatever he thinks is displayed on his forehead. Therefore, he gets upset easily because he thinks everyone can see his thoughts. It doesn’t matter what one says. Everyone lies. I just play along, and since he has few thoughts, I usually do well in guessing them. It can be quite fun.”
“You will have to tell me, so I don’t get him irate,” said Norris.
Jack gave him an annoyed look as he pushed the folder to the side and opened another folder.
“This is Leslie,” he said as he flipped the folder.
Norris saw a relatively young woman with long red hair and a face full of freckles.
“Leslie likes to debate herself about everything. You can say a few words, and she will talk for an hour on the pros and cons. It’s interesting to listen to and make you change your mind about issues. Just don’t butt in when she is talking. She has a piercing cry. Next.”
The next file showed a black male with a look of someone who was full of wisdom. He had his fingers on his chin.
“Devon likes to give forth inspirational quotes to all that come upon him. Opposite of how he was treated in the outside world. Abuse daily can land you here.
He is one of the kindest people here. If you are having a bad day. Devon is the man to go to. He will perk you up.”
“I’m surprised he is here,” said Norris. “Sounds like he has overcome the abuse.”
“You would think so by talking to him most of the time, but he has his bad days. Days that will show you why he is here.”
“We all have those days.”
“Do you destroy and cause harm?”
“No. I just yell and pout in the corner,” Norris said with a smirk.
Jack did not look amused as he put the rest of the files in his drawer.
“That is all you are going to show me?”
“For your first shift, that is all you can handle,” said Jack, standing up. “Follow me.”
Jack walked out of his office with Norris in tow. They walked down a short hallway, ending at a closed gate. It opened almost immediately, and another hall before another opening gate. When Jack turned the corner, he came to a sudden stop. Norris turned the corner and came to a stop. A dimly lit hallway that was if a football field lay in front of them.
Jack turned to Norris. “Your first shift will be spent getting to know the patients I just showed you. It will be a test for you and them.”
“You want me to talk to them in the hallway through the door?” asked an inquisitive Norris.
“No. You will be in the room with them.”
“What?! Is that not dangerous?”
“Only if you display emotions like you are doing now.”
“I’m not sure about this.”
“This is your last chance, Norris. Work here and save your family. Work above and you will meet your end.”
Norris contemplated his predicament. He had little choice. Above is a world where he did not fit in.
“Show me to the first patient.”
“First door on your right.”