Rutledge, Part One
Welcome, welcome, dear friend, to Rutledge Psychiatric Institute. Come, come in. I know it is not the atmosphere you crave, but you did tell me you needed to go somewhere new. Really, there’s nothing to be afraid of. See, yes, there are lights everywhere; everything is clean and pristine and up-to-date. You are but a visitor. You have nothing to fear; you are with me.
Remember—you came to hear stories. And I intend to deliver my promise.
We have a few patients who are admitted for life—oh, no, they’re harmless. Why? They are in treatment, dear friend. We know how to handle them here.
Oh, those worn-out carts there? No need for concern; those are only for those that protest when transported here for the first time. It’s to protect them and us. Of course, the straps are necessary—we don’t run a zoo here, my good friend. It’s useful for those patients who are—how should I say—non-compliant. It’s perfectly safe. Come!
This is Nurse Lee and Nurse Julie. Good afternoon, ladies. I’m just showing my friend around; they’re a journalist, you see. They are an excellent reporter and one I trust wholeheartedly. What’s that, ma’am? Ah, send for Doctor Riley. He’ll get it straightened out.
Now, then. Shall we begin our tour?
The institute is four stories high, built in the year 1887, right at the outbreak of the tuberculosis era. It is designed to help our patients who have contracted the disease with tons of fresh air; that is why there are not many windows bar our receptionist area and the visiting room. Let’s begin our tour within the low-risk quad; many of them have gained privileges for good behavior and are much calmer when visitors are present.
Please ignore the screaming. It must be Beth again. We told her many times before; she doesn’t need to scream to receive attention. Oh, don’t worry, my good friend; Nurse Julie will attend to her. Yes, I promise you, she will be all right. It is a common occurrence with Beth; even when she cries wolf, we check up on her. Please, follow me.
What’s that? You need this? Do you not wish to hear other far more safer ones? If you are certain, I believe I can oblige your request. Mind you; it will take a good while. So. You came for April’s story specifically, then. I will tell you all I saw and heard, for I was there many years ago when she was first admitted. Yes, the media at the time constructed their versions of how she came to be here, what happened to her, and all the events in between. Many of them don’t know half of it. Her story is far more…complicated than it seems.
Right then, I warn you, dear friend; if you wish for me to cease, I shall. Her story has driven a few good men to madness.
Photo by MichaelGaida via Pixabay