The Story

“Don’t get it twisted, our guys are awesome—can be awesome—and the pay’s great; but there’s a reason I—” he turned to Jason “—called you when you were talking about changing jobs and was like, ‘Dude, come work out here; put your muscle to some use.’”

 

“So in a way you’re saying that being in the pool can be a liability because you could be put into an unfamiliar situation and, not having the rapport or experience with a particular resident, cause avoidable difficulty. Or do something that regular staff would know not to do, and then get in trouble with the investigators,” I said, still pondering Ran’s first topic.

 

“You could get in trouble with the investigators if you fail to follow the behavior plans,” Ran referred to the documents worked up for each resident by the agency’s psychologists. Documents that set down in details mechanical and painstaking how each resident bathed, slept, brushed his teeth, and so on. Documents that elaborated how to respond to behavioral or psychiatric crises, including what words and tonality to use and even what posture or stance to assume when speaking. “Which will happen,” he admonished, “because they’re these ginormous Russian novels…” he trailed off, leaning over to rummage one of his backpacks for something.

 

“That no one can know well enough,” I completed.

 

“Exactly.” He sat up holding a sports drink like a baton of victory. He chugged it.

 

I considered his advice as he began choking.

 

He looked like he was about to go cyanotic. I waited until he finished hacking and clearing his throat. “Regular staff can get in trouble too,” I said. “Jason,” I addressed the other, “I hear you’re being investigated.”

 

“Yeah,” he said, “for putting Eddy in an ‘unapproved’ hold.” He hooked his fingers into quotation marks.

 

Ran wiped tears from his eyes. “My uncle does tuna fishing out in Massachusetts.” His voice was hoarse. “One time he caught this Bluefin as big as him. He has it up on deck, it’s thrashing around. It catches him with its tail or something and he trips and falls on top of it. He clamps his arms around it not trying to wrestle it, just trying to keep it close so it won’t hurt him while he gets his feet under him and can get clear.” He swallowed. “So he’s holding on for dear life and it bucks him off like nothing. Just kinda flicks him over the side and into the sea. It all happened in, like, a second.

 

“If you’ve ever seen Eddy go off it’s kinda like that. Dinky little bear hug doesn’t do crap.”

 

“I had him in this hold,” Jason said, “the only way to control him when he gets like that, and then one of the safety officers came through the door.”

 

“Which one?” I asked.

 

“You know which one,” he said. “The only one whose reputation precedes her. Always looking up for falling houses.”

 

Attempted laughter made Ran start coughing again. I smiled. His description could only apply to one of them.

 

“When Eddy’s going off, there’s supposed to be no new faces around the house because it makes him worse,” said Jason. “That’s per his behavior program. So what does she do? She stands there telling me I can’t be holding him like that. She didn’t leave like she was supposed to; she just stood there lecturing. And Eddy just got crazier. Now I wasn’t about to explain that there’s no other way, so I just asked her if she’d like to calm him down.

The End

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