Brooklyn Zoo

Brooklyn Zoo by Darcy Lockman

Book: Brooklyn Zoo by Darcy Lockman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Darcy Lockman
wall to the right of T.’s door, watching not much at all go on along the wide, blank corridor lined with matching salmon-hued doors. A handful of patients paced the ceramic-tiled floors of the ER’s three halls—laid out like the letter Y—in various states of undress and morning listlessness. If I’d anticipatedchaos, the quiet also felt right. Outside it was daylight, and psychiatric emergencies seemed as if they should take place after dark, like other horror movie tropes. The still air smelled of urine and dust, and I concentrated on breathing through my mouth, knowing I couldn’t maintain that for the whole of my month there.
    “You’re the new intern?” the redheaded woman asked. I nodded and didn’t ask what gave me away. She invited me into her office to wait for her dilatory colleague. “She’s always late,” she told me. “I’m the other ER psychologist—Dr. Brink. You can stay with me until Dr. T. gets here.” She looked tough, like a smoker and someone you might call a dame or a broad.
    We entered her small, bare office, and I sat down on a plastic chair next to a metal desk strewn with files. The walls, off-white and cinder block, were the most ornate aspect of the room. She turned on the lights, but only one of the fluorescent ceiling bulbs stayed lit, the other flickering briefly and then going dark. “It’s nicer like that,” I observed.
    “Not if you’re paranoid,” she said, picking up her phone to ring maintenance.
    When she finished her call, she took a stack of papers from a pile and began scanning them. “New patient, came in last night, brought in by Mom. She’d been throwing up before she arrived and was complaining of stomach pains. When anyone comes in with acute medical problems, they’re seen by a physician before they’re admitted.” She paused for a moment and then added, “Hopefully.”
    She went back to her scanning. “She was diagnosed with schizophrenia at her last hospital, but the M.D. who saw her last night thought bipolar.” She shrugged. Psychiatric diagnosis was famously inconsistent. “I’m going to get her. You can watch me do the interview,” Dr. Brink said. She got up andmade a move to leave but then turned to me abruptly. “Don’t open the door for anyone.”
    As she left, I glanced into the hallway. Still no sign, at 10:30, of Dr. T.
    Dr. Brink brought the patient in. She was a small black woman, wearing dark jeans and a tight black T-shirt. The eyeholes on her sneakers were shiny and vacant. She was my age. Her mother had found her the night before, yelling and with her head in the toilet bowl. I sat silent as Dr. Brink asked her questions about her life. She’d been a paralegal and married. Now she was neither, just in and out of hospitals, on and off medications. She lived with her mother and rarely went out. She was lonely. Her mother came in to answer more questions, and the older woman’s upset for her daughter made me want to cry from deep. We’d been together for half an hour or so when there was a knock on the door and Dr. Brink got up and opened it a smidge. Dr. T., dark haired and fiftyish, was standing on the other side looking irritated. “Come on,” she said to me, her voice shrill through the crack, spinning on the hem of her slacks without acknowledging her colleague. It was now well after 11:00. Dr. Brink opened the door wider and called after her: “I don’t want anyone to accuse me of stealing an intern!” I followed my new supervisor across the hall.
    “You don’t work for Dr. Brink,” Dr. T. said as we sat down at yet another very old desk in an office as spare as her colleague’s. From what I’d seen, no one at Kings County did much to decorate, as if they might decide to flee on short notice and couldn’t risk leaving anything behind. Or maybe the larger squalor of the hospital just dampened all enthusiasm for aesthetics. In our first weeks, the interns had made plans to improve our own office, as well as the

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