Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Easter Bunny War

I remember one fine April day way back when where the time change and Easter fell in the same weekend.

I'll never forget that morning. I was working in a psychiatric hospital, right? We had a new kid on the unit, big honkin' kid, big enough to eat apples off my head and strong enough to pick me up so he didn't have to bend over to get them.

Severe brain damage, due to inhalant abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome, and ghod knew what else. Mind of a six-year-old. Sexually abused by Mom. Total snake pit of a situation. Oh, and he'd been taken from his lovin' mommy and locked up in my facility the Saturday before Easter morning. Peachy, huh?

He must have woke up five times that night to come out and ask me "Is he here yet?" I had no idea what he was talking about, so I told him, "No." I tried asking who he was talking about, but he didn't wanna. He'd just go hit the restroom and go back to bed.

Nine hour shift. Was SUPPOSED to be ten hours, but remember, that time change -- gotta set the clock ahead an hour, promptly at two AM. Dead on my ass. Breakfast was being served on the unit, so the kitchen crew can beat it and go be with their families by sunrise. The night crew delivered the sixteen warm styrofoam containers filled with bacon, eggs, pancakes, syrup, and such, and I carried them in and left them on the big table in the TV room. My eyes felt like peeled onions. I wanted to go home REAL bad.

...and at six-forty-five, fifteen minutes before the end of an eleven-hour-shift, that giant fucking child wandered out and asked if "he" was here yet. I said, "No. Who are you talking about? I don't understand what you mean."

He wandered out into the hall... and began crying. "He didn't COME," he bawled. "HE DIDN'T COME TO THIS PLACE!!!"

About then, I realized that this monstrous infant was talking about the Easter Bunny.
I had no idea what to say. I spoke soothing nonsense, trying to calm him down, trying to maneuver him back to bed, or at least towards the seclusion room, where he could scream his ass off all morning without waking anyone up. It almost worked... until he saw the lights on in the day room, and suddenly stormed in there, looking for his "bass-kut."

And he saw the sixteen styrofoam containers stacked neatly on the table. He immediately ran towards them, making weird noises (imagine Ernest Borgnine trying to weep and giggle at the same time, and you'll have a general idea of what he sounded like) and began tearing the containers open, looking for chocolate eggs. When each container was revealed to hold only pancakes or scrambled eggs, he'd fling it aside. I promptly hit the panic button, and moved to intercept, seizing his arm and trying to explain that he shouldn't throw people's breakfast around.

As the fourth styrofoam tray hit the wall, scattering scrambled eggs and drooling syrup down the wall onto the couch.... the monster boy seemed to really NOTICE me for the first time. He began thinking aloud.

"This place is LOCKED," he said. "Cain't get OUT. Earbuddy cain't get IN. EARBUDDY CAIN'T GET IN!" he screamed. "YOU DINT LET THE EARBUDDY IN, DID YOU?"

"Uh," I said. My hand was still on his arm, which had suddenly grown quite stiff and still, and had suddenly increased in circumference about four inches. It was really pretty impressive to watch.

And at that point, the boy tried to kill me.

He swung. I dodged. His fist literally took a chunk out of the wooden molding on the wall. I noticed his fist was bleeding on the backswing; he'd split a knuckle. He didn't seem to notice. He simply began winding up for another swing.

Fortunately, the kid wasn't a fighter. He was simply quite big, and remarkably strong, and utterly enraged. He telegraphed his punches to the point where I could see them coming, whole seconds before they got anywhere. As long as he didn't get me cornered, I was safe as could be.

Well, relatively speaking. His third swing missed me, and left a dent in a cinderblock wall. His fourth attack, a wild kick, missed me, but clipped the big table, sending it spinning into the TV set, and scattering everyone's breakfast. The air was suddenly full of pancakes and fluffy yellow scrambled eggs like frightened clouds, and syrup hit the big reinforced plexi window like dewy brown rain.

Looking past the kid, I noticed that several of my other patients were awake and standing agog in the hallway door, mouths hanging open. One of them immediately pelted down the hallway to the main unit; likely, to get the hazard team. Say, where the hell WAS the hazard team? How long ago HAD I hit the panic button?

The boy swung again, I feinted and ducked, and he hit the cinderblock wall hard enough that I felt it in the soles of my feet.

This shit had gone on long enough. Hazard team or no hazard team, I HAD to do SOMETHING, if only for the KID's sake... by now, both his fists were bleeding, and the bare foot he'd kicked the table with seemed to have lost a toenail, and was gory to the ankle. And ghod help us all if he saw those dips standing in the hallway door and decided that THEY'd scared the Easter Bunny off. I moved in, and when he tried to grab me, ducked, sidestepped, and armlocked him.

It was the only time I've ever used that trick that it didn't work.

Usually, you armlock someone, you pretty much take control of their right arm (or left, if that's their dominant arm). Most people get bumfuzzled by this, and even if they're still trying to kill you, they can't really get AT you very effectively, and they can't GO anywhere while you're pinning their arm and keeping them from moving.

He simply kept trying to kill me. When he moved, my feet abruptly left the floor.

This shocked me. Badly. At the time, I stood six foot nothin', and weighed in at about 220 pounds. NOBODY picks me up and moves me without at least STRAINING for a moment. THIS kid hadn't even noticed that he was CARRYING me!

He simply kept moving to intercept me. He couldn't use his right ARM, because I had it LOCKED on him, but that didn't seem to bother him. He simply began trying to get me with his LEFT fist.

This presented a problem for him, since he had to attack across his right shoulder with his left fist to hit me. He didn't worry about that. He simply began moving to try to CATCH me. Since he was carrying me, this meant he was literally running in a little circle in the middle of the day room, WEARING me on his shoulder, as if I were a stuffed toy or something.

Like a dog chasing its tail.

I was frickin' horrified. The kid was moving fast enough that if I simply let go, there was no guarantee that I'd be able to hit the ground running. If I stumbled or fell, I was quite utterly fucked; this boy would kill me without even meaning to or trying very hard, I was sure.
So I bobbed my head back and forth, dodging his lefty-punches, kept his right arm immobilized, and hung on for dear life.

And Dooley and the Hazard Team came storming in through two different doors. Rescue!

Dooley, the nursing supervisor at the time, blinked twice, and just stood there for a minute. I can see why; I'm sure that we must have made quite a picture.

Dooley was a by-the-book kind of guy, though, and he didn't stay stunned long. The book only allowed for three seconds, max, of outrage or total surprise. "Johnny," he said, gently but firmly, "What's going on? Is there something wrong, here?"

Ah, Johnny, that was the kid's name. I'd forgotten. It was all the help Dooley managed to render, though. The kid, Johnny, didn't even slow down in his singleminded pursuit of the evil Easter Bunny killer. He simply extended his left arm in passing, and clotheslined Dooley in a manner that would have done any NFL quarterback proud, even if had cost him a dozen penalty flags and a suspension.

The rest of the Hazard Team blinked twice. Then they dropped low and came in.

Within four seconds, we had Johnny restrained, and the guys who wouldn't fit on his prone screaming body were running to get the jacket and gurney. I'm proud to say I was able to keep control of Johnny's right arm throughout the entire ordeal, although he did manage to get a grip on my forearm with his right hand and squeezed hard enough that I felt the bones creak.

The Med Team arrived shortly afterwards, but we still had to restrain Johnny while they checked Dooley first, to see if he was still alive. He'd literally bounced off the wall when the kid had cold-cocked him. Got a concussion out of the deal, as I recall. Shortly thereafter, thorazine was administered, and within fifteen minutes or so, the kid was groggy enough that we were able to get him into the jacket, and onto the gurney, and off to the seclusion area, still screaming about the "earbuddy."

It was 7:10 in the morning.

By the time I'd arranged for more food for my boys and filled out all the paperwork, it was 9:45. The day supervisor thought I should organize a cleanup for the spilled mess, since it HAD happened on my shift, technically, before I left. I asked him if HE'D authorize the extra overtime beyond what I'd needed to do the paperwork, though, and he decided maybe someone else could do it.

And I left. A thirteen hour shift, including fistfight, foodfight, and all.

And sure enough, the following week, on payday, they'd remembered my overtime, but they'd forgotten all ABOUT that missing hour from daylight savings time...

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