Chapter Description: Bart will soon find out what happens when you don't behave
The half light from the darkened hospital hallway was just barely enough to illuminate the room; Bart blinked his eyes again trying to refocus as the image swam in front of him. He didn’t believe what he was seeing. He closed his eyes again, this time for a long second before he opened them again. There it was. A doll sat staring sappily at him with a silly embroidered smile on its placid white terry cloth face. What the hell? He turned his face toward the sheet and slowly rubbed it as he wondered if he was dreaming. He opened his eyes again and indeed, the doll was still there. The sight so bewildered him that he just stared at it before he noticed there was something else bordering his field of vision. He shifted his eyes slightly and saw that he was peering through bars. It shook him. He lay still for a moment as he intently studied the bars. They seemed strange but eerily familiar as he eyes traveled from one bar down to another. He noticed the bars tended to go beyond his line of sight, so he tried to sit up. As he tried to lift his head, he felt something pull on his face. He discovered that something was taped on his face. He grabbed at it with his hands and pulled. It came away from his face in his hands; he studied the oxygen tube for a moment. Had he been that sick? He felt fine now; in fact better than he had in years. He pushed it away as he tried to sit up again but his core muscles weren’t working normally as he failed in his attempt and only accomplished some floundering on the mattress. His body seemed stiff and awkward. Reaching around, he managed to get his arms under him and push upward. Finally with a great clumsy effort, he managed to bring himself up into a sitting position. It was then that he realized that he was in a crib in a hospital ward.
He looked at the cool metal bars surrounding the small mattress he was sitting on frozen with disdain. Then with great trepidation he looked down at his own body. It wasn’t the swaggering tall muscular body he was accustomed. It was a pudgy soft chunk of an infant’s body. He brought up his hands in front of him flexing the short plump fingers and curling them into soft dimpled fists. He looked down at the rest of his body. Gone was the lean torso, replaced by a rounded belly. He brought his hands up to his face. He felt chubby rounded velvety smooth cheeks instead of the presence of his rough morning stubble that he had woken to every morning since he was fifteen. Anxiously, his hand crept over to the center of his face to discover that his strong aquiline nose was replaced by a short button. With almost sound barrier breaking speed, his shock gave way to fear which quickly turned to sputtering rage which he began to vent to the entire world.
“Hey! HELP! Somebody get a doctor! I needa doctor in here! Emergency! Come on, people!” He screamed gutturally as he unsuccessfully struggled to stand on his own. “For Chrissakes, I can’t friggin believe this! I need HELP! Doesn’t anybody work here? ”
He continued his loud rant as he reached over to wrap each of his fists around a cool metal bar. Pulling on them, he was able to get his feet under him and stand propped by the top of the crib side. His chin was just level with the top of the side of the crib. He hooked his hands over the top as he yelled for help. As he stood there, he could hear the stirrings of activity in the hallway. The echoes of strange voices and the sound of approaching footsteps on the linoleum floor carried in through the doorway. The next instant, the lights on his room were turned on.
“Hey, good morning, Mr. Noisy. You must be feeling a lot better today” a gentle feminine voice carried over to Bart, startling him with the tone and breaking him out of his fury.
Chest heaving with indignation, he looked up to see a pretty young woman bending at the waist as she approached the crib. The young woman looked just out of nursing school. She had long light brown hair that she had drawn back into a loose ponytail. She was wearing hot pink hospital scrubs with little Dalmatian puppies covering it. She soon reached the crib and leaned down to look in his eyes as she tilted her head and gave him a gentle smile. She reached around Bart to pat him on the back in greeting, making a soft thumping sound which only served to infuriate him.
“Are you crazy? What do you think I’m feeling? I am stuck in a stupid crib and I look like a baby. Now do your job and call a doctor in here to fix it!” Bart screamed as wrested his body away without losing hold of the bars. Bart’s face clouded with bitter wrath from the nurse’s action which he interpreted as condescension.
“No smile for me today? That’s okay.” She said with a pantomimed frown with pouting lip. She straightened and turned away from the crib. “Oh, you pulled off your oxygen. Well, as much as noise as you’re making, you must not need it. Let’s check that temperature.”
“What’s the matter with you, ya stupid cow? Don’t you understand English? I said I want to see a doctor!” Bart bellowed as he watched the nurse as he angrily shook the bars and pointed out to the hallway.
The nurse quickly turned back around with a pediatric ear thermometer. With practiced ease, she wrapped an arm around the back of the child in the crib and kept him pressed against the bars while she smoothly placed the earpiece in his ear canal with the other hand. Bart attempted to struggle away from the woman but found that his struggles were feeble against the behemoth strength of this woman. A minute later, the sound of beep issued from the thermometer to indicate that his temperature was recorded. The nurse pulled the thermometer away from Bart’s and looked at it, the entire time not releasing her grip on Bart.
“Very good! It’s back to normal.” She said beaming at the small agitated person in the crib who was busy trying to free himself.
“Alright, you got ya stupid temperature! Now, let me go! Go get a doctor, nitwit! I can’t freaking believe this! I am going to sue for malpractice! You’ll be lucky to get a job at veterinary office, bitch! Ya hear me?!” Bart yelled as he tried to push back from the bars against the hand holding him there.
“Why, aren’t you talkative this morning, cutie” The nurse said as she looked down at the small body in front of her as she patted the baby’s back. “Come here. Let’s make you more comfortable.”
In the next instant, Bart felt large hands under his armpits as she lifted out of the crib and brought him up to her shoulder as he ineffectually kicked his feet. Once up to her shoulder, she gave a quick feel of the weight of his diaper as he was pressed securely against her body. Nodding, she gave his bottom a quick pat which mortified Bart.
“Put me down! God! What’s the matter with you?” Bart continued to complain as he tried to push away from the nurse.
Bart felt his body being shifted as the nurse settled his butt on her left forearm while placing her other hand in between his shoulder blades to support him. She methodically patted his back with her right hand as she glided over to the area where a table sat against the wall. She smoothly laid Bart on his back on the table so efficiently that Bart could not react. It wasn’t until he felt the belt of the table being tightened around his torso that he began to speak again.
“What? What’s going on? Let me off this thing. What do you think you’re doin?” He shrieked as he began to struggle ineffectually on the table.
The woman pulled up the hospital gown and began to tear the tapes. Bart began to struggle and writhe in earnest when the concept of what was happening occurred to him.
“Get away from me! Leave me alone! I don’t need you to do this! I am a grown man. Don’t you understand English, you moron” he hollered at the woman who was busily effecting a diaper change on him. The ignominy was just too great and humiliation began to creep into his voice as he wailed. “I AM A MAN!”
“Shhh. Shhh. It’s okay, baby. We’ll just get you out of this old nasty wet diaper and then you can have your bottle.” The nurse consoled in a musical voice as she continued to proceed with the diaper change. “You’ll feel better after that.”
“What’s the matter with you? Can’t you understand me?” Bart whimpered as he looked away in shame. It dawned on him that the nurse could not understand him. In her eyes, he was only a baby. He shuddered as he uttered softly. “God help me!”
After his rear had been wiped, powdered and ensconced in a fresh diaper, Bart was released from the table. He was placed back in the crib while the nurse washed her hands and picked up something on the counter. He once again found himself back in the nurse’s arms as a baby bottle filled with a creamy looking substance was held in front of him. The nurse looked at Bart with an air of expectation.
“Here you go! Here’s your baba.” The nurse stated enthusiastically as she moved the bottle toward his face.
Bart looked doubtfully from the nurse to the bottle. He opened his mouth to say something and before he knew he found his mouth was filled with the rubber nipple of the bottle. He struggled to push the offensive object from his mouth with his tongue. When he pushed at the bottle, he found it to deposit a mouthful of formula in his mouth. He swallowed it and as he did, he felt it cooling his throat as it went down to settle comfortably in his stomach. It was wonderful, but he thought he really shouldn’t participate in this charade that he was an actual infant. He again tried to pull away from the bottle, but the nurse kept firmly pressing it into his mouth. He placed his outside hand on the bottle to push it away but found the overt strength of the nurse’s intent to feed him unassailable. His hand bounced over hers and finally lay in defeat on top of hers. As he struggled another mouthful of formula entered his mouth. He instinctively swallowed it which made him pull against the nipple. He realized that the bottle would not be pulled away until it was empty. He resolved himself to drink the bottle as quickly as possible before he could get out of this mess. He threw all his effort into quickly consuming the formula. Before long he began to earnestly enjoy drinking the bottle as his eyes closed in pleasure with each swallow. He fell into a dazed rhythm of compressing, sucking and swallowing. It wasn’t until an explosive burp issued from his mouth that he became aware of what had just happened. He became aware of praise being heaped on him as his face was being wiped. His face became hot with disgrace as he kept his eyes averted from the maternal smile being aimed at him.
The nurse gently held his head against her shoulder as her fingers smoothed his hair on the back of his head as she walked over to the crib. She sat him back down in the crib and turned away. Bart felt a surprising feeling of loss when her body heat was no longer against him. He looked to watch her with the alien feeling of longing. The nurse came back and Bart sat there in surprise as she placed a stuffed bunny, a baby blanket and a set of stacking rings inside the crib with him. Bart sat there staring at the items in stupefaction for a few seconds.
“You don’t really expect...” Bart’s voice trailed off as he looked around the room and discovered he was alone.
An hour or so later, a doctor on his morning rounds entered the doorway of Bart’s room. A man in a white coat with a few threads of gray running through his thick hair was reading a clipboard. He looked up from the clipboard over to the crib. He pulled out a pen and made a few notes before calling a nurse.
Bart was overjoyed to see the man as he clumsily reached over and pulled himself up on the bars. He knew the nurse was not able to comprehend him, but a doctor was a man of science. Surely, this man could help him. He reached over the edge of the rails with open palms.
“Doctor! Doctor!” Bart called out desperately from the crib.
The man looked over at Bart for a moment but did not respond. He continued to stand there until the nurse in the pink scrubs appeared. The doctor nodded toward Bart and the nurse entered the room before the doctor. She stopped to wash her hands as the doctor regarded the baby in the crib. As the two approached the crib, Bart could hear their conversation about him.
“How’s he doing this morning?” The doctor said as he came to a stop a few feet away from the crib.
The nurse approached Bart and once again, wrapped an arm around him.
“His temperature was back to normal this morning. He easily took and kept down a full bottle this morning. He seems to be acting much more energetic.” The nurse reported as she smoothed a hand over Bart’s head. “He’s a real chatterbox.”
“Hey, I’m right here! Don’t talk about me like I’m not here!” Bart stated indignantly. “Doc! You gotta do something. I’m not a baby. I’m a full grown man. I’ve been poisoned or something. You gotta fix it!”
“Excellent.” The doctor pulled up the clipboard and made notes. He smiled as he shook his head in amusement. “You’re right about the talking. Just listen to the little guy!”
The doctor stopped writing, clicked his pen and dropped the clipboard to the side. He nodded as he instructed the nurse. “Nurse, if you’ll prepare the infant for examination.”
While the doctor turned to wash his hands, the nurse picked up a large surgical pad and placed it on the mattress behind Bart. She then began untying the knot of the pediatric hospital gown at the back of Bart’s neck. Bart stood there as he dragged his eyes away from the doctor up to the nurse. She smiled at him as she deftly pull the hospital gown away from him leaving him clad in only a diaper. Bart was surprised at how cool the air felt on his body without the gown. In the next instance, Bart found himself flat on his back in the middle of the pad while the nurse was busy ripping the tabs on his diaper and leaving him nude.
The nurse lowered the side of the crib as the doctor approached.
The doctor was holding the chest piece of his stethoscope in his hand to warm it. He pulled up the earpieces it and placed in his ears before leaning over the crib. The nurse leaned over from the other side and placed her hands on Bart’s upper arms to keep him in place. It really didn’t matter, Bart felt so vulnerable at that moment he wouldn’t have dared move. Bart felt the warm large hands on him as the chest piece was moved over his body. The doctor looked away from Bart as he concentrated on the sounds being issued from the stethoscope. The doctor pulled the stethoscope away and began to palpitate Bart’s torso. Bart discovered that his new body was ticklish as he responded with a few bubbling giggles to the doctor’s investigation. Bart was thoroughly examined as every bit of his body was prodded and examined. Finally, when it was all over, Bart reached over and clasped both his hands on to the doctor’s.
“You gotta help me! Please, please understand what I’m saying. I’m not a baby.” Bart urgently pleaded as he stared up at the doctor’s face. “I am a man. Please change me back.”
For a moment, the doctor stared at Bart. That moment of hope was soon dashed as the doctor gave Bart a few pats before pulling with a paternal smile. The doctor picked up his clipboard as he remarked.
“I would say he has 100% recovered. Whatever that virus was, I would say his body has eliminated it.” The doctor remarked. He looked over at the nurse before leaving the room. “You can get him dressed. I’ll inform the authorities of the situation.”
“Authorities? What do they have to do with this?” The child muttered as he looked anxiously up at the nurse who was securing him in a new diaper and gown.
“There you go! All dressed.” the nurse commented as she pulled the pad from underneath him and raised the bars of his crib. “I’ll be sorry to see you go. I am sure they’ll find you a nice family. You’re such a sweet adorable baby; you’re going to make some couple very happy.”
“What are you talking about? Family? Hey, I am not a baby! No way am I going to go to some stupid family!” Bart exclaimed, his voice becoming higher and louder with outrage.
With a sigh, the nurse pulled out a pacifier out of the pocket on the front of her smock. She inserted it into Bart’s open mouth and held it there until his mouth closed on it. Bart raged against the pacifier as he flung his head from side to side, trying to move his head away from her hand. He churned his arms and legs and bouncing on the mattress as he threw his whole body into the display.
“Guess, I spoke too soon.” The nurse conceded with a sigh.
She picked up Bart as he spat out the pacifier and continued to rage. Luckily, the pacifier landed back on the mattress where the nurse picked it up again. She pulled the loud squirming child up in her arms and walked over to the rocking chair. Once she sat down, she clutched the upset infant to her shoulder as she forcefully rocked in the rocking chair in an effort to calm him. Little did she know that in this aspect, Bart was determined not to be consoled.
The entire morning, he let his displeasure be known as loudly as he could. He paced back in forth in the crib, throwing everything out. He hurled the toys as far as he could as he rained curses down on the entire hospital staff and the medical profession at large. He screamed at the top of his lungs as he shook the crib railing with all his might. The nurse came in to give him a strong dose of laxative to clear up any intestinal discomfort that might be the root of the behavior. Even after a dirty diaper change, the screaming from the infant did not subside. It got so bad that the doctor was recalled to check him out again. The doctor determined nothing physical was wrong. Bart continued until his body collapsed under him and he was sound asleep. At the sudden quiet, the nurse found that Bart had fallen asleep in his crib.
A few hours later when he awoke, Bart started his tirade once again. He pointedly refused his bottle and any handling by adults. It was only at a state of near exhaustion that the child took any nourishment, the nurses discovered. A child psychiatrist was called in for consult. The psychiatrist reported that the child seemed to be caught in an emotionally distraught cycle. It appeared that there may be a back history of neglect and the sudden recent changes were acerbating the child’s behavior. The doctor wrote a report recommending to the state that the child be placed in a facility for emotionally disturbed children for treatment prior to adoption.
At the end of the week, a squat woman from the state appeared to take the little troublemaker away. The hospital staff was relieved when the woman walked away from the pediatric unit with her charge, her sensible flat shoes slapping against the floor. She betrayed no response to the screaming as she left the hospital with Bart in her arms. Bart soon found himself trapped in an infant car seat. He screamed, twisted his body and flailed his limbs in an effort to escape. The woman driving the car had worked for the state for a long time; she had years of experience with dealing with recalcitrant children. She reached over to turn her hearing aide down when the noise reached a zenith in the car.
After the first half hour of the trip, she happened to look back in the mirror to see the baby slumped over in his seat asleep. She smiled at the image of the sleeping baby, thinking what a shame he had been brought to this state at such a young age. Perhaps it was a good thing that he was so young, the issues could be dealt with early so they wouldn’t impinge on his later life. The facility had, in fact, successfully treated tougher cases.