When Maggie Went Away
May 24, 2019

I like it when the children come to visit. I like it better when they leave, but that explosion of noise and confusion jolts me out of my stupor, staves off something for another day or two.

I never had kids myself. In fact, it’s only since my nephew put me in this wheelchair warehouse that I’ve found I can stand the little monsters. There’s one in particular, a mouthy eleven year old with braces, freckles and an attitude that’s going to get her into trouble down the road: Maggie. I call her Maggie May because it’s too much fun to watch her splutter and roll her eyes. This one seems to seek me out.

“How come you’re so old?” She asks one day; it’s raining out so we’re all cooped up indoors together.

“Bad management.” I’m doing another jigsaw puzzle for lack of anything more interesting.

“I think the worst part of getting that old is that you get forgot.” Maggie’s leaning against my wheelchair; comfortable as a cat and twice as nosy.

“You think? Get those sharp, young eyes of yours over here and help me find this last piece of daffodil.” I could tell her a thing or two about what’s ‘worst’ about getting old.

“Ok.” She complies, rounding the card table to perch on the edge of a wobbly chair. “It’s like nothing you ever did matters, cuz it’s all forgot, not like stuff that Joan of Arc did or that guy in ‘A Beautiful Mind’, you know the math genius who went crazy.”

Then she leans in close enough so I get a face full of bubblegum fumes.

“I got a plan.”

I believe that what she’s got is some sort of messy home life. I overhear things. These idiot nurse aides seem to think anything in a chair with wheels is by definition deaf or insensible. I pay attention. And, just to keep them yakking, I drool a little now and then. Morons.

“So, tell me this plan of yours not to get ‘forgot’” I say.

“Can’t.”

“Won’t.”

“Nope, can’t. It’s not that kind of plan.” Maggie finds a piece, the wrong piece, and tries to muscle it into the hole. It nearly fits and that’s making her nuts. I sit back and watch. Any first year psych student would have it that the kid reminds me of me when I was a kid but that’s crap. Anything that didn’t fit perfectly in my life was immediately discarded; I never muscled anything.

“Here. Try this one.” Ok, yes, I had the damned piece the whole time and she gives me the only stink eye, snatching it away from me like it was money.

“You think you’re so smart.” She pops the piece in and sits back, swinging her legs.

“I’m not “forgot”, that nephew of mine visits every week.”

“You didn’t have a plan.” She’s bullet proof.

“What makes you think I didn’t?”

Snapping her gum, she shrugs “If you did, it didn’t work otherwise…”

“What?” I prod her, “Otherwise what?”

“Nothin’.” Now she heaves this big sigh and looks around at the other humped over old people. Most of the kids are over clustered around the television. “Only one thing works anyway.”

“Yeah, die young.” I really need to watch this mouth of mine sometimes. She is just a kid after all.

“You chickened out, didn’t you?” She isn’t fazed.

“I told you, bad management.” I need to steer things back to kid friendly, more for my benefit than hers obviously. “Show me that magic trick again.”

Maggie narrows her eyes but then shrugs again. This much I do know about the kid: she hates to read, loves math and has discovered a talent for sleight of hand. Something to do with an uncle visiting (I think) from Reno where he does some (I imagine) lame magic act in a casino. She roots around in her pink glittery back pack, pulling out some plastic disks. She’s a little clumsy to start, but after flipping several back and forth over her knuckles she gets warmed up. There’s this whole routine she’s got, flicking the disks in and out of sight. From time to time, they all disappear and she flashes her open hands out like small starfish only to reach over and pull one from behind my ear.

“All right, children, tell your special friends good bye; it’s time to go.” Two o’clock and fun’s over. I’m tired. Christ, I hate being old.

“You’ll see.” Maggie leans in close to stage whisper, saying good bye to her special friend. I try to grab her arm, stop her, get her to tell me what she’s talking about, but she skips away to join the mob by the door. There’s that grin over her shoulder and then she’s herded out with the rest and they’re gone. I wheel past the geri-chair crew in the hallway and go back to my room. Unlike wheel chairs that allow some independent mobility, a geri-chair has little wheels and whoever is strapped into one is completely unable to move themselves. They’re an item reserved for those considered too far-gone to waste a wheelchair on. The day they put me into a geri-chair, I want someone to give me too many pills. Maybe I can work something out with Mortimer.

Or Maggie.

I do get my share of dope here, pills to keep my pressure down, my spirits up and my insides inside. Despite the happy little blue bedtime pill, I’m wide awake most of the night thinking about Maggie and her plan. Should I say something to someone? What and to who? Hell, I don’t even know what she was talking about. Kids are different today; they’re harder, faster and not terribly impressed by the authority of anyone. But she’s not the type; she’s not, as they say, troubled. She’s just a kid who likes yanking old ladies’ legs.

I refer to my nephew as Mortimer. I like to think it gets his goat; but he’s not a bad sort. He’s my baby sister’s only kid. He stayed around, got his associate degree from the community college and settled down to count beans for the rest of his days. His name is David, but Mortimer fits better; that or possibly Ichabod.

“You’re looking wonderful, Auntie.” He is the dutiful one, I’ll give him that; visits every week and brings flowers, the new TV guide and caramel nut fudge from O’Neill’s.

“I can’t imagine why; I didn’t sleep for shit last night.”

“The staff here must love you.” Every so often he slips in what could be a zinger but it’s hard to tell. “Mom sends her best.”

I’ll just bet she does. Now that she’s got Mother’s house I’m sure she’s brimming over with all kinds of best to send. I don’t say this out loud, Mortimer loves his mother and who am I to sully the poor bastard’s meager joys?

“Have you given more thought to what we spoke of on my last visit, Auntie?”

“Yes and the answer is still no.” They say that possession is nine tenths of the law but while darling Edith may ‘have’ the family home I’m still executor of the estate. She can live there and furnish it any way she pleases (so long as she keeps up payments on the storage space in which Mother’s heirlooms have been exiled) but that house and that fifty three acres will remain inviolate while I’m the one holding the pen. Mortimer delicately clears his throat; here it comes.

“Mom and I don’t think you understand the reality of the situation.” He hates this. He should.

“I fully understand the reality of developers breathing down Edith’s neck.” I reach for a piece of fudge and offer some to Mortimer who shakes his head. “What you and your mother don’t seem to grasp is that our measly fifty plus would be the first domino. We go down, it’ll be ten years and this whole valley will be nothing but strip malls, gas stations and subdivisions.”

“Aunt Lacey, you don’t give a flying rat’s behind about developers, strip malls or subdivisions.” Mortimer’s tone hardens and I think the boy might have a pair down there after all. “You just like holding this over Mom’s head.”

“I can’t imagine it was any too difficult to convince her to sign the papers that put me in here.” I have a pair, too. “Now you both can damned well wait til I’m dead to get your grubby paws on that land.”

“Auntie, don’t be like this.”

“You brought it up, David.” Something occurs to me. “What’s really going on here?”

And the boy just sits there; butter wouldn’t melt in that mouth and I think maybe I need to reassess my opinion of Mortimer. Edith’s not that bright but this one is up to something. I’ve gotten pretty good at letting the left corner of my mouth droop a little; that string of spit always works and I see Mortimer dismiss me. I won’t be making that particular mistake about him again and make a note to call Dunhill first thing tomorrow. To trust my attorney more than my family. Oy vey, as they say in the city.

“Please think it over, Aunt Lacey. Ok?” Time’s up. He gathers his things, stops to chat with the ladies watching their stories. Their wrinkly, old mugs raise like grateful sunflowers as he bends, smiling, to ask how they’re doing. Other folks here are envious of me and my Mortimer.

What do they know?

I’m relieved to see Maggie troop in with the rest of the monkeys the next week and don’t give it much thought that she doesn’t make her usual bee line to me. I wheel around to face the window but catch a glimpse of her latest foray into magic: colored scarves. Let her wow the cheap seats. I’ll wait.

But with my back turned I miss something. I can hear some kind of hushed murmuring. There’s something about a telephone call and an adult voice using that special bent-from-the-waist tone directed at one of the monkeys. I gaze out at Mulberry Road, serene in my refusal to join the excitement. Someone will know what happened. I wait. But no one says anything to me and, before I know it, whatever it was is over and all the monkeys are spreading out to visit their special friends. All but Maggie.

Eventually I have to wheel back around but do so without looking like I’m trying to figure out what happened. Several of the monkeys are leaning over the wheelchairs of the wrinkly old sunflowers, watching cartoons. The staff has reverted to their quietly purposeful diddling. Sunlight streams in: a sly benediction, mute and choosing to remain so.

“Miss Dempsey, would you like to join us?” It’s that frightfully cheerful new volunteer. I’d prefer to have my eyes put out but maybe I can find out what happened. Maggie is nowhere to be seen; surely that’ll have the old tongues wagging.

“Thank you, that’s very nice of you.” I wheel over to the big table where construction paper and glue and safety scissors mark us all as able to handle nothing more complicated than Sunday school crafts. Where are the bars of Ivory soap to make sailing boats?

“Why, Miss D., this is an honor.” One of the sunflowers snipes.

“Now, now, Mrs. Manderson, let’s make Miss Dempsey welcome.” Little Miss Sunshine twinkles. “Ladies, you all know Miss Dempsey, yes?”

This was a stupid idea; these imbeciles either don’t know what happened or it hasn’t even registered that anything did happen. I reach for the closest pair of scissors with their blunted little ends and LMS pushes several sheets of construction paper towards me emitting a soothing stream of instruction. There is rustling around the table and soon high-pitched monkey voices are piping, pushing, bossing.

“I thought the uncle had gone back to Atlantic City. Funny that he didn’t come in.”

My ears almost swivel to catch this as I snip, snip at the red construction paper and reach for the pink.

“Dunno.” The little shaver being addressed is blissfully ignorant of us nosy old ladies and mumbles his answer.

“What about you, Donnie, did you hear about this before?” Old Manderson’s got more on the ball than I’d given her credit for. “You’re Maggie’s best friend; she had to have said something.”

He is? I check this one out, floppy straw hair and vacant, darting eyes.

“Nope.”

“Well, we know what’s really going on here.” Manderson directs this at me, her new ally. “It’s always the uncle.”

“Now, Mrs. Manderson!” Little Miss Sunshine bustles over, bending to whisper into the old bat’s ear.

“Oh heavens, I do apologize, children.” Manderson exaggerates it just enough that I almost burst out laughing.

Instead of giving Manderson the audience she’s looking for, however, I bend to my ‘work’, snipping, snipping and listening. Donnie the dope, he’s got nothing to say. The rest of the sunflowers droop and sway. Someone switches the television off and the thousand strings version of ‘Yesterday’ wafts throughout the room. Little Miss Sunshine strolls the perimeter, pausing to open a jar of mucilage or admire a particularly deft use of composition.

I adjust the pieces of my own composition and find LMS smiling over my shoulder.

“What an unusual flower, Miss Dempsey.”

I pat everything into place, waiting. She won’t get it. Sure enough, she holds it up by the thick red stem for everyone to see. A couple of the monkeys look up, scratch behind their ears or wipe gluey fingers on their clothes.

“Look what Miss Dempsey has created!” LMS burbles, obliviously holding the ‘flower’ by the base of the cock so the frilly pink of the vulva bobbles, ready to orgasm. I’m thinking Manderson will be the first to get it but am as shocked as everyone else when tiny Mrs. Fletcher shrieks.

“The children! The children!” She waves and bounces in her geri-chair, going alternately red and white in the face. She’s choking, LMS is doing the headless chicken dance and now Manderson gets it; so she’s roaring and pounding the table. The pandemonium is more than I’d hoped for but I hope old Fletchie doesn’t go and croak in front of the monkeys.

With that first tea kettle screech, the kids get scared or curious on a case by case basis, but Manderson sets the rest off and each old lady around the table explodes as she gets a look at something she may have not seen in a good twenty years. Or ever. You never know with this bunch. There’s probably never been this much laughter and silliness ringing around the tired old day room and, once it’s clear that Fletchie’s just having the vapors; I’m rather pleased with myself. Then I see Dr. Miller arrive. Miller, the executive director of this little geriatric fiefdom who seldom, if ever, mingles with the Depends set.

LMS has finally realized what she’s been waving around and drops it like it was dirty. The monkeys have seen, now they’re doing and at the top of their skinny, little lungs. Miller disposes of my ‘flower’ and then raises his hands like Charleton Heston doing Moses.

“Children, please!” His deep voice cuts through the hilarity and the kids all get that wary look as if he’s somehow intoned every single one of their middle names. The sunflowers are slower to comply, still tittering and snorting. “Ladies, I am surprised at you. Miss Klein, please take the children out to the garden. Mrs. Davis, kindly have the driver bring the bus around.”

“Why?” Donnie, dopey or not, pipes up. “What’s everyone freakin’ out about? It’s just a big, ugly, weird flower.” He looks around for support and Manderson chimes in.

“Yes, Mr. Miller, what did you think it was?”

I watch Miller; we never see the man so there’s no telling how he’ll handle this.

“Oh for goodness sakes, Iris,” Mrs. Fletcher has found her voice, “don’t start.” Tough, little thing after all, she signals for one of the nurse aides to wheel her geri-chair around to face Miller. “And if you, sir, could be bothered to actually spend time out here and away from your office and your telephone and your computer, you might have a clue what is going on.” A bony finger wavers in my direction, “This one was clearly going to be trouble from the day she arrived and you’d know that if you ever disengaged your head from that telephone.”

“Exactly what do you people think that was that our Miss Dempsey created?” Manderson is not letting it go. I’m wondering how my reputation managed to precede me even to this dead end. Trouble, huh? Nice to know I haven’t lost my touch.

“It was a penis! A penis and a vagina; a penis in a vagina!” Miss Fletcher’s voice is climbing back towards tea kettle range and even Miller’s beginning to look alarmed. “There; happy now, Iris?”

This has prompted much whispering and snorting among the monkeys and the situation is threatening to go out of control again.

“Please, we all need to calm down.” Miller should consider doing voice over work; I’d buy laxative from that voice. The noisy jumpiness of the kids begins to subside again. “We’ve had rather a lot of excitement this morning as it is; perhaps we all need some quiet time.” A magisterial nod of his head has the obedient Mrs. Davis herding the puzzled kids out of the day room. He’s good, I’ll give him that.

“You really think Maggie’s mom’s sick?” Donnie’s not budging. Ok, kid, bring it on and I’m watching Miller’s face. “You just gonna take the word of that ‘uncle’?”

I can’t stand it anymore and wheel over to where Manderson’s sitting with narrowed eyes. Before I can ask her anything, Miller decisively scoops the defiant Donnie into the amoeba of children and the bus is out front and out they all go. Little Miss Sunshine is actually wringing her hands but Mrs. Davis has marshaled the drug cart and is bearing down on us with little white cups. The woman is a real professional.

You know those movies where the hero hides the pills under his tongue and then spits them out after Nurse Rachet’s gone? It’s not that easy and, when the sulky nurse aide comes to wheel me back to my room, I’m already half under and have forgotten what it was I wanted to ask Manderson anyway.

The next day, Miller suspends the visits for a week and gives me a stern talking-to in the guise of just us real adults conferring about the easily ruffled sensibilities of the demented. After he’s satisfied that I won’t be shocking the children and Mrs. Fletcher again, he shakes my hand, man to man, and goes back to his reports. His office, like every room here, is designed with lots of room to maneuver and I easily wheel myself out and straight back to where Manderson is dozing in the sun.

“That went well.” I deliberately bump into her and then give her a second to gather herself.

“What?” Reflexively, she wipes at the side of her mouth. “Huh?”

“I’ve seen the error of my ways,” I settle into my plush, new sheepskin chair padding, the latest offering from Mortimer, “and shall go forth and sin no more.”

“I won’t hold my breath.”

“He managed to completely sidestep any mention of Maggie or what happened.”

“He should go into politics.” Manderson shifts, trying to get comfortable. “Wonder how he’s going to spin the fact that he released a minor into the care of an unauthorized adult.”

“Didn’t the mother call?” I’m still not clear on the details.

“Miller’s an idiot.” Manderson looks around and then leans in closer to drop her voice, “And not long for that corner office the way I’m hearing it.”

“Where’d you get that?” I lean closer to her for the dirt.

“Mrs. Davis is warning the new aides to get their certification.” Manderson nods once with emphasis. With nothing but time on our hands we become quite the experts on the politics and undercurrents that affect even this backwater. Having up to date certification is only important when inspections or a new executive director are looming and inspections are over for the year. “What Miller doesn’t know is that that uncle only recently appeared on the scene.”

“What?”

“Something about having been put up for adoption and only now finding his birth family. According to Donnie, it was quite the joyous reunion.”

I peer over at Manderson; she’s awfully knowledgeable about my kid. My kid? In the immortal words of Donnie, the dope: sheesh.

“How long you been here?” I change direction, needing a moment to sort out this new information. ‘My’ kid hadn’t seen fit to tell me word one about some long lost uncle suddenly appearing in her life.

“I forget, more than a couple of years, less than ten.” Manderson’s fidgeting again; she’s got one of the cheap, squared off chairs. “You’ll see. Time gets squishy and meaningless in here what with only one deadline left.”

“Like us.”

“Huh?”

“Squishy and meaningless.”

“Pah! What the hell do you think these cows would do with their lives if they didn’t have us to wash and feed and wheel around?” She nods at Becky, the one nurse aide I know by name and that’s only because of the enormous plated name necklace she wears every day.

Becky stops, wary and scowling, “What? You just ate and I know Juanita already took both of you to the john.”

“Nothing, dear. Miss Dempsey here was pondering the meaning of our lives and…” Manderson didn’t have to finish, Becky rolled her eyes and slouched off. “See? She’ll go home tonight and crab to her family about those old fools at work and then they’ll all get to feel superior to us rich, old white women who are going to die soon anyway.”

“Rich?”

“Everything being relative, yes, Lacey, we are rich.”

I guess she’s got a point; as long as I hold power of attorney for Mother’s property I really am rich. Rich enough to keep Mortimer coming and probably rich enough to get a decent wheelchair for my new friend. And the latest tidbit from Dunhill, that old Mortimer’s investigating a career change (Math teacher? Where had that come from?) can be brought to bear. It’s all about leverage and, the older I get, the more important my levers become.

“You’re going to want to see this.” One of the more energetic sunflowers is zipping by on her way to the day room.

I look around and see just about everyone’s heading in there. A week ago I’d have let them go glue their glassy old peepers onto whatever latest rubbish was spilling out of the boob tube. A week ago I had better things to do with my time. Today I fall in line, making room for Manderson.

“And this just in from our Newscopter Seventeen,” the news anchor’s full complement of perfectly aligned teeth turns everything she says into a toothpaste ad and I’m having trouble concentrating on what she’s actually saying, “An unidentified man is being pursued going north on County Road 11. It is believed that he’s got two local girls with him, but we cannot confirm that or his identity at this point. What we do know is that this was a routine traffic stop that resulted in the driver fleeing the scene.”

The scene switches to an aerial view of a small, dark car taking the curves on 11 a little too fast. I know 11; that fool I almost married flipped his Ford on the approach to the narrow bridge that this fool is heading for. I feel Miller arrive but we all ignore him and he’ll turn this television off at his personal peril. The camera pulls back some and now the police cruisers in pursuit come into view. Somebody down there has a brain in his head and he’s using it, because the lead cruiser is keeping pace with the dark car but not attempting to catch up.

I’m wondering about the little girls. I can’t remember if Maggie’s got a sister or not. I look over at Manderson and she’s looking at me funny, frowning.

“This just in: neighboring Anster township has set up a roadblock just before the Rutland creek bridge.” The announcer is keeping a grim lid on her enthusiasm for real news.

Abruptly, Manderson, swings her chair around or tries to. She bumps into me and then backs up. But it’s gridlock in here and she’s not going anywhere. The ladies behind us are craning their necks and glaring. Manderson glares back.

“Move.” She’s getting agitated and I try to wheel back, give her some room. But I hit Fletcher’s geri-chair and, of course, she’s not moving.

“Move!” Manderson’s swung her head around the other way and is ordering the Bittner sisters out of her way. In the confusion of Manderson fighting her way out of the traffic jam, I’m missing what’s happening on the screen and pull back as much as possible to see past her.

There’s that approach to the bridge and I wince; the stupid fool is taking it too fast. What the hell gets into people anyway? The camera zooms in and suddenly I can’t breathe. I’m imagining things; I know I am, but that car looks just like Mortimer’s Toyota. It’s not. How could it be Mortimer? That’s not possible. Manderson has fought her way out of the herd; I’m alone with this horrible suspicion.

I remember Edith coming to me after he’d turned thirty and still hadn’t married. He’d dated one or two unremarkable girls right after high school, but had settled into a bachelor existence that seemed to suit him after college. She’d been in tears, worried that her little boy was a homosexual. While I’d reassured her that some men just preferred their own company I’ve been pretty sure since then that Mortimer’s a fairy. I don’t have a problem with that; I don’t give a crap who he sleeps with and don’t need him to procreate as poor grandchild-starved Edith does. But even I know that fairies don’t go around kidnapping little kids.

I’m leaning to the left as if I can get the camera to pan left. Edith gave that car to her son and it still has a Mary Kay bumper sticker. Do I catch a glimpse of pink? The camera pulls back and I grit my teeth. Whatever is being said, either by the television set or the gabbling crowd around me, isn’t registering. All I can see is that damned little car speeding up. I’m rocking, muttering no. No. No, no, no, no. Someone turns to stare at me. Oh, I was saying that out loud. I can’t stop and I can’t stop looking. No, no, no, no, no, no.

When the little car wipes out on the approach to the bridge, it seems to happen in dream time slow motion. I see one wheel leave the ground. There is higher pitched gabbling all around me and then I see it. The Mary Kay bumper sticker. The Toyota does a clumsy ass to nose twist before rolling onto its side. The back of my throat is gummy and I need to get away from this room before I see something I can’t un-see. There are gun-toting toy soldiers converging on the tipped over car. And there it is: Maggie’s red head emerging from the back seat, arm around a smaller, paler redhead. Before I can make out if the driver is my nephew, the police have him on the ground and the station breaks for identification and a commercial.

“Look! Look, the little girls! They’re all right!” Fletcher’s voice pierces the gabble. There are old ladies crying on all sides of me. Manderson got out. I can. I muscle my way out, probably bruising someone’s fingers or feelings. Breathe. I’m not breathing. I pull a hard, ragged sob of a breath and make for my room. Don’t let any of them figure it out; just get me out of here.

“Have you seen this one?” Maggie knows I have even as she’s pulling the deck of cards out of her back pack. It’s Tuesday and it’s snowing; we weren’t sure the kids would make it today.

“Like it’s gonna slow you down if I have?” Today’s puzzle is a dizzy welter of fireworks with the Washington monument in the foreground and I make a show of peering at several seemingly interchangeable pieces.

I’m keeping an eye on Edith over by the nurse station; she didn’t make it through Mortimer’s trial and is now part of the geri-chair crew. Miller’s replacement, the somewhat frightening Ms. Wyndham was more than happy to welcome her into our little asylum after the sale of the house and the fifty acres went through. Someone had to pay for that useless defense lawyer and, what the hell, at least Edith and I have a final roof over our heads.

“How come you didn’t know your own nephew was pretending to be our Uncle David?” Maggie’s busy with her cards as she drops this little grenade.

“How come you didn’t know your Uncle David was pretending to be my nephew?” I’ve waded through mine fields since last summer and her casual artillery can’t touch me. “He wasn’t so bad.” In triumph Maggie fans out her deck of cards. “I knew he wasn’t really our uncle, though.”

This pulls me up short. I frown at Maggie’s grin. “What are you talking about?”

“I’d seen him here, you know, coming to visit you.” With a flourish she folds the fan back into a solid deck.

“Then why on earth did you get into the car with him that day?” I can’t believe what I’m thinking. She’s only eleven, for Christ’s sake. Ok, right, she had a birthday; she’s twelve.

“It makes sense, though, that he’s your nephew.” She’s completely unconcerned, fiddling with the cards and pulling a stray hair from the corner of her mouth. “I heard about that dirty flower you made on the day he came to get me. You’re a pervert, too.”

I find I can’t suck air and cold sweat sheets my shaky old frame. Direct hit. If I hadn’t turned away that day, stubbornly refusing to be party to the general melodrama, what could I have prevented? A dark, bad tasting thought occurs. She got into the car with him. Twice. And the second time, she let her little sister get into the car, too.

“You knew.” My tongue is thick and gluey, allowing only the two words.

“Oh sure.” She tosses her hair and smiles brightly.

I’m cranking the rusty old cogs of my brain, fighting a flight of bats that want to obscure something.

“Hey check it out!” Maggie drops the cards and runs over to the television where a grainy shot of the two little girls being helped from the upended car is shown. She’s hopping up and down until Mrs. Davis turns the volume up.

“And this from the end of the legislative session at the Capital: Maggie’s Law has been ratified and signed into law unanimously.”

The announcer drones on with some back story and how this law will impact future Mortimers. I studiously ignore it. Maggie swaggers back to the card table and leans against my chair.

“It’s always good to have a plan.”

She’s grinning from ear to ear and what can I say? She’s right. I can only hope that poor Edith and myself will be forgotten and that Mortimer will become a statistical point on some folded up spreadsheet somewhere, but Maggie, Maggie will never be forgot.

Good for her.

I shove her off my chair and wheel over to the drug cart where Mrs. Davis is not that surprised that I’m now taking my meds.


Photo by NettoFigueiredo on Pixabay

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