Heart Eaters – Part Three – Benedict


Heart Eaters

Part Three



Lucy smoothed her stiffly starched uniform as she walked down the white, sterile hall. Her mind rang with warning as she, once again, walked through the swinging doors clearly labeled, Criminally Insane Unit, Violent Offenders, Authorized Personal Only! Lucy walked on. Once more, she straightened her skirt, her cap, and swallowed hard. She didn’t want to admit that she was nervous, every day, every time she walked these halls. No, she wouldn’t admit, not to herself and especially not to Doug or any other the other staff, but her stomach turned at the knowing she truly was. Most of the patients were catatonic, lost in the throes of their own personal hells, hardly acknowledging the duties performed around or to them. It was the lucid ones, the coherent ones that frightened Lucy. Three especially, patient one ten, one o’ seven and one o’ one, all of which she was scheduled to care for that day.  

“Benedict Galloway”, Lucy read the name at the top of the chart aloud as she pulled it from the bin next to room one hundred and ten. “Mr. Galloway?” she called after she opened the small, sliding window in the middle of the door. “Mr. Galloway?” she ventured again as she peered though the small hole wondering where he could be.

“Lucy!” Mr. Galloway burst jumping up from the floor.

Lucy jumped back two feet, sucking in a deep breath. Cursing herself for being so jumpy, she stepped back.

“Mr. Galloway you startled me.”

“Benedict, Benedict, call me Benedict.” He said through the opening.

Lucy smiled. Kind, she thought, his eyes look kind this morning. Lucy knew though how quickly that could change.

“Good morning Benedict, how are you?”

“Ok, well I’m doing swell. Well, maybe not swell, but ok, ok, ok.” He said as he pulled at the little hair he had left on his head. After rolling the gray, freshly plucked, hairs between his fingers for a moment, he let them fall to the floor with the hundreds of other deposed follicles.

“Could you put your hands though the opening?”Lucy requested as she lifted the small, silver chain hanging from and bolted to the door.

“You know this really isn’t necessary Lucy. I wouldn’t hurt you.” Benedict lamented as Lucy clasped the cuffs around his wrists.

“Yes, I know and I’m sorry. It’s hospital policy. I have to.” Lucy consoled, but was truly thankful for such precautions. “You’ve been picking at your arms again. The sores will never heal if you continue to reopen them.”

“I know I’m sorry” He said with a sheepish grin through the hole. “You’ll forgive me won’t you?”

“Yes, I’ll for give you.” Lucy answered as she slowly opened the door. Benedict walked with it and sat in front of the open door on a chair Lucy had pulled from across the hall. As he settled his hands in his lap Lucy cuffed his ankles with and apologetic smile.

“You’re so lovely,” he said looking down at her. “You remind me of my Ruby May.” Lucy cringed inside as he said the name. “Have I ever told you about her?”

“Yes you have.” Lucy said quickly hopping to dissuade any further talk of her, but Benedict continued as if she hadn’t spoken.

“Her hair was like the sun on a clear day, a gold that warmed the heart.” He smiled as his mind traveled to a different place, a different time. “Eyes like that clear sky, lips so soft, so full, every guy in my high school dreamed of them. We dreamed of her, and the way her cheeks lifted when she smiled, of the way her poodle skirt swayed when she walked. She was kind to me, though I wished she were more than kind. I never expected more. Why would I? Look at me!” He said with a harsh laugh gesturing to himself. “I wasn’t quite as ugly then as I am now, but I wasn’t a looker.”

“Oh, Benedict you’re too hard on yourself”, Lucy said as she busied herself cleaning his cell. It was time for its monthly deep clean so Lucy resigned herself to being there a while. Having heard parts of the story before, she sighed wishing she could be done more quickly.

“No, big ears that stick straight out, muddy colored hair and eyes, a big fat pug nose, no I had all those things then to. Being rich helped a little,” he went on. “I got to see her in school because her friends would ask me for money, and I would give it, just to see her. “The kindest boy ever”, that’s what she would call me. Though, my father didn’t approve.

“I envied those other boys, with their shiny, slicked hair and muscled shoulders. I tried, I tried to work out, to build muscle, but I couldn’t. I wished I had David Sallis’s body; he was captain of the football team. I wanted her to look at me like she looked at him. I wanted to see her smile when I caressed her hand the way he did. No, all I got was the sweet, pitying look. I had brains and money, but then it wasn’t enough. My want for her nearly killed me. Alone in my room at night with the smell of my release on me, I thought of only her. I was nothing to her, invisible. So, I focused on school, graduated a year early.” He said with a proud smile. “That, my father did like. He sent me off to Yale. That’s where he had gone. I wanted to go into public service; I loved politics, but Daddy,” he said scornfully, “would have no such thing. “Business management, that’s what you need.” Daddy said!”

As Lucy swept Benedict began to rock back and forth in his chair. His cuffs ground horribly, metal on metal, in her ears as he wrung his hands. Doug says it’s good for him to talk about it, Lucy thought, but it only seems to upset him.

“With honors,” he said suddenly causing Lucy to jerk. “I graduated with honors. Four years I was gone, but I thought of her every day. I assumed she would be married by the time I got back, probably to that jerk David! So imagine my joy when I returned to find her unmarried. Not only was she unmarried and single but that asshole Sallis was pushing carts at the local grocer. Apparently, he got a little to frisky with one of the loose girls at school and ended up having to marry her and take care of his premarital conceived brat. The moron didn’t even finish high school!  Of course Ruby May dumped him; wish I could have seen that.” He said with a wistful smile. “And it gets even better!” He said his eyes sparkling as he recalled. “Ruby was working as a teller at my bank! How perfect! It made the idea of running Daddy’s chain of Banks not so ghastly.

“Kansas Bank and Trust, I had never thought I would want to go to that office so badly. Just seeing her would have been enough for me, but a miracle occurred. One evening, I think it was in the spring, I discretely watched her as she closed up her till, cleaned her workstation and wrote her reports. I found I was always watching her. She was slow, taking her time, piddling I guess. I worried because it wasn’t like her to be lazy or sluggish. It was an opportunity, so I closed up my brief case, took a deep breath and went to her. I asked if she was well.”

Lucy could see him phase out, as if he was living the moment again as he spoke. Despite herself, Lucy imagined it as it must have been in his mind’s eye, letting her mind wander to a place and time that was not her own.

3 Responses to “Heart Eaters – Part Three – Benedict”

  1. Oh, I want to read the rest of the passage so badly. As a reader, the story catches my every bit of attention. Benedict is a very unusual character but yet he makes the story very interesting. I love it!

  2. Thank you! Feed back from my wonderful readers keeps me writing.

  3. Amazing!

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