Life in the Rainbow (Hardcover)

By Richard Horan

Steerforth Press, 9781883642020, 164pp.

Publication Date: February 21, 1996



Life at once hilarious and horrifying is what our young hero discovers working as a nurse's aide in the Rainbow Home for the mentally ill. He ends up there by accident. In the middle of a walk across North America to Alaska in homage to his patron philosopher Henry David Thoreau, Richard stops for a haircut in Chicago where he meets Nick the Barber. Nick suggests it's not more of the road that Richard needs, but work, people, practical experience. He knows just the place. As the newest member of the Rainbow's staff, Richard is soon changing diapers on middle-aged men, weathering the devastation of Mount Shirley's truth-telling eruptions, dodging the punches thrown by octogenarian Megs, and somehow dealing with all the other variations of the human type living in the Rainbow. One by one he tells us of his charges through short, funny, touching portraits. But tending to patients' daily needs is not the only challenge that Richard and his sympathetic co-workers, Dorothy and Kelvin, face. The Rainbow's new owners are angling to dump residents who are wards of the state and bring in private patients who can pay big bucks. Richard, Dorothy, Kelvin, and those few patients with the wherewithal to act strategically conspire to keep the unwanted souls where they rightfully belong.