What in the world?
I was standing in the storeroom on North Wing - and it was huge. Unlike the cramped space on our floor that had obviously been an old broom closet, this was a complete patient room that had been turned into storage; the old callbell light was still over the door. The bar with the code blue button, the connections for the callbell, suction and O2 were gone, and replaced with racks. The racks held everything from the ortho equipment we needed to put trapezes on beds to microscopic supplies for babies, and the floor itself was covered with the big pumps for the cooling blankets, wheelchairs, and folding cots. It was perfectly organized, neatly arranged, and looked like a photograph from Gracious Nursing Magazine. I kept thinking Paula Deen was going to pop out of the bathroom with tea and cookies. Our small storeroom looked like a wreck, half opened packages; crates pulled out and sat on top of other crates so you could get to what you needed, nothing like this study in perfection.
"Chuck, did you guys just clean in here or something?" Chuck, the male LPN on the floor, had asked me to come in with him to get some things for the rooms he had, and he was busy loading his arms up with 4x4s, IV start supplies, and was grabbing things as fast as he could. I looked around for an empty box to load the stuff in, and started out the door to go get a copier paper box.
"Don't leave!" Chuck worked even faster, with a touch of something in his voice I didn't like. I pulled out the front of my scrubs, and used it to hold the alcohol pads and other things he was trying not to drop. And he was being oh so careful to put everything back into order, even as he grabbed things at as fast as he could.
"What's wrong?" Finally, with almost a moan, he just grabbed several boxes of jelcos and practically pushed me back out of the storeroom. I turned to look at him, and he was sweating. "Are you okay?"
"Now I am," he said, scrubbing his face on the shoulder of his scrubs. "Damn, I hate that place." He walked off, and I trailed behind him, holding my scrub full of supplies, wondering how someone could be claustrophobic in so large of a space. We went into an empty room, and began restocking the supplies. It was a time of low census, and the few of us working were doing a lot of housekeeping, stocking wound care carts, rooms, just doing all the things you need to do but so rarely have time to do.
"I didn't know you were claustrophobic."
He cut his eyes at me. "I'm not. That's what used to be North 14." The blank look I gave him told him that meant nothing to me. "You know. The room where the patient died."
I choked on a laugh, he was obviously upset about something, but... "Chuck, someone's died in all of these rooms."
He slammed the drawer shut and went to the next one. "Yeah, but not buy throwing themselves out of the window."
He cut his eyes at me again, and I noticed his hand shake just a little as he put some Salem Sumps into a stack. "I forgot, you haven't been here but a few years. About 4 years ago, some woman was up in there with something fairly minor. Gallbladder, appy, something like that. Well, her husband decided that was the exact time to tell her that he wanted a divorce. She'd still be in the hospital for a few days, he could get moved out, clean out the banking accounts, whatever."
I had put everything down, and was passing him jelcos. "Sounds like a real piece of work."
Chuck nodded. "Yeah, sounds that way. Anyway, they got into a screaming match that you could hear from one end of the floor to the other. Last thing she screamed at him was something along the lines of 'I hope you drop dead, you SOB. I hope you drop dead.'"
My mouth fell open, "Oh, God, don't tell me he did."
Chuck shook his head. "Worse. You know you can see the corner from that side of the hospital. Well, the guy gets in his truck, starts down the road, and gets T-boned at the intersection. Wasn't wearing a seatbelt, got ejected, and the truck rolled over on him."
"Pretty much." He propped against the cart for a minute. "Everyone that was free went running outside, of course, when they heard the crash, just left a few people on the floor. Nobody knew it was North 14's husband or that she was watching from the window." Chuck looked at me, and I realized, this guy was serious. "So, later that night, the wife is all upset, saying she killed him, he must have been distracted after the argument, you know. They give her something for her nerves, and along about midnight, they hear her screaming, "Get away from me, stop pushing me." They hit the door just as they saw her feet going out the window. She fell down on the air conditioners and that was it for her. Nobody was in the room, they had a clear shot to the door, so nobody knew who she was screaming about."
"Oh, man, poor thing must have had a nightmare."
Chuck ran his fingers through his hair. "I'm not so sure. Well, that's when bad things started to happen, anyway. If we put a woman in 14, everything was fine. If we put a man in 14, the TV wouldn't work, the suction canisters would pop off the wall, the bed would lock in an uncomfortable position. Male patients would report the room was freezing. And sometimes, they'd ask about the female 'patient' that came in their room and was staring at them from the foot of the bed. It got so bad, they finally turned it into a storeroom."
I put my hands on my hips, "Okay, that's just crazy. Are you saying it's haunted or something? I'm not believing it."
Chuck shook his head. "They told me when I got here to never go into 14 alone, and to never, ever leave it messy. Well, I don't believe in ghosts, or 'haints' as my grandma called them...at least I didn't...." He sighed. "I went in to get something, and felt like someone was watching me, you know? That feeling you get when someone's looking at you from behind. But nobody was in there but me. So, I grabbed my stuff, knocking a box over. All of a sudden, it's like cold water was poured down my neck, and I turned back around, and that box was back upright."
"Damn, Chuck, send her to my house to tidy up." I burst out in nervous laughter. I don't believe in the restless dead, but this was making the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
Chuck frowned, and we left and started to the next room to restock. "I'm not crazy. There's something in that room, and it's not just supplies. That's why we always go in to get supplies with a female nurse or one of the women get the supplies. That patient's still in there, and she's still angry. Angry at men. Angry when one of us goes into her room. Look."
The callbell light over the door to North 14 was on. Chuck signed. "That light doesn't attach to anything, the wire's just coiled up in the box, I cut the damn wires myself one night. There's no electricity. There's no switch. There's nothing to turn that light on with."