YAPC would like to welcome Anne Wentworth to the blog today. She is here to share some info and an excerpt of her latest release Webster the Unhinged Edition. If this looks like something you would enjoy, please go get a copy!
Previously published 2016 Kindle Select. Webster Harmon has a gift. When the veils come down, spirits show themselves, and he can communicate with them. Tandy, the woman who runs the group home where he lives, manages to find out about his gift and reports Webster as being mentally ill. As a result of this, Webster is sent to a psychiatric unit.
After being released, the only reason for returning to the group home instead of risking a life on the street, is Webster’s love for Beth, one of the other teens living in the group home. Beth is the one person who makes life with Tandy tolerable.
On his way back to Tandy’s, Webster meets Reggae. Reggae’s been living on the street since his uncle died, so Webster brings him along to see if he can stay at the group home. When Webster returns, he finds Beth terrified because Tandy wants to send her for a trial to live with a couple who may have less than honorable intentions.
With the help of his new friend Reggae, Webster is determined to keep Beth safe. When the spirits reveal Tandy’s secrets, Webster decides to make his move to get all three of them out of there and to a better life–even if it means using his gift to break the rules.
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Leaving the psychiatric unit was a mixture of both relief and angst. I just wanted to get back to Beth. After two weeks of being away from her, I’d started to come apart. Not cool when you’re trying to present as a sane person. Every moment away from her made my heart ache. I listened for the sound of the lock clicking its release, then pushed against the heavy door. Even the air in the waiting area was better than I’d been subjected to on the hospital unit. Hospital smells were the worst to assault a person’s nose. The constant cleaning did little to make any of it disappear. I tried to imagine which smell might win a contest for most offensive, but it would be hard to pick a winner from this environment. Was it the alcohol swab, fresh out of its small wrapper, its sting hitting the air before the nurse swabbed for an injection? Was it from the patients who sat in the smoking lounge—the stink from their cigarettes grasping onto them like a thousand demons slashing at anyone who came within two feet? What about the chronic drug users with their crater-sized, infected abscesses? One of the nurses told me it was the result of shooting up with puddle water. The stench that drifted down the hallway from that was unforgettable. I know; it’s burned into my cellular memory. Today, I would get to leave it behind. Going back to Tandy’s place didn’t exactly thrill me. If it wasn’t for Beth, I’d have walked right out of there and lived on the street.
I went through the large double doors of the psychiatric unit, finding the waiting area quiet. Clearly, housekeeping hadn’t managed to make it in here. The cheap side tables sat littered with takeaway coffee cups and crumpled chip bags. But the space was free of hospital stink, and for that I was grateful. I felt a presence come up from behind, Bhotu. The orderly paused, his discomfort obvious in the stillness and silence of the space. Why he was reacting this way, I had no clue. It wasn’t as though any visitors had shown up during the two weeks.
“To be honest, I’m surprised. I thought she’d come to pick you up. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with just leaving you here.” Bhotu took his hand away from the door, allowing the one side to close. The resounding click of the door locking into place punctuated his statement. The doors automatically locked to prevent patients from leaving the unit and visitors from entering. Although referred to as a secured unit, I found the term prison much more fitting. At least calling it a prison seemed more honest. During my latest stay at the Hotel Crazy, I’d learned much about Bhotu and his surprising life. He’d come from a background of poverty and had made it to America. Bhotu had wanted more from life and had made up his mind to change his stars. Not once had Bhotu judged me. That was rare.
“I had my birthday the day I arrived here. I’m seventeen, and Tandy has reminded me that I only have a year left before I age out of the system.” I didn’t tell Bhotu about the other part of the conversation—about Tandy being so horrible and making good on her threat to have me evaluated again because she didn’t like my kind. This wasn’t new to me. Living in the group home under Tandy’s ever-changing rules and mood swings had left me exhausted. Trying to survive Tandy was like being on an endless hamster wheel of stupid. After years of struggling, I felt like a piece of material with frayed ends and threads hanging. Was I finally unraveling?
My throat tightened with the thought of having to deal with Tandy again. Tandy, the one preaching religion to the bunch of us even though it was against all policy. Tandy, who lectured about morals when she didn’t display any herself. Tandy, who doled out dessert according to which one of us she liked on any particular day. Some people just didn’t have the patience to work with youth. I’d never told her that, but I’d gotten at her with my gift. Beth was the only reason I stayed at the group home. If it wasn’t for Beth, I wouldn’t give a damn about leaving Tandy and her crap behind.
“In good conscience, how can I let you go?” Bhotu’s face mirrored the annoyance and hurt that had edged his words. Suddenly, there was a movement in my peripheral vision. A spirit. The veils came down, making the spirit’s form more visible. Since I was a child, I’d been able to communicate with the spirit world. Try telling that to a psychiatrist and not be locked away for the rest of your life. The message was about Bhotu and how shocked and angry he was about Tandy putting me in the hospital. This spirit wanted me to understand that Bhotu was on my side. I stared at the big orderly, feeling a real connection to him. I’m large for seventeen, but Bhotu towers over most people. It’s an asset to be big and strong on a psychiatric unit. There are times when you have to control people physically. It’s not easy and some fight hard. A person freaking out can do lots of damage. I witnessed one girl having a psychotic episode. She’d thought there were spiders crawling on her body and had fought like a wildcat. It had taken three people to hold her for the injection. I don’t think the girl could have weighed more than a hundred pounds, but man could she fight! I glanced up to find Bhotu patiently studying me.
“How about if I walk back? I promise I’ll go back to Tandy’s place. You can call and check to find out. Hey, man, don’t worry. It’s okay. Maybe she got hung up with something.” I adjusted the backpack on my shoulder. Now late spring, the weather was warm, and the walk would do me good. Besides, I needed to think and plan. My room at the Tandy Inn might have already been designated to someone else. Was I going to get pushed along and into yet another bad situation?
“I am disgusted she did not meet you, considering she was the one who sent you here.” Bhotu shook his head. I understood that he wasn’t comfortable just letting me walk out of the hospital alone. The spirit held up a long rope of braided gold that went between Bhotu and I. It was a message about how anguished Bhotu was over my circumstances.
“Will you be okay? Here, take this.” Without warning, he pushed several bills at me. I don’t think I can remember the last time someone gave me some money. I took it, tucking the bills into the pocket of my jeans.
“Thanks, man. You are one of the few people I’ve met in the medical world that didn’t want to shoot me full of antipsychotics.” I was relieved when he smiled. I just wanted to get out of there and into the sunshine.
“Keep care. Despite what some say, I do not believe you are ill. I believe you came to earth with something extra. Something good. Don’t let those that would tell you otherwise taint your heart.” Bhotu inclined his head, his palms pressed together in front of him. I returned the gesture. Over my stay on the psych unit, I’d learned much from Bhotu. He may have been an orderly, but he did more for the patients than most of the doctors on staff. He listened, and he didn’t judge. One time I’d heard some of the staff making fun of his heavy accent when they’d thought he was out of earshot. I’d got the distinct feeling that Bhotu had heard, but hadn’t said anything back. The guy was calm and cool. I’d miss him. If anyone ought to be running a place for homeless and troubled teens, it should be Bhotu.
“Stay cool, man,” I said, heading for the doors to get outside.
About the Author: Star-gazing, storms, coffee, chocolate and writing. If you follow the compass of your heart, you can never go wrong. If it’s paranormal – count me in! I love being spooked and have a few real ghost stories of my own to tell.
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