The Man Who Made the Voices Stop

He was lying on his side, one eye thickly patched, the other eye tethered to the blank wall across the room. In the chair beneath the window, a man in scrubs sat turning the pages of his paper. Beside the still life in the bed, I dropped to my haunches, one knee popping like bubble gum. Hey,” I said to the fifty-ish man. “Hi,” he said back without moving his lips.

My name is Peggy. I’m one of the chaplains here.  What brings you to the hospital?” One eye appearing to invite me in, he tilted his head. Beat up,” he groaned, pulling a stiff sheet to his chin. “They kept kicking me in the face.” Man,” was all I could say, reaching for a better word. “The street?” “Shelter.”

I flashed on Michelle. A childhood friend of my partner’s, Michelle had slipped into a depression—and then a deep depression—and then a deeper one until she ended up on the park benches and back alleys where she was eventually killed by a bunch of boots to the skull. The same thing happened to my friend, Frank, who was robbed at gunpoint and slammed to the ground where he sustained a lifelong head injury from three sets of feet to his face. The police called it Attempted Murder.
I guess that’s not so uncommon out there, is it?” “Naw.” “But that doesn’t make it any easier for you…” He shook his head. That’s my babysitter,” he said, tipping his head behind him. At the sound of the fans coming to life in the sports section, I’d glanced in the same direction.

“Hi Tony,” I smiled, recalling the hot tip I’d texted to one of the nurses: There’s a cute CNA up on Seven. Hi Peggy,” he sang as if he knew something.

Tony hasta make sure I don’t do myself in.” “I know,” I whispered. “Do you wanna do yourself in?” “I hear voices,” he answered. Continue reading