"There's some good news for you Riley." Dr. Aaron Shaw beamed at me, seeming enthusiastic for a reason unknown to me. It was kind of unusual of him to summon me at six-thirty in the morning when all I needed was to curl up in bed, sip on my much-needed dose of caffeine, and have nothing to do with whatever bullshit he'd planned to say.
I was a bit hesitant to ask my question. "What's the good news Doctor?"
Aaron's good news was hardly considered good these days. The other day, Nurse Irene was getting some good news and the next thing, she was shipped off to the Children's Wing and now she hardly got any sleep. Last time I checked, Irene was a walking robot- nurse on auto-pilot, her hair in disarray.
The corners of the young doctor's eyes crinkled and I already hated the next words spilling out of his mouth. "Dr. Liu, as you may be already aware is still in Malaysia for the seminar, but he and I skyped this morning and he asked me to pass on this news to you since he won't be here for another week."
"Please don't put me in the Children's wing."
He laughed and waved his hand like I'd cracked the best joke ever, "Of course not, Riley. You are one of the most hardworking nurses that we have, so we kept your best interest at heart. Dr. Liu is giving you a promotion. You will be transferred into the C wing for the Mental-Health unit."
There was a catch and he hadn't gotten to the best part yet.
"And?" I pressed on.
"You will get an extra bonus every month, overtime and plus all your allowances will be covered." He said still working that plastic smile.
This was too good to be true. Miracles never happened in my case.
Aaron pushed a plate of chocolate chip cookies towards me. "Here. Have some. My grandma makes the best cookies."
So it was that bad. He had to practically resort to bribing me with delicious cookies. When I tried to pick a third, he reached for the plate and placed it under his table. That smile was disappearing by the second. Grandmama's cookies were too precious.
"You will be assigned to only one patient. You'll have to do the usual; serve him breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Take him for his routine checkups, make sure he takes his medicines on time and assist the doctor in charge."
"Him?" I asked. "How old is he?"
Aaron inspected a blue manila file, leafed through a few pages and said. "Jackson will be twenty-seven next month."
"Correct me if I'm wrong, you want me to change man-diapers every morning of a twenty-seven-year-old mentally challenged man who probably likes to throw tantrums. No wonder I'm getting this promotion."
"Not mentally challenged, just mentally insane."
He continued. "You don't have to bathe him or wipe his ass. I assure you, he is capable of doing all that on his own."
"Great. That makes me feel so much better." I said sarcastically.
"You'll feel even better to know that you won't have any night shifts. Of course, you may be called to assist the doctors if needed but that would be occasionally. There's no workload here."
That did sound like less work and overall a good deal but things weren't sitting right with me.
"Wasn't Nurse Roxanne also transferred to the C wing? Did she also get promoted?"
Aaron shrugged. "Well, she did but things did not exactly sit well with her what with Roxanne always complaining about everything. We just sent her off to a short vacation."
I nodded. That did not explain why she was sobbing hysterically and running out of the wing as if her butt had caught fire. Aaron thought I was stupid. I had experience working with mental patients, how bad could this be?
"Okay. Sounds good."
That grin was back. "Awesome. So, I'll have the paperwork ready and you can start tomorrow. Just visit the office first thing tomorrow morning. Dr. Bennett will have all the introductions and other formalities in order."
"Dr. Bennett? I've never heard of him."
"Oh, right." He said, taking a sip of his coffee. "We have new recruits this month. Fresh out of medical school. So he's my new—"
"Errand boy." I blurted out.
Aaron chucked. "Is that what you think of me? I was gonna say 'trainee' but, errand boy would do too." He winked and I laughed along with him. No matter how sneaky Aaron was he was the only doctor who didn't always have a rod up his ass. He was easy-going and fun, the type you complained stuff to hoping he didn't kiss and tell. I for one liked Aaron for being the cool doctor.
"Any more questions?" he asked.
"Off you go then and good luck on your new adventure."
I rolled my eyes.
"Let me get this straight. You've been promoted from being the eye candy for elders to being a nanny for psychopaths? How much were you getting paid again?" My younger brother Ken asked. He was three years younger than I but still acted like an older brother. He felt obligated to take up the role of the family head after our parents died in a car crash.
Kenneth was studying to become a vet. It had always been his dream, and even though he was smart enough to get a scholarship that would cover all the expenses, we were still working hard to make ends meet. He worked part-time in the veterinary department of Woodville hospital. He loved animals. Ken's pet died of sickness when he was ten and I still remember how much that had affected him, feeling helpless about not having the power to help the animal had somehow stuck with him and he'd decided to become a vet.
"It's not like I have a choice. Plus, it's a good raise for playing personal nurse for a single patient." I said, serving him a generous amount of lasagna.
"Do you seriously think like that or are you trying to convince yourself?" Ken sighed.
"I'm serious. We need the money and I will take this opportunity. It doesn't matter to me where I'm transferred to as long as they keep the end of their bargain."
"Look at yourself, Riley. You hardly have any friends; you never go out like other twenty-five-year-olds'. Maybe it's time to let me be the man of this house for once and handle things my way." He suggested, taking a small bite of the food.
I clenched the fork in my hand so hard, the knuckles were turning white. "I let you be in charge and then what, Kenneth?" I asked and he closed his eyes and sighed because I'd just said his full name and his expressions told me he wasn't in the mood for another argument. I continued. "You think your part-time job is gonna be able to cover the rent or the electricity bills?"
His face fell and I knew I shouldn't have said that. "Hey...I didn't mean to say that. I'm sorry." I apologized.
"I'm just saying you shouldn't have taken this offer. You have no idea what you're getting yourself into." He said, his clear blue eyes staring at me which reminded me so much of our father.
"I'm pretty sure I can take care of myself. Don't worry about me, concentrate on your studying."
"I just want you to live a little." He added, murdering the poor lasagna with his fork.
I felt guilty for losing my cool just a minute ago. Ken was always looking out for me. I kept a hand on his. "I will."
Maybe it was the exhaustion of running around in the hospital every day doing whatnot. I knew I needed this promotion or demotion, or whatever it was that the doctors had planned for me. An exclusive nurse didn't sound that bad.
"So do you know this patient?"
"Cannot disclose patient personal information." I reminded him, "hello...HIPPA."
"Oh, c' mon. We're family. Any info you give me isn't going anywhere. I just want to make sure you're not getting involved with someone who's a bat-shit psycho."
I shook my head, taking a sip of the chilled water. "All I know is that his name is Jackson and he's twenty-seven."
"That name kinda sounds familiar. I wonder if I know him." Ken was lost in thought. "I'll ask Cayla tomorrow. She's like the walking encyclopedia. I won't say anything about you getting assigned to him. I'll just casually ask her, be discreet about it."
Cayla was his co-worker in the veterinary department, also had a huge crush on Ken. I wondered if she would be gray and old before my brother even asked her out.
"Cayla's a nice girl. She told me the other day that she wanted some help for a research project that you guys are doing."
"Right." He said.
"You should help her out."
Ken nodded, and just like that I'd done my part by playing the cupid, but he was the one who was supposed to take this more seriously. I sighed and started shoveling down some salad, anxious and excited for my first day tomorrow in the mental health wing.
Tomorrow was going to be a big day.