As I sat rolling toilet paper, I couldn’t help but listen in to the conversation Robert was having with a resident. She was a 300 pound black woman with breasts that reach to her knees as she sat, partly watching the sports channel. She was missing half of her teeth. One of her eyes was swollen for some reason. Her hair stuck straight up in the back but was neatly combed flat in the front. She wore bright red lipstick, the kind that reminds you of the day you tried your grandmother’s on when she wasn’t looking and then couldn’t wipe it off before she found you.
“Shack’s like eight feet tall. He ain’t got no reason to quit playin now. He comes round and the utha guys just move out da way!” And with that she separated her hands as if parting the red sea. Her eyes were blazing but dim with yellowing.
Robert chucked. “That may be so, may be so.” And then he started to talk about some of the other players. Within three minutes, the heavy set woman had dozed off in her chair.
“…Don’t you think that’s SO!?” He asked, increasing his pitch to rouse the woman out of her sleep. It worked.
“Yes, yes. But they don’ play the way they use ta.” and she started to doze off again while Robert continued his side of the conversation.
This back and forth doze and talk, doze and talk, went on for about an hour. She was either very tired or high on heroin.
“What’s yer NAME?!” Robert prodded.
“No. Chuckums. Like I chuck um.” And she threw her fists in the air as if beating an unseen foe in front of her.
“Oh.” Robert no longer seemed so interested in talking. Chuckums fell back asleep. Eventually, when she almost fell out of her chair, she excused herself to find a bed.
Later on, as I was sweeping the courtyard, a male resident came out to use the bathroom. I didn’t recognize him. Must not be a vet. He looked at me, puzzled.
“You a volunteer? Or doin communy sarvice?”
“Hmmm. This is a sad place they be puttin a woman in the middle of the night. Dis place is real rough and tumble. Why dey do dat?”
“I don’t know, sir. But I’m here. And I’ll be here for quite some time.”
“Well, chin up, sweetie. We all make mistakes. You’ll learn from yours and it’ll all get bettah. You’ll see.”
The next morning a female vet was at the front counter.
“Damn bitch drank ma Koolaid!” She hollared at me.
“Damn fat bitch. Swear to gawd. I had a full bottle las night when I wents to bed an I wake up and it’s PINK. It’s been wata’d down, shor as hell. Damn bitch drank it and then poured wata in it like I wouldn’t notice nothin. I swear.”
I shrugged, unsure of what to do. Pilar looked at the vet blankly, blinking. Who would volunteer to confront Chuckums for Pete’s sake? The woman was BIG and for all I knew going to wake up with quite an interest in finding more heroin instead of making amends about Koolaid.
The vet walked away, seeing we weren’t going to do anything about it. I went back to sweeping. Three minutes later she was back, holding a bottle of pink liquid up for all to see.
“See!? Is PINK. I don drink my Koolaid wata’d down like dat. Bitch DRANK MA KOOLAID!” And she huffed back off again. Ten minutes later she was smiling and signing out like nothing happened. I was relieved she’d let it go.
Some time later, Chuckums stopped at the counter. Her hair was now neatly combed down in the back, but her eyes were blazing again against the yellow.
“Sumbuddy done poured Koolaid on my BAG! What bitch would do sucha thing?” She didn’t really wait for a response as she made her way out the door.
Sometimes people just take matters into their own hands.