Cloudy Ice      by    Ruth Utnage

“Dave,” I began with a smile “you get ice everyday, right?”

“Yeah, that’s right” Dave replied, already a defensive look stretching across his aged face.

“Why?” I wondered

“Cause its filtered and the tap water ain’t” he said simply and well-rehearsed in his normal southern accent.

He was a strange man, Dave. Everyday just before lockup he runs down to the ice chest with 2 pitchers and proceeds to put a scoop of ice in and use his palm to crush them down to get those last 2 or 3 cubes in. Its not that he wants filtered water that…bothers me, no, its the repetition I don’t understand. This was a fact finding mission. I see it as a routine, not a necessity, a small thing that if you prevented him from doing it you would watch a small southern queen in his 60’s have a full on meltdown. Not that I would.

“Fun fact,” Q chimes in with a smirk “from the HVAC world, when your ice is cloudy, your filter needs to be changed.”

“Or when its really cold” Dave says matter of factory, not to contribute but to defend, he feels attacked.

Which, I’ll validate. Not to be mean, but out of curiosity, what makes this defensive ball of a man tick? We’re sure he’s nuts, just plain off his rocker-needs to be monitored- nuts.

But upon investigation, he’s just institutionalized. Dependent on the facts of his world, not reality. CO’s are gods with infinite power and he is helpless to their whims kind of attitude so he structures his day around the things he feels he can predict, like stuffing his two pitchers full of ice every day at six forty five a.m., three thirty p.m., and lastly at eight fifteen p.m. and if it doesn’t happen he stands there, looks around the dayroom at everyone who is thinking he’s nuts and announces in his Queen southern accent “Well, looks like they screwed us again!” and looks around for one of his gods to fix it.

Cloudy ice…