Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)
TITLE: State of Mind
By Marlene Bonney
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“Sure, what’s up?”
“I got a guy down in 2-C who’s given up on me. See if you can get though to him, will ya?” pleaded Sunnyside’s chief therapist, Ken Dodd.
It was a gorgeous, picture-perfect Fall day, a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors cascading down from the sidewalk-lined trees on the Rehabilitation Center’s carefully landscaped grounds. Children’s laughter wafted in through the open windows from a neighboring playground, but the man in Room 2-C wasn’t listening, and the pleasant view escaped his notice.
Strapped in a wheelchair, his body slumped forward, 30-yr.-old Travis Scott expressionlessly stared at the lunch tray the nurse’s aide had firmly locked into place on the wheelchair arms. The delectable smells of his favorite meal tantalizingly tickling his nose, the ex-soldier was now being bullied by a teenaged volunteer to exercise his upper limbs into obedience.
“Reminds me of boot-camp without the boots”, Travis stated, testily. “Come on, honey, by the time I finally pick up the fork, the food’ll be cold—just feed me two bites!”
Jasmine, acutely aware of the pain and effort involved for patients to regain muscle strength, nonetheless, made no move to honor his request.
“Now, Mr. Scott, you know I can’t do that. It’s against the rules. Plus, I know you. Two bites would turn into three and then into four, until there’s nothing left for you to do yourself!”
Travis stubbornly frowned and made no other comment, not even attempting to muster the concentration necessary for so simple a task.
At that moment, in shuffled Hap, Sunnyside’s eldest resident. He was grinning from ear to ear, as he introduced himself to the “newest guy on the block.”
“How’s it going, young fella? I hear you got in a fight with a motorcycle and lost!”
“HaHa,” thought Travis as he glared up at the other man’s outstretched hand. Hap drew back his hand and awkwardly patted the patient’s left shoulder instead.
Jasmine chose to take her leave at this point to “let you two get acquainted.” In truth, she was dying to get back to the nurse’s station to place her bet along with the others. It was standard procedure to guess how long it would take for Hap to get a difficult patient to laugh. After working with Travis for over an hour with no results, she placed her chip on the two hour marker. The chief therapist dashed up on his way out to lunch to put his marker on the half-hour space, while veteran Nurse Brackett tenderly placed hers on twenty minutes. Custodian Sam hovered over the bell while everyone else continued with their duties.
Ten minutes later, loud guffaws trailed behind Hap as he strolled away from Travis’ doorway, and the workers each smiled at this, a new victory record! Upon his return, Therapist Ken was handed a note saying that Travis was now ready to “seriously kick butt”. He gave Hap a thumbs up signal and a smile as he passed the Activity Room on the way to Room 2-C.
“Not a bad dude, that Mr. Hap,” were the first words out of Travis’ mouth.
“Oh? Tell you some of his famous one-liners, did he?” the prospective doctor innocently queried.
“Yeah, but the clincher was after he left when I overheard the other residents talking about him and it really got me to thinking. I guess that’s why you wanted me to meet him, huh?”
Nonchalantly, Ken parried his question with one of his own.
“Why? What did you hear about him?”
“They told how he was about my age when he had that terrible car crash. Sure can’t tell it to look at him, all the stuff he’s been through. It’s true, then? Hap got his legs blown away from being trapped inside his wrecked car? And the rest of his family didn’t make it?”
Ken nodded grimly. “Hap just doesn’t understand the concept of giving up,” he tried to explain. “You see, those four days in that ditch forced him to put all of this in perspective,” he continued as he swirled his hands through the air.
“Yeah, I see what you mean,” the new Travis responded with a large smile. “Well, like my grandma used to say, ‘you may as well laugh, as cry’. Let’s get to work! By the way, have you ever heard the one about . . .”
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