Betty was bonafide crazy. She had shot her husband after a night of drunken quarreling, and was in the state mental hospital instead of being in the slammer. She'd shot the louse in the stomach and he had lived, fortunately for her. I never tired of hearing about Betty's attempted escape and eluding of the police in the aftermath. Over the river and through the woods she ran, but not to grandmother's house, sadly; she didn't know where she was going; all she knew was that she HAD to get the hell outta there.
Down a steep embankment she had tumbled, right next to the highway. As she attempted to orient herself, a car slowed down, it's lights blinding her as she tried to pick off the brush, debris and twigs that clung like glue to her hair and muddy nightgown. The car stopped, two cops sprang forth and yelled, "FREEZE!". The jig being up, Betty did as instructed, was cuffed and read her Miranda rights. She never bothered to elaborate how she wound up in the loony bin instead of staying in the pokey, but I can only imagine it was due to her obvious derangement.
Betty was a hoot; funny as could be and an excellent card player. She had long, shaggy salt and pepper frizzy tresses that looked more like a Halloween wig than an actual coiffure. She was well into her fifties but seemed much older with her deep smoker's wrinkles and heavy, sunken eyes, like a soul that's known too much wear, tear, pain and heartache and aged prematurely. On more than one occasion I questioned her actual insanity, but on one night, when the moon was full and all the crazies were, admittedly, much more maniacal than normal, my doubts about Betty's "playing possum" dissolved. It's true, you know, what they say about a full moon and the impact it has over the mind; I've witnessed it first-hand too many times in different psych wards to discount it as "old-wives" folklore. Nurses never fail to mention when there is a full moon; they know it to be true as well.
I don't know what set her off. I was enjoying a game of rummy with Angela, a paranoid schizophrenic with a penchant for identifying supposed conspiracies within the hospital, when I heard Betty screaming furiously and cussing up a hurricane. Well, something didn't suit her, obviously, and she was having none of it. This is when I began to wonder if Betty was not part "Bionic Woman". Next thing I knew, she wailed like a banshee, took off sprinting down the hall at incredible, breakneck speed that defied her rather plump figure and stubby legs, and drop-kicked the heavy, locked steel door that barred the exit of ward "Grag". Nurses hit the panic button and made urgent phone calls which signaled the goons and heavy muscle to race toward our ward to subdue the unsubduable. Soon as Angela heard the nurses all in a frenzy, she yelled, "CONSPIRACY LEVEL UP! TOP FLOOR!" ("Top Floor" being the ward that housed the most violent or dangerous loons.) Paranoid schizophrenics are such a suspicious bunch!
As Betty raced by, Angela immediately stood up, cheering her along, chanting "GRAG STYLE, BABY; YEAH!". In total astonishment I watched this Wonder Woman drop-kick this barricade (which was most definitely designed to keep us confined) in total kung-fu, samurai, ninja style with such force that it burst wide open! Talk about jaw-dropped incredulous! By the time Betty the She-Hulk nearly drop-kicked her way to freedom, the goons (as the big orderlies were dubbed) descended upon her, but she fought with such ferocity that for just an instant I thought she might break free, given that she had picked up a nearby chair and was using it to fend them off with the skill of a lion-tamer (or so I mused). But poor Betty was helplessly and hopelessly outnumbered and the whole incident must have happened in the span of maybe two minutes, but time has a funny way of slowing down and stretching in instances such as these, when the eyes and mind are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible. She was tackled on all sides, but not before one of the stooges took a whack upside his empty head. Nurses rushed forth, syringes in hand, and gave Betty the usual knock-out serum of hefty doses of Haldol and Benadryl (don't ask me how I know this!). Then, as was the procedure in all such cases, Betty was strapped down on a gurney and wheeled away to the "Quiet Room" where she was to be closely monitored by some muscle.
As one of the orderlies passed, carting the drowsy Betty past us, Angela barked one of her customary insults of, "YOU SMELL LIKE ASS AND NACHOS!" which never failed to tickle me to no end. The excitement over, Angela and I went back to our game of rummy and she accused me of cheating when I won, flipped over the table, and stormed off (but she always did this whenever she lost.) Ah, Angela; what I'd give to play rummy with you again!
A few days later, after a two week stint, I was finally released and never saw or heard from Betty (or Angela) again. Whenever I see someone fly into a rage, I am often happily reminded of Betty, Super-Woman of ward "Grag". Why was I there? I'll never tell!