Secret Life of a Psych Ward Security Guard
My brute strength and wrestling skills made me a natural fit to maintain order. But what I really wanted to do was help people.
Illustrations by Francesco Del Re
We slipped in the blood that made the linoleum even slicker. It covered my opponent, who could have wrestled in my weight class in high school a few years earlier. If I’d had a hold on him in a double-leg takedown in front of a Saturday night crowd at my Pueblo County, Colorado, high school in 1968, it might have been a draw. But he was shirtless, the blood running out of two wounds on his forearms where he had tried to pull out the veins with a contraband pencil, making him slippery and hard to grab. It covered his face and the walls where he had dragged his hands. He grunted as I lunged forward, trying to grab him by the legs and take him down. It was a move that had become instinctive to me long before my job working as a security guard at the state hospital.
I had become a wrestler growing up on a ranch. “You kids need to get out of my way and get in the pen,” my dad would say to my cousins and me as he and my uncle got ready to brand and castrate t…
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