I Will Not Be Forgotten

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by Elford Alley

I was a compassionate person. Despite what they say now. But at least I won’t be forgotten. We all get judged so harshly nowadays, but then time passes and we reassess a bit, right? No one in Nocona will forgive me, not for ten dead. But they won’t forget me. I used to be so forgettable. For 34 years I was so completely forgettable.

Married three times. Johnny, Leroy, Kirk, all of them moving on. All of them getting tired of the old forgettable nurse. Even my own babies would leave with them! I read an article about me that said my own daughter, Jennifer, slept with a baseball bat by her bed because she was afraid. Can you imagine? Afraid of an exhausted nurse, and a darn good one! I went to school at night and worked during the day, I raised babies and I raised husbands and I graduated. I became a licensed vocational nurse.

I tried so hard to be a good person, to be a good nurse! They won’t tell you that. I tried so hard.

My name is Vickie Dawn Jackson, and they say I killed ten people with mivacurium chloride. A crash cart mainstay, it’s used to paralyze the respiratory system so we can intubate if necessary. They say I used it to kill, and I just sat back and watched it happen.

They did find a syringe in my trash can at home, and yes, it had mivacurium chloride and yes, there were a bunch of vials missing at Nocona General. But they never did DNA testing on it! They just slammed me in here. Media called me the Angel of Death. I was even on a TV show, they had a whole episode all about me!

Who else in Nocona, Texas can say that?

All those years, dressing up to stand around in the town square, or at the car wash by the Dairy Queen, and hope I could make a friend, meet a boy, maybe get invited to a party. All those years burning the candle at both ends for my family. For my kids! They said I threatened them. Not how I remember it.

Jennifer said I was capable of killing all those folks! Leroy said I slapped my kids around. They never said a thing about working a shift and having food on the table. Working a night shift and getting everyone up for work and school the next morning. Full time mom, full time nurse, full time wife. When did I have time to kill folks?

I love my babies, even when they say I scared them. I plead no contest to capital murder, just so they wouldn’t drag my babies on the stand. My Jennifer was on the witness list. I spared them that, they never had to get up there and lie about me. Pleading no contest also means I never admitted guilt, and no jury ever said I was guilty.

Then at the hospital! I could go from bandaging a kid who broke a leg to comforting someone losing a spouse to cancer, you name it. I’d been an aide or nurse since I was a junior at Nocona High School. But you know who would be the most demanding? The ones with a hurt foot. The people with diarrhea or pneumonia or some such piddly thing. People about to go home! They could be downright nasty.

I’ll admit, a lot of the people who died weren’t the kindest to me. Orvel Moore called me a fat ass. Sanford Mitchell called me Nurse Tits. My husband Kirk had become estranged, wouldn’t so much as say hi even though we worked in the same building!  So, they said I killed his grandfather Preacher Jackson, who was in for his cellulitis, while Kirk was on a shift. How could I do such a thing? I even went to the funeral and gave them flowers, is that something a murderer would do?

Hell, the first woman they say I killed was 100! A stiff breeze would be more likely to do her in than I would! Why would I throw away a career? Just to get back at people who bullied me and ignored me? People who ignored my calls or were mean to my kids? They wouldn’t be worth it! Hell, they even said I tried to kill Oma Wyler twice.

I had always wanted to be a nurse! When I was a kid, I watched my great-grandmother die in a nursing home, and the women who cared for her always looked so professional in those pressed scrubs. Hair done up, people saying “ma’am” when they talked to them. I wanted to be like them, and help people, or course.

2000 was a hard one for me, I’ll admit. Lost a close friend. Lost custody of Jennifer and had a miscarriage. So, I lost them all I guess you could say. That’s when they say it started, me giving mivacurium chloride to Donnie, Sanford, Boyd, and James Wesley in December. Then in January, eight deaths in eleven days. All on my own! All by myself! Can you believe it?

And my what a way to die. Mivacurium chloride is a muscle relaxant. If you give it to them and don’t put a breathing tube, they choke. They start grabbing at their throats but they can’t yell or nothing. Their eyes bulge out, they get the quiet screams. They really stop complaining then, I tell you. Or so I’ve heard from people who were there.

I had a closet full of nurse’s uniforms, pressed and ready. I showed up early to my shift, stayed late if needed. I made myself up, dyed my hair myself with Lady Clairol and kept it pulled back so it was always out of the way. I also put a little Charlie on my neck, so I would smell nice for my patients. Then I’d grab a taco basket at the DQ on the way to work. That was my little treat.

Day in and day out. Looking my best and putting on a smile while everyone left me behind and forgot I was ever there! Only notice I’d get was when someone was upset at me, when I let someone down.

But you know? At least now no one forgets me. I still wear a uniform at Montague County, it’s a little dull but that’s alright. I don’t worry about hiding my grey, putting on a little makeup, or gaining weight. And now people talk about me! They write about me. Montague County isn’t even that bad a jail. COVID hit us pretty bad, but that’s how it as at all the jails. But they do have an infirmary here! With good behavior, maybe I can start where I left off. With COVID and all, they need all the help they can get. I was a damn good nurse, after all.

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