Golden Years

Submitted into Contest #33 in response to: Write a story about miscommunication.... view prompt



   Frank Remington and Harry Forsooth had lived in the same nursing home for three years. Both had terrible hearing loss and most of the other residents didn’t even try to speak to them so they only had each other for friends. Frank had a naturally cantankerous personality that had not improved with age, and Harry was pretty much always sick or in discomfort and tended toward crankiness so they were a matched pair, even if they argued constantly.

   Frank peered over at Harry, who was studying his newest crossword puzzle with a stern frown. “Harry,” he grumbled. “Harry!” he said louder. Harry looked up.

  “What?” Harry yelled. Harry’s hearing was moderately worse than Frank’s and he tended to yell every time he spoke, which meant discussing delicate subjects was completely out of the question. He’d once told Frank that the new resident, Miss Maybelle Mayberry, had sexy long legs. Miss Mayberry had been across the room but had managed her aim and quite perfectly hit Harry in the face with her shoe.

   “You want to go outside today, Harry?” inquired Frank. Harry stared at him for a moment.

“No, I do not know how to fry eggs, Frank. You know I never cooked a day in my life. My sweet Bertha did that for me, God rest her soul,” replied Harry.

  Frank grunted, “You hooked a tripe? What? Who’s Martha? You holding out on me you old dog?” he leered.

 Harry pursed his lips, “Folding shout ski bold bog? You sneaking the booze again? You sound like a nut.”

 Nearby residents rolled their eyes. Frank wasn’t insulted. “Pound a butt? What? You’re a dirty old man. Get away from me!” he cackled.

  Harry gave up and went back to his crossword puzzle. His eyes weren’t very good either so most of it was blank, but it kept him entertained anyway.

Frank and Harry spent most of their days this way, relaxing in the community area, ribbing each other and never really knowing what the other man said, but it was better than the alternative, sitting alone in their rooms staring at the walls.

  Things came to a head toward the beginning of autumn. The leaves were turning colors and both men wanted to sit nearest to the window to get a better view. Frank thought he should be closer, since Harry couldn’t see very well anyway, and Harry thought the fact that he couldn’t see well gave him first rights to the best spot. Making the other man understand what he couldn’t be told was not easy.

   “Harry,” Frank snapped “I’m sitting there today. Move your hind end before I kick it, “ he stated, waggling his extended foot for emphasis.

  “What’s the matter, Frank?” Harry yelled with concern. “You hurt your ankle again? Quit wiggling it around, you’ll only make it worse,” he advised.

 “No, Harry, no one is giggling, and what are you going on about? I don’t have a purse! Move it! I want to sit by the window today.”

  Frank looked up and growled, “Prove what? And you’ll do what by the window? Watch your language. There’re ladies about,” he hooted. He eyed the dainty eighty-year-old Deborah, who was using her walker to head toward the exit, where a uniformed orderly was patiently waiting to steer her the opposite direction. She liked to get out, but it was a rarity for her to make it more than a few feet past the door. The times she had, you would think she’d pulled off a jewelry heist. It was all she would talk about for weeks. Frank had always liked Deborah’s spirit. He said she’d had to be feisty back in her day to still be so spunky now. Harry took Frank’s arm and tugged. “Hey, what’s this all about?” Frank took off his hat and began whacking Harry across the face. Harry tried to block him but the hat hit his nose and made him sneeze- all over Frank. The entire room gasped and froze. There’s nothing worse in a nursing home than spreading germs. A common cold was treated like Ebola. Frank had frozen, too, unable to process the outrage that had just been perpetrated upon him.

  “Help! Get me some Purell! I need an eyewash here!” Frank finally wheezed. Harry was contrite.

 “I’m sorry Frank, it was an accident.” Frank didn’t hear him at all. Harry was so upset, he’d spoken very softly.

 “The least you could do is apologize, Harry! I thought we were friends! Do you want me to get the pneumonia? By golly, those nurses at the hospital had better be smoking hot!” Frank was beside himself. It was just a sneeze, but who knew how many millions of germs now squirmed their way across Harry’s face, seeking a way in? This was a serious matter.

 “Frank,” he finally yelled, “I’m sorry! Your hat is wool. I’m allergic to wool!”

“NO, THIS IS NOT COOL, YOU JERK!” Frank screamed. He’d removed his shirt to wipe his face and his sweat stained white undershirt was exposed. The ladies began glancing at him with interest. They didn’t see men’s underclothing very often. Frank was in good shape, for ninety-two. His arms were scrawny but he still had a pretty thick chest.

 A nurse approached Frank. “Here, honey, here’s a baby wipe. Clean your face and we’ll take you to your bed to calm down.”

 “I don’t need any money, but thanks, sweetie. Don’t feel much like raking either. Since when are we the groundskeepers? They keep cutting back on funding and I’m moving to a private home. No more government run homes for me!” he snorted.

 The nurse helped Frank to his room, and Harry took the spot by the window. He was unhappy about upsetting his only friend, but it would be forgotten in a few days. Frank’s memory was slipping almost as bad as his hearing. Eventually, Deborah approached him. “Anybody sitting here?” she asked shyly.

 “What? I told Frank not to use that kind of language around the ladies! Now you’re saying it, too? Go do that in the bathroom, sweetheart, this spot is for SITTING.”

 A baffled Deborah slowly turned aside, shuffling with her walker, and headed back to the exit. It was too crazy for her in this place. She needed some fresh air…


March 13, 2020 15:01

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