I’ve been called Queen & Country but my name is Cat. My job is cushty. I don’t have to manhandle no one. I just press the alarm whenever a patient pisses me off and the ex-Nigerian soldiers-turned-nurses do their bit. Animal tranquillisers and whup-ass à la mode are popular treatments. I enjoy watching them with tea and Madeira cake.
But what I really love are the fake names we nurses came up with to mess with patients’ heads. I chose Cat Power even though I’m a hard-boiled, six-foot Somali tranny and the real Cat Power is a sensitive white chick with a sultry voice and slight drinking problem. Her name had draglicious flavour.
My sistren, however, got all spiritual and ting. They called themselves “Blessing,” “Providence,” “Zipporah.” The patients didn’t swallow that mess but they couldn’t say shit. One nurse called herself “Corinthians 13,” whilst another one-upped her by calling herself “The Holy Bible.” “Cat Power,” in contrast, seemed perfectly reasonable.
“Zipporah” ruled the roost. She was a dashiki-wearing earth-woman with soft hands and soulless eyes. She had a babyish voice and she called pliant patients “My Little Ponies.” Disrespectful ones were dubbed “My Little Piggies.” “Little Ponies” were treated to extra servings of slop, cigarettes and sedatives. “Little Piggies” were manhandled in the corridors, stripped and injected in the ass by Zipporah’s squad. After they had been drugged, “Little Piggies” were left lying on the floor. Zippy would pat their heads and smile, “Rest well.”
She didn’t like me. She disliked the idea of a man wearing stockings to work. She disliked my weave, acrylic nails and “ostentatious spirit.”
“Isn’t that too much lipstick, dear?” she smiled one morning.
“You can’t have too much of a good thing,” I replied.
“I think you can.”
I reached for my lipgloss and smeared some on. Zippy’s smile froze. I strutted down the corridor to catcalls.
“See?” I called out to her. “You can never have too much of a good thing.”
Like all mental clinks, our rules were crazier than our patients. In keeping with our weirdness quota, Zipporah devised a system called “Five Steps to Paradise.” Modelled on “The Seven Heavenly Virtues” (charity, chastity, etc.), Zipporah’s hospital regulations incorporated such gems as:
• Virtue •…