Sometimes she’d stare at her father and think, it didn’t have to be this way, but he wasn’t even paying attention. He was watching his meat. Her mother got him a smoker for Thanksgiving and he loved putting it to good use. Out in his pole shed in the woods was where he grilled. For family and friends. This BBQ was for family, but as usual more friends showed up than family. It was a celebration of his birthday. Well a few days early but a BBQ was better scheduled on the weekend. This was the weekend before his birthday. The smoker was open, and he was turning his meat.

“Did he call or text?” her father asked.

“No… I thought he would, but he hasn’t… God, dad I’m just like you.”

He looked up from his meat and winked and said, “I’ve waited for this day.”

Faith had checked out on Friday. It wasn’t her real name, but when you’re checking into a psych ward because your boyfriend is in rehab it was better to go under a fake name. And a fake diagnosis. She chose to be ambivalent for the doctor. No need for histrionics. Dennis was a drunk and needed to dry out. Sometimes a psych ward is just that—a place to dry out. Dennis was a veteran but Jefferson Barracks was full so the EMT drivers took him to Alton. Either way he was on the river. The Mississippi didn’t care which side.

You would think they separate the sexes onto different floors or hallways, but they don’t.  After Faith’s initial evaluation by the admitting MD the RN and CNA’s performing the vitals and other delegated checklists, she was registered a room and a roommate a garden variety neurotic the doctor writing down suicidal ideation. Unfortunately during the registration process (when the nurse left the room for a new blood pressure cuff the one in this particular room faulty) she managed a sneak at Dennis’s file (she might have used a fake social security number, but she knew his and since the nurse left her computer logged on the search didn’t take long) and her heart sank to her butt when she saw he was listed as married. The fucker even had two kids.

The admitting MD was drinking a caramel frappe from McDonald’s.  He crossed his legs high revealing argyle socks fallen down from chicken leg calves and sipped his frappe looking over bifocal spectacles slipping down his nose. He was bald on top, but wore his white hair on the sides and back long pulled back in a ponytail. His bloodshot eyes and bulbous red nose spelled hangover.

“You look pale. Like you’ve seen death in the face. Or like you could kill somebody. Want to tell me about it…?”

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