The first time she saw Felix he was sitting in his hospital room wearing a baggy, brown pinstripe suit and an oversized fedora hat that had slipped down over his ears. He looked like a cross between a mafia godfather and Mr. Magoo, with his big round eyes, thick bottle-bottom glasses and sagging, yowled face. Lying across his lap was a yellow cane, which he clutched like a weapon in his hands.
“It’s about time someone came to get me out of this place!” he said with the venomous sneer of a prisoner.
“I’m your new housekeeper. The county nurse sent me over,” she said, extending her hand. He ignored it. “My name is Eve...”
“Sure, sure,” he said, cutting her off. “I know all about you. Come on, let’s get out of here.” Using his cane he got up, staggered then regained his balance enough to shuffle over to his closet. The short distance made him short of breath, and she could see he was sweating profusely under his heavy suit. He took a handkerchief out of his breast pocket and dabbed his forehead. His hands had that snarled, arthritic look about them.
“Here we are!” said the nurse as she came into the room. She had a smiley button on her uniform.
“Oh, no! Not you again,” Felix pleaded holding up his cane as if to protect himself.
“Felix, you’re such a tease,” the nurse said, turning to Eve. “This poor man has been waiting in that chair since eight o’clock this morning. I told him you were not expected until four this afternoon. But we didn’t listen, now did we Felix?” She indicated with her eyes, that she was to follow her out into the hall. On the way out she told Felix to collect his things so they could discharge him. She reached over to touch him on the shoulder and he pulled away from her.
Once out in the hall she said, “I’m so glad you showed up. Otherwise we couldn’t have released him. He’s lost a lot of weight from the operation, so he’s very weak. He needs someone to stay with him for a few months until he recovers from his bypass surgery. And he needs to be reminded to take his medication." She lowered her voice and leaned toward me. She picked a piece of lint off her uniform. “Let me warn you, he’s a real pip. The county nurse has had more than a few difficulties with him over the years. He is slowly heading toward a nursing home, but he’s so stubborn and insists on living alone.”
“Does he have any relatives nearby?” Eve asked.
“No, his wife Tillie died years ago and his nearest living relative lives in Chicago. Not that his sister would be any help, she’s older than he is. He has had several live-in companions, but they didn’t last. Either they quit or he fired them within a week. So beware, he’s a real tough cookie. To be honest,” she started to whisper again. “He nearly drove the nurse’s bananas here, but that’s off the record of course.”
“Oh, of course.” She imitated back to her like a parrot.
From the doorway Felix yelled, “Hey you, whatever your name is. Can we go now already?”
The nurse raised her voice so that Felix could overhear, “We even convinced him to give up those disgusting cigars. We’re so proud of him.”
“Yeah, that’s what you think; ever hear of blowing smoke out the bathroom fan?” Felix said under his breath. He threw Eve a secret wink and resumed packing his black carpetbag with all the free merchandise entitled to him; the bedpan, a plastic jug, lotions, blue pads, Kleenex, and even two rolls of toilet paper from the bathroom.
“Prices these hoodlums charge, you think you could take the furniture too,” he grumbled.
On the way out of the hospital a group of nurses made a big fuss over him in a flutter of kisses and hugs. Unable to escape them Felix sat in his wheelchair and endured the whole unpleasant scene with restrained dignity, and a scowl on his face.
They found her Cutlass out in the parking lot and she made room for him and his bag by relocating a few boxes and knapsacks into the already crowded back seat. The entire car was crammed to capacity with any and all of her worldly possessions. The trunk contained her canvas, pup tent and the rest of her camping gear. Her mountain bike was strapped with bungee cords onto the back bumper.
After the nurse finally got him inside the car he just slammed the door in her face. “Good riddens, nurse nasty and your ship of fools. Free at last.”
As Eve drove her car out of the parking lot and turned it onto a tree-lined street, she knew she was in for a very unusual summer. She wondered if he was thinking the same thing.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish