Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Affective Needs--Chapter Twenty Six

**New chapters posted here Wednesdays**

It was my fourth time driving up to Tennyson and the third time Tom behind the counter was shaking his head at me. “He still won’t see you.”
I had been up, trying to see Porter again, every day since my first visit.
But he wouldn’t come to the waiting room.
“Can I at least talk to him on the phone? Something?”
Tom shrugged his shoulders, picked up his phone and dialed. Seconds later, “Ruth’s down here wondering if you will at least speak to her on the phone.” Tom’s eyes met mine and he shook his head at me. “I’ll tell her,” he said, and hung up the phone. “Sorry, he won’t.”
I could scream in frustration. The building was not large. Porter was somewhere within one hundred feet of me, behind a single locked door guarded by a counter, a desk phone, and a grad student named Tom. All of which would open to me, allow me to spend two hours a day with Porter during visiting time, if only Porter would agree. “Why?” I asked. “Why won’t he see me?”
Tom shrugged.
“Can’t you make him come down?”
Tom laughed. “We make these guys do lots of things. Visiting with old girlfriends isn’t one of them.” He picked up a stack of files from his desk and got up. “We try to pick our battles around here.” He opened the file cabinet next to his desk and started fingering through the alphabet.
“Goodbye, Ruth.” He dismissed me even though I was still standing, defiant, waiting for some magic solution to my stubborn Porter problem to present itself. I felt like digging my heels in, refusing to leave until visiting hours were officially over, stupidly holding out hope that today Porter would change his mind and come down.
That was what I had done yesterday and the day before. I had believed Porter would give in and come down.
But he didn’t.
And he wouldn’t today.
I turned to go.
“Ruth,” Tom said.
I turned back, hopeful that he was maybe going to help me out in some way I hadn’t already considered. He was leaning forward with both his hands on the desk in front of him. “I shouldn’t tell you this,” he said.
Tom took a deep breath. “We’re overcapacity. They’re moving Porter and a few others to another facility on Monday.”
“Where?” I practically begged.
Tom shook his head. “That, I absolutely can’t share without his permission. I just thought you should know in case you were going to keep driving up here.” He frowned and returned to his filing. “Save you the trip, you know?”
Helpless, I stood a second longer watching Tom file files, powerless to even ask Porter, Why, why won’t you talk to me? And now he was going to disappear completely? I would have no idea where to find him. Defeated, I was about to leave—then I had an idea.
I let my bag slide from my shoulder, took out a spiral notebook, a pen, and used Tom’s counter as a desk to write Porter a letter.
I wrote three sentences. Tore out the page, folded it in thirds, and asked Tom, “Do you have an envelope?”
He opened a squeaky drawer and pulled out a long, legal-size white envelope with the Tennyson address preprinted in the return address corner. I stuffed my letter inside, sealed it, wrote PORTER on the outside, and handed it to Tom.
“Will you please just make sure he gets this?”
He took it from me. “I can’t make him read it.”
“Thanks a bunch,” I said.
And walked out the door.

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