As the small band of misfits dribbled from their rooms for breakfast, they murmured amongst themselves about the boxes in the center of the common space.
When Meagan noticed the group assembling, she emerged from the glass enclosed nursing station. She flinched when Clarence sprung out of nowhere; he had used the plastic ficus tree for cover. Mental note: we need to address that blind spot…
“Why are you here? I thought it was your day off? What’s in the boxes, huh? Are they from the government? Is it a shock treatment table? It is, isn’t it?” Clarence narrowed his eyes and raised his right eyebrow suspiciously.
“I am here today because I brought you guys a present.” Meagan said as she approached the boxes and opened one in front of her captive audience.
“Is it booze?” Paula asked, “Please tell me it’s booze…I’ll take anything you got…seriously, anything.”
Meagan rolled her eyes at Paula as she plucked the top third of artificial Christmas tree from a box. “I bought a new one, so I talked the doctors into letting me donate my old one to the Ward.”
Sherry squealed, ”Oh, goodie-goodie-goodie! I love Christmas trees!” Without any prompting, the group began pulling the branches out of the boxes and assembling them.
“Let me check it for bugs,” Clarence snatched the tree stand from Sherry, “This is probably just a ploy to listen to our private conversations, ya know.”
“What’s that?” Josh’s head snapped to attention as he wiped the drool from his chin.
“Nurse Meagan brought us a Christmas tree!” Sherry clapped her hands as she delivered the news.
“Hey, that’s great. I’ll help, too…” but before he could get off the couch, his chin slumped back down to greet his chest, and the soft snores started immediately.
Clarence pointed at Josh, “See, that’s what the government does to ya when you register to vote, they plant a little chip in your…”
“Nah, that’s what can happen when you mix bourbon with your meds,” Paula oozed nonchalantly as she lit a cigarette, “so you all should be making sure he ain’t getting my mail.”
Sherry began to dig through the last box, “Hey, where are the ornaments? And the garland? There’s nothing in here but old craft supplies.”
“Well guys, here’s the thing,” Meagan began laying the supplies on the table for them,” after the incident last year they gave the Ward’s Christmas tree to Oncology. We had to make some serious concessions to get them to agree to let you have a tree at all. That means definitely no lights, and no glass ornaments either…though we can make some with the craft stuff. We have glue and construction paper, some popsicle sticks and stuff like that. You can even use photos of your family if you want to. The only thing is that the charge nurse has to approve them to make sure that they are all safe.”
“Yippee…Nurse Ratched gets to be the fun police. Imagine that…” Paula blew rings of smoke like she was already bored with the whole project, “I guess I’m out of the loop. What happened last year?”
“Well, without going into too much detail, a patient…” Meagan unconsciously swallowed hard, “…a patient ate all the light bulbs from the tree and had to have emergency surgery on Christmas Eve.”
Clarence snorted, “Come on…no one’s that crazy!” All eyes suddenly wandered over to Josh, who was on his feet and standing in front of the bathroom holding the door open wide.
“Well, we all have our issues, don’t we?” Meagan caught Sherry’s attention and emphatically brushed her bottom lip. Sherry’s eyes bulged as she quickly wiped the glob of school glue off her mouth. With most eyes on Boris, everyone missed this exchange…except for Clarence.
“It was you!” he barked at Sherry, “You are certifiably crazy!”
“Yep, and I got the papers to prove it…” Sherry defiantly scooped up a tube of glitter and stomped past Josh to go sulk in front of the television.
Meagan went over to Josh to see what he was staring at, though nothing looked out of place. “Do you need some help, Josh?”
“I’m just looking for bacon and eggs to cook for my wife. It’s my day to make breakfast.”
As Paula sashayed past, she paused, “If he’s looking for food in the bathroom, perhaps we should put the Christmas tree up on a table. Heaven forbid he dreams that he’s taking a walk in the woods...”