One Week Without the Unnamed Ones- Day 4

Okay, I've made so much progress left to my own devices, I decided to send myself to work- in hopes maybe they could do some thing with me.

Nope. I got as much accomplished there as I did here at home!

However, I learned a lot more about my old guys than I usually do...just by resolving to sit absolutely still and see what happened...

I learned:

Mild, sweet-mannered Mary was bad to fight in high school. She didn't like it when folks got "snobbish."

"I know how they do! Black folk do it too," she cried. "Just like this other Mary I knew. She weren't nobody! I knew her from second grade right on up through high school. Then she started goin' with this man and acting like she all better than us! She used to pick on Blondell. We called her T.B on account of she was so little!"

"Why T.B?" I asked.

Mary looked at me like I was stupid. "I don't know! On account of she was small, that's all I know! Anyway, that bad Mary, she was pickin' on Blondedell,I mean, T.B, one day and I said 'Leave her alone!' And don't you know that witch turned and started to slap on me?!"

Mary snorts, balls up an arthritic fist and shows it to me. "I punched her right in the mouth! Knocked her front teeth out!"

"You did that? Mary! Not you!" I said.

Mary smiled. "Yeah, honey! I was a good fighter!"

"You know, that girl's dead now. That married man, he died, then his wife died and ole Blondell, she gone too, now."

At this point Bessie comes into the room. She's a frail little old lady, walking with a cane and holding onto a jelly jar filled with...jelly beans. She spots me from the hallway, sitting with Mary, and she knows I'm a sucker.

"Hey, lookit here," she says, wandering into the room. "Look what we made in activities!"

She gives me this smile that has been unnerving me every time she does it- at least for the past month or so- since Bessie got her new dentures. They're about 2 sizes too large and they slip when she talks or smiles, so when she's talking, you can't help but watch her teeth slide one way as her lips go the other way and well, just forget trying to be a good listener who makes eye-contact! It's all mouth with Bessie.

She waits until I've about drooled all over the jar and praised the beauty of her work before she sets the hook in me real good.

"We're sellin' 'um for our activity trips," she says. "You want one?"

I ask how much. She says $2, which seems like a stone cold deal to me, so I say, "I'd like 5."

"Five? Five!" Bessie clutches at her chest, starts hyperventilating (I kid you not- I couldn't make this up...) She backs up, out into the hallway where she stares anxiously at the activity room door, like she needs rescuing. "Oh, Lord! Oh, dear! They're gone. They went home! We can't make no more til tomorrow! Five! Oh Lord!"

I assure Bessie it's no big deal. I'll be glad to come back tomorrow and let the Activity director handle this monster order and, once she's calmed down, Bessie wanders off to get the nurse to give her another "breathing treatment."

Mary waits until she's wandered a few feet away before she says, "I'm so glad me and her made up."

I nod, remembering that for a short time Mary and Bessie were roommates but Bessie's a mite bossy and Mary doesn't want any old white ladies mistaking her for their maid or worse, their child, so the two parted ways...peacefully, I thought.

"Yeah," Mary says. "I was out in the hallway in my wheelchair and I just leaned over and took her hand and told her I was real sorry for the harsh things I said. And she said, Oh now Mary,we all say harsh things we don't mean when we're angry. I'm sorry too.'"

Mary smiles. "You know, she's in with a lady now, smells real bad."

Mary nods her head, like what goes around comes around, and adds, "I even let Bessie borrow my room spray to clear out the smell in her room. And to think I was going to get her. I really was."

Now, I must admit, I wasn't paying close attention when Mary said this. All I did was nod, until Mary said something about being in her room while the aides and her nurse were dressing her one morning and she kept telling them to hurry up. "I told them, I got to be ready before Bessie comes out her new room cause I'm gonna run her over! I'd heard enough of her mess, you know?"

I nod, thinking Mary wouldn't hurt a gnat.

"Them aides was all laughin'. But when Bessie came out her room, there I was! I dug in on the wheels and took off after her and if Katrina hadn't come flyin' down the hallway and grabbed my chair, I woulda nailed her! I surely would! I was this close!" She shows me a small 6" gap between her two hands.

Mary smiles, the same sweet little old lady smile she always smiles, only now I see the rotweiler in her.

"I think back on it now and I sure am glad that Katrina stopped me. I just think what they might've done to me if I'd hit Bessie. They might've kicked me out of here. Then what would I do?"

Note Mary doesn't say she might've hurt her dear friend, uh-huh, she's worried about her own ass!

"Yeah, that Bessie's a sweet thing," Mary says smiling softly to herself. She stares down at her hands and I know she's reliving the feel of her wheelchair's thin rubber tires as she pushed off, determined to murder Bessie. I wonder to myself what might've happened had Mary been left to her own devices!

I make a mental note never to turn my back on dear, sweet Mary, especially when she's up and out of bed, roaming the halls in her lightning fast wheelchair.


Da Nator said...

That's hysterical. Nicely written post, too.

This whole idea of going into work on a day off does not compute, though. Maybe you'd better get a new hobby!

Nancy said...

Nator...babe...we're writers, right? I woulda missed out on Mary admitting she tried to kill Bessie, not to mention a shot at legitimately feeding my other addiction, eating jelly beans, in the name of charity! I don't know what serindipitous (oh, yeah, like I can spell too?!) whim made me indulge my guilt over not remembering to tell them I was taking off by showing up to tell them I wouldn't be back until next week, but I'm glad I did. And in about an hour- I'm gonna go collect on them jelly beans!! Yum! However, you got me beat with that guac. recipe and pic of da Mrs. Nator...