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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)

By Connie Dixon


She was in college; she needed a job, but there weren’t many employment opportunities for an adolescent girl whose only vocation had been serving up Ranch Burgers at the local Arctic Circle. She filled out the application and under the heading: experience – she merely said “yes”. She wasn’t really lying. After all, at 19 she’d had lots of experiences, just not in the field of “care giving”. She was applying to be a nurse’s aide. How hard could it be? She already had the white shoes and pants from her Arctic Circle uniform. She would probably need only to replace the red top that went with it.

A call came just days later. “Can you come in for an interview on Thursday afternoon?” It was settled. She was confident and knew she would have the job if she wanted it. Her premonition was correct. She started work the following Monday.

The “home” – if you could call it that, was more like an institution. It was a very old brick building, cold and quiet, with an echo that magnified the occasional howl of an unsatisfied resident and a smell that was………well – indescribable. You couldn’t put words on the odor, but a combination of terms might include disinfectant, antiseptic, dirty diapers and death. It was not pretty. There were four floors and four wings on each floor. The inhabitants – mostly destitute and simple, some old, some not - rarely entertained visitors.

She was assigned to the fourth floor men’s wing. She walked up the four flights of stairs, her eyes open wide as she approached each new platform and gazed down the dreary hallways. Those halls were as quiet as tombs, and the staff – few and far between, consisted of an occasional uniformed creature quietly moving from one room to the next, answering the whimpers of confined occupants.

Finally she reached her destination and introduced herself to her supervisor, a middle-aged woman who seemed to have no emotional investment in the bleak circumstances but appeared to be kind, in a non-obligatory way. The administrator introduced the girl to Jim, a male nurse who smiled and welcomed her to his domain. “You have experience, right?” the older woman asked. “Yes, of course,” the young girl lied. She satisfied the deceit by convincing herself that there could be a number of experiences this woman might be referring to other than the obvious. “Go down to room 409 and give Mr. Moretti his enema. He has been waiting for you all morning.”

Her heart sank to the tip of her toes. She tried to hide the sheer terror that swept over her. The supervisor seemed not to notice, but the panic on her face was not overlooked by Jim. She turned and slowly walked down the long corridor. She could hear someone yelling persistently……… “Nurse! Nurse!” She hoped, no……she prayed that the shouting was not coming from Mr. Moretti’s room. The closer she got, the louder the voice. She gradually turned into the room and her horror intensified when she saw her patient. Here was a man, possibly a retired doctor or lawyer – obviously some kind of former professional……..trapped in an adult-sized crib, stripped naked from the waist down, his legs dangling out through the bars of the “prison” that entrapped him. Mr. Moretti had been reduced to a pathetically dependant state, one in which he could not carry out this most humiliating of physical tasks on his own.

His “nurse” had arrived. He needed help, and his aide had finally appeared. But one thing was missing – her “experience”. Within seconds, Jim appeared out of nowhere. “Need some help?” he offered. The jig was up. The charade was over. The experience was just about to begin.

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This article has been read 651 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sara Harricharan 08/21/08
Wow! She was definitely in for a surprise here. Experience is certainly required for this job. Interesting way to approach the topic and good job with setting and atmosphere.
Leah Nichols 08/21/08
LOL. Been there, done that. Chasing "B" down the hall to try to get his diaper changed....trying to get "P" into the shower without getting punched....it's one thing to think you can help someone out in that way; quite another to do it! :)
Jan Ackerson 08/22/08
Good job of portraying a terrible situation!

I'm curious--if the man was nearly naked, in an adult crib, how was it apparent that he was a former professional of some sort?

Glad that your protagonist was rescued...hope she learned her lesson!
HQ Creston08/25/08
really enjoyed this can definitely say been there done that.