Danny's Tale

"It's time for dinner, Danny!"

"I'm not that hungry."


Well, I guessed I had to let her in. Turn and it'll click, right? At least inside door locks hadn't surpassed me in this technological frenzy. I still knew how they worked.

If there are single verbs that can adequately describe people, Nurse Marshall bustles. She bustles in, she bustles out, she bustles around. I think it keeps her from considering the fact that everybody she takes care of is serving as a preview of what her parents will become in a decade or two.

"Y'know. Used to be a man in the prime of his life could get a little respect. Not have people trying to knock the door in while he's taking a siesta."

"You know Danny, it used to be a man in the prime of his life would leap out a bed at the chance to try Steph's meatloaf. It's his family recipe you know."

Steph's the cheerful, boisterous, bubbley cook in this "Home for the Infirm." I take issue with the name. I'm not infirm. I'm just well aged, like Cheese.

"Bah. I'm not that hungry."

"You're never hungry till you get that first bite in you. C'mon. Do you feel like taking your cane?"

"I don't know. Do you feel like picking me up after I fall on my ass?"

Nurse Marshall means well and she's sweet. No denying that if I were 30 years younger and looking for a relationship that would piss off the handful of backwater hicks still holding out in this South Alabama town, I'd marry that sweet disposition and dark chocolate skin in a second.

"No, I'd rather you felt comfortable going down the stairs, Danny."

Otello. It's not much of a last name. Just a mangling of Othello picked up by one of my ancestors back when people still used words like Quadroon and Mulatto.

I'm not black enough so's most people can tell, but my Dad was black enough to teach me what not to say in church, and how to avoid stepping on the wrong toes. Thankfully most of those toes, and the attitudes they carried around town with them, are dead now. Not that I have much time to enjoy their absence before I follow in their path. But as Mom was always fond of saying, good things come to those who wait, and we waited long enough for the south to realize that it had no good reason to harbour old grudges not worth remembering.

Getting up doesn't hurt like it used to. Doctor's say it's a rare thing, but the arthritis is passing. Fingers are getting limber enough I might even bring out the old Underwood again. I think it's the warmer weather. I fear in the fall, it'll set in proper again, and I'll have my fair share of pain once more.

Sunday, August 29, 2004


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