Sobrina mia, this one woman at the nursing home, the activity director, she is crazy. Let me tell you what she did last Christmas. She gave guns to the old men and big baby dolls to the old women. Si! Verdad!
The guns were plastic. From Wall-Mart. Machine guns that shoot bubbles. The dolls had big heads como melones, blue eyes that followed you up and down the hallway. Soft white bodies, pink hands and feet with tiny toes. Dios mia! They were girl Chuckie dolls! I think they were dolls from the devil.
The old men with guns--they started shooting anyone who came into their rooms. They shot at the nurses who stick the catheters into their old wrinkled pinas; the pobrecitos who empty the bedpans. Pretty soon they were shooting their sons and daughters who came to visit, cursing them for living.
When that one viejo put the gun into his mouth and tried to kill himself with bubbles, they had to pump his stomach and take him to the ICU for a week. Well, the big honcho, the director, he was worried they would get sued. He is sleeping with the activity director, so she didn't get fired. But they took away the bubble guns--pronto.
The old women hated the big baby dolls. They threw them on the floor. Except one old lady. She loved her crazy doll. She sat in the hallway in her wheelchair until they day she died, holding her doll, crooning to the back of its bald head. We tried to smile when she sang, "See my beautiful baby, rockabye beautiful baby." The doll watched us, grinning como la cabeze de la muerte.
Si! Verdad! This is a true story. Some day when you work here I will take you to the janitor's closet. In the darkest corner, you will see a wheelchair and sitting on it is the Chuckie doll.
None of us will touch it.
Nancy Harris McLelland taught creative writing, composition, and literature for over twenty years and Conducted writing workshops for the Western Folklife Center, Great Basin College , and the Great Basin Writing Project . An Elko County native with a background in ranching. McLelland has presented her "Poems from Tuscarora" Both at daytime and evening events at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko. Her essay, "Border Lands: Cowboy Poetry and the Literary Canon" is in the anthology Cowboy Poetry Matters .