Friday, October 12, 2018

The Monster in the Smoke Stack


My mother was a RN. When I was very young she worked nights at our local hospital, eventually becoming Charge Nurse in the ER. She worked nights so my father could be home with me and my older brother.

On the nights she had to work my mother would feed us early. Then she’d give us our baths; put us in our pajamas and with what time was left, she’d get herself ready. I loved watching my mother as she transformed from mother to a professional; dressed in a flawless white, crisp uniform with white nylons and white polished duty shoes. Her hair was out of the pin curls she’d had in place most of the day. Once she styled her hair, my mother would take bobby pins and secure her starched white cap with a black ribbon around the bottom in place while not messing up her hairdo. On cold nights she’d wear her nurse’s cape. It was navy blue with the initials of the hospital on the turned-up collar. As soon as my father arrived I was carried to the car and put in the back seat with my brother. While we made the short trip to the hospital, my father’s dinner was warming in the oven. I am sure he enjoyed his meal once we were in bed sleeping.

That short trip was always fun. That is until the hospital came into view. That’s when my brother and I became very quiet as the very tall and very frightening smoke stack adjacent to the hospital was looming above us once again. On some evenings, especially in October when shadows seemed longer and spookier and purple clouds rolled behind tall dark trees void of leaves; their branches looking like witch’s scratchy fingernails, we were certain a monster came flowing out of the top of that smokestack. Sometimes, especially when the wind was blowing, that monster came right over the top of our car. That’s when we’d duck down in our seats. After we waited a few minutes, we both looked out the back window and watched the monster drift away. We never knew where he went. But we knew we’d be seeing him again when the wind was blowing and there was a nip in the air.

That smoke stack is still in place adjacent to the hospital. I’ve yet to see the monster. But it is October. You never know.

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