“Fuck You Linda”

December 30, 2013

“Ha, sister, I’ve got you beat,” Linda says. “I’ve been in here four times and…”

“Shut up!” A harsh voice explodes from the back of the room. Marius leans across the table and bores his dense black eyes into Linda’s, fists clenched in carefully contained fury.

I look Clive right in his pirate eye, mouth agape. The man can speak.



“Fuck You Linda” is just as thunderstruck as the rest of us. Not just because he’s spoken but because of the way the words land in our laps, like flinty sharp stones.

“Shut Up. And Let. Her Talk.”

And with that, he sits back down and suddenly relaxes, limbs liquidating. He hikes his tattooed arms back to rest on the back of the chair, like a lazy adolescent, but his eyes don’t leave Linda’s face.

Nobody else dares to look at Fuck You Linda. Our eyes ricochet around, looking for a safe place to land but nothing seems to stick, so we bounce from face to face. Marius. Clive. Charlie. Natalie.

Natalie’s crunched up in the back of her chair. She’s sorry she’s ever spoken and you can tell she’s wondering how everything she touches turns to shit.

“In-ter-rupt,” Marius says in measured staccato. “You always interrupt and she needs to talk and it’s her turn, not yours.”

We’re all gawking at him, this man of no words who suddenly has plenty.

We’re all gawking at him, which is a big mistake, because nobody’s looking in the other direction.

“Fuuuuckkk Yeoooooouuuuuu!” roars Linda, and she launches herself across the table, cane spiked in her hand like a javelin.

It’s amazing how fast she moves, viper-like, intent on her mark.  It’s only seconds between “Fuuuuckkk Yeooooouuuuuu!” and the view of her giant green ass, splayed across the table, as she scrambles for Marius’ face.

“Fuck you, you stupid Russian!” she snarls. “Fuck you and that boat you came in on! Go back to Russia, you fucking lousy immigrant!”

She’s closing in and she opens her jaws, ready to rip a piece out of him.

Chairs clatter to the floor as we scatter, ducking our heads. She’s waving her cane with vigor, threatening to knock someone’s block off.

“Back off, you crazy bitch!” Marius barks, arms shielding his face.


Charlie scrambles out of his chair smacks a button in the corner and within a blink, the doors bust open. Three burly nurses rush into the room, gunning for Fuck You Linda. She’s whacking her cane and thrashing her limbs like a giant squid, so it’s tough to contain her.

“Head’s up, she’s a biter!” Charlie bellows, and suddenly all I see is a grappling of limbs and hands and legs and huge green ass.

“Aaarrrrrggggggggg!” Fuck You Linda hollers, snapping her giant jaws over and over and kicking and thrashing as they try to wrestle her out of the room. One of the nurses turns and snaps at Marius, “You too! You too! Out of the room! Now!”

The door slams shut and we sit, stupefied.


We keep staring at the door, as if it’s suddenly going to open again, as if Fuck You Linda’s gonna come tearing back in with fat, green, rabid vengeance.

“Awww, Jesus,” Clive says, closing his eyes and shaking his head. “This is bad. This is gonna screw everything up. Damn.”

“What?” I say.

“Marius. He’s supposed to be getting out today,” Clive says. “He’s supposed to be going home.”

“Well hey, it’s Fuck You Linda’s fault,” I say.

“Ha. You think they’re gonna care?” he scoffs. “A shithole like this, they don’t care about his side of the story.” He makes a low growl of disgust.

Natalie begins to weep softly. “I didn’t mean to do anything, I swear.”

“Now stay calm, stay calm,” Charlie orders, holding a hand in the air. “Keep it together. Nobody get excited.”

It’s too late for that though, because I look around the room and it’s in shambles.

The room is charged with a weird energy–something that’s been lying dormant underneath scrubs and slippers and strictly timed doses of medication.

Danica’s crouched in a corner, fetal-style. “Don’t hit me, don’t hit me,” she mumbles.

Paula rakes her fingernails down the length of her arms, over and over, leaving angry red tracks.

The men can’t stay seated and they wander, fingers rubbing together, searching for cigarettes that aren’t there. There’s a rapid movement that I catch out of the corner of my eye and it’s the Matts.

There’s something in their faces–something I can’t quite put my finger on but it’s there, all right–that’s flicked like a switch. Something black and quick and bad. One’s got the dead shark eyes and the other paces in front of the door, backandforth and his mouth is stretched so tight and so wide that it looks like he’s smiling until you really look at his face and realize that that’s not a smile.

It’s like everyone’s past–everyone’s deep emotional garbage–has suddenly come out to play.

Charlie looks at the Matts and doesn’t like what he sees, either, because he says, “Outside right now everybody! Smoke break! Smoke break! Let’s just get out of this room, okay?”

“Well hey, you get another smoke break out of the deal,” I mumble to Clive, following him into the hall.

As soon as we hit the hallway, we can hear “Fuckyoufuckyouyouswtupidbastards! I’llkillyouall!” and a repetitive, vicious whacking of something into a wall.

“Shit, she’s still going berserk,” Clive says. One of the nurses flies out of the room toward the front desk yelling “Ativan! Somebody get me some Ativan, stat!”

We try to dawdle a little, hoping to peer into the room where the shrieking and the banging is coming from  but Charlie’s not having any of it. “Out! Now!”

“Where’s Marius?” I hiss at Clive. He shrugs.

It’s pitch black outside and cold, and we shiver in silence, waiting for someone to turn on some lights and dole out the much-anticipated cigarettes.

We wait. And shiver. And wait.

The floodlights come on in a blaze and we’re blinded for a minute and then Charlie comes out, packs of cigarettes in his hands.

“Okay, here we are,” he says, slowly dispensing cigarettes and lighting one of his own. He takes two long, drawn out puffs and blows it out into the night air.

None of us still says a word. We just smoke.

Charlie takes a hard look at us, studying our faces. Evaluating.

“Everyone okay?” he says.

There’s a shifting of feet and a couple of low mutters. Natalie’s still crying.

“It’s okay,” he says to her and pats her lightly on her shoulder even though that’s against the rules. “Everyone’s safe here. Everyone’s safe.”

He takes another deep drag on his cigarette. “I want you all to know, I’ve been here over 20 years and I’ve never had anything like this happen. This is a safe facility.”

“What’s going to happen to Marius?” I ask.

“I have no idea,” Charlie says. “I suppose at some point there will be some getting together…”

When smoke break is over, we shuffle back into the commons. We’re all listening closely to see if Fuck You Linda’s still making a ruckus, but it’s silent inside.

“I’m gonna get y’all some tea,” Charlie says. “Warm us all up.”

We slump into chairs.

We sip weak, tepid tea.

We look longingly at the television but nobody lets us turn it on.

“Why the Hell can’t we have t.v.?” Clive yells to the nurses at the front station. “Be nice to have some distraction or something around here.”

They just glare at him and shake their heads.

“Jesus. Nazis.”

I wander over to the small shelf of books and magazines. There’s one People magazine that I’ve read four times already and some battered copies of books in Spanish. One lonely bible.

“What can we do in here?” Clive yells at the nurses. They look back at us, steely-faced, and say nothing.

I spy a green box next to a shoddy-looking chess set.

“There’s a board game here,” I say, looking Clive in his pirate eye.

We all just look at each other in bewildered silence.

I pick up the box and peer inside.

“Some of the cards are still in here,” I say, shrugging. Someone makes a murmur of disgust. The Matts turn their backs.

“Ah, Hell,” Clive says, elbowing Paula.

“Come on over here, you scrawny blonde apple eater,” Clive tells me, smily wryly. “We’re in.”



{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Justine December 30, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Wow. Really, really, knock-my-socks-off good stuff, Kitch!


velva December 30, 2013 at 7:33 pm

This is really good stuff. Wow.


Pearl December 30, 2013 at 10:14 pm

So glad you survived to tell the tale! I hope others did too.


Annette December 30, 2013 at 10:54 pm

This is intense. You had me wanting that cigarette break, and I don’t even smoke! I think you got the ending just right.


Jamie December 30, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Did Marius get out?! Ok I realize this is your life and all but still…you told the story so well that I couldn’t help but ask. It’s a compliment, really.


Dana Talusani December 31, 2013 at 7:40 am


Yep, they let him go. :)


Annie December 31, 2013 at 8:02 am

Brilliantly done. I too wanted that smoke break and I’ve never been a smoker! Vivid, riveting detail Kitch. Wish I was a publisher because I would sign you in a second!


Hayley December 31, 2013 at 8:49 am

As an avid reader (fangirl), I have to gush that this was one of your best. Thanks for sharing!


elizabeth January 1, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Chills, lady. I have chills from reading this. It’s so visceral and raw and so freaking good.


Arnebya January 1, 2014 at 8:11 pm

I think the ending is perfect, not neat and clean like fiction. Also, I really hate Apples to Apples.


Alison January 2, 2014 at 12:50 am

Edge-of-seat stuff!!


Biz January 2, 2014 at 12:45 pm

It was as if I was a fly in the room – I could “see” every detail. So good Dana!!


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes January 3, 2014 at 3:38 am



Robin January 3, 2014 at 6:55 pm



erin margolin January 4, 2014 at 6:04 pm

fucking fantastic. freaking fantastic.


Tiffany January 5, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Awesome….as always. Glad you hit publish!


janice January 10, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Great job. I was in the room ready to run for cover. Thanks for being courageous to share.


Jennifer January 13, 2014 at 9:53 am

I’m glad you are finding a way to tell this story and I hope it releases some of the pain I’m sure you’ve carried.


Naptimewriting January 21, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Jayzus fucking fuck, Kitch.

Was there a smell? The only thing I can’t quite sense is the smell. Other than that, I’m really effing uncomfortable right now. Thank goodness you’re there to be the Distractor…


Deborah January 22, 2014 at 9:02 am

Brilliant writing. You took me there and it was more than a little uncomfortable. For people like me, that’s a little too close for comfort. Thanks for sharing your story.


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