My lovely wife edith, p.1
My Lovely Wife, Edith
by Kevin Moore
Copyright 2012 Kevin Moore
Also by Kevin Moore:
The Golden Merra (Witches of the Water, Book 1)
Seven Out: A Wil Driscoll Adventure
Waves and War
Sorrow and Demons
Edited by Carl Dietrich and Michael Hornyak
Cover Design by Jessica Richardson, Jes Richardson Photography
Gordon Burchfield took a bite into the day’s long awaited lunch which consisted of a ham and Swiss sandwich, a three-quarter ounce bag of potato chips, and a red apple. He looked across the cafeteria table into the shimmering blue eyes of his lovely wife. “Edith, this is delicious,” he mumbled through partially chewed mounds of food.
“I’m glad you like it,” she replied. “You’ve been so busy lately that we haven’t had a chance to talk. How was your first week of working here, Dear?”
“You know,” began Gordon as he knocked a few stubborn crumbs away from the stubble on his pudgy cheeks before taking a second bite, “when the lady from the unemployment office called about the place, I felt pretty iffy.”
“I remember. You weren’t very excited at all.”
“But it turns out I did all that fretting for nothing,” exclaimed Gordon with a wave of his meaty hand. “I was worried I might hurt myself again with all the lifting, you know, with my back and all, but the other orderlies are always there to help. The staff really works like a team here.”
“And you’re adjusting to the patients okay?”
“Honestly, it was a little strange at first,” he answered, “but I think I’m starting to get a feel for how to deal with them.”
“I knew you would be good at this, Gordy.” Edith spoke in her typically soft voice which Gordon always found reassuring. He had always needed her affirmation, but never as much as these last three months since being caught up in the last round of budget cuts at the hospital.
“You were right,” Gordon conceded. He winked before adding, “as always. Now, take Mr. Collins for instance. The poor man has a reputation around here for having the most unexplainable fits. One minute you can be chatting with him about the Heat winning the Finals because turns out he loves basketball even more than I do, but then the next minute you wouldn’t even know you were talking to the same person. He’ll start throwing whatever is within reach and shouting the most vulgar profanities you can imagine. The doctors seem to be at a loss on how to treat him. But you know what I found?”
“Just get him his basketball from his room, and he calms right down,” said Gordon, now turning onto the second half of his sandwich.
“Really? You figured that out?”
“Yep. And did I tell you about Frankie?”
“No, you didn’t. Who is Frankie?”
Gordon glanced at the clock on the wall. From behind its caged face, the hands told him that only ten minutes remained for them to finish their lunch. “Frankie Goetz. He’s been in here longer than any of the rest. He’s this old, Italian guy, well, maybe he’s Sicilian. I can’t remember. In any case, he has to be as old as the building itself.” Gordon turned to see if anyone was seated close enough to hear them before continuing in a hushed voice. “The other orderlies told me he used to be a member of the mob back in his day. He must have been pretty high up too because he thinks he still calls the shots. Just yesterday when I went to give him his medicine, he waved me over with a whisper and said, ‘Hey, Gordo, get over here. The boss has a big shipment coming in tonight, but I tell ya we got a rat. Those damned coppers been walkin’ the beat outside our door all day.’ Then he handed me the carrot leftover on his tray from lunch. ‘Now yous wait behind that door there, and when the next one comes in, you whack him in the head with this here Billy.’”
“That’s unbelievable, Honey. How do you even answer something like that?”
“Well in Frankie’s case, you just need to play along and calm him down. If you try to tell him there are no coppers, he’ll clock you in the nose faster than you would believe. I made that mistake my first day in. He had me backed against a wall in a heartbeat. ‘You callin’ me crazy, boy?’ he kept yelling. It took three of the orderlies to pull him off.”
“That’s horrible. Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
“I didn’t want you to worry.”
“Now I’m definitely worried.”
“See? That’s why I didn’t say anything.”
“He didn’t hurt you, did he?”
“Everything turned out just fine,” Gordon reassured her. “I blew my whistle and had help in no time flat. I just feel sorry for him, you know? I mean that he can’t see it. It— well it’s sad.”
“I certainly hope they’re not all that confused.”
Gordon chuckled, crumpling his sandwich paper onto the tray. “No.. Some of them do know when they’re seeing things and they behave very mature about it. Jonas is probably the best example.”
“I didn’t tell you about Jonas either, did I? Well, he’s my favorite so far. Real nice kid, no more than twenty-five, I’d say. He reads more than anyone I’ve ever met. I swear he read the whole of War and Peace between Monday evening and breakfast on Wednesday.”
“I’m not sure that’s possible,” said Edith skeptically.
Gordon opened his hands non-confrontationally. “He seemed to pull it off. Anyway, Jonas sometimes sees the characters he reads about. The last day and a half, he’s been running around the common room in a bowler hat solving mysteries with Sherlock Holmes. I spoke with him before lights out and wanted to make sure he knew the inspector wasn’t real. He said he knew that, but it did not mean he couldn’t at least have fun with his favorite fictional hero.”
“He sounds a lot nicer than the others.”
“Oh, he is. It’s the patients like him that have me thinking I won’t mind it here,” said Gordon.
“Darling, that’s wonderful to hear, and I’m glad you’re happy. I just wish the hours weren’t so long. I miss seeing you.”
“Well, hopefully, I can get shorter shifts after I build a little seniority around here.” Gordon downed the last of his orange juice before saying cheerfully, “Right now, though, I think we just need to be grateful I’m employed.”
“You’re right, Gordy.”
Gordon looked into the lovely yet concerned face of the blonde-haired woman across from him. “It won’t be like this for long, Edy. I promise. Once we’re caught up on some bills and get some of this debt under control, I’ll request better hours. It’ll be just like when we first got married. You can be happy again.”
“Please don’t say that. I am happy. You make me very happy.”
The wall clock’s speaker sounded in the hollow imitation of a bell, and Gordon pushed his tray away from him. “Well, Sweetheart, that’s it for my break. Thank you so much for coming to visit. Will I see you again tomorrow?”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
The electronic tone chimed its last, and the click of approaching heels grew louder until they terminated behind Gordon’s chair. “Did you have a good lunch, Mr. Burchfield?” asked the woman’s soothing voice.
Gordon did not answer as his wheelchair was pulled backward and then pushed toward the hallway, the rhythmic tapping of the woman’s heels following him all the way. He could see Frankie sitting in his own wheelchair which was parked in front of the entrance to the cafeteria.
Frankie slapped his steel bedpan out of his attendant’s hand, and it clattered onto th
Gordon’s chair stopped, and a fair hand gracefully reached from behind him to flip braking levers against each wheel. The woman walked around him, and a golden shower of curls which cascaded down her back to the waist of her white uniform engulfed Gordon’s view of the door. “Gladys,” she called into the hall, “do you need any help with Mr. Goetz?”
“Oh, thank you, Edith. Can you run to the nurse’s station to fetch Frankie’s pills for me?” asked the woman before chasing after the runaway bedpan.
“Of course,” answered Edith angelically as she walked past Frankie into the hall and out of Gordon’s sight.
With the long corridor echoing Edith’s departure, Gordon and Frankie stared at one another through either side of the cafeteria’s threshold. “Hey, Gordo, can you believe this broad? Thinks I’m nuts!”
Gordon smiled sympathetically at the delusional old man. He pitied him.
About the Author:
Kevin Moore is a working writer and a professor of composition, history and philosophy. He is the author of The Golden Merra (Witches of the Water - Book 1), and his published short fiction includes Seven Out: A Wil Driscoll Adventure, Waves and War, and Sorrow and Demons. Kevin is co-editor of The Quill, a literary e-journal in Northwest Ohio, a contributing writer for the Toledo Free Press and keeps a blog at kevinmooreauthor.blogspot.com. He lives near Toledo, Ohio with his wife and daughter.
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My Lovely Wife, Edith by Kevin Moore / History & Fiction have rating 3.5 out of 5 / Based on35 votes