Chapter 13

Before I left for the day I called around to check in with a few folks. One of them was the man who had been intoxicated then discharged when he sobered up. He had agreed to talk to me about addiction programs and I held him to it. I had the feeling his interest was part of an ultimatum but we all start somewhere. He asked the right questions and sounded like he was taking down the contact information and thanked me. I reminded him he could call anytime and if I wasn’t available right then, I would get back to him. The short instant of genuine consideration I felt in his response gave me hope. Amy Brixton was making out well with Sandy’s peer support added to our weekly face-to-face. And Nancy, the sad and lonely old gal was hooked up with the Seniors Team and was seriously considering a care home closer to her daughter. But that damn Lowell was nowhere to be found!


Viv took over emerg coverage at 1400 hours, or two o’clock, so I shot her a text to let her know there was an MIA who might show up. But before I locked up my files, Rudy pitched himself around the corner announcing: “I just spoke with a man named Lowell.”


“Fare-thee-well” I said as delighted as Christmas morning.


“He called back himself. He noticed the call display”.
“Spill.” I demanded


“Lowell says he is a gay elementary school teacher leaning toward alcoholism.


“None of that equates to crisis….on its own, I guess”.


“Last night he had an awakening. He has been wrestling with a wish to die. He said he wished on the first star that he would die, and that scared him. He called the line to find out how to get help. He was going to call in sick to work, that’s why he accepted the appointment at first, then he reconsidered. He’s been at work all day, that’s why he missed our calls – no cell phones in the classroom!”


“So what did you tell him?” Now I was quite compelled.


“I told him that we have a new program that allows him to use his Employee Assistance insurance here at our clinic and that you would be delighted to meet up with him next week…of course I did the quick and dirty suicide questions and this guy is legit. He wants to die but he isn’t actively thinking about killing himself”.


“Why me?”


“On accountta you are working late next week and he can’t get here before 1600.” Rudy raised his eyebrows and looked down at me sitting at my desk, in mock authority. “And I am your boss, technically. And, you are good at this stuff”. Rudy teased.


“Great! Half my caseload desperately wants to live and the other half is wishing on a star to die…sounds like I should start a group.”


“You are reeeeal good!” Was all I could distinguish with Rudy’s ancestral Caribbean cackle as he wheeled out the door and back down the hallway.




My writing experience comprises, almost exclusively, academic papers and technical/ professional reports. However, I have lost faith in these methods as paths to real change. My doctorate is in Education, specifically transformative education and through my research and my work, I have come to the conclusion that people learn more through stories than journal articles. Therefore, instead of investing in the usual strategies for pedagogy, I am leaning toward fiction as a way to change minds about social issues and dilemmas. I believe stories can un-other social interpretations in a way I feel I have failed to in all my academic and professional writing. I hope to convey some alternate ideas about the work I have done for 35 years, as a mental health nurse, psychometrist, educator and administrator.

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