Ch. 1: Qualified?
This story comes in two versions. One with Michael Jackson as main character, and another with Dax Donovan.
I watched the uniformed man check his list and slowly shake his head no. Luckily a colleague of his was nearby and came over to us, more to check me out than the list.
“She’s the new nurse. Let her in.”
“Psychiatric nurse, thank you,” I mumbled, but the beep when they turned off the alarm and opened the huge, iron barred door, outsourced it. Probably for the best. After all, it was my first day at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, and all I wanted was to be accepted both by the inmates and the police guards who made sure everything was in order. But from what I’d heard, they had some difficulties handling a few of the most infamous criminals. The murderers. The ones who had killed their victims in the most gruesome ways, without any trace of regrets. Some of them even justified their actions by explaining how they only did what was necessary, and that they simply took responsibility to protect their own because nobody else did. But when the victim was a twelve-year-old girl who was hanging out with her friends, you could hardly categorize the victim as a potential threat.
This was exactly why I’d applied for this job. I loved psychiatry simply because it was so fascinatingly twisted and unpredictable, at least if you were dealing with psychosis, reality detachment and personality disorders, like I knew I would within these four walls. I actually think this single jail in Kansas had as many psychiatric diagnoses as inmates, if not more. And some of them had to be pretty complex, I could tell that much. Safe to say, I was intrigued already before I set my foot on the parking lot outside.
“I’m chief security officer, Trenton Davis. Nice to meet you, Ms. Treanor.”
A large, strong paw engulfed my hand in a firm shake, and I suddenly felt tiny compared to the extremely well built and muscular man in front of me.
“Please come, and I’ll show you to your clinic,” he said politely, before he got interrupted by the other, younger officer.
“Leave it to me, Trent. I...”
“...can go and sit down at your desk and finish your report,” the older one boomed, and I cowered a bit from the secondhand embarrassment. Then I tried to stay serious when the young officer pouted like a big child. Even without the other officer’s explanation, I knew perfectly well what kind of guy he was.
“Sorry about that,” officer Davis murmured, while he showed the way down the corridor. “He hits on everything with a somewhat feminine appearance.”
“Cross dressers included?” I asked to lighten the mood, and I got the response I wanted. A deep, rolling chuckle.
“Actually, I think so. At least after a few drinks.”
He was quite tall with short, black curls combed slick against his head, and his dark chocolate skin stood in perfect harmony with his khaki green and black uniform. And since he had a rather distinct hint of grey behind his ears and up his temples, I instantly categorized him as a member of the silver fox club. In the ‘really hot ones’ department, even. Oh, definitely. Still, he wasn’t interesting for me for two reasons. He was a bit too old, and his ring told me he was married. But he was very kind, nevertheless.
“If he bothers you in any way, just let me know. It’s not the first time I’d had to have that conversation with him.”
He gave me an exasperated smile.
“But he takes no for a no, so you shouldn’t be too worried.”
He unlocked a big, yellow iron door with a sign that said, ‘Dr. Allen’.
I was replacing a doctor?
“They changed the rules,” he said when he saw me staring at the title.
“Cutting the finances allowed psychotherapists, regular doctors and psychiatric nurses such as yourself, to apply. In other words; not only psychiatric doctors.”
I nodded thoughtfully. Maybe this job would be more challenging than I expected since it was meant for people with even longer education and higher salary than me? Oh, well. Time would tell.
“Anyway. This is your clinic. Probably the smallest in Kansas, but still. That’s the emergency room where you’ll stitch together cuts and treat other minor injuries. That’s the consultation area and that’s your office.”
He pointed at each of the places in turn, and I was a bit startled to see how sterile everything was. Cold and impersonal. No pictures on the walls. No curtains or other things that could have made the atmosphere in the room softer and brighter. Even the furniture was bolted to the floor and could not be moved. But it was necessary, I knew that.
My clients were the elite of the most dangerous criminals, and you had to take all precautions possible. The lack of curtains was because it could be used as potential strangulation weapon, and the bolted furniture secured things from being thrown around, most likely at me. Also, the office and the emergency room were locked with a key card for that very same reason. To eliminate risks. Although, both doors were now open so I could learn where to find things.
“Do you have any questions?”
“Not really,” I said and shook my head absent-mindedly.
“You’re familiar with the time schedules and routines?”
“Yeah, it’s all in my instructions manual. I think I have it all under control. I just need to read up on my clients, and their journals are...” I nodded towards a huge cabinet behind what from now on would be my desk.
“Yes, they’re all in there. And I think Dr. Allen left a collection of science books in the shelf over there as well.”
Officer Davis threw out a thumb in the right direction, although I’d already seen it. A wooden shelf with crackled blue paint that had seen its better days, and definitely something this Dr. Allen had brought from home. It was the most soulful piece of furniture I’d seen in the entire jail.
“Great. Thanks. And... Uhm. What’s his name?”
“Mister fancy pants out there. Just so I know what to yell after him when I kick him out of my office.”
The officer rumbled with laughter again.
“Nick. Nick Bailey. But everyone just calls him Billy. It’s a long story, but it all started with a bad pronunciation of his last name at a party, where he hooked up with a Polish girl. I don’t really know the details, and I actually prefer it stays that way.”
I smiled at him. Trenton Davis was a kind man. Authoritative yes, but he seemed to be both calm and fair. And humorous. I appreciated all of those things in a colleague. And when he pointed out the direction of the coffee machine, he was officially my favorite.
“Lunch at noon,” he said. Then he gave me a friendly wink and closed the door behind him.
“Lunch at noon,” I reiterated with a smile. This was a great first day so far. And knowing that I was going to spend the rest of today and tomorrow reading about, and getting familiar with, my new clients, only made it better. I already loved my new job.
“Why is that always the case?” I mumbled to myself, before I took a sip of my now half cold coffee. I’d been too engrossed in the medical journals to really pay it any attention, which was rare. I usually guarded my coffee more seriously than a vicious rabies dog protects its bone. But not today.
I flipped through a couple of pages.
“Abuse,” I said again.
“Alcohol... Well, that’s kind of the nicest abuse.”
It was true. As long as violence wasn’t included, the biggest problem with parents who were alcoholics, was neglection. Don’t get me wrong, it can be just as damaging as any other kind of abuse, but it’s better to be ignored by a sleeping, drunk father than to be beaten every day, after all. Especially when you’re a vulnerable little child.
Then my eyes scanned another medical journal, and I stopped with my pointer finger on the paper and read out loud.
“A cranial fracture?”
That caught my interest, since that could cause potential brain injuries that went further than just the physical damage itself. Depending on where the dead brain tissue was, it could even change a person’s personality as well as decrease physical abilities.
“Interesting,” I mumbled, and turned the page. Then I frowned.
“After a stage accident? He was an artist?”
I flipped back to the first page to read his name again.
It took a few seconds before my jaw dropped in disbelief.
"The Michael Jackson?”
Nah, that couldn’t be. If so, it would be all over the news and everybody would have heard of it. Not to mention, being a famous artist, he’d get the best treatment by elite specialists in the best hospitals there is, wherever that would be. Damage control at its absolute finest. Besides, why on earth would someone as famous as him end up in jail for murder?
I picked up my phone and typed his name together with the keyword ‘head injury’ in the browser.
“I’ll be damned,” I whispered.
“The famous singer and artist, Michael Jackson, disappears from the spotlight under mysterious circumstances. According to unknown sources he allegedly suffered from a severe head injury, after being hit when parts of the stage collapsed after a pyrotechnic explosion during a Pepsi commercial. He was rushed to hospital, unconscious and with terrible burn injuries, and was put into an artificial coma for two weeks...”
...to decrease the swelling of brain tissue, and lessen the inter cranial damage, I thought to myself. But that didn’t explain why he murdered someone. And how did a man with that level of fame and popularity suddenly disappear into the ground, without anyone questioning it?
“Spokesperson from Pepsi refused to give any detailed information other than ‘everything was taken care of’.”
“Taken care of, huh? From what it sounds like, it’s rather swept under the rug,” I mumbled, returning to his journal. But I didn’t find much. Obviously, he’d communicated poorly with his previous therapists, and refused to give any sort of response or information no matter what technique they used to approach him. He was cold as a stone. On one occasion he’d also allegedly attacked his doctor and had to be put in restraints and sedated to calm down. Trauma, they called it. Whether it was meant to characterize him or his therapist, I wasn’t sure.
“Convicted for homicide in first degree for the murder of Alex Frank, CEO of the Pepsi company, and his wife and secretary, Alice Frank.”
Then my eyes widened when I read further down.
“He decapitated them and burned their skulls?” I exclaimed in shock. “And then... Good lord... He placed them on sticks outside of the Pepsi office building? Holy Moses! That’s some serious anger issues.”
I pondered about how this could be kept out of the media in the extent it obviously had, but I figured that two such powerful estates had too much to lose. That’s probably why they kept everything under the table and came to some sort of agreement.
“I bet my bra Michael didn’t agree to that settlement, though,” I said to myself and exhaled through my nose while I chewed on my lip. I tried to lean back on my chair, but found it hopelessly uncomfortable, and now my back and ass hurt just as much as my head.
“I need to get a new chair,” I muttered. Then I collected all the files I’d gone through, gathered them in a pile and put them back into their respective folders. All except for one.