Nico was a young Russian guy who seemed to live in army pants and a hoody (hood up) with a baseball cap placed over the hoody. I had never really taken much notice of him. Until now.
I was watching The X Factor in the TV room and he sat down beside me.
” Ahhh I like this show” he said in a thick accent. “I used to watch it in jail.”
I muttered a sort of non committal “mmm hmmm”. Sadly, if there is one thing I have learned from the public psychiatric system it is that your best bet for a smooth stay is to keep to yourself as much as possible. As for the whole jail thing…honestly…after being a public psychiatric patient for as long as I have, nothing really shocks you.
“so you are back then?” he asked.
Ok. Now he had my attention.
I turned to him. “What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well I saw you being dragged off to the locked ward. A few weeks ago. Now you are back.”
“I was being…dragged?!” Since having the ECT I had forgotten a lot and I was interested in what had actually happened.
“Well, ok, not exactly dragged. But there were a lot of nurses and they were all kind of…rushing. That kind of thing. I couldn’t believe it was happening!”
“Are you feeling better now?”
“Yes. Lots thanks.” Thank you ECT.
“That’s good.” he turned back to the TV. I followed suit. “I like music. I like to sing.”
“So do I.” I replied absent mindedly.
“Can you sing something then?”
“Erm, no.” Things seemed to be heading in a unwanted direction. Now seemed a better time than ever than to introduce the fact that I was unavailable. “I am married you know.” I said flashing my ring. “to a very nice man. We have a child.”
“How much did that ring cost?”
“I’m not even going to respond to that.”
He laughed. “You just did.”
This time I really didn’t respond, but put all my concentration into the TV show.
“Are you in a single or shared room?” he asked.
“Shared.” I said instinctively, not taking my eyes off the screen. In fact I was in a single room. (When I arrived at the ward for the second time I was directed to a 4 bed room, where upon arrival I found an amputee furiously masturbating. My presence, nor the fact that my bed was next to hers and the curtain separating the two had fallen down, didn’t seem to deter her. I backed out of the room and asked the staff if there was another room available. I was temporarily given a single room.)
“That’s a pity.” He gave me a wink. “If you were in single room we could..you know…use it.”
I nearly fell off the couch. “Married.” I said firmly, holding up my ring hand. “And planning on staying that way.” I started moving to leave the room, but he beat me to it. I waited until I was sure he was outside, then ran up the hall to my (very single) room. All night I was on high alert, practically expecting a night time visitor. It was the only time I had been grateful for the nurses nighttime checks.
In reality, we avoided each other for weeks. My husband visited the ward several times. Any accidental eye contact was extremely awkward, and it became an unwritten rule that if one of us was watching TV, the other could not.
But the day of Nico’s discharge our paths were to cross again. I was in the shower, and when I turned the tap off I realized I had no towels. I swore under my breath and grabbed my dressing gown (a short, summer gown. My winter version was modeled on Chewbacca, and though it was very warm I didn’t deem it hospital appropriate, so opted to pack my summer one. Though, thinking about it, in this situation my Chewbacca gown would have been far preferable.) My room was situated directly next to the laundry so I figured a quick gowned run down the hall was my best option.
I stuck my head out the door, and seeing no one around I made a run for it. Grabbed some towels, and started walking back. Suddenly I heard a wolf whistle, and I didn’t have to turn around to know who was behind me. As Nico passed me he tipped his baseball cap and gave me a wink.
“Nice legs!” he told me as he walked past, giving me a big grin.
Once I got back in my room I looked down at my bare legs and snorted. Being in a locked ward I hadn’t shaved in at least a month. Perhaps I didnt need that Chewbacca gown after all!
That was the last I saw of him.