|A Novel By Max Rabinowitz|
|I first became aware of the fact that there were girls in the hospital when I was transferred to Ward Thirteen. Until that time I thought there were nothing but boys in the place. On Ward Eleven we weren't permitted to go anywhere and so we didn't get to see them. Once on Ward Thirteen, however, and with my Honor Card, I could travel around the whole hospital.
There were two female wards in the children's building and both were set up the same way as the male wards. The only difference was that their attendants were female and ours were male. There was a ward for older girls, thirteen and up, but that ward was sealed off from the others and no one got a chance to see them. They had some real old biddies there too, up to age eighty or so, but I didn't learn that till later.
To get to the girls' wards, we mostly waited for our favorite attendant, Sidney. His tour of duty was from midnight until eight in the morning and he was a real good guy. Usually Sidney came in drunk and he wouldn't care what the hell we did. If he was in a good mood he would open some of our doors and let us walk around the hallways all night or tell us stories about the Marines during World War II. Big black and ugly though he was, Sidney was the nicest attendant there. He didn't care about anything except the bottle of booze he always carried around in his pocket.
Sometimes Sidney would lead a chosen few of us in a panty raid on the girls' wards. At about three A.M., when he knew there was a new female attendant working on the girls' ward downstairs, Sidney would let us out. About ten of us would follow him down the stairs to the floor below, where we would wait outside the door of the girls' ward until he had decoyed the female attendant into her office, which was around a corner from where the girls slept. Unlike the male wards, the girls had no doors on their rooms. Perhaps that was because they couldn't stick their pissers underneath the door to take a leak in an emergency like we could. Whatever, it made our raids easier.
As soon as Sidney had gotten the attendant into her office, we would slip silently onto the ward and creep up to the doorways of various girls' rooms. The rooms and hallway were very dark; no nightlights at all. When everyone was in place we'd raise up on our toes and on signal dash into the rooms. We'd grab a hold of whatever girl was in the room and try to rip off her drawers, then we'd run like hell out to the stairwell and upstairs to our own rooms, hopefully before the girls raised too much hell.
My first raid was shambles. I stood outside the door of a room and waited for the signal to start the action. When the dash started I moved quickly. The girl just lay there on the bed, so I put my hand over her mouth and started to snatch her drawers, just like everyone told me to do.
I sensed something wrong as soon as my hand went over her mouth, as if there were no teeth there, but then my eyes adjusted to the darkness. I had one hand on her mouth and the other on the waistband of her drawers, when I saw what was funny.
The girl was on an old, old lady who must have seen about a zillion years in her life and she didn't have any teeth whatsoever. Her face was as wrinkled as a pair of corduroy pants and her near-bald head looked gray.
I jerked my hands away and ran like hell, putting Jesse Owens to shame as I vaulted up those stairs and dived into my bed. My nerves were totally shot.
Later, everyone compared their trophies while comparing also the merits of the various girls who had been wearing the trophies. A lot of it was bullshit and so was some of my story just now, but it was fun for all of that.
After we had finished talking the matter to death, Sidney would take our trophies and throw them away. It would not be a good idea to get caught with them.
The female attendants never told the doctors anything and I guess that was because they'd get into trouble for being so lax in the first place or else Sidney gave them more than booze while he was in their office. One of the oddest things about our raids concerned Buster Buchanan. Every time we'd compare panties Buchanan would have two or three pairs of drawers to show. His daring and cunning were unsurpassed, since three trophies meant that he had dashed into several rooms, while most of us were only able to muster up enough courage to get into one. A lot of times we didn't even get one set of drawers as some girls didn't wear them.
None of us ever got suspicious because Buchanan's trophies were used and torn. We fully accepted that Buchanan was a great raider with lots of heart. And this might have gone on indefinitely except for one mistake.
After one of our greatest raids Buchanan came up with eight pairs of snuggies and that was just too much to stomach. No one had that much heart. Let alone that much time! Buchanan was giving us the shaft and we decided to find out exactly how he was getting those drawers. Subtlety wasn't our forte, or we could've waited until the next raid and watched him, but that would have taken too much time and effort. Besides, nobody wanted to waste a perfectly good raid spying on Buchanan. We all decided to put the question to him in our usual manner - we'd kick his teeth in if he wouldn't confess!
After breakfast the next morning we cornered Buchanan in the washroom. There were twelve of us and I knew that Buchanan was scared. He would have been a fool not to be scared, because twelve guys could put one hell of a beating on somebody. He asked us what the hell we wanted and at first he thought it was some kind of homosexual attack. I spoke for the rest of us, and asked him how he got those drawers. Buchanan swore that he got his panties the same way we had gotten ours.
I grabbed him by the arms and everybody started punching him - not as hard as they could, but still hard enough to hurt. He lasted about ten seconds and then screamed that he would tell us.
He pulled himself together and told us that when we went downstairs to the girls' ward he would run into the laundry room at the end of the girls' rooms, he rummaged through their laundry bags. Then he'd run upstairs and swear he'd grabbed his trophies right off the broads! I couldn't believe his perfidy. The no-good bum had been bullshitting all along and us jerks had believed every word he said. We decided that we weren't going to take Buchanan on any more of our raids. But he begged for another chance and, like the kindhearted people we were, we changed our minds. We told him he could come, but on one condition - if he came up with more than one pair of drawers we would bash his face in!
On our next raid, Buchanan played it by the rules. He didn't go down the hallway to the laundry room and along with the rest of us lined up right outside the door to one of the girls' rooms. Unfortunately, Buchanan's luck had run out. When he ran in and grabbed for the drawers he was smashed in the face by one of the biggest, meanest broads on the ward. She commenced to stomp him, after she knocked him down and his screams could be heard up and down the hallway.
We knew what was wrong the minute we heard Buchanan's mouth. By the time we got there he was ruined. His face was covered with bruises and blood flowed heavily from a broken nose. The female attendant ran out of her office, followed by Sidney, and threw on the light switches. We were busted in the act. There was no way to cover up that raid, even though we ran for the stairs and dragged Buchanan along with us. That female attendant had to report us, and Sidney too.
For a week we sweated it out, just waiting for the ax to fall, but nothing ever happened.
I've never been able to figure out why we got away with those raids, nor why Sidney led us on them in the first place, but I am sure there are good explanations.
Sidney was fired a few years later for getting one of the female patients pregnant. The hospital would overlook almost anything, but not a female patient getting knocked-up by a male attendant. We were sorry to see Sidney go because we liked him an awful lot. There was one big, blond-haired girl on the ward whom I came to despise. Her name was Pat and she was pretty, by any standards. I like her at first and might even have spoken to her except at fourteen I was only four-feet eleven inches tall and Pat was over six feet tall. I'd look silly standing next to her and so I avoided her as much as I could. The school area was where we actually mixed with the girls, and that was a fairly recent development because they had just started the school.
I'm a good-looking guy and at that hospital I was one of the best. Those girls like my looks and the fact that I wasn't really a nut. They even fought over me at times and that was a great boost to my ego. Pat was one exception because she was so damned big she didn't have to fight anyone about anything. Whatever she wanted, she got it just by asking. One day she walked up to me and grabbed me by my neck. With one hand, she picked me off the floor and said in a baritone voice, "You're my boy friend now!" With my feet dangling six inches off the ground I was in no position to argue the point. I was scared shitless and I just nodded my head in agreement.
For two weeks we were together at every available opportunity. When we were in school Pat would sit by me and show off her newest possession. I couldn't tell the other guys that she had forced me into being her boy friend as it would have made me look like a real ass, so I simply told them that I had chosen her.
She didn't believe in holding hands, but always had one huge paw wrapped around my skinny neck when we walked the hallways. Pat wore her hair in a ponytail and even that looked strange because my head didn't even come up to the bottom of it. I felt like a jerk, but it was a lot safer to be a jerk than having her beat me into the ground.
At the end of the second week Pat handed me a note. It was written in red crayon and I guess you could call it a poem.
WIND BLEW -
SHIT FLEW -
FUCK YOU -
WE'RE THRU -
YOU JEW! ! ! ! ! !
I could have put up with that if she hadn't gone ahead and shown it to every one of my friends before giving it to me. I couldn't just let it pass and still retain my dignity. It was bad enough that the girl had muscled me in the first place. I was the object of laughter for over a week, but I didn't care too much because I planned to get even with that bitch if it was the last thing I did!
I had to bide my time until I was in the right position and that came about in the Occupational Therapy room where we learned to embroider, weave baskets, make ashtrays, and junk like that. Pat was a couple of rows in front of me engrossed in threading a needle. A pair of pinking shears lay on the table to my left. I picked up the shears and, with the stealth of a stalking cat, crept up behind Pat as she worked.
In one super-swift motion I grasped her ponytail in one hand, plucked it away from her head, and with the shears I cut the whole tail off. Pat spun and I threw the loose hair right in her face.
I turned to make my getaway, but I must have been stunned by my own audacity or else her power of recovery was faster than I had thought.
Before I could even move, Pat came up out of her seat, swung mightily with that damned chair and caught me flat across the back of the head with it. The force of the blow plummeted me over two tables. Before I had hit the ground she was there, swinging the chair, beating me all over my body. I scrambled under a table negating the chair and she began kicking me with her sized ten flatties. The room was in an uproar with everyone cheering Pat. I knew I didn't put up too much of a showing, but pain never bothered me, so I curled myself into a ball to wait it out. I knew it couldn't last too long before an instructor or an attendant got her under control. I was more hurt by the fact that everyone was cheering her on than I was by the fact that my ass was being kicked.
What seemed like an eternity couldn't have been more than a minute. The attendant in charge of Occupational Therapy came charging in. He was a short, squat, black man named Robinson who we thought resembled a gorilla. His canine teeth extended below his bottom lip and his arms reached well below his knees. Most of us were terribly afraid of him because he carried a small baseball bat and was known to use it at the slightest provocation.
From my vantage point on the floor I saw Robinson crash into a group near the door, scattering them like pieces of paper. He tried to grab her arms, as she continued to kick at my head, but Pat whirled and punched Robinson right in the choppers. In a minute Robinson's face was two inches from my own on the floor. Pat had knocked him down and I felt so good about that bastard finally getting his that thoughts of my own plight receded into nothingness. I saw Pat's guitar-sized flatties coming down again, but they were aimed at Robinson and I let out a feeble laugh as they connected on his big, fat lips. But I had counted him out too soon.
He took the full weight of Pat's one hundred and eighty pounds square in the face and still made it to his feet. He reached into his back pocket and took out that junior-sized baseball bat of his. Then he smashed Pat right in the forehead and opened a two-inch hole between her eyes, if it had been me, I would have been out of it for the duration, but Pat was made of stronger stuff. She laid a right cross, left hook combination flush into Robinson's mouth which stopped him dead in his tracks. Then pandemonium broke loose - a full-scale revolt! It took a minute or two before I realized that I was the one who started it.
For some unexplainable reason, I couldn't stand seeing Robinson hitting Pat with that damned bat. I crawled off the floor and jumped on his back. The others must have decided to get in on it. About thirty in all ran over to where the action was taking place and got Robinson into a corner. Fists, nails and teeth flew from a dozen different directions into the general vicinity of Robinson's face. The screaming, yelling, shouting, grunting, and groaning was unbelievable amid the crashing of tables and chairs being turned over.
Then, as it always did, the fight changed direction and all the nuts started hitting every other nut. I went down under the first mad rush. I struggled to my feet just as the door burst open and five big attendants dove into the melee. After that the rest was all down hill. Every time one of those attendants swung his fists, a patient went down. They weren't playing any games either, because one of their own was under attack. Pat was the last to go down, still struggling and kicking as she did so. Several nurses rushed into the room and began sticking hypodermics into whoever hit the floor. Those needles contained guaranteed knockout medicine and in short order the fighting was over. They carried us off to the wards in a semiconscious condition. I faded out just before we got there.
Occupational Therapy was discontinued for three weeks following that battle, but it was talked about for months and months.
When the classes were resumed I saw Pat again. She looked different with her hair cut short and a couple patches on her face and legs, but we all had patches on us somewhere. My heart jumped into my throat and I was scared to death. My mind conjured up images of getting beaten into the ground again and when she walked up to me I fell to the floor in a tightly curled ball.
Pat got down next to me and pried my hands away from by face. Then she leaned over and kissed me right on my mouth.
In later years I became good friends with Pat and even visited her house in Staten Island on Christmas Eve. We talked about that brawl many times and the more we matured the funnier it became in our minds. The pain was long forgotten and only the humor of the situation stayed with us.