There are very few things that make the doctor’s heart race for very long. Nails on a chalkboard was one and the moaning that some of his patients do was another. He stood in his office, director of the hospital, head doctor in other words. He was a handsome thing in his mid 40’s with a dark crop of black hair crowning his head and a fairly athletic mid-sized build to his body. His square shoulders were rather wide and stood out in one of his formal business suits. He was a strong and powerful man who had started by working the wards as an intern. The doctors had encouraged him to go to school for formal training and here he was Dr. Benjamin Coulter. A respected psychologist and head of the staff here at the Manitoba Developmental Center. It was the mid sixties and most were out getting high, especially here in the rural areas of Manitoba. It seemed that the whole world wanted to smoke up and was quite convinced in the legitimacy of the act. Anyways the doctor was now going to make his rounds.
He donned his white lab coat and grabbed his reading glasses from his desk. Time to go check in with the nut jobs he thought to himself. The term ‘nut jobs’ always made him smile. His little nut jobs, every last one of them. They all just lay there and drool. I make them work. Me and my efforts will have them back at life. I can hardly wait to visit my special place in the basement. My personal surgical theater where I will cure mental illness. That’s my goal, to cure mental illness. But first I must experiment and gain a full understanding of the human brain. Such a complicated structure, one of trillions of cells all working in union to make man think. Such a wonderful idea, understanding the brain. The doctor walked across to the door and opened it.
“I’m going for my rounds Shirley take messages unless it’s urgent, then have me paged.” said the doctor.
“Yes sir. Take messages unless important. Will do.” said Shirley, Dr. Coulter’s receptionist.
The girl was busy going through patient records collating new reports for the doctor to go over. She had an open file folder on her desk and was busy putting pieces of paper into it. She closed the cover as the doctor walked past her desk.
“By the way, your two-thirty appointment called and canceled. So, your free to do what you want for the rest of the day.” said Shirley.
“Sounds good. Don’t look for me too closely, I might step out.” said Dr. Coulter.
He opened the office door and stepped out into a brightly light and very white hallway. There was a row of fluorescent lights hung above the hallway keeping the area well lit. The hallway had a tiled floor and the doctor’s footsteps echoed off the floor with each step. Dr. Coulter walked towards the wards and the mental patients. I think I will visit my sanctuary this afternoon. I’ll tell Shirley to hold all calls and then I’ll take Bert downstairs for a look at his head. He won’t mind, he’ll just sit there and let me. Bert was a long-term patient. Dr. Coulter seen to it that he took to head banging. That way he could put bandages on his head and they would not question a thing. Bert was quite the agreeable sort, he had had a lobotomy six years ago and was quite docile since then so Dr. Coulter thought him ideal for experiments. All he had to do was get him into some head bandages. Then a few secret trips to his laboratory later and the man’s skullcap was officially semi-permanent. He could take it off and probe quickly for even a few hours. He hoped to get to the bottom of the brain’s ways of generating thought and uncover the ways in which a brain could be deficient and then find a cure for that deficiency. People like Bert were a dime a dozen, left here to live what life they were given. They were easy to use and freely available.
As he approached a cage, the guard on duty opened the gate admitting him. He heard the gate click closed as the electronic locks kicked in. A camera watched you as a second guard on the inside of the cage visually checked you out. Then he let you in. Now he could feel the atmosphere change in the hospital from unrepentant sweat to more the fear of caged animals but they were not animals they were his patients. He cared for every one of them and would look after them appropriately. Walking down the hall, the doctor could see through the windows on the doors. There were patients in each room that he walked by. A flurry of nurses walked by on their way to the dispensary for morning pills for their patients. Damn that one is quite good looking, thought the doctor as he turned his head to check her out. I’d bet she’d be into a romantic evening. If only I had the time. It’s been a long time since I allowed romance into my life. Ah well, the troubles and tribulations of a prominent doctor. Ah, finally, the first patient he thought to himself as he picked the chart up off a hook beside the door. Severe Schizophrenia the cart read. Severe paranoia that cripples her on the inside. Nice high dosage of Lithium, I see it has been taken today. Let’s get at it then and check out the patient. Dr. Coulter opened the door and stepped in the room. There was a lady with long red hair sitting on the bed. She was rocking back and forth and whispering to herself.
“Good morning Rosanne. How are you today?” asked Dr. Coulter.
“Fine, just fine.” she hissed back.
“Any reaction to the medication? anything at all that you’d like to discuss?”
“No not really, just the camera. I don’t want a camera in my room.”
“Camera? What camera? I don’t see a camera.”
“The one over there in the corner, they film me sleeping. You know for the secret experiments.”
Dr. Coulter thought of his secret experiments and smiled. Have we got another volunteer? I’ll keep my eye on this one and decide later.
“Camera? There are no cameras in your room.”
“Still I want them turned off.”
“Fine, I’ll have the orderly turn off and remove any cameras from your room.”
“Thank you, doctor. Now when can I get out of here?”
“Well I see you are still having trouble coping with day passes. You came back to the hospital in shock last time because you claimed the sky was falling. I think it will be a few more weeks of bedrest and care before we will discuss a release.”
“Damn, I wanted to be out of here for my birthday.”
“Not this year I’m afraid. Perhaps next year. Well I hope you do fine and remember that I’m always available if you need me for advice or want to just talk things through. Have a good day.”
“You to doctor. See ya around.”
Dr. Coulter opened the door and walked out of the room. He heard the door click as the lock caught the catch in the doorframe. Walking down the hall he passed two empty rooms. They will fill up quickly and maybe bring me another fine specimen for my research. A room on the right and he found another patient. This one was suicidal. Severe Bipolar was his diagnosis. He suffered from delusions that impaired his good judgement to the point that he is unable to live by himself. Picking up the chart the doctor noted that the patient’s drugs were recently changed and the patient was enduring a round of bad fortune. The doctor opened the door and entered.
“Good day Michael.”
“Yeah, hi doc.”
“How are you enduring?”
“I’m doing fine. The puking has stopped for the time being.”
“Good to hear. Get food into your belly as soon as you can hold it down. You look weak. How’s the strength holding up?”
“It’s still there doc. See?”
The man put out a hand and the doctor grabbed it in a shake. The man squeezed the doctor’s hand with all that he had.
“Good god, the grip is strong. You’ll be just fine.”
“Doc, I got a question for you. I don’t want you to get offended though.”
“Nothing will upset me, just ask.”
“Okay, I was wondering about getting me a piece of ass in here? Is there a way you can hook me up?”
“Now Michael there is no way that I can arrange that for you. You know the rules.”
“Yeah, I know, but it doesn’t stop a guy from trying.”
“Okay, if there’s nothing else I’ll recommend that they stay on course with your treatment and continue the new regimen of pills and injections.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow, but will be available all day if you need me.”
“Sure thing, take care, eh.”
The doctor opened the door and stepped out of the room. He replaced the chart on the wall and then continued to his next patient, Bert. Bert wasn’t any ordinary patient. He didn’t have family or friends. Before isolation Bert used to get into such a state of mind that he became dangerous. Now they kept him heavily sedated and in restraints. Bert was special to Dr. Coulter. He was a part of the bigger picture, the greater purpose around here. He was one of his volunteers. Bert was right now tied to a stretcher and heavily drugged up. The doctor had made up a story of finding him banging his head on the walls in his cell and had bandaged his head. Now today he had the opportunity to take Bert to his little sanctuary and prep him. The last one had died, but not for nothing. Dr. Coulter figured that cutting Bert’s head open would be the easy part. Getting him to respond well below the threshold of death was still a problem. Anyways he could always fake another death if needed. The cemetery was filled with graves that had nothing but stones and gravel in their coffins and Bert would just become the next. The hallway slightly bent and the doctor zig zagged through the turn. Up the new path and to the right. I’ll still pretend that I’m taking him to the basement for therapy. That way I can get him prepped and have him back here tonight so no questions are asked. The doctor stopped at the door and retrieved the chart. He took a quick look and noticed that the patient was on all the right drugs. Perfect. Now to make it look normal I’ll pretend to inspect him. The doctor opened the door and entered the room. Bound in a straight coat was Bert laying on the bed. He was moaning and incoherent.
“Ah, Bert my special friend, how are you today? Not that I expect an answer from you.”
The moaning just went on.
“Well it’s time for you to volunteer for an experiment. Nothing big, but I’ll need you all afternoon.”
The doctor pushed the call button and a light went on in the hallway. Moments later an orderly appeared at the door smiling. He opened the door and entered the room.
“What can I do for you today doctor?”
“I need your help putting Bert here on a gurney. I’m taking him down to the basement for some special therapy today.”
“Sure thing.”, said the orderly as he disappeared to retrieve a gurney.
When he returned he found that the doctor had managed to get Bert sitting up on the edge of his bed. Together they got Bert laying on the Gurney and strapped in for transport.
“Thank you, that will be all for now.”