Monday, July 2, 2007

What The Squirrel Did

When the maintenance man and the young female c.o. came to the tier this time they could no longer ignore the wastebasket. The water was up to the brim and spilling over, blurring the words "case management" that were stencilled on the side in big block letters. The maintenance man picked up the wastebasket and slopped down the hallway, splashing pools of water along the tier. He returned the empty basket to its position.

"I'll sure be glad when we find those cutoff valves," he said to the female c.o. as they walked away.

When Bo and Lieutenant Terry arrived later that evening the writer thanked her for getting Billy moved. Less than two days after his screaming fit the transportation unit came and took him off the tier. As they were draping him in a waist chain and cuffs, one of the officers let it slip they were moving him to a forensic hospital. The writer was impressed.

"Maybe you can do something about our pipe," he said, although by now he was a bit reluctant to give up his meditation aid. He was bent over in a Bridge pose, but straightened up to point out the dripping ceiling.

Lieutenant Terry looked down at the pools of water on floor then up into the ceiling. "Oh for crying out loud," she said. Looking back at her, perched within a soft fluffy nest of duct insulation, was a squirrel. A comfy, fat, chipper animal with a smuggly content expression on its face. Bo went nuts.

"SHUT UP!" she hollered at the barking dog. "This is not happening. This is SO not happening in my facility." She tied Bo to the railing of the tier, turned the wastebasket over and stepped on top of it. Reaching up into the ceiling she drew herself up until only her calves were showing. Dana and the writer could hear her thrashing in the ceiling, cursing, the sounds interspersed with wild small animal noises---skittering and scratching and the fluttering of loose debris.

Suddenly there was a loud pop and a body fell from the ceiling. It was not a small animal body. It was followed by the distinct ozone-like smell of electricity.

"Oh my," said Dana.

Dana and the writer looked sideways at each other through the bars, then down at the walkway. The writer said, "Tell me she's not dead."

They looked down at the lieutenant. She was lying supine on the floor with both arms stretched at forty-five degree angles from her body, hands palm-up. Her legs were parallel, flat, relaxed. The Corpse.

"I don't think the lieutenant does yoga," said Dana. "But my god, you were right about the Three Stages. When you short-circuit the system, you get punished."

Across the tier the overhead lights wavered, flickered, went dark. In the case manager's department Vanessa glanced up briefly as the lights went out. She smiled discretely to herself, knowing that this was the perfect moment to raid the social work office.

1 comment:

Emy L. Nosti said...

Okay, both you and Dinah need to make friends with spellcheck.
(Though Doritos and discreetly won't show up.) Really, or I'm going on strike.

Anyway, I thought it was pretty hilarious until, you indicated, you know, that she might be dead. Then again, I've mentioned my affinity for squirrels.