The room felt cold and impersonal, and no matter how hard she tried, the sadness was inescapable. It was as if the building itself was weeping, not the kind of place she expected to find her husband.
“Why so many lab coats? God, what I wouldn’t give to speak with someone without a lab coat! I can’t believe you dragged me here, Jim! You know damn good and well I hate tattoos! And this place? Well, it isn’t exactly my cup of tea, now is it?”
Karen met Jim during her sophomore year of college and, though her overtly religious parents didn’t approve of his rock-and-roll nature, their love was undeniable.
But this was too much! He was an accountant for God’s sake! What person in their right mind would allow a tattooed, middle-aged, make believe biker do their taxes? But Jim was persuasive as usual and assured her it would be a unique and tasteful design.
“Nothing out of the ordinary, Honey! I promise.” he said. So, against her better judgment, she gave in. And now here she was in this whitewashed facade, looking at his dreadful tattoo, and praying it would end.
“Well, I’ll give you this, Jim! It’s a unique design; that much is true. But to be honest, When I look at you, all I feel is sorrow.”
She wanted desperately to be alone with her husband. But the lab coats, as she came to call them, were incessant.
“Mrs. Johnston! Do you know where you are? Karen, please! I know it’s difficult, but you must concentrate.
“Please! she said. Just give me a few more minutes! I’m not hurting anyone! Can’t you see I’m trying to have a private conversation! For God’s sake, Jim! Are you just going to sit there and let this fool talk to me like that? Say something! Why won’t you speak to me!”
“Karen that’s enough! Listen to me! My name is Doctor Nelson, You’re in the psychiatric ward of Saint Christopher’s memorial hospital. Your husband, Jim, passed away ten years ago in an automobile accident!
Karen’s eyes filled with tears as she realized what was happening. And with all the dignity she could muster, she wiped her eyes, straightened her hair and apologized for her irrational behavior.
“It’s quite alright, Karen. This isn’t my first rodeo. Is that your husband in the picture?”
“Yes.” Said Karen. “See that dreadful tattoo? I begged him not to get it. I kept telling him it was a bad omen, but he wouldn’t listen.
“I see it, but I can’t make out what it says.”
“Death will not own me.” She said.
“Mrs. Johnston, Please, take your meds. They will help with the hallucinations.”