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redressed.jpg
Art by Steve Cartwright 2016

REDRESSED

 

By Lee Todd Lacks

 

Amy Maloney had been working at St.  Felicia's Hospital for just over a week, when several doses of valium went missing from the med closet.  It didn't take long for the other nurses on the unit to realize that pills seemed to vanish whenever Amy was on duty, and since she was scheduled to work the following day, they felt obligated to report to the nurse manager.  When Amy arrived the next morning, she was sent to the large, rectangular room, where the nurses often met during shift changes.  Upon entering, she was surprised to discover well over thirty nurses lined up along the far wall, at least a dozen of whom were not scheduled to work first shift.  The young nurse-in-training presumed that this morning’s meeting must be very important for these girls to have reported on their own time.  In the center of the room, there stood a tall examining table.   The younger girls spoke in hushed voices while waiting for the nurse manager to arrive.  All chatter ceased a few minutes later, when Nurse O’Brien walked through the door.  Despite being short in stature, Eileen O'Brien was a formidable nurse manager.  A fiercely principled  woman, she held her staff to the highest ethical standards.  Her demeanor seemed unusually grave that morning as she shut and locked the door.  Turning her attention to the matter at hand, Nurse O’Brien found Amy squirming in her seat. 

"Miss Maloney,” the nurse manager began, “it has come to my attention that several 40 milligram tablets of valium have gone unaccounted for during the past ten days.  The medication log indicates that you have been on duty each time this medication has been reported missing.  What do you have to say for yourself?"  Unable to withstand the disapproving glares of sisters, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers, Amy quickly confessed to her wrongdoing.  "Um…um…um…I'm sorry, ma'am." she stammered. 

"This is a very serious offense, Miss Maloney.  One which must be dealt with swiftly.  Come over to the table, please."  While Nurse O'Brien's request confused and frightened her, Amy slowly walked over to the table, and turned to face her fellow nurses.  "Please stand with your back to the staff, Miss Maloney." Though Nurse O'Brien's instruction confused Amy even further, she did as she was told, and turned her back to all those in attendance. "Nurse Fallon.  Nurse Cahill.  Will you join us, please." 

Bonnie Fallon and Donna Cahill were seasoned charge nurses, both of whom had worked on the unit for well over ten years.  They were strong, stocky women, who commanded great respect from the younger girls.  Bonnie walked around the table until she stood facing Amy on the opposite side.  Donna then approached from behind, and took her position just a few inches to Amy's left. 

At this point, Bonnie reached across the examining table and grabbed hold of Amy's wrists, tugging till the young nurse-in-training lay prone over the narrow side, with her feet still touching the floor.   Donna then proceeded to unbutton Amy's uniform skirt, which prompted the young woman to cry out, "What are you doing?!" 

Nurse O'Brien replied calmly, "Miss Maloney.  You have committed an unlawful act, and now, you must suffer the consequences." 

"Consequences?!" Amy inquired fretfully. 

"Yes," the nurse manager elaborated,  "on this unit, we prefer to resolve disciplinary matters amongst ourselves.  The choice is yours.  You can either choose to accept the punishment that I have in mind for you, or I can discharge you, here and now, and hand you over to the proper authorities." 

Amy gasped.  "Oh, no!  Please!" 

"What do you choose, Miss Maloney?" Nurse O’Brien asked.  After a long silence, Amy announced softly, "I shall suffer the consequences."

"A wise choice," the nurse manager remarked.  "Nurse Cahill, please proceed." Having unbuttoned the skirt of Amy's pinstriped uniform, Donna hiked it up well past her hips, subsequently revealing the snug-fitting cotton panties that she wore beneath her sheer white nylon hose.  Nurse Cahill then put her fingers inside the waistbands of these undergarments, and deftly slid them below Amy's knees.  With her bare bottom exposed to the entire department, the young nurse-in-training began to sob. 

Nurse O'Brien spoke again.  "Understand, Miss Maloney, that you will not be permitted to withdraw from your punishment once it has begun.  So, I shall ask you one last time.  Are you prepared to suffer the consequences for your gross misconduct?"  Overcome with shame, Amy could only manage a feeble nod. 

"Very well, then.” stated the nurse manager with considerable solemnity.  At this point, Amy heard the sound of Nurse O'Brien walking towards a far corner of the room.  When the footsteps stopped, Amy noticed the sound of a closet door creaking open.  The young nurse-in-training shuddered as she imagined what Nurse O'Brien might be retrieving from this closet.  Her fears were soon validated as several onlookers gasped in unison.  Nurse O'Brien walked back towards Amy carrying what appeared to be a slender wooden towel rod, nearly four feet long, and half an inch in diameter.  As the nurse manager drew within striking distance, she declared her makeshift implement of correction by swishing it through the air.  Amy instantly recognized the telltale sound.  Recalling those very unpleasant occasions when her grandmother had taken a switch to her, she sniveled in anticipation of her bottom’s sorry fate. 

Moments later, a heartrending wail echoed across the unit, as Nurse O’Brien stung Amy’s backside with the dreaded towel rod.  Subsequent strokes induced similarly distressed wailing, until the cadence of Amy’s outbursts became a drone of heaving sobs.  As her caning continued, Amy struggled desperately to pull away from Nurse Fallon.  Though Bonnie had the utmost compassion for the young nurse-in-training, she nevertheless refused to let her go.  Few understood the perils of substance abuse better than she, having tended to countless overdose patients during her twelve years on the unit.  Several nurses in attendance, who had once found themselves in Amy's position, couldn’t bear to witness.  By the 1950’s, nurses at St.  Felicia's rarely received anything worse than demerits for minor conduct violations.   However, those accused of snatching pills were still subject to corporal punishment.

Nurse O'Brien administered another thirteen strokes before determining that Amy had been sufficiently chastened.  By this point, Amy felt as though her rear end had been singed with a branding iron.  The nurse manager knew from experience that most girls needed a few minutes to compose themselves before they were capable of engaging in any sort of meaningful dialogue.  After what seemed like an interminably long time, the nurse manager admonished the rueful girl.  "Miss Maloney, I sincerely hope that today's proceedings will lead you to reconsider, should you ever feel the impulse to pilfer medicines from this hospital again."  Amy replied between whimpers, having ruled out the possibility of sitting anytime soon.  “Yes, m…m…ma’am.  Most definitely.”  Bonnie held on to Amy’s wrists as Nurse O’Brien concluded.  "Now, Miss Maloney, have you anything to say to your fellow nurses?”  With her thoroughly punished bottom still turned towards them, Amy declared, "I'm so…so…sorry, ladies!"

"That's alright, Amy," came the assuring refrain, as women who understood the necessity of painful procedures offered their support.  Noting the thin, crimson welts that crosshatched Amy's buttocks and thighs, some of the older nurses quipped, "Now, that's a candy striper!"

 

 


gratuitystrap7.jpg
Art by Lee Todd Lacks 2016

GRATUITY

by Lee Todd Lacks

You know your waitress works sixty hours a week

before she tells you her name, and her feet and her

back never cease to complain about all the night

shifts she has to take.

 

Your white cane and glasses bear a mixed message.

She thinks you’re not blind, so you must be malingering,

ordering your breakfast at half past noon.    

 

Your waitress rushes to reverse her judgment as

she stands with her back to your darkening eye.

mortified for you to see her leaning

over the counter with her dress up high

peeling her pantyhose down to her knees,

baring her rear end out in the aisle,

sorely in need of your firm reproval,

letting your strap sting her out of denial.

 

 

 

Lee Todd Lacks is a mixed-media artist, music therapist, and clinical counselor who seeks to blur the distinctions between rants, chants, anecdotes, and anthems. His experience of living with significant vision and hearing deficits often informs his writing and artwork, which has appeared in Bop Dead City, Tincture Journal, Liquid Imagination, The Quarterday Review, Crack the Spine, and elsewhere. His poem, “Durgin-Park,” won the Bop Dead City Beginnings Contest in July of 2015. In May of 2016, Quantum Fairy Tales honored him with the Troll Under the Bridge Award. 

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