by Mark Kodama
I needed a job to pay for my last year in nursing school. So I searched the want ads in the local newspaper for work a nursing assistant. That how I got a job at the haunted house.
The white three-story Victorian mansion was in the best part of town in a neighborhood with other Victorian mansions. In front a large oak tree with a swing dominated the well manicured front lawn. But who knew what lay beyond the door.
The mansion housed or should I say warehoused fifty mental patients. But what did I know those days? I was a 20-year-old nursing student. My father told me a woman should pursue the same career that a man would. But I tried business school and hated it. I always wanted to be a veterinarian but veterinarian school was largely closed to women then. So I decided to become a nurse.
I thought there was something strange from the moment I started there. The place smelled of old diapers and urine. The kitchen was infested with cockroaches. You could not walk in the kitchen without feeling them crunch underneath your feet. An old woman on the first floor forever threatened to hit me with a cane.
I worked the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift. I was the only non-patient there. The cook was a patient there himself. The first two floors housed the women but the third floor housed the men psych patients. I was warned never to go up there.
Everyday I would hand out the Thorazine, anti-psychotic medication, to the female patients, then prepared eight women for bed. We took this creepy elevator with bars up to the second floor each night after dinner.
If you did not line up the bars just right, that old elevator did not work. I always feared that the elevator would break down with me and my eight wards.
One night one lady pooped all over herself and her room. I had to clean her and her room in addition to attending all my other duties.
One night, they brought down a dying man to the first floor. I attended him, helping comfort him as he lay drowning in his own phlegm and secretions.
The place was strange. In the six months, I was there I never saw a visitor and sometimes I worked weekends. The patients walked around drooling with a blank face and stare and doing the zombie shuffle.
The nurses assistant on the next shift warned me about a male patient who would occasionally sneak down the curved stairway in the back of the house and suddenly appear. He had murdered his wife.
On Halloween night I had finished my duties early so I was watching a really creepy horror movie “The Sentinel” on television. It was about a priest who kept the lost souls from hell from entering back to earth through a portal.
Suddenly, I heard a man coming down the banister. I looked up and it was the man who had murdered his wife. He was about 40 with brown hair and sunken eyes and an emaciated face.
He seemed to look through me as he approached me. “Can I walk you to your car?” he asked. No, and no and more no.
After that I quit. A month later, I read in the newspaper that a man had fell out of the third floor window to his death. The state closed the haunted house.