An hour or so passes and a male nurse appears. He wears a small nametag that says Patrick. He beckons to us. “We’re going to the Red Zone.”
“The Red Zone?” Mom says. “That sounds ominous.”
Patrick gives her a half smile, as if he’s both surprised and amused at her intuition. We follow him down several long hallways and into an elevator.
When we reach the Red Zone, he sticks a key in the lock of a thick metal door. Beside it is a glassed-in nurses’ station. I try to catch the eye of one of the women there to see if I can detect a ray of humanity in any of their faces. But their heads are bent over paperwork.
As the door swings open, I see an angry looking bleached blond in tight jeans and a red turtleneck standing by the nurses’ desk; she taps her fingers on the counter. “When can I get out of here?” she keeps repeating. Beyond her, in a large room with two couches and a few lounge chairs, two men sit like statues near a television set. An elderly woman in a hospital gown shuffles toward us from one of the corridors, her jaw flapping open and closed. From a distant room, I hear yelling and crying. I think of the movie The Snake Pit.
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