She looked around at the shabby apartment: beer cans, scattered laundry, UFO dishes, over-flowing garbage, unfinished graffiti on the walls, two cavorting kittens, and a toxic litter box.

In the middle of it, sipping a beer, was her clueless boyfriend , Johnny. Hearing the word “job” shock- waved his lazy demeanor to attention. With one long gulp, Johnny dusted the rest of his favorite refreshment.

“I don’t want to look for another job already, Sylvia. We’re doing alright, aren’t we?”

She wanted to slap him. The good times rolled when they were high together, but she found his irresponsible behav- ior somewhat appalling.

“Your rent’s  due, Johnny. You spent the  rest  of  your money on that case of Coors.  You’re  out  of food.  Don’t  you know you’re about to get kicked out of here?”

“So I’ll move.”

“Where? Back with your parents? They won’t help you. They hate you, Johnny.”

Johnny looked suddenly forlorn. This girl wasn’t as toler- ant as he  thought.  The  hammer  was  coming  down. “Look at all the jobs I’ve had this year, Sylvia. It’s not like

I haven’t been trying.” The list was only impressive to Johnny. Unskilled, mindless labor: dishwasher, bus boy, janitor, curb painter, lawn mower. bird feeder, baby sit- ter, after-school basketball coach, experimental test sub- ject…

“See, that’s a lot of jobs, Sylvia. I got fired every time. They discriminate. They hate hippies.”

Sylvia grimaced. “ What was wrong with this guy? “ You can’t hold down a job, and party all night, every night. You don’t get to just have fun all the time, Johnny. The world doesn’t work that way. And by the way, couldn’t you at least have passed some of your classes? You were taking really easy stuff.”

“I tried, Sylvia, but I just  couldn’t  concentrate.  Don’t you remember all that mescaline and peyote we ate last quarter? Shit, I’m still tripping.”

“That stuff only lasted twelve hours, Johnny. That’s just another excuse. I got all A’s last quarter.”

“I know, Miss Perfect. You always do.” Johnny laughed uproariously.

Now Sylvia’s face  flushed  red  with  anger.  “Look, Johnny, either get a job, or I’m done with you. I don’t want a bum for a boyfriend. People work in this world.” This was a bum who was also hopelessly in love. “OK,  I’ll try again. Any suggestions?”

“They need an orderly at the convalescent  hospital  where I work. I already told the charge nurse you were available. Don’t screw this up, Johnny. The shift starts at 7Am, so we better get some sleep.

She slammed and locked her bedroom  door,  leaving Johnny to contemplate his mess and bleak future.

Johnny smoked a big fatty on the way to his 7AM shift, ripped out of his mind for the first encounter with his new boss.

“Ever worked in a hospital before?” The charge nurse was an old hippie named Steve, with a heavy east coast accent.

“No,” Johnny said obliquely.  Although he was secretly relieved that Steve seemed so non-threatening.

“Well, this job isn’t rocket science. You got to  have  a  strong back.” Then he peered into  Johnny’s  bloodshot eyes, laughing. “More important is a positive attitude.” Then Steve laughed  again.  “You  look like you got a pret-  ty good attitude so far—just being nice to these old people is a good start.”

Johnny mumbled something about doing his best, as the charge nurse walked away. “At least that guy won’t try to bust me.”

Johnny walked into his assigned ward: six debilitated old men with varying degrees of dementia, physical impair- ment, and eccentricity. Two were completely comatose. A seasoned orderly showed him the ropes, only briefly. Get them up in wheelchairs. Feed them, bathe them, dress them.   Every day, eight hours, no excuses, $1.75 per hour.

Johnny stayed very stoned while he worked, and was a horrible nurse’s aide that first day. He fumbled with their clothes, throwing disheveled patients into wheelchairs, in varying stages of undress. The oatmeal drooled like Dickensian gruel, when Johnny tried to feed them break- fast. Finally, as a last resort, he undressed them all again, rolled them down to the shower room, and hosed them off.

A semblance of cleanliness. At least his job was temporar- ily saved.

Johnny was frantically finishing his last patient. The shift was almost over. He gathered the frail body up into a giant bear hug, hurling the poor old man into the wheelchair.

“Ouch!” the patient called out angrily. “Why are you such an asshole?”

“Uh…sorry” Johnny stammered. He really  was  an  ass- hole. This broken down, alien body was hiding a real per- son.

“Look, kid, you can’t be as stupid  as you  look.  I can  tell you what I need. Slow down, and show some respect, will you?”

Johnny looked over at the name on the bedside table: Henry Cook. There wasn’t much left of Henry’s ancient body: bony, contorted, stiff. He breathed like a struggling locomotive, and his voice was raspy sandpaper. Henry had a full head of thick brown hair, though,  and  piercing,  beady eyes. These eyes were fully alert, now that Johnny was paying attention. A trifle  agitated,  but Johnny  sensed a little bit of playfulness in the old man.

“Look, kid, finish getting me dressed, and take me down to the smoker. Get the Marlboro’s out of my drawer.”

Johnny fetched the pack. “Where do you want them, Mr. Cook?”

“In my shirt pocket.” It was obvious that Henry’s cooked arm could not perform this action independently.

Johnny placed the pack of cigarettes in the old man’s shirt ever so tenderly. “Ready to go, Mr. Cook?”

“Let’s go, kid. I need a smoke before your shift’s over. I swear, you’re the slowest damn orderly I’ve ever had. Just let me have my smoking time, kid. Get me dressed without hurting me, fill my damn lungs with smoke when I want to, and set me back in bed. Can you handle that kid?”

Johnny swore he saw a mischievous glimmer in the old man’s eyes. “Sure, Mr. Cook, let’s go have that smoke. It beats working…”

Henry sputtered, coughed, and smiled. “Yeah kid, it shore beats the hell out of working.”

Going into a convalescent hospital’s “smoker” in those  days was like entering Dante’s Inferno.

Old men and women inhaling and exhaling  tobacco  smoke for all they were worth. The stench of so much tar and nicotine was nauseating, even to Johnny. All the old fingertips in the room were stained with gooey brown residue from the cigarettes.

Cook was in a hurry. “Light me up, kid.”

Johnny took the pack of Marlboro’s from the old man’s shirt pocket.

“Give it to me.”

His gnarly old fingers could still grasp that cigarette— straight into the mouth it went.

Johnny lit him up, and old Cook went to town: dancing smoke rings, gigantic puffs, mixed with gruesome hack- ing.

“Damn,” Johnny thought, “this old guy really likes to smoke.”

Johnny had an idea amidst this Philip Morris carnage. Serendipity was about to benefit a good-hearted, irrespon- sible kid, and a courageous, dying old man,  who  never lost his sense of humor.

Henry finished his cigarette. “Take  me  back,  kid.  I’m ready for bed.”

Johnny wheeled him back to the bedside. He looked at

Henry’s body again. All those misshapen limbs. “He hurts,” thought Johnny, “this old guy’s in a lot of pain.”

“Want to smoke something different before I put you to bed, Mr. Cook?”

“Hell yeah. What’s you got, kid?”

Johnny whipped out the spiff. “Columbian Gold, Mr. Cook, the best on the market.”

“That marijuana, kid?” Cook laughed and shook.  His eyes got real fierce.

Johnny fired up the joint, then held it for Henry.

The old man toked like a Rasta Shaman! Inhaling deeply, he coughed wildly, blowing copious amounts of marijua- na smoke around the small hospital room.

“Hold it in longer, Mr. Cook.” “You’ll get even more stoned.”

The old man held that shit in, till his face turned bright red, and his bulging eyes watered.

“This guy really wants to get high,” thought Johnny.

When they were done with the joint, Mr. Cook  was already dreamy-eyed.

Johnny lifted him majestically, and laid him safely in the white sheets. Johnny  had  skill,  now.  And  confidence.  And compassion. A reason to be a good orderly.

Henry Cook looked up at Johnny. The once grouchy old eyes were transformed into a kaleidoscope of love and wonder. “I think I’m going to sleep good tonight, kid.”

Johnny tucked him in.

“Sweet dreams, Mr. Cook.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts

This menu shows the most recently posted content for a quick update since you last checked-in.

How to Make Your Own Canna-Caps

by Old Hippie BeyondChronic.com What do you do when you need cannabis medicine and you can’t or don’t want to...

Database Search

Are you researching marijuana as medicine? Use the simple form below to search any condition. Read personal stories from patients just...

Cannabinoid Receptors in the Body and Their Importance

David B. Allen M.D. By legal Democratic Vote; Cannabis Is Medicine In 1964 Raphael Macheoulam, an Israeli professor of Medicinal...

The True Origins of Haze

By Big Herb It all began in 1969, In Santa Cruz, California. At the time, there was Thai Oaxacan and...

Top 5 Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are those seeds that are formed from Cannabis Sativa, a hemp plant. They are different from marijuana but...

Cannabis and Working Out

If you're wondering how cannabis can help you with your workout regime, then you probably need to read this article....

How Companies Are Creating Innovative New CBD Products

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis and hemp that may deliver unique health benefits. CBD is just...

5 Marijuana Compounds That Could Help Combat Cancer, Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s

by Paul Armentano Deputy Director of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) This commentary was initially...

Living with Osteogenesis Imperfecta

By Michael Morrow My name is Michael Morrow, I'm 37  years  old and I have Osteogenesis Imperfecta. OI is a...

Gifts from Mother Nature

By Dianna Donnelly - "The couch activist” Aspirin, otherwise known as Acetylsalicylic Acid, is one of the most commonly ingested preventative medicines...

Paradise Seeds Allkush; More Than Just Kush

One of the new feminised strains from Paradise Seeds is named “Allkush”. So nothing but Kush? Taken genetically literally, no...

28ft… The John Berfelo Story

By John Berfelo "Medical marijuana saved me from a life on pharmaceutical drugs..." My name is John Berfelo and this...

My Grinspoon Moment

By Carl Hedberg Sometimes a single meeting can change your life. Such was the case for me when, in the...

The Science Behind Cannabis Safety

David B. Allen M.D. By legal Democratic Vote; Cannabis Is Medicine. Drug safety is on the minds of most all...

Heavenly Hash: The Art, Science and Industry of Cooking with Cannabis Extracts

by Samuel Wells Samuel Wells is an Assistant Professor of English in Denver, CO An Edible Enigma As scientific and...

Living High with HIV

How Medical Marijuana Rivals Mainstream HIV Medicine By BenBot In 2011, I was diagnosed with HIV. An unmarked van was...

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

With Veterans at Risk, Change is Necessary, but Progress is Slow By Mary Lou Smart In 1933, the repeal of...

Milagro Oil for Lung Cancer

By Mary Lou Smart www.medicalcannabisart.com Compassionate care advocates Michelle and Michael Aldrich at Patients Out of Time’s Seventh National Clinical...

Living and Dealing with ADHD

by Patricia Allen It was back in 1974 that I first became familiar with the term Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder...

Inflammatory Comments

by Bill Drake As a long-time TY reader I’ve noticed what seems to me to be a rather over- whelming...

How Cannabis Might Keep Coronary Stents Open Longer

By David B. Allen M.D.Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeon, Member ICRS. And Prisoner of the Drug War Cali215doc@gmail.com First the set...

Unlocking the Secrets, Advanced Tissue Culture

Tissue Culture is a process of isolating cells from plant tissue (explants) which are cultured (grown artificially), in a nutrient...

Anxiety Panic Disorder and Cannabis

By Hal Lubinsky My name is Hal Lubinsky. I'm in my forties, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a U.S....

Can Cannabis Cure Schizophrenia?

By Richard Shrubb, Freelance sailing, health and social affairs journalist ould cannabis treat or even cure schizophrenia? Things look promising...

Multiple Sclerosis: Regaining the Good Life with Whole Plant Therapy

By Mary Lou Smart© 2012 www.medicalcannabisart.com A trial attorney, Jim Dyer practiced law in Tucson, Arizona for 34 years before...

The Science of Cannabis Leads in Many Directions

The Evolution of a Sense of Well-Being By Mary Lou Smart www.medicalcannabisart.com While speaking at Patients Out of Time’s Seventh...

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

By Shantibaba It is evident for all people who wish to listen that doing all things within moderation is better...

Post Traumatic Stress

Psychology and Medication at its Best By Jeff Kundert OTR Jeff works as a Wellness and Fitness Educator. He has...

The Ripper Effect

By Subcool Some really interesting information has come to my attention, and I am very excited to tell everyone in...

Auto-flowering Plants

By Shantibaba The discreet evolution of Auto-flowering cannabis plants is a recent occurrence, one that is in mode at present...

Uncovering the Original Sacrament: Chris Bennett’s Cannabis and the Soma Solution

Review by Samuel Wells When asked to name an author crucial to the growing mainstream understanding of the uses of...

Storm’s Story

By Georgia Peschel WHEW! Delivering this kid was like delivering a hurricane!” When our son was born, those were our...

Soil Pests & Diseases

By Lazystrain Soil is a living organism made up of billions of microbes and bacteria. The cosmology of soil life...

Autism & Cannabis

Prohibition Makes it Tough on Parents by Mary Lou Smart Jeremy Patrone (not his real name) has a goal. He...

Vaporization of Cannabis: Are there benefits over combustion?

By William Eckhardt Although vaporization is a relatively recent development for the delivery of cannabinoids the proliferation of vast numbers...

Bedrocan

By Harry Resin Generally when you think of Amsterdam, you think of the coffee shops, but that’s not all that’s...

Why Get Pines Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass might just be a typical plant growing in your backyard, but few people know that it has a lot...

What the Ding-Dong Is Decarboxylation?

by Old Hippie BeyondChronic.com Decarboxylation: Why you never heard of it, why you should understand it, and how to do...

Cannabis for Seniors, their Doctors & Caregivers

By Old Hippie BeyondChronic.com While this article is entitled Cannabis for Seniors, its intent is to inform and reassure new...

For Surface Issues, Cannabis Lotions Hit the Spot

by Mary Lou Smart www.medicalcannabisart.com In the late 1800s and early 1900s, topicals and extracts containing cannabis were all the...