It had been unusually warm for early June, and the heat stayed trapped behind the heavy locked doors of the prison. Along the lengths of the long corridors, strange odours scoured the shadows, looking for somewhere, anywhere, to escape.
It was time for my late evening medical round and I’d stocked the medicine trolley with the required pharmaceutical candy.
I couldn’t navigate within the centre of the prison alone so I was always escorted by three prison guards.
As usual, they had nothing to say behind tight lips and grim expressions, and their stature, from months of weight training, displayed without doubt, that they were not inclined to enter into any discussions.
Even the trolley squeaked angrily as we all committed ourselves to the well orchestrated choreography and passed, like a detachment of well trained marines, from cell to cell.
I pushed the trolley; and they formed a sinewy wall behind me.
As usual, I felt miscast and useless, like a soggy lettuce leaf trapped between two slices of stale crusty bread and although I was aware of the wall behind me, it didn’t shield me from the multicultural stares from the inmates as they materialized in the doorway, grabbed their pills, flexed their own muscles as aggressively as possible and then snaked back into their jungle.
At long last, at the end of the last corridor, I was released back into my domain and the door was closed and locked behind me. Sometimes the guards grunted a few words. More often than not, they didn’t.
I reached into my pocket, felt my own set of keys that allowed me some well mapped freedom of movement, put on my headphones, and let Chris Rea accompany me back to the Medical Centre. My hotel for the night.
The prison always seemed calmer once I’d made my evening visit but that was perhaps because I was able to escape to it’s periphery and distract myself until the reality was occluded.
Being a nurse in a Prison Medical Service had it’s perks however, and at night I was the Lord of my own little domain.
Although the windows were barred, just in case, the doors to the consultation and treatment rooms were wooden and without locks.
From habit, I caressed my keys once again, and checked they were still attached by the chain to my belt. I breathed a sigh, visualising the route I would take to the front door, and then put that thought as far back in my mind as I could and contemplated the rest of my evening.
I could hear rattling and shouting somewhere below but it didn’t worry me. The Guards and I had a tacit arrangement. I wouldn’t bother them unnecessarily and they agreed to let me be. Even if an inmate asked for a nurse, sometime in the night, the guards would find a way to persuade him that it was out of the question.
I pulled a Tupperware from my bag and slipped it into the microwave.
While the timer ticked its way back to 0, I rummaged in the bottom of my bag and pulled out two VHS cassettes.
While I waited for the Ping! I checked to make sure the Nurses Bed was ready and plumped the pillow. With any luck I could get a few hours sleep. I might need it.
I headed back to retrieve my stew.
Then the phone rang.
I picked up the handset.
“Darling, I think my waters have broken.” (585 words)