a tale of an old hero part three
"Jen, you know that it will be Thanksgiving soon."
"So," a thirtyish brunette looked at her concerned husband.
"Well, don't you think..."
"Tom. Leave it. Nothing has changed." She threw the towels she was folding back into the basket. Taking a deep breath, she forced a smile. "Aren't we going to your parents' house this year?"
Tom, turned his back, and tried another tack. "You know the kids aren't getting any younger, don't you think that..."
"So tell your mom I will be bringing two... no, you are right, three pumpkin pies this year and one pecan. I know how your dad likes my pecan pie... and with the kids getting to be teenagers, there might not be enough food for eveyone. So I will make a corn pudding too. Kay?" As the slight, pretty woman turned her back carrying the heavy basket to the bathroom to put the towels away, a whisper called out to her, "Jen..." as she closed the bathroom door. Nope. Nothing has changed and she would not be the one to turn towards that woman again, not after what she did.
Out in front of an old folks home, stood a tricycle. Its orange flag waved proudly against the autumn wind.
"So, Miss Jones... Looks like it will be a tough winter this year."
The proud old woman stood up and leaned heavily on her cane. "Doc, I have lived this seventy years thru many a winter. Nothing has stopped me yet."
"But these bruises are pretty bad. And you say you fell off your bike... don't you think it is time that you give that up?"
"Sonny, I can't afford a car. I have things to do... I have rounds to make. I still have dependents."
"Well, tell me more about how you fell... I mean, sometimes people get dizzy and fall, that could indicate something is wrong with you heart."
"My old ticker is just fine. I told you, I hit a rock. Now tell me something I can do to help it heal or stop wasting my time."
Dr. Saim looked at the old stubborn lady sitting in front of him. Geez, I know you aren't gonna share the truth with me. He noticed the bruising on the right knee, trying to imagine just how she would land to cause these kind of injuries to her knee and her ribs on opposite sides?
"i am setting up a bus/taxi service for the folks here that are able to get out to travel this winter to the store and such." The doctor paused to watch the patient's reaction. " So, are you going to go visit your family at thanksgiving?" Gotta find out if this woman has any family.
"No need. I have Missy to spend my thanksgiving with."
"Yeah." And then the doctor noticed a twinkle in the old woman's eyes. "Oh, hey, Dr. Saim, do you live alone?"
"Um, no, I have a wife and a set of twins?"
"Twins?" A twinkle set in the old woman's eye. "Boys or girls?"
"Girls. They just turned five this year."
"Really? And do you have any pets?"
"Pets? Um, no. My wife and I are too busy for pets."
"Ah, but say an independent kind? Like maybe a kitten or two can make your twins more responsible and not be so lonely, with their parents being busy and all."
The man suddenly looked down at his watch. "Well, take this. Just some tylenol. Take two every eight hours and that should help with the discomfort. If the swelling gets worse, after rest and ice on your knee, then notify the manager and I will come back before next month to see you."
The old woman stood up quickly. Much to the surprise of the doctor, she laid a bony hand onto his shoulder. "You need to think about your family more. I know you are a good person. Missy would love you to take care of two of her kittens. Think about it. Kay?"
This old north wind keeps blowing. I gotta make my rounds.
Mr. Johnson was now at the gate of his recycling business. He looked down at his new work boots, and smiled as he saw the familiar orange flag coming slowly towards the gate.
"Good day, Miss Jones." He called out as he quickly went to her and started to gather what she had collected.
The old woman gave a slight smile as she noted the shine on the new boots.
"Very practical, sonny. Time to get ready for winter."
She took the money from his hand. Eyeing it suspiciously, knowing that it should only be ten dollars. Then she laughed. "What is this?"
"Well, the company has started a new program and well, with every ten visits, you get double the money. See?" As he took out a card and stamped it.
"I don't get it, there is more than a hundred dollars here."
"Well, they let me go back six months on my faithful customers. And Miss Jones, with winter and all, you won't be coming back till the spring.... right?" hoping the proud old lady would take the hint.
"Oh, I see. You want me to quit?"
"Ah, no... no... that isn't it at all, but wouldn't a nice vacation come in handy and all, since it has turned so cold. I hear it might even snow tonight. The thought of you on this contraption out in the snow and ice is really more than I can bear. Please... you earned this money. There is no charity here..." As he pointed down to his new boots, he smiled at the old woman.
"Well, it is good that you took my advice. I would have hated to run over your toes with those awful sneakers on just to prove my point." The woman returned his smile. "Well, Mr. Johnson. I thank you for this. Vacation it is... Do you think I should go to Florida? or the Bahamas? or Cancun?" She giggled.
"Just stay warm and be safe."
"Yeah, the thought of me being in a bikini, would probably send too many people over the edge," Hee hee Hee, as Mr. Johnson just shook his head as he watched the old woman climb back on her bike...
"Don't be out too late, Okay? I mean it, it will probably snow."
She waved and headed out.
"Missy.... Misssy?" The old lady called. Blinking against a bitter wind that came down the alley way, she stared hard as it moved some old newspaper away. "Awe, sweety, What happened?" As she knelt down, by the lifeless form of a cat, she spied movement in the apple crate. Well, they are six weeks old, she looked down in the crate, only two left. Hummnnn. She closed the lid after taking some newspaper and piling it on top of the kittens who were huddling together for warmth. Ah, Missy... She pulled her muffler off and lovingly wrapped the queen up, noting that something must have went after her kittens by the bites on the body. "you did well, Missy. I won't let anything happen to these two. Kay?" As she gently laid the wrapped body into one of her baskets and balanced the crate onto the back, taking her old bungy cords and securing it.
She sat on the bench shivering slightly, holding the cat in her lap.
"Ya know, George this is a great life if you don't weaken." A tear fell as she remembered that day, the day she had to say good bye.
"Ma, you can't let them do that. You can't. Daddy can't die like this. They have to save him."
"Jennifer... Your dad never wanted to stay alive by machines. He told you this when we found out how sick he was."
"Ma, you can't give up. You can't."
"Tom, will you try to talk some sense into her? George made me promise... how can I go against him? I loved him so." As she watched her daughter stiffen her shoulders, and turn to go out of the room.
"You never loved Daddy. You were always jealous because he loved me more."
"Jennifer Alexandria Jones... How could you say that to me?"
"What is it, ma? The truth hurts? Is it the life insurance? What? Are you too tired to take care of him?"
"Tom, get her out of here. I don't want George to hear us fighting like this."
Sittling quietly by her husband of forty years, she listened as the beep of the machine slowed down and then one long alarm. Holding his hand, she kissed it gently and then reached over and kissed his lips for the last time.
Shivering again, she heard the mewlings of the orphaned kittens. Well, Missy, your sacrifce will not go unnoticed, kay? She walked along the tombstones and found a newly opened grave. Why not?
On her bike, once again, she traveled south, feeling the northerly wind on her back she remembered an old saying, "May the wind always be at your back." I should make some time with this, heading for home.
"Manager, I really am having trouble with my knee. Could you call Dr. Saim for me. He said he would come back here to see me." As she managed a little limp in her walk to demonstrate how affected she was.
"Sure." As the manager reached for the phone, she added, "Mrs. Jones. You know our policy about pets right?"
The old lady grimaced some more rubbing her knee. "Sure. Why?"
"Um, well, your neighbors are saying they heard some kind of animal sounds from your apartment."
"Ah, well, that was just the TV, you know how much I like Animal Planet."
"Sure. Tell her I will see her tomorrow. Say, Miss Harris, do you know if Mrs. Jones has any living relatives?"
"No?" The doctor thought for a minute. "How does she seem really?"
"Ah, limping that badly?" The doctor shook his head. "I should be there around nine. Okay. Tell her I will see her then."
"Okay. Now we have to get you all dolled up to see the doctor in the morning, Kay? I need you two to be on your best behavior. Kay?" As she laid warm milk beside the two kittens with a can of tuna, hoping they would eat it. One was completely grey like its mother with rings along its tail, and the other was black with one white spot on its forehead.
Dr. Saim looked at his two five year old daughters playing with their toys. Are they lonely? He wondered as he found his wife in the kitchen. Mrs. Jones, why do you vex me so?