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Withering Away at the Homestead

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Withering Away at the Homestead

 

By David Jensen

 

Copyright 2017 by David Jensen

 

Shakespir Edition

 

Shakespir Edition License Notes

Thank you for downloading this e-book. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

 

This novel is a work of fictional non-fiction. Some of the names have been changed and also a few occurrences. The rest is factual, for it pertains to my deceased grandfather.

“I must lose myself in action, lest I

Wither in despair.”

Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

1.

“We’re going to sell the house and move farther into town.” His son-in-law told him one Saturday morning at the breakfast table. The two of them never really got along very well with each other since he moved in with his daughter, son-in-law, and their three boys. But at the time, many years ago, it had been a necessity; because he became the live-in baby sitter, gardener, and anything else he could or should help out with. He had agreed to live with them because his main thinking was that he would be around his grandchildren all the time. Of course he could have lived elsewhere and drove over to visit the boys and his daughter but his son-in-law was the type of person where he would have to call and literally make an appointment to visit them, as if one had to make an appointment at the doctor’s office or something! And right now what his son-in-law said came about pretty disconcerting and ominous. “So where are we going to move to, or are you still looking around the marketplace for a new house?” Adrian asked while spreading peanut butter on his toast. He could feel it, like an icy November fog, the bitter cold atmosphere which had suddenly descended upon the room, and the way that his daughter had suddenly lowered her head made him realize that his time with them was over.

He often wondered why his son-in-law thought that he wasn’t very smart in the brain, and again he seen that his daughter had probably argued against the impending move, up to a point where she knew when to stop to avoid getting the shit beat out of her. Since he moved in with them, Adrian knew that the best way to avoid the wrath of her husband was to play half-deaf. What one doesn’t hear, one cannot be accused of being a party to certain occurrences! She and the boys knew that his hearing wasn’t impaired, and his son-in-law should have noticed it when he caught him and his daughter speaking Dutch one day. Adrian was in his room in the basement adjacent to the recreation room with the dartboard, pool table, and a small television in the corner. She had called down to him and knowing that her husband was at work, had answered in Dutch, his mother language, which of course she was also fluent. She had automatically switched over into the Dutch language and they had conversed between the basement and the upstairs kitchen for a few minutes, that is, till he suddenly opened the door which led from the garage into the kitchen, and heard them speaking the forbidden language!

All hell had broken loose in the kitchen as his son-in-law started to rant and rave about the fact that in his house ‘that stupid language will not be spoken here’. Adrian heard him slapping his wife around and his daughters crying apologies, and for a minute he had wondered if he should shoot his son-in-law. After he was finished with his wife he had come down to the basement room and had made it clear that he had forbidden them to speak Dutch, and that Adrian should better listen up and quit the shit! When he was walking back upstairs Adrian had to laugh at the fact that he was so furious about the language that he failed to realize just how good he could actually hear!

Now with his daughter staring at her uneaten eggs, bacon and toast, and his son-in-law staring at him with a hateful look on his face as if he was unsure how to proceed with the conversation, Adrian just had to say it like it is; “Come on, act like a man, spit it out and get it over with!” Normally, such a sarcastic comment would be followed up with him lambasting Adrian about how lucky he should feel that he is allowed to live with them, but today he was able to control his choleric temper. “It’s just the two of us and the dog in the new house, you have to go to the old folk’s home, and I don’t want to hear anymore discussions about it!” He said. And with that, it was ‘signed, sealed and delivered’.

The very next morning after breakfast, his daughter said that they were going to the residence, to show him where his new home would be. He asked his daughter in Dutch; “He had this all planned out and just can’t wait to get rid of me, am I right?” His son-in-law turned from the doorway and asked her what he had said. “He only told me that he will go wherever you want, that’s all.” She answered. “And as if I haven’t told you a thousand times, you’re not allowed to speak that shitty language in my house!” He yelled at Adrian. Adrian just smiled and asked; “And if I do, are you going to throw me out of the house for it?” His son-in-law was now on the verge of rage as he said; “Shut up and get in the car! It’s time for you to leave!” Adrian stared at him for a moment, and with the realization that he would no longer be under this child and wife beating monsters authoritarian grip, he coolly stated; “Thanks but no thanks. I’ll prefer to drive there myself, just tell me where it is and I shall meet you there.”

They had driven over and looked at the small apartment room that was on the ground floor level. The place was called “The Homestead”, as if it was a retirement home for old aged Cowboys! The room had a single sized bed opposite to the mini- bathroom with a shower stall, and he immediately wondered where he could take his beloved long hot baths now. There was a small closet door next to the bathroom door and he judged that from the space inside, he would have to store half of his clothing under the bed to make ends meet. He also wondered how many people pissed in the closet at nights when they opened the wrong door. Next to the window was a small sink and a polished stainless steel mirror. This seemed strange that the sink wasn’t in the bathroom. And why not glass mirrors, or did they think some people would be suicidal enough to break it and slice their wrist? The view out of the window wasn’t all that bad because his room was on the park side of the building. Those that had their rooms on the opposite side had a wonderful panoramic view of: the dull gray parking lot, the new road which was still beleaguered with bulldozers, road graders, trucks and such, and the shopping mall way off in the distance. A nurse in a strange lime green colored smock came into the room and introduced herself, and looking around at the three standing in the room, asked who would be moving into ‘this beautiful room’. “Well, I guess I’ll volunteer for that position if it’s alright with you!” Adrian said smiling as he gently took the nurses hand in his hands. “Oh my, but aren’t you the charming one!” She said and started to blush. “Aren’t you just a little bit too spry to be coming here to live with us old people?” “Fate leads us to where we need to be in life, my sweetness! And you look young enough to be a granddaughter of mine!” Adrian said, and gave her a sly wink of the eye.

He had seen his son-in-law rolling his eyes in disbelief and disgust, and his daughter was at a perfect angle so her husband couldn’t see her face. It was simply her lucky fate that his son-in-law couldn’t see her smiling with love and pride at her fathers youthful charm and eloquence. He asked his daughter, naturally in Dutch, if he was overdoing it, but before she could answer, his son-in-law yelled at him; “I’ve told you not to speak that language!” Adrian could feel the nurses hand start to tremble and said; “Be calm, you have nothing to fear from him.” And as far as my mother language is concerned,” he said to his son-in-law, “first of all, YOU are the only one in your family that does not understand it! Second, we are in MY new home, and I will speak as it pleases me!” Adrian thought that his son-in-laws head would explode as red and swollen as it looked. He grabbed his wife’s arm and shoving her out of the room, had said; “Get your personal belongings out of my house as soon as possible!” And Adrian answered in Dutch; “Goede dag!” The nurse looked at Adrian and he said; “I will be happy to move in here, for I have been quiet for far too long.” She smiled and answered; “It would appear so!”

 

2.

Moved in and settled down in his new place, Adrian started to check out the building. The first discomforting thing that he had seen was the community area. A big room with only tables, chairs and a few comfort chairs which had seen much better days, to say the least! Most of the people were occupied with boring things like playing board games or cards, and a few were staring blankly at the television set up in the corner of the room. Of course they had it so high that nobody could even think of reaching it to attempt to change the channel, which was, according to the amount of dust accumulated on the dial, forever stuck on WOOD-TV. Adrian made a mental note to help the cleaning lady by acquiring a ladder and cleaning the year’s worth of dust and smudge off of the set. At that moment, a bell rang, and it was like the Ivan Pavlov experiment, everybody rose at once and wandered out of the room. Being the curious species that he was, Adrian followed! That was when he discovered the dining area, with simple tables, chairs and an ugly green linoleum floor which literally hurt the eyes to look at. On each table was a waterless vase with various sorts of plastic flowers, which Adrian found simply appalling! In the corner was a piano which was so old as to have been once owned by Lincoln! He walked over to the piano and dusting off the dust, (does the cleaning lady even earn her wages here?), opened the lid. Which of course presented ebony and ivory covered with assorted smearing of what was once maybe spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, or coagulated blood. By the high chords was either chocolate or excrement, god knows it would be hard to tell as it seemed that the keys were cleaned the last time when Truman was presiding in the White House! “May I help you sir?” A voice asked from behind. Closing the lid he turned and answered; “No, I was just looking around!” “Oh, you must be the new man, Mr. Meyer!” She said and pointed to a table. “You can sit over here if you wish. Lunch will be brought out to you soon.” Looking around and seeing that nobody conversed, only sat there looking blankly out into space, he said; “Nah, I’m not really hungry at the moment!” “Okay.” She said. “But it’s another six hours until dinnertime, and that’s a long time when one gets the stomach grumblies!” Adrian looked at her and wondered if she talked to all the people as if they were five year olds. “I won’t get hungry, and I’ll pass on the lunch.” He had already seen the helpers bringing out what was probably called stew but looked like brown tea with very little meat and potatoes. As he was walking out, she asked if he would be eating dinner with them, and he waved a hand over his head while walking out the dining room door and called out; “Maybe!”

He walked to his room and grabbed his wallet and keys, and hopping into his Plymouth, he drove to the shopping mall. Walking into the Old Country Café, he ordered the all you can eat menu, and the girl at the cash register asked if would rather have the senior citizens menu. Before he could even think of an answer to that question, a voice said from behind him; “Girl, he need all you can eat menu cause ol’ Ade here eat like a horse I’m telling you!” “How you doing B-Jorn?” Adrian said without even turning a cheek to see his acquaintance. Bjorn the Swede slapped him on the back and laughed like a horse, saying; “You never get me name right Ade! Today is also bad day, no meatballs today I say!” Finally coming to their ‘regulars’ table with his plate overflowing with diverse meats covered with a long piece of spare ribs, the others at the table greeted him with the usual, and Bjorn asked loudly; “Ade, you make diet or what?” At that moment one of the waitresses came over with a plate heaping full of mashed potatoes, corn, peas, and beans. In her other hand she had the big size glass full of chocolate milk. Setting it on the table, Bjorn started up with his ‘eat like a horse’ routine, and as the waitress was turning to leave, Adrian shook her hand and thanked her for helping him bring the stuff to his table. The girl wasn’t a born idiot either, as she said it was no problem, and in turning around, glanced down at the $5 tip before casually slipping it into her pants pocket. Adrian knew that they had to give up all tips and it would be split up at the end of the shift, but even when he was deep in a conversation he always took notice of who avoided helping the elderly or disabled and which ones really cared about their job, ergo, $5 for the girl who truly offered to help him juggle his plates to the table.

Talk between them went back and forth and eventually during a lull in the storm of conversation, Adrian decided to fill them in on the fantastic news. After reciting about what had happened at the old home front, he told them about the Homestead home where he now lives at. “And I’m not fooling you either; the stew they served for lunch looked like something worse than the Catholic street kitchen serves to the homeless downtown.” Picking up a rib and biting the meat off in one swift bite, he mumbled while chewing; “And you wonder why I’m here?” He talked about the sanitary conditions of the television and the piano, and another at the table said; “Clean er up, git er tuned up and start banging away on er boy!” “I will. Tomorrow though, right now I’m enjoying all you can eat heaven.” He answered, and started to spoon up the mashed potatoes mixed with the vegetables.

On towards dinner time they all got up and left, because during the daytime the manager had no quarrel that the old timers hung around as long as there were enough empty tables for other guest. But dinnertime is full power rush hour as men came home, grabbed the wife and kids and came for an inexpensive evening meal. They all parted outside and made a deal to be there again on Thursday, especially for Bjorn because of the Swedish meatballs and spaghetti.

When he got back to the Homestead one of the orderlies was already waiting around for him to come back. “Mr. Meyer, where have you been all afternoon?” She asked, and Adrian seen that she was very irritated. “Out and around.” He answered. “Well you forgot to lock your door and before we noticed that it was hanging wide open, Mrs. Kearny was already inside looking around.” She said. “Fine with me!” He said. “Let her look around the place. I have nothing to hide!” “You don’t understand, she already had the pockets of her bathrobe stuffed full.” She said. “We emptied her pockets and laid everything on your bed. Didn’t you read the house rules Mr. Meyer? The part where it says that you keep your room locked when unattended?” She stood there like some sort of school teacher scolding pupils. “Okay madam, I read you loud and clear, over and out.” He said as he went in and closed the door behind him.

The next morning he went into the dining area and looked around. The breakfast they were serving consisted of five second toast, (it wasn’t even tan colored so they could have saved on the electricity bill and served it raw!), most of them had a bowl of cooked oatmeal and a few had small bowl of grits. A small glass of thinned out orange juice and something that was either tea or coffee so weakly made it looked like tea. ‘Grits.’ Adrian thought. ‘Damn, they serve that stuff in the south but not up here in Michigan!’ “Would you please take a seat so I can bring you your breakfast?” A voice asked from behind him. Turning around, he saw the same lady who made the fuss about his unlocked door. “No thanks, I’m not feeling very hungry at the moment.” He said. “Very well, then it will be your fault!” She said like a mother ready to meter out some sort of punishment. “Your tummy will want the yummy that we have for lunch. But that is still five hours from now. Are you sure you can hold out so long?” She asked in a placating voice. Adrian rolled his eyes and said; “Lady, in the first World War trenches we went for days without food, and sometimes water too. So why do you think that I’ll starve to death in only five hours?” And with that he walked out. And he heard her say to the others in the dining room; “Come on, Yummy Yum, eat up! We have a long day ahead of us!” ‘Oh my lord’ he thought as he walked to his room to get his car keys. ‘What sort of kindergarten did I land up in?’ He went out to the far side of the parking lot and fired up the Plymouth. He loved his car; total black and full of horsepower, and it even had a trailer hitch. The faint smell of fish and sea drifted through the backseat from the trunk where all of his fishing rods, tackle boxes and a couple of varied stools were stashed. His idiot son-in-law had always said that his car stinks but he loved the fishy water shoreline smell, as only a true fisherman could relate to. He cruised slowly towards the direction of Division Avenue and then made a right turn. He was hungry for breakfast, but not that what they were serving at the Homestead. It may have been a feast for the prisoners in the concentration camps, but for the elderly who have known hunger, have saved money on food all their lives so their children got a better education than they did? Well, when you are old enough, why not die from an overdose of cholesterol and fatty meats? And could you please put a double helping of Cool Whip on that Apple pie for me? Because we’re going to die someday anyways! He pulled into his favorite breakfast spot, where he sometimes over ate and decided to forgo fishing when he made his trips to the piers on the lake. Sometimes a full stomach and sunshine was relaxation enough.

 

 

3.

Sitting inside of the International House of Pancakes, (sometimes he had a change of pace and had breakfast at Denny’s), he ordered his two blueberry pancakes with lots of maple syrup, three orders of bacon, (because they think people eat only two slices per order!) and four slices of toast (dark toasted!). None of the regulars were in today so he sat and ate slowly in silence. He realized that he needed to keep busy at the Homestead or he would go nutty. He also had to avoid the personnel, which handled the people like pre-schoolers. He knew what his next stop would be after breakfast and on a spare napkin, he started to make his shopping list. The waitress came around for the fourth time, again asking if everything was alright or if he needed something else. Holding his hand over his coffee cup so she couldn’t refill it again, he thanked her and commented; “Anymore of that good coffee and I’ll have to drive with an empty cola bottle between my legs! And could you put this napkin in your pants pocket before you bring me my bill please?” She took the napkin which Adrian had so tediously folded up into a small square, and seeing the green sticking out of one side, smiled at him and thanked him. His bill he paid to the exact penny and not a cent more, for he had watched two of the other waitresses standing around and talking the whole time. Nope, pay those which should be honored for their duty. He had a funny feeling about those two, and at the door before going out, he turned and seen them looking at the tray with the bill and the money. A big smile broke upon his face as his waitress turned and waved him goodbye.

His shopping cart was full as he walked out to his Plymouth from the Ace Hardware store. He basically had bought all that he needed, and if not, another trip would be a nice reprieve from the cowboy Homestead. All of the cleaning cloths, cleaners, and a pail fit nicely in the trunk along with his fishing gear, but as he pulled out of the parking lot the ladder was sticking out of the passenger window. Well, one cannot have the proper car for every purpose! When he parked his car and brought the first load into his room along with the ladder he almost forgot to lock his room before going back out to the parking lot. He had a vision of all the people hearing the bell and donning their Stetsons before riding in the setting sun towards the dining area. ‘There’s nothing like being back at the good ol’ Homestead! Yee-Ha, ride em cowboy!’ With everything stored away by the window and under the sink, he filled the pail, added a little cleaner, and thinking about how dirty the television is, poured another shot of cleaner in. With the Windex bottle hanging from his belt loop, he walked to the community area with the pail and the ladder over his shoulder.

Nobody was moving checkers around on the board and the others had laid their playing cards on the table. Everybody was watching him, just fascinated that something other than the boring daily ritual was happening. He was already on his second pail of cleaning water after the first one started to look like the water from the Mississippi river. In the second pail he had dropped the dials in to soak away the congealed dirt and he was rubbing at the screen when the orderly came into the room. He seen the reflection of the lime green outfit in the cleanest part of the television screen, but he ignored her when she asked what was going on. She walked over to the ladder and asked; “Mr. Meyer, didn’t you hear what I just asked you? Or are you hard of hearing?” “Yes and no.” He said, and continued cleaning. “So why didn’t you give me an answer?” She asked snidely. “I assumed the question wasn’t directed at me, and if so, then the question was so stupid that you are in dire need of glasses.” Half of the screen was now clean and he could actually see her getting red in the face, and then the commanding voice of the school teacher came out again; “Get down from that ladder and quit what you’re doing, now!” Sighing, he stepped down from the ladder. “Don’t you know that water and electricity is a dangerous combination?” She asked. “Only if there is juice is there a danger of getting zapped.” He said, and showed her the unplugged cable. “Regardless,” she said. “It’s not your job to clean the television set!” “Well,” he said. “Whoever’s supposed to do it must have died before Kennedy’s assassination, as much shit there is on that thing.” She didn’t even have a chance to comment because the whole room had burst into laughing, jeering and applause. She was now really pissed off, because she now encountered somebody who just didn’t say yes, no, or amen whenever she gave orders. “You will immediately pack that ladder together and take it to your room; you are finished with working for today. And this will be reported to the homes supervisor so he can decide what to do with you. And this I will take care of.” She said as she grabbed the pail with the rag hanging out of it. “Yeah, but….” He started to say. She waved a hand over her head like he did to her yesterday before lunch and said as she walked out of the room; “I’ll take care of the pail, you put the ladder away right now!” He folded his ladder and while walking to his room, decided to go out for the rest of the day.

He had gone to Denny’s for a dinner of a double-dicker bacon hamburger with a chocolate shake and a piece of exotic Apple strudel with vanilla ice cream on top. Afterwards he decided to go to the mall where the theater was showing old time movies this week. John Wayne rode across the screen blasting all the bad guys off of their horses and sometime afterwards, he had nodded off to sleep. When the cleaning boy woke him, saying that he had to because he would be closing shortly, it was almost eleven o’clock. By the time he rode back to the Homestead it was short before midnight. He had the hilarious idea to write a horses name on his car, and then he could say he truly rode into Homestead! When he walked into his room he saw that his cleaning pail still wasn’t there. He went into the community area and saw that the television was plugged in, but they didn’t finish cleaning it and the dials weren’t put back in place. He found this strange that they would punish the others for something he had done, but it had to wait till the morning. He was getting tired, even after his little nap.

 

4.

The next morning he strolled along the hallways and was waiting for the orderly to spring out of a doorway and snatch him. And sure enough, she came out of a room where it said ‘Staff Only’, and he smiled at her as she went red in the face with anger. He jumped at the opportunity as she tried to figure out what to say; “Why do you punish the others with no television when it was me you’re mad at?” “We aren’t punishing anyone Mr. Meyer; you’re the one that took the dials off of the set! We can’t even turn it on, let alone change the channel! Where are the dials?” He looked at her amazed and answered; “In the cleaning pail! You simply have to clean them and put them on!” She had a strange look on her face and at that moment, turned towards the back window of the community area, where the Homesteaders were watching one of their weekly highlights. The garbage truck had emptied the dumpster and was driving out of the parking lot, and she turned to Adrian and said; “Shit, shit, shit!” Adrian made the connection, smiled, and asked; “Let me guess where my cleaning pail is, or shall we say, was?” She stormed out of the room and swore at him; “Smart ass!”

An hour later they were both in the office of the homes supervisor and he actually listened to both sides of the story! When both had told their version of what had happened, and Adrian chuckled when she said that she threw the complete pail including the water into the dumpster, the supervisor was for a moment still. Looking at the two of them he said that the only way to resolve the problem was for him to procure another television set, of which the two of them would split the cost. She argued vehemently that she had no fault whatsoever, but he pointed it out to her that she had no right to dispose his personal property without his or Mr. Meyers consent. And had she simply dumped the water out and gave him his pail back, they would still have the dials for the television. Discussion finished. She stormed out of his office and Adrian was also starting to get up to leave when the supervisor told him to remain in his seat. “Now I realize that a few of you aren’t as old, half senile, or decrepit as the majority of the people residing here.” He started. “But you can’t simply clean the television whenever you see fit. Although I will admit that it is in a sorry state, but that is a subject that I will clear up with the cleaning personnel. Can we both agree that you won’t clean the electrical appliances in the future?” “Don’t need to anymore,” Adrian said. “Seeing as you’re getting a spanking new clean television out of the box, but let the people decide which channel they watch on it, because this is their home and not hers. Damn thing was glued to WOOD-TV!” “I’ll see what I can arrange when the new set is here, okay?” He asked while standing and offering his hand. Adrian shook his hand and answered; “Okay with me! I’m anyways not one to stare at the tube all day long, got better things to occupy myself with. And my age is old, but not my body nor my grey matter upstairs.” He turned to leave the office and the supervisor had already opened a file that was lying on the desk, and Adrian heard the supervisor whistle and say; “Ninety-two! Well I’ll be damned!”

He heard the bell for lunch and he remembered at that moment how cows go back to the barn with the leading cow that had a bell around its neck. He had to chuckle at the thought and keep on cleaning. After everyone had managed to finally sit down and the chairs were quiet, he could feel her standing behind him. “Don’t worry dear, I won’t charge admission!” He said in a flat tone. “What are you doing now?” She asked, and after a few seconds of silence, she continued; “Okay, wrong question in your case. Tell me what part didn’t you understand about cleaning here?” He looked stupidly around the piano and asked; “Where is the electric cord dear?” Now she was steaming at the collar and stated; “You very well know that you agreed to not clean the electrical appliances anymore!” Turning to her he said; “Apparently you didn’t make it very far in school, considering your observation techniques!” And handing her a clean rag he said; “Take this with you on your way to the supervisor!” Standing there with the rag in her hand, she could hear the giggling coming from various tables. She walked out of the room and went straight to the office. Reporting what had transpired, the supervisor simply shook his lowered head, and she puffed up with pride that she was correct in this case.

Raising his head, he asked her which piano she meant. She said the only one they had here, the one in the dining area! Whereby he said it was so old that people probably hadn’t discovered electricity when it was built! She stood there dumbfounded as he continued. “What harm is he doing by cleaning it, and it’s probably inoperable anyways!” At that moment they heard the piano. They both walked down the hallway and into the dining area, and Adrian was hammering out some jazz tune as some of the others were attempting to dance with their canes and walkers. Others at the tables were weakly trying to clap their hands halfway in tact to the song. The supervisor was smiling as he said to the orderly; “It would appear that he’s bringing some life into this place, so my advice to you is to stay off his case. He isn’t harming anyone.” When the song was finished he closed the piano and walked over to the supervisor; “that thing is in dire need for a tuning, know anybody around here that could do it for me?” The supervisor smiled and said; “I’ll check around and see what I can find out. What was that what you just played?” “Oh, that was just a little ditty that your grandparents would recognize.” With that he carried his cleaning supplies back to his room, and the supervisor turned back to the orderly and said; “He’s harmless, so leave him alone.”

On Thursday the boys at the Café guffawed and laughed up a storm as Adrian told them about his past few days at the Homestead. Bjorn had said that she was “Galen” in her head as he jabbed a finger at his forehead. Most everybody agreed they would rather get a gun and hang themselves before going into a retirement home. Adrian said that it wasn’t so bad as long as you weren’t so far gone as to become a prisoner there. “As long as I can drive, I still have my freedom. Where I lay my hat is my home and home is where I sleep at.” He told them and stuffed a meatball in his mouth. “So what you do now and make the girl crazy Ade?” Bjorn asked while scraping the sauce off his plate. “I’m not trying to make her any nuttier than she already is.” Adrian said. “But I took a look around the outside of the place and it looks worse than the prairies of Wyoming. Maybe I’ll do a bit of gardening!” The rest of the afternoon was taken up with more meatballs and talk of the baseball games, past and future. Adrian was delving into a big portion of peach cobbler and vanilla ice on top. He didn’t mind paying extra for the ice cream, because one without the other just doesn’t taste the same.

 

5.

On Friday he walked around the entire building and seen the contrast one wouldn’t see here, unless you were the caretaker! From the parking lot and splendid entranceway into Homestead, all the way around to the dumpster by the community room window, the place didn’t look half bad! The dumpster was in a caged enclosure which was painted a strange blue. They had painted the locking door of the cage red, which made as much sense as everything else in this place! But walking around to the other side of the dumpster was similar to walking into a slum. No more paint on the building walls, pallets, big five gallon empty cans from the kitchen which once had sauerkraut in them, and sorted out piles of cartons, plastic wrapping, and more trash. What struck him as the worse thing was that they served sauerkraut to the elderly, and you don’t have to wonder on some days, the place smells like a septic tank! The building was divided into two parts, in front was the Taj Mahal and behind was Harlem. He continued walking around the building and ignored Homesteads version of the city dump. Coming around to the front again, he seen that the people who designed the home weren’t dumb, and they saved on windows on the back side. He started to make a mental plan of what he wanted to do, so he went inside and looked for the guy he seen doing great doodling on paper while in the community area. Walking into the room, he seen the new television set, and then heard two of the older ladies having a heavy argument about which program they would watch. One was trying to grab the remote out of the others outstretched hand and she looked like she was going to slap her just to get at it. He walked past them and snatched the remote out of her hand. He walked straight into the office without knocking and laid the remote control on his desk. “Now I understand why, so keep that locked in your desk.” He said and walked out while the supervisor had that dumbfounded look on his face. Back into the community area he walked and the two ladies gave him a sour look. Over by the window was the doodler and he walked over and sat down across from him.

“Apparently you are in need of my help, am I correct in my assumption?” he asked without looking up. “Why would you assume that I need your help?” Adrian asked. He set his pencil carefully down and said; “Because you made a bee line for my table after you disarmed those two TV warriors! I was going to thank you for breaking the set, but now they have another one and a remote for the others to wage war over! Scheiss Fernseher!” Adrian was surprised to hear that, and said; “So you’re German, that explains why you don’t like the television.” He stretched out his hand; “My names Gerhard, and television is a fascinating thing! You turn it on and your brain off, at the flick of a switch!” They both laughed and he asked then; “What do you need my help for?” “Not actually need, but would like.” Adrian said. “I’ve got an idea and it would be easier on paper first before jumping into the work feet first.” Gerhard picked his pencil up and flipped his notepad over to a fresh page; “Tell me what you need my friend and Picasso will do it for you!” They talked and Gerhard started to make sketches, which were museum quality to say the least, then he said they should do the rest from outside, to have the full perspective of the building. On the way out he told Adrian that if he needed help financially with it, he had more than enough saved up. Adrian said that he was well off at the moment. “Don’t let the Yugoslavian Witch hear that, she was complaining all morning about how much the new TV had cost!” Adrian smiled; “Yeah, we have to split the cost fifty-fifty!”

After they drew up the plans of exactly where and which flowers were to be planted, they made an appointment for the following Monday. Adrian would get the flowers, potting soil and a small fence approximately one foot high, (preferably white) while Gerhard made the flower bed, removing moss, dead grass and lots of weeds. They would first make a flowerbed in front of the community area’s window, and then would come the Clematis around the dumpster’s cage. Saturday he figured the weather would be great for Perch fishing on the pier, so after a quick breakfast at Denny’s he drove out and staked his spot out. Unfortunately the only thing which was biting was the tourist and many other fishers who walked by for a little conversation. Sunday he had his ritual breakfast at the Café, and then hung around till evening rolled around. A few of the regulars had come and went, which was normal, for Sunday’s was for most families the only day they had time to visit the older generation which had been shoved away into some corner, so as not to bother. He was waiting for his own daughter to come and visit him, but knowing her husband, she probably didn’t want to risk getting the holy shit beat out of her. God knows it wouldn’t be the first time he did it! When he returned to the Homestead after filling up the Plymouth’s gas tank, the wicked witch seen him coming in. “And where have you been all day?” she snidely asked. “Out and around town!” he answered in Dutch. She was instantly on guard; “We speak English here, in case you forgot!” she retorted. Gerhard walked by and greeted him, and Adrian swung him in the direction of speaking German, and as the two languages are so similar, the two started conversing in front of the orderly. Huffily she walked away, and Gerhard smiled, saying; “That worked out pretty good in getting rid of her! See you bright and early tomorrow!”

At the IHOP he had only toast and coffee, and then it was off to Flowerland. By the time he was finished, he had just enough space to drive. He walked around the side of Homestead and seen that Gerhard was already finished with the preparations of the flower bed. They carried everything around to the side and then Adrian parked in his favorite spot, as far away from the entrance as possible. The flower bed under the window was finished before the Pavlov lunch bell rang. Adrian told him to wash his hands and meet him in the parking lot. When he walked out with his keys in hand, Gerhard was already waiting. Walking towards the car Gerhard said that the bus stop was at the front entrance, and Adrian gave him a frown. “Who needs a bus?” Opening the car door, Gerhard whistled and said; “You still have your own car? That’s the first thing they took away from me when I came here! To take the bus anywhere you need money, naturally, and a permission paper from Homestead or they don’t take you anywhere!” Hopping in, Adrian asked; “You mean Homestead can take your car from you?” “Nah, so much power they don’t have, thank god for small favors! My son took my car with court papers declaring my weak mind and the dangers of being on the street, and then he registered it in his name. I haven’t seen it or my son since then.” “My daughter hasn’t showed up yet either.” Adrian said. They drove the rest of the way to the Café in silence. He could see that it bothered Gerhard more than it did him. He never even asked where we were going! They had lunch with a few of his regulars, and he was happy that Bjorn was absent. He hated Germans since World War Two. While they had lunch, back at the Homestead the kleptomaniac Mrs. Kearny, sitting alone at her own table, was telling the orderly how pretty the flowers were outside the window. The orderly didn’t believe what she was saying because her Alzheimer’s was progressing at a fast pace. She was as a teenage girl, a street thief. Stealing anything she could use or sell to make it through the war torn streets, and after sitting the first day at the table with others, all the silverware was missing. She became her very own table.

 

6.

When they returned to Homestead they started on the Clematis. Adrian planted and Gerhard was tying them to the caged enclosure. “You got any more string or something?” Gerhard asked. “Nope, that’s all I had!” “Good, I’ll go and scrounge some up so we can get this finished today.” Gerhard said and walked away. It couldn’t have been no more than five minutes before the back door opened and one of the kitchen helpers brought out the trash. Stopping in shock, he smiled and said that it looked great, and the flower bed didn’t look so bad either. He dumped the trash and returned into the kitchen. The two of them had worked the whole time with a big audience from the community area’s window, which was irrelevant to the job at hand, but now suddenly one of the windows was unlocked and it opened up. Staring at him was the supervisor, and naturally the wicked witch of the west was right at his side. “Didn’t I tell you? The man simply does what ever he pleases around here. Probably too righteous to bother asking permission first!” she had said. The supervisor looked out of the window at the flower bed and then at the Clematis by the dumpster cage. “Come into my office please, now!” Adrian was starting to learn again how to hate people, and the orderly was tops on his list. He let his shovel simply fall out of his hand and walked over to the window. For once he saw a slight touch of fear in her eyes, as he took the shortcut to the office of the supervisor, by climbing in through the window. Gerhard came around the corner and seen that Adrian was gone, so he finished up the job and grabbing the tools, walked around the parking lot to his car. The trunk was unlocked so he stowed it all inside and then went back in to the Homestead. He sat down at his usual place by the window and started doodling on the paper.

Adrian walked into the office and purposely flopped into a chair while crossing his arms. The boss closed the door, walked around and sat at his desk. “I would like to understand what your problem is, can you help me with that?” he asked. “Sure, the place looks like shit, the cleaning lady is a slob, and your gardener hasn’t looked out the windows for a long time! Even the residents have become zombies who react only when the food bell rings, although those two women were pretty feisty while fighting over the new television’s remote control! So to keep myself busy, I decided to help out. Is that a crime?” Adrian said. The supervisor stared at him for a minute and then folding his hands on the desk answered; “Not a crime, but you have to adjust to living here, like it or not. You’re job is to relax in your older years and our job is to take care of the rest. So you’ll do no more cleaning, of anything, and no more gardening. Did I just make myself clear?” “Well I guess we have those points cleared up.” He answered and looked around at the dust accumulating on the painting frames in the office. “I am curious though as to where you go day in and day out. The orderly says that you are more absent than here since you’ve moved in.” the supervisor asked. “I go walking and go here and there, because it’s healthy and keeps me young.” He said. He had already put one and one together and knew he shouldn’t mention his car. After a moment of silence where Adrian knew that he didn’t believe a single word of it, the supervisor opened his desk drawer and pulled out papers which had been stapled together. “These are the rules of Homestead and I want you to not only read them, I want you to learn them by heart. The next rule you break will be the turning point for you if you stay or have to leave Homestead.” Adrian was now on the offensive and grabbing the papers said; “If you throw me out I’ll just go somewhere else to live!” “Maybe under the bridge downtown because what you don’t understand is, if I move you out, no other retirement home will take you in, once I’ve blacklisted you!” Adrian had no quick answer to that snide statement, so he stood up and walked out into the hallway.

Naturally the wicked witch was awaiting him outside in the hallway, and Adrian had barely shut the door when she started in on him. “So now you know your position here and believe me, I’ll be watching you like a Hawk from now on. Or did you think the $120 I had to pass to him for that stupid television set was easy for me? No way, I’m going to do my best to break you and keep you in line, believe me!” Adrian said; “You keep repeating yourself, but that might be due to the paint stuck to your ear from the supervisor’s door!” Her reflexes made her reach up and try to clean her ear, and seeing nothing on her hand, she had that stupid look on her face as Adrian walked away laughing. He proceeded to the community area to look out the window at their unfinished work, but it was all done and the tools were gone. The orderly had followed him like some faithful dog and looking out the window, she was astounded and asked; “You were in with him the whole time, so how did you finish you work of art Leonardo?” He had spotted Gerhard sitting in the sunshine at his table with pencil in hand, probably doodling some flower or bird, and as he answered; “telekinesis, I’ve got the gift!”, Gerhard broke out in a coughing fit to cover his laughter. She fumed as she walked away, and Adrian was glad that they hadn’t spotted Gerhard helping him. He had enough problems with not having a car to escape this place.

Later on as he sat with Gerhard at his table, simply watching as the pencil seemed to draw out precise lines and curves all by itself, he said that tomorrow he was going to get some fresh air for his old brain matter and spend the day at the pier by Ann Arbor. Gerhard looked up in surprise and said; “I noticed that you was a fisher, what with all that tackle, rods and stools in your trunk! May I join you tomorrow, please?” “How did you know about that stuff in the trunk of my car? Was you nosey or what?” he asked. Gerhard sighed while rolling his eyes upward; “Where did you think I hid the spade and pitchfork, on top of your bed in your room?” Adrian apologized for his stupidity and as they made a time out for tomorrow morning, one of the other two men sitting at the table next to them spoke up; “Mind if we tag along with you? Not for fishing but simply to get out of here for a day.” He didn’t mind, so Adrian said; I’m driving out of here at six-thirty before breakfast, so who’s there rides with. We’ll get breakfast on the road.”

 

7.

It surprised him when he walked out of Homestead the next morning as the sun was just coming over the horizon, that the three of them was already hanging ( or in their case, hiding) around the back of his Plymouth. As they had just got in and buckled up, Gerhard shushed them and put his hand on Adrian’s; “Don’t fire her up till the witch is inside.” Like school kids playing hooky, they sat silently in the car as the orderly walked inside, and for good measure, Adrian gave her another minute before starting up and slowly cruising out of the parking lot. They were barely out of the lot when the other two started chattering in the backseat, and when they arrived at Denny’s the one said; “Oh thank you lord! I get to have a real breakfast before I die!” Inside, as they sat and waited to be served, the good feeling of freedom had spread and when the waitress came over, they were as if they had known each other a long time. While taking their orders he noticed that those three were hungered out, for they couldn’t decide what they wanted to eat first. Gerhard said she could bring the whole menu as far as he was concerned and she broke out laughing. “And the usual for you?” she asked Adrian. “Naturally my dear!” he said and smiled like Garfield the cat. She poked him in the shoulder; “You never give up do you, you old snake charmer?” “When I do, I’ll already be dead my dear!”

They had a leisurely breakfast and talked, and then ate some more. By the time they got back on the road headed to Lake Michigan it was almost eleven. So they simply sat around watching the lake, giving historical information about the area to any tourist who would listen to them, and talking to all the old timers who were taking a stroll along the pier. Nobody even mentioned their missing lunch as they had gorged themselves to the gills at Denny’s this morning. They finally decided to break camp and return to Homestead. When he had backed his car into his favorite parking spot, which nobody ever used due to the gluing substance the lice always let fall from the tree leaves, he shut the motor off and then they all sat there in silence. Nobody wanted to go back, for after today’s excursion, there was amongst them the feeling that they had missed for a long time, freedom. Adrian was still used to going his own way but he had already started to feel the noose around his neck, like a dog straining to break free of his new chain. Finally Gerhard muttered; “So ein scheisse! (What a shit!), and opening his door said; “Come on boys, it was great while it lasted, but now we have to go back to our prison cells!” They slowly walked across the parking lot and entered through the front door, and before anyone could expect it, Gerhard loudly stated; “Good evening you old witch! I bet you’ve been waiting the whole time for us to just come walking through that door! Well, TA-DAH! Here we are you bitch, do your worst, but you’ll not be able to ruin my day regardless of what you think up!” Adrian just had to laugh out loud, for Gerhard had taken her balloon and popped it. For once, she was speechless, and grabbing at the chance, Gerhard kept on going; “Now that’s how I like you! Nice and silent! Keep it up and I might even start to appreciate you being around!” He pushed past her and walked down the hallway, but as soon as he was past her, she started up. “You boys are in serious trouble for taking the bus without the homes permission. And looking at your happy faces makes me want to forbid you all from taking the bus forever!” Adrian walked past her then and quietly said; “Then do it, Ice Queen!” He felt the animosity simply flowing off of her, but had to smile when he heard one of he others tell her; “Why don’t you just kill us and put us out of our misery of living in this place? They shoot horses, don’t they?” Lying in bed that evening, he had a bad feeling about the situation here and what he hated the most was her patronizing way of talking to them, people who are old enough to be her grandparents, or in his case, great-grandfather. He fell asleep and dreamed that he was running around with a noose on his neck.

The next morning after a shower and shave, he jumped into one of the new-fangled jogging suits his daughter had gave him on Christmas, as if he was planning to take place in a marathon. It was somewhat sloppy and hung loosely around his waist, but as far as movement and being warm and comfortable, it wasn’t half bad! He was going to open his door and face the world, or whatever reprimanding the supervisor had in store this time for him, when he seen the note sticking out from under the door. He picked it up, unfolded it and read: “I believe that he will try to call us separately into his office to confuse us about our outing. The three of us have agreed that we all go in together or not at all! And nobody mentions the car!” At the bottom was a big cursive G. He folded the paper up and meandered towards the community area. Inside he went straight to Gerhard and sat down. He looked up and asked; “You read it?” Adrian nodded yes. “And did you see what they did while we were gone yesterday?” he said and pointed out the window. Adrian got up and seen nothing, for they had removed all the plants in the flower bed and ripped out the Clematis plants by the cage. He could see some of the Clematis and Geraniums sticking out of the dumpster. Such an imbecile action couldn’t have been done from the Homesteads groundskeeper because no gardener in his right mind would rip out good flowers and plants. Unless they threatened him with standing on the colored bar at the unemployment office, and even then, he would take them home instead of throwing them in the trash! No, there was only one person who would have happily done this. And as if simply thinking about her conjured up her presence, she walked over to the table.

“Stein, you have to go to the supervisor now.” She said. He stood and got real close up in her face and said; “My first name is Doctor, Dr. Stein. And from now on I’ll answer only to my proper name.” Then he sat back down. “Very well Stein, then you can be the first Meyer, come.” As he walked behind her, giving her the satisfaction of a trusty dog following its owner, the other three stood up and followed in line behind Adrian. She didn’t even realize it until they all walked into the office of the supervisor. “What are you three doing here?” she asked. “This is my doctor as a consultant and his nurses.” Adrian said with a smirk on his face. “No, you all get out of here!” she said. So they played her cards against her and all four walked out into the hallway. The supervisor said; “I don’t care, let them all come in if they want to.” “No, one at a time!” she said. Gerhard turned to her and said; “Apparently you two are a little mixed up! He’s sitting in your office chair and you aren’t doing anything about it?” Now the situation was really hot, and the supervisor yelled at them; “You four MEN get your asses in here right now, and you go do what ever you do all day long!” he then said to her. The four of them walked in and one of the other two shut the door with his foot. Adrian put his finger to his lips so that they would be silent, and after a few seconds, slapped the door real hard with his open hand. From the other side they heard her cry out something unintelligible, and the four just had to laugh. Gerhard was on a run today and yelled at the door; “If you need medical help, don’t call me because just looking at you makes me forget the oath of Hippocrates, you damn Ice Queen!” Turning to Adrian he said; “Sorry man, but I liked that so much I had to steal it from you!” “That’s okay; you can keep it for future use!” Adrian answered. Now the men were all laughing, and when they looked at the supervisor, he had laid his forehead on the desk. They all quieted down and waited. Finally he looked up and started to talk; “First of all, I went to look at the flowerbed you made, because it did look good. Unfortunately nobody will admit to destroying it when I questioned them all this morning.” Seeing Adrian raise his finger to speak, he very quietly added; “No, not even the Ice Queen would admit it, although I wouldn’t put my hand in the fire as much as her word is worth! What I want to know is what you gentlemen were doing all day yesterday?” Gerhard held up his hands for the others to be silent, so they listened to a man who his whole life was used to dealing with legalities, incompetent people, neurotic complainers and the likes of people the others probably couldn’t begin to imagine.

 

8.

“First off, what jurisdiction do you have over us, other than the fact that you are the manager of this facility? Secondly, how can you even believe that you have a right to question our whereabouts during the day, or night for that matter? Thirdly, even if you wish to know what, where or why we are doing anything outside of your facility, we aren’t required to answer! Your position is only to make sure the rooms are rented out and the bills are paid. We are not in a locked down institution, you can’t force us to sleep here at nights, and you definitely don’t have the power to make us partake to the three mealtimes where that what you serve would only be called food from some poor starving African child. So do you have any questions for us pertaining to the operation of your facility? If not, then we are leaving for the day, and don’t hold lunch for us!”

The supervisor was flabbergasted, and in the silence Dr. Stein said goodbye. Walking out into the hallway and out of the door to Homestead, Gerhard had removed his glasses, held them in front of him as if he was looking at how dirty they were, and used them as a mirror. “Gentlemen, I’m sorry if I went a bit too far with him, for now we have two people trailing us out of here. It looks like we have to walk away today, for taking his car would be just a little too much for them to handle. We’ll save that for another day gents, and right now I’m hungry.” “Yeah”, the other one said. “We missed out on powdered scrambled eggs with raw toast! Damn it!” The supervisor and Ice Queen watched from inside the door as the four men literally doubled over with laughter. At first thinking something was wrong, the supervisor quickly opened the door to go to them, but upon hearing the frantic laughter of the men, angrily closed the door and marched towards his office. He wasn’t exactly powerless because all he needed to do is convince the families to talk some sense into them. The Ice Queen on the other hand, she now had a good reason for her own personal vendetta against all four of them. She would stick it to them so long until they wished they could die to escape Homestead!

After hitting the main street, they found a taxi which had dropped someone off at the Hotel Six, and as they piled into the taxi, they decided to hit IHOP today. “We were at Denny’s yesterday, and I’m seriously getting tired of routines!” Gerhard stated. The other two had been incarcerated so long that IHOP was a foreign language for them, but when Adrian started mentioning pancakes, they both cheered.

Before dropping into their booth at the IHOP, Gerhard said that he needed to see the men’s room before they got started with breakfast. When he came back to the booth over ten minutes later he was carrying a paper bag which he set down on the bank next to him. Adrian wasn’t born stupid. The only place he could buy something in a paper bag so quickly was the only store within such short walking distance, the liquor store. He should know, because he had had an alcohol problem a few years ago, and it walked with you every day afterwards, always teasing you to take a nip. This of course, would lead to much more if you let the bottle talk to you. He was apprehensive the whole morning as they had breakfast, but the bottle stayed down on the seat. The day proceeded as it should, with them walking down the street to the shopping mall, where the others watched the young girls walk around, and contemplated about how it was way back then in the good old days. Towards evening they walked through the mall for at least the twentieth time and decided to have dinner at the fast food Mexican restaurant. The other two made comical complaints that the only thing they could bite with dentures was Burritos, but it was all in good fun. They got their meals and sat on the round cushioned seat in the middle of the mall as they ate. It wasn’t until he heard one of the others say that he doesn’t drink that the alarm bells went off in his head, but it was already too late as he had already passed the bottle into Adrian’s hand.

It had its own language, one that only someone with a history of an alcohol problem can hear or understand. As he was going to say that he didn’t care for a drink and give the bottle back, it spoke to him. And he inadvertently listened as he brought the bottle to his lips instead of handing it back, and going down, it spoke of revenge against that mean witch back at the home who was out to get his head on a pillar. The next nip spoke of a plan which needed to be made to get her fired from the Homestead. By the time the police were called to the mall, one half had convinced the other half of the team and all four were drunk and raring to, as the police report stated: “Burrrie da bitssch inn da fluwer bet” or, “Stoff hir in da gabage dumper an wash hir aisch git toook awayyy!”

The Officer had lots of experience with drunks, but as his colleague would say later on, he had fun with the old fogies at the mall. Joking with them about being able to guess what sort of car they drove, they unknowingly pulled out their keys and handed them to him. Like a magician he quickly changed the subject and the keys went into his pocket. Upon hearing their tall tale about some witch at the home, he managed to convince them that the only way to protect them from her was to get them into the car as fast as possible! The onlookers in the parking lot were roaring with laughter as the four of them literally fell over one another to be the first one in the squad car. Due to the space problems, he told the one who time and again had said that he was a doctor, that he had to ride in front and keep a watch out for traffic, lest he had to be of medical assistance in case of an accident. And so they drove to Homestead where back-up was waiting with the supervisor and the night orderly. After all were interred in their rooms, where they immediately fell into their beds, the officer drove back and collected his partner who had ordered taco dinners for the both of them. Eating at the same place as the old men were before, they nearly choked with laughter as the officer told his partner about how the old folks had made it home.

The next morning, the Ice Queen unlocked the doors of their rooms, but all four had slept long and avoided the morning sunshine. When they finally came out of their rooms it was after lunch hour, although none of them was really very hungry. They passed the Ice Queen and waited for a frontal attack, but not a word was spoken. The supervisor had given himself the day off, which was okay with them. None of them had any desire to talk to him today anyways.

On Saturday morning, after what passed as breakfast, they were all sitting in the community area. They all knew something was heading their way, but the waiting was the hard part. Then the Ice Queen came in and pleasantly asked the four of them to come with her. Walking behind her, Gerhard said; “Something bad is happening in Dodge, Mr. Dillon!” “I’m not in the mood today, so quit!” Adrian said. He was mad at Gerhard for buying a bottle of whiskey, but even more pissed off at himself for falling off of the wagon. With one nip of the bottle he had thrown away over five years of sobriety. He didn’t know if he would forgive Gerhard, but he could never forgive himself. They passed the office of the supervisor and each one looked curiously at the others. They headed straight into the dining area, and Gerhard moaned that he couldn’t stand another bite of the shit they served here, but his sarcasm turned to a different subject as he seen his son stand up from one of the chairs.

“Well will you look at that? My son managed to program my car to find his way back here! Did you bring me my keys?” “Hi Dad, how are you doing?” his son asked as he blushed. “No need to be ashamed son, almost everybody here knows you took my Jaguar and left me here to slowly rot away!” His son was now on the offensive and said; “If you still had your car you would have wrecked it anyways while drunk driving! But as I heard from the supervisor here, you don’t need a car anymore to get plastered to the gills, so the car is better off by me.” The room was quiet for a second and then the lady who was sitting alone at another table spoke up; “Hello Dad, are you okay?” Adrian looked at his daughter, sitting there alone, and wondered if she drove herself or if she wasn’t allowed to drive and her husband was waiting in the car. Alone without her husband, he spoke with no holes barred, and for their own privacy, in Dutch. “You didn’t need to risk getting the hell slapped out of you just to come see me. Although I miss being around you, I don’t miss him at all. And while we are on the subject, why are you even still married to him? Because no man has the right to subject his wife into total servitude, and no man has the right to beat and abuse his spouse. Now, have you got anything to say, or are you here only because the Homestead called you?” She had lowered her head as he spoke, and he told her to hold her head up with pride when her asshole husband isn’t around. “Father, you just don’t understand. I want to know why you started drinking again.” He laughed and said; “My dear, it’s like walking on Ice. Sometimes you simply slip and fall on your ass, no matter how careful you walk! And you don’t need to visit me only when the supervisor of Homestead calls you. You could have come by anytime, but you didn’t, and most probably won’t in the future. So don’t come at all anymore, and then I’ll know where I stand in the family circle.” He then walked out of the room.

 

9.

The rest of the day was a fiasco for the four of them, as each one of them was called into the supervisor’s office. When Adrian walked in, he wasn’t surprised to see that his daughter had already left. Sitting down in the hard wooden chair, he awaited his reprimand, for he actually did read the house rules. Alcohol in and on the premises was not allowed. Residents were also not allowed to consume alcohol outside of the premises and return to Homestead in an inebriated state. “So what sort of story are you going to spin for me today Mr. Meyer? Or are you going to simply plead guilty?” he asked Adrian. “What can I say, other than I’m more sorry that I broke my own abstinence than I did your house rules! That’s why I stay away from booze, because the bottle will whisper to you, and suddenly you’re flat drunk. But for the records, I didn’t buy it, because at least that much willpower I still possess!” “Yes, I talked to your daughter…” he started to say. “Of which you had no reason to and definitely no right either.” Adrian shot back at him. “Till yet, I pay for everything myself!” The supervisor held up his hands palms outward; “Slow down. I only talked to her because, to tell the truth, it shocked me that you would become drunk. It just didn’t seem to fit the picture I had of you! She was as shocked as I was when I called her at her house. And as to who bought the bottle in the first place, well those other guys were squealing like rats on Dr. Stein. That he was an alcoholic was known from the start, but your case seriously shocked me because I thought that I was good at judging people.” Adrian sighed and said; “I can only apologize for slipping up, and make sure it doesn’t happen again in my lifetime. And the terminology ‘was an alcoholic’ is incorrect, because like cigarette smokers, one is never truly cured and free of the habit.” The supervisor laughed, which was strange in this situation, till he said; “I quit smoking years ago. But you wouldn’t believe how many times I sit here behind this desk and I would die for a cigarette when the shit hits the fan in this place! This is your one and only warning. The next time it happens, you don’t even need to come back here! Are we clear?” “Clear as crystal glass!” Adrian answered and then left the office, only to bump into Gerhard who was apparently waiting for him in the hallway.

“So how did it go? I got my last warning before the crucify me!” he said. Adrian told him to stay away for the next couple of days and walked out of Homestead.

He drove to the Café and simply hung around. He bought the all you can eat menu but hardly had anything on his plate. He just sat there listening to the others whining and complaining about some baseball game yesterday. They felt that something was amiss and gave him all the time in the world to say something. That is, till Bjorn walked in. He plopped his plate down on the table and started immediately jabbering. After a few minutes he took note of the situation with Adrian, and slapping him on the shoulder he asked; “Ade, what have you for a problem? Cat steal your tongue or was Homestead dat stole it?” “Quit Bjorn, leave me in peace!” he said. “Oh, Ade have problem with drinking? You be sweatin alcoholè from your skin boy!” He reacted without thinking as he tried to smell under his armpits. Looking up he seen not only his compatriots at the table, but a few other guest watching him. His only chance to shut Bjorn up would be to tell the tale. So he did, and when he was finished, he was laughing with the others at the silliness of it all. It had helped him out of his temporary depression, and he started eating. Getting up to refill his plate, he hadn’t realized just how hungry his body was! When he returned with his plate overflowing with Sloppy Joe and rice, Bjorn piped in again; “Dat be my Ade, hunger is great cook and now you feel great!” They ate and talked until the evening when the manager came around; “Sorry boys, but you know how it is at dinnertime. I have to ask you all to leave.” It was all apologies and promises that they will come back, and the manager smiled, because he sort of liked the old farts. His own grandfather would definitely be sitting with them everyday if he was still alive! They all started to tell him that they’ll be back latest on Thursday, but Bjorn said; “No meatballs Thursday for me. My friend die and I must go to bury him.” They understood, and each one hugged Bjorn and gave their condolences. Adrian said; “Tell your friend that we all will be joining him sooner or later.” Bjorn hugged him again and said; “You okay for Hollander!” They all walked out into the parking lot, realizing now just how late it had become, and again said their goodbyes. When he went back to Homestead he first jumped into the shower, and when he laid his head on the pillow, he was out like a light.

The next morning he walked out towards his car, and then stopped. Everybody knows that feeling when someone is watching you, and he quickly turned towards the facility to catch them in the act. But he didn’t see anybody staring out a window or the door. He looked around the parking lot but seen nothing out of place. So he put his paranoia down to day two of his new abstinence. He got in the Plymouth and drove out of the parking lot, and didn’t see the woman sitting in her car, waiting for him this morning. When he arrived at the Homestead in the afternoon he went into the community area and discovering that it was moved out of the dining area and placed here against the wall, started plunking around on the piano. A hand reached from behind him and set a paper on the note stand. It was a comical drawing of the fateful night where they all attempted to get into the police cruiser at the same time. Adrian started laughing and Gerhard sat next to him on the bench. “Can’t say anything else but that I’m feeling sorrier for myself than the trouble I got you all into!” Adrian said; “And I’m more pissed off at myself for throwing away all those years. The problem lies in each of us to resist or give in to the whispers of the bottle.” “Damn if that wouldn’t be a great saying for Alcoholics Anonymous! Very poetic my friend! We are still friends, or not?” Gerhard asked. He put his arm around Gerhard’s shoulders and said that they were ‘comrades combating the bottle!’ “Breakfast tomorrow morning at Denny’s?” Adrian asked. “Roger that my friend because I almost puked eating this morning. I guess my stomach got accustomed to the real deal.” They talked and he simply let his fingers play what they wanted, or could still play, for his hands were slowly coming down with arthritis.

 

10.

In the morning, they went to the Plymouth, and the sun was really bright this morning. Gerhard said that they should stop somewhere after breakfast and buy sunglasses. Adrian started the car and made a mental note to start parking the car forwards in his spot. The glare from the windows of the other parked cars almost blinded him as he slowly pulled out of the parking spot. It went so fast that he only realized he had hit a car when his motor stalled. “Son of a Bitch!” he muttered as they got out of the car. He had only driven a few feet but the other car was way out of the parking spot, and inside was the Ice Queen talking on her Cell phone. Adrian walked over to her window, and she hit the electric door lock. Adrian knocked on the window and seeing that she was ignoring him, he hammered on the glass. That was when she started to shout into her phone!

“Now he’s trying to break into my car! Yes I know who he is, he lives here at Homestead! He sure looks drunk to me maam and it isn’t the first time he’s been drunk! Adrian turned to Gerhard and said; “Huh?” And Gerhard mouthed the words; “What the hell?” “Yes! He shot forwards with his car and rammed mine! She said into the phone. “You better send them over here real quick because he looks like he wants to break into my car and get me!”

Adrian was leaning on the hood of her car with his hands and could not believe what they had just heard. At that moment a police cruiser came careening around the corner towards them, and as if on cue, she started honking her horn and screaming bloody murder. The cruiser pulled to a stop and the officer jumped out of the passenger side, pulled his revolver out of the holster and told the two men to stay still and put their hands on the car. “They’re already on the car, Einstein!” Adrian said. Gerhard obeyed and the Ice Queen was now putting on an act fit for an Oscar, crying and sobbing while leaning her forehead against the steering wheel. Gerhard laughed, saying; “Can you believe this? Look what the Ice Queen is doing?” “Who’s the Ice Queen?” the officer asked him. “Her!” Gerhard said and raised his hand to point at her. “I said keep your HANDS ON THE CAR old man!” Gerhard was now furious as he stood and asked; “Who the HELL do you think you’re yelling at son?” He was fast, damn fast as he twisted Gerhard’s arm behind his back and ignoring the cracking sound of bone breaking as he slammed his face onto the hood of the car. Now Gerhard was screaming from pain and the humility of being slammed into the car, and Adrian made his own mistake at that moment, by jumping towards the officer to help his friend. Later on he said that he remembers being twisted around and seeing the pavement come his way, after that it was darkness.

An underwater earthquake is bad, but the Tsunami which follows is devastating. Due to the fact that Adrian and Gerhard had only a few days before been picked up for drunk and disorderly, and that they not only resisted arrest but had attacked the police officers, they had believed every word she said as the gospel. Gerhard had his arm in a cast, Adrian’s license was permanently suspended, and to get out of the charges of resisting arrest Adrian had to pay for her repairs on the car. For that, she wouldn’t press charges against them for attempted assault. She hadn’t been to work since it happened and the supervisor was seriously sour with them. “She is suffering from a psychological trauma and is afraid to come back to the Homestead.” He had told them the day after the incident. Now the two were sitting in the community area on the couch and simply staring out into dead space. Gerhard sighed and said for the hundredth time; “I can’t believe she got away with it!” Adrian looked over at him and said; “Shut up, will you? She won, but at least we don’t have to see her face anymore around here! Remember, she’s afraid of us now?” “Yeah, but I’ll probably never be able to draw as good as before! Damn Bitch!”

That afternoon Adrian made up two signs and walked out to the Plymouth. After placing one in the back window and the other in the windshield, he closed the door and was starting to walk away. The car pulled into the parking lot and he had to jump back a step or get his foot flattened from the front tire. The car stopped and slowly reversed while the passenger window rolled down. Inside of her new car, she smiled at him; “Oh, so sorry to see that you’re selling your car! What a shame!” He couldn’t believe it, her rubbing the salt in the wound. “But now you know what can happen when you try to screw around with me, and from now on your life will be a boring hell on earth. So, now I have to go to work and pretend to have a near nervous breakdown the minute you walk through that door. Oh! And don’t bother to try for a bus pass, because I’m the one who has to sign off on them! Goodbye sweetie!” With that she drove to the front and went inside, while he just stood there. It took him a few minutes to digest all that she had said, and the future consequences of it. Then, something inside him simply snapped. He casually walked around the Plymouth and opened the trunk, and was smiling.

 

11.

When the police cruiser entered the parking lot he was still working on the paint job of her car, with the spade almost clean of dirt. Most of it having been lost through the broken windows of her car, but that was so trivial that he hadn’t even noticed it. He was also oblivious to the spectators which were standing in front of the Homestead. He only knew that his savings were gone, stuck into her new car, and that he had to sell his for peanuts after the damage on the front end. He seen a spot where he hadn’t hit yet and pulled back for the swing, and the spade was held tight in midair. The officer slowly took the spade out of his hand and told him to turn around again. “Well, we’re getting to be well acquainted, aren’t we officer!” He said. Before they put him into the backseat of the cruiser, he saw the Ice Queen. “Don’t have to be afraid of me anymore lady! Now we’re even-steven, and don’t worry about the repairs because I’m broke now! If you need a car, I’ll give you mine for free!”

It was damaging personal property, but that wasn’t against the house rules. Afterwards, Adrian’s life quieted down to the point of suicidal contemplation. In the end he withered away due only to boredom. Can’t do this or that, or anything at all! A few more years went by with him sitting next to his friend Gerhard, whose arm was never quite right afterwards and the thought of drawing was trashed. They stared at the television while the two old ladies still argued about which program they should watch, although they had no remote control.

The night orderly came over to wake him and tell him that he needed to go to bed, for the television would be turned off anyways, but Adrian wouldn’t care anymore.

His daughter came and took a few personal things with her and the rest ended up in the same place as the Clematis.

 

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Thank you for reading my story. If you enjoyed it, (or didn’t and would like to make me see my mistakes so that I can improve my writing), won’t you please take a moment to leave me a review at your favorite retailer, post a link on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Redit or Pin it, or any of the many other social media sites. Thank you! David Jensen – Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Withering Away at the Homestead

  • ISBN: 9781370627165
  • Author: David Jensen
  • Published: 2017-03-10 21:50:17
  • Words: 14688
Withering Away at the Homestead Withering Away at the Homestead