Revenge of the Mad Doctor
"NOOOO! NOOO! You sons of bitches! You can't do that!" Jackie swept her arms across the nurses' desk and sent its contents flying. She threw the stapler. She threw the tape dispenser. She actually picked up and flung the rolling desk chair before collapsing to the floor, wailing hysterically. This set off the usual chain reaction of raving amongst the able-bodied patients, who shrieked, ran for cover or laughed. Bug Eyes jumped on the coffee table, waving his arms and screeched like a bird. Dr. Ned stood smugly in the doorway with his arms folded.
Willie had just been sprung from an extended lockup in the padded palace and stood dumbfounded in the middle of the room as two, three, no four orderlies were required to subdue the overwrought woman. Behind him two nurses whispered.
"Did you hear what happened?"
"Jackie was scheduled for a sex-change operation, and now her psychiatrist has cancelled the procedure—said a staff member here advised that she was mentally unbalanced and no longer a suitable candidate."
Jackie got booty juiced with a sedative while struggling on the floor.
"I read that transsexuals have a 50 percent suicide rate. Do you really think a mental patient should get a sex op?"
"I do if this is the alternative."
Willie watched in dismay as the attendants carried off his roommate.
For days after that, there was no sign of Jacqueline. "Everything's fine," the nurses would uniformly respond when Willie broached the subject. Finally, he asked the grief counselor if Jackie was dead.
"Of course not. Everything's fine," Dr. Lynne replied. "Jackie needs some time to sort out her feelings, that's all."
He retired that evening to discover his friend back in their room, secured to the bed in a straightjacket. Her heavy lidded eyes indicated she was still heavily sedated.
"I'm awful sorry," was all Willie could think of to say. "I shoulda warned you that Dr. Ned was an asshole, but I never thought he'd...If you don't wanna talk, I'll shuddup."
There was no response as the boy removed a clean T-shirt from his drawer, dipped part of it into a Styrofoam water cup and proceeded to wipe the woman's tear-streaked face.
"Your makeup needs to get fixed, girlfriend," Willie continued with a forced smile. "You got more messy black stuff under your eyes than Alice Cooper…Shit, I think I just made it worse. How do ya clean this off?"
"Don' 'member." The woman replied with slurred syllables.
"Never mind, we'll ask Nurse Sharon. I bet she'll know."
"Good. Sorry I don't have a washcloth." He dried with the other side of the shirt and then gently brushed the woman's hair away from her face and across the pillow in a dark halo.
"You got shock treatment, didn't you. They do that to me too, all the time, like it's gonna cure all your problems. I guess, after a while, it makes ya forget what they were."
"Stopped my hormone pills an' 'jections. Wha'm I goin' do? Fourteen years of therapy, prep op'rations, my life’s savings…" Jackie began to cry.
"Do you know what your meds are called? I could break into the cabinet."
Jackie shook her head in despair.
Willie stared with curiosity at the stained shirt, which bore an impressionistic representation of his roommate's countenance.
"Hey, look." He held it up for Jackie to see. "You left a Jesus face on my shirt. Let's put it on the door to scare Roberta. Oh, and this." He pulled Sabrina's head from his dresser drawer. We're gonna hang this up as a warnin' to other evil, doctor-fakin' therapists."
In the weeks following, Jacqueline, because of the drugs or the depression, withdrew from reality, but Willie devoted himself to her care. He made her bed in the morning, spoon fed her at mealtime and wheeled her to all the sessions but one. During Group Therapy Jackie was deposited in the TV Room and her roomie went alone. But it was no big deal; Willie was consistently thrown out within the first five minutes and spent the remainder sitting on the steps with a pilfered paperback from his back pocket.
The exchange between Willie and Dr. Ned varied little from day to day.
"Your effeminate friend isn't so outspoken anymore, I see. Good thing he has such a conscientious caregiver as yourself. Tell me, what does his husband think of that? You know, the one we've never seen. He does exist, I hope."
"Shut up about Jackie, you dickhead. I'm the one who killed your toy girlfriend."
"Go sit on the steps."
Willie walked his friend around the Common Room for exercise and enlisted the aid of Nurse Sharon and others to apply and remove her makeup every day. He read to her in the evenings or they watched TV. Jackie never spoke but would occasionally groan and exhibit signs of distress. In response, Willie would hold her hand, and that seemed to have a calming effect.
At length, the woman recovered her ability to function independently and reacted to surroundings. One morning, as Willie brushed out her long, highlighted hair, she spoke.
"I have always been dependent upon the kindness of strangers."
"I'm not a stranger. Fuck you."
Jackie smiled for the first time in forever.
Shortly before bedtime, Jacqueline and Willie were in the Art Therapy Room, where the young man was painting his friend's nails, just like he did once for his little half-sister one Thanksgiving. Only this large lady had large hands to match, and long, formidable nails. After a base of Pink Perfection, Willie went to town creating designs on top with Passionate Purple. There were hearts and crescent moons, diamonds, stars and swirls. He always was good with a little brush and detail work. As Jackie hummed a show tune about being pretty and witty, she glanced up to see Leroi when he approached the pair.
"Looks good," the aide commented.
"So do you, handsome," Tranny Jack smiled flirtatiously. "Did my husband call today?"
"I don't think so, but tomorrow—"
"—is another day."
"Sorry, but I have to steal your artist away. Dr. Gordon wants to see him."
"What for?" Willie didn't look up, absorbed by his task.
"I don't know. How about if you just come along and find out."
Willie paused outside the doctor's office when he heard heated voices within. He looked anxiously at his attendant. "I didn't do nothing, I swear."
"Stay cool; it's okay." Leroi reached past him to knock on the door and usher his charge inside.
"You can't just march in here after two and a half years and wave that paper in my face," Dr. Gordon fumed at the visitors.
"I can and I will. My husband pays his bill and the boy is my patient."
"Have you done even one follow-up on his case? Ever asked to see a progress report? He is nowhere near ready to be discharged; it would be very ill advised at this time."
"I'll be the judge of that. Willie, look at me. Do you remember who I am?"
Willie cocked his head at the red-headed woman. "Sure. You're J-Julia, right? Your hair's different."
Beside her was a tall gentleman. "And what is my name?" he asked.
Willie's eyes fixated on the walking stick he carried. "B-Barnabas." His heart was thumping in his chest.
"That's correct. You must leave now and gather your belongings. Julia and I have come to bring you home—back to the Old House."
The young man's lip trembled as he shot a glance to Dr. Gordon. Why were they kicking him out?
"Did I do something wrong? I'm sorry."
"No, it's fine," Dr. Gordon assured him before returning his conversation back to Dr. Hoffman. "Does he look recovered to you? Honestly?"
"He may make more progress at home, away from an institutional setting. I'm afraid, Gordon, you have no say in the matter."
"This will come up at the next board meeting, where I will have a lot to say. Please reconsider what you're doing. This patient requires almost constant supervision. He is dangerous to himself and others. If you would just take a minute to look at his file—"
"He will have my undivided attention, I promise you," the doctor replied, ignoring the folder held out by her colleague. "Willie, go pack your suitcase now."
Leroi was waiting for him outside the office and escorted the young man to his dorm room. "Good for you, Psycho. I never thought I'd see the day."
"I'm kind of scared. I been here a long time."
"Don't worry; doctors know what they're doing, and you were never happy at this place."
Willie sat on the bed, anxiously eyeing the door as Leroi stashed his possessions into the duffle bag.
"Can I say goodbye to everyone?"
"They're giving out evening meds, so now's not a good time. I'll tell them for you."
"But, Nurse Jessie—"
"It's her night off." He patted the boy's back. "You're just going to have to come back and visit us, okay?"
"Okay." He nodded uncertainly. "Uh—tell Tranny Jack I'm sorry I didn't get to finish her nails."
The Common Room was empty as he traveled through, save one lone woman, sitting stone-faced by a window. Willie approached her with a bewildered look.
"Mrs. S-Stoddard, is that you?" She wore a midnight blue velvet caftan and did not turn at the sound of his voice. "Hey, what are you doing here?"
"I'm going to die."
"Uh, okay. Sorry."
Willie shook his head as he continued on his path. Boy, sooner or later, everybody ends up at Wyndcliff.
Barnabas and Julia were waiting for him in the reception area, anxious to get going. The woman was holding a plastic bag which contained his previously confiscated possessions.
Willie, however, took a detour and ducked into Dr. Gordon's office. The administrator sat stiffly in his high back desk chair which faced away from the door.
"Doc?" There was no answer. Willie had a fleeting moment of panic as he rushed in and grabbed the man's shoulder.
"Sorry, I was lost in thought." Dr. Gordon stood and shook the patient's hand. "Good luck, son."
Willie took a deep breath. "I wanted to say thanks for taking care of me. You're a good doctor."
The young man walked back down the hall. Doc Gordon felt he was still crazy but certainly didn't try very hard to have him stay. Maybe Willie should have apologized for all the shit he pulled over the past few years. He walked into Jacqueline's outstretched hand.
"Where do you think you're going, cupcake?" she asked with deadpan sarcasm.
Her roommate hung his head. "Away. Home. They said I can't stay here no more. I'm sorry—"
Jackie took his face in her large hands, smiled sadly and kissed his forehead, then wiped off the magenta lipstick mark.
"If I leave, who'll take care of you?"
"Now don't worry about a thing. I am a strong, independent woman who happens to be fabulous. My husband and Fluffgirl are coming any day now to bring me home too. I'm going to make myself a new outfit because he'll want to celebrate." She swatted Willie's behind. "Go on, now. And don't do anything I wouldn't."
Willie dragged his duffle behind him into the gloomy parking lot, glancing briefly over his shoulder when someone abruptly killed the porch lights.
End of Act II