|There was a
smell you encountered when you entered the side door of Shore's, in the kitchen
where we worked. Janet and I worked with Mrs. McGowan, the cook. She was a harsh
woman who would occasionally smile when she smoked her cigarette. She was probably
sexy when she was younger. She carried herself that way. God, did she smell. The
food smell was what first hit you when you came in the kitchen door, and it was
made in big pans, square metal pans from which she'd ladle the mucousy feast.
It was meat and stuff, orange carrots, macaroni casserole, lots of cheese. It
was like it was only one dinner, again and again, a pattern of food entering and
re-entering a stream of food fabric coming down the line of endless dinner times
while we waited for the people to die.|
It was determined right away that I would deliver the trays upstairs. The first part of the job was putting faintly plaid trays on the eight rows of shelves that corresponded to floors and beds. Each tray had a napkin, silverware, plastic cup and saucer like the ones I would later see at Fernald. Each tray had a small tin name tag with an old greasy piece of cardboard that said Mrs. Adams and so on. Once they were set I would head up to the top floor, the floor with a porch. There was a youngish man who lived in a bathrobe, an old brown wool one, and he had a crew cut and was about my dad's age, in his forties. He had sad blue eyes and he had multiple sclerosis and had food smearing his mouth and moved awkwardly once in a while. He's a sweetie, said the nurse, it's very sad.
I hung out in the hallway near the dumbwaiter and waited for the rattling slam sound down in the kitchen and the crash of the door closing. You'd smell the lousy food arising, ca-chug, ca-chug and when the red light went off you knew it was there. You yanked the door up and there on two shelves was the food. I'd carry the tray into the brown room. There were two or three people in each room. Most days it was only dinner, since we were working after school. In the fall and winter the sun was fading outside and there was a hovering feeling of melancholy. Outside the leaves were falling, it was getting dark, it was getting cold. The man, his name was Bob, was usually smoking, standing, looking out the window of the porch. It was a little chilly on the porch. It had clearly been converted into a room and there was another guy, a really old one sharing it with Bob and it didn't matter who he was at all, just that the nursing home was mostly women and it was clear that Bob had to share the room with another guy. That's what men did. He was a very successful businessman, it's tragic, said Lois, the tall scary-looking nurse. She was usually who I worked with upstairs, one nurse on each shift.
Lois had a huge beaky nose, salt-and-pepper grey hair combed into something that made her look like a rooster. She was tough, like most nurses were. She smoked a lot, though she wasn't supposed to, and she did her smoking in the hallway, slunk against the wall like a tired waitress. She wore a white synthetic uniform, white shoes and had strong curvy legs. Her eyes were tight and beady and she looked like a huge bird. One of the ladies or whoever would make a sound, a calling sound, and she would look at me, like an animal turns when you both hear something, and she would poke out her cigarette, and strut into the room, leading with a generic baby voice she applied to everyone like angry salve.
I walked in lightly, or as light as I could, and tried to summon up the neutrality of a day in school when I was returning to my seat during a test, not wanting to be seen, but willing to admit I just might be there.
"You're not Karen," said Mrs. Adams. She wore glasses, she was reading a book. "No -- " What's your name, she said sternly. Eileen what? Myles. You go to the same school as Karen. You are Catholic. I am not, she said. My name is Mrs. Adams. She extended her hand.
Well, I am very engrossed in my book at the moment, but maybe someday we will talk about what you're reading. Do you like to read books? Yeah. I read a lot. She smiled at me grimly and the conversation had closed. She liked Jane Austen a lot and Henry James. She was writing letters, she kept busy, she was very alone, it seemed. Her stay at Shore's would not interfere with her schedule a whit.
Her roomate, Mrs. Hopkins, was a nut. Hoppy, they called her. She had bushy grey hair going straight up like the Bride of Frankenstein. She was already fairly well into senility. She had a soft vibe, a kind feeling. She had whiskers. The first day I plopped her tray down she asked me point blank, "Are they here?" Who. She kind of looked down and went whirr. Back up at me quickly and then she looked away. Back out in the hall, Lois grinned and made the screw loose sign. Wouldn't hurt a flea, she reassured, lighting a smoke. She had her foot parked on the wall to support herself like a girl. The dumb- waiter went clunk and the light went on. Shore's became this strange new punctuation to my day. After school, the momentary longing for freedom. A quick Coke with the kids, and then our walk up the street. We were rarely late since there were two of us coming from the same place.
It's the girls, Mrs. McGowan would purr viciously as we entered the kitchen. Usually old Mrs. Shore was hanging out at that point, shooting the shit with Rita, as she called the cook. Other days Shore didn't emerge until the end. She was close to senile herself, maybe in her mid-sixties, with a strangely unfocused look, soft, but as soon as she opened her mouth and looked at you with those eyes behind thick glasses that were always lidded and squinting, reptilian, you knew that she was totally mean. She never let it out. Everything exhausted her, nothing was worth it. The nursing home was hers. She lived there. She had a son, Fred, and he seemed to help out. He was always coming in with boxes, unloading things, and he was mean too. More awake, with a crew cut. Looked like he had been a marine, dressed like a twink with thick ripple soled shoes. Everything on him was strictly for comfort, but he exuded a soft violent power that was not to be crossed. This evil was never really, well almost never unleashed in my presence, but it was what regulated the day in this place, the repetitive urgency of these miserable people, doing things, the same things, in a place which housed these dying humans and they were making a buck for sure, yet they hated it and you in there with them, their temporary slave.
After I gave out all the meals it was back downstairs and sometimes we had to put up with Mrs. McGowan sitting there in her car-coat, glaring at us, smoking a cigarette. She was waiting for her son to pick her up. As long as she was there we couldn't smoke. Finally she would slam the curtained door behind her, and it was night out, and her car would speed away. Janet would often lunge toward the door at that moment making a hideous face, blocking her nose, giving Rita the finger. Leena, she stinks. Let's have a smokola before we start. We would pull a couple of Tabs out of the refrigerator, she would turn the radio on and the Righteous Brothers would moan, Baby Baby, I'd get down on my knees for you. We swooned, both being in unrequited love situations. I can't remember who hers was about, she was always dumping really great guys for no good reason.
I definitely know who the boy was I was crying about in the kitchen. And like the one in the song, he's already dead. His name was Ohzie. Everyone had a nickname in our culture. I think it was an Irish thing. To tack on a little "ee" sound at the end of people's names. It was a dedicatedly cute, familiar reality. Mike O'Hara, Ohzie, was this guy who had a chipped front tooth, and the part that was knocked off had been glued back on, and now he had a little yellow line running through the corner of this re-assembled tooth. There was something greyish about his brown hair, dull colored. He had a grey-blue Valiant and he went to the public school, Arlington High, not ours. He hung out with a gang of collegiate jocks. They were hockey players.
In the beginning of my sophomore year the junior girls, who were Ohzie's age, who were always watching us, had become interested in our existence because of the flattering light that came our way because of Janet's brother, and so these girls accepted me in stages.
First they allowed the information to come my way that they thought I was cute. This was exciting to me. One of them, Sandy Neilon, was a crush. I apply these terms now. I would see these older girls who were junior cheerleaders and I would watch them during games and I decided Sandy was mine. I loved her. She had long brown hair, big lips, and freckles. Many light brown freckles. Once I even dreamed of making out with her. I woke up happy. Janet informed me that Sandy Neilon thought I was cute. It made school dances erotic, dressing for Sandy. I don't remember her having a boyfriend. I remember her having just broken up with someone. I liked her being alone, but having the aura of sex. Her name, Neilon, made me think of (her) legs. She had a moment of great beauty in her junior year and by senior year she had gained weight and got a bad haircut. But there was just this light.
So first I learned that she liked me and the next news was that Ohzie did. There was this kind of girl love where the older girls pick their favorites from the younger girls and then they find an outlet for this love, a guy. They direct a guy towards their girl. It was a way of conferring status. He had a car. One day he was leaning against a wall near Brighams and we must have been waiting to do something because the boys started to go away and then the girls and him and I stayed and stayed and then he said, want to go have a cigarette? I loved that he smoked. None of those athletic guys smoked. I got into his car and we rode around. One of the things my job at Shore's did was pay for cigarettes. We did this a bunch of times. I don't remember making out with him at all. He was slow. It was a joke about him. There was something really spacy about Ohzie. I thought about it when he died of an aneurysm in his twenties. That maybe there had been this pressure on his brain all along. Then one Sunday night after a hockey game he asked me if I wanted to go to a party with George and Sherry. They were this couple we always used to laugh at at dances. They danced completely wrapped around each other like adults. Just grinding away. They just both had adult sexualities already. George was a short guy with a rough complexion, but handsome in that military kind of way. His father was a retired General or something and he ran his family like a platoon, and was really violent and scarey with his sons. George was a small football player. Sherry had piles of dark hair, was really smart, had large breasts a great body, was such a good dancer (in kind of a rat way, but she was so powerful that it even enhanced her aura) and was the scariest fiercest girl on the basketball team. She would get in such fights. She would get all red. She was so serious and they were such a serious couple. I couldn't believe I was having the opportunity to hang out with them. Without even thinking about it you felt their sex. Anyway, we went to a party and we went to another party and it was dark and Sunday night and it was about nine o'clock and I never called my mother because I knew she would say no to all of this and it was my big chance. I finally came home around ten. Where were you. It was like she was going to beat me, I was a slut, really bad. You have to understand that my father was dead and the main terror in my house was that of causing my mother to feel anything because we felt so bad for her. She was alone and we had to be good.
So after that I couldn't go out after school. I was grounded for two weeks. I couldn't go out at all. I was afraid to tell Ohzie. I just didn't talk to him. I couldn't tell him that I had to stay in. I was ashamed that I wasn't allowed to go out. That it had been a problem. I didn't know how to explain it. And my mother never paid any attention to me. Punishing me was the only time she did. So I'd go shopping with her after school. I would eat and eat. I remember her watching me make an immense angel cake and peaches and ice cream thing in a cereal bowl and her flirting with me in a musical voice, "You'll be sorry." She told me that she gained a lot of weight around my age and she didn't want to see that happen to me. When I finally got out I went to a party and Ohzie was standing there leaning against a wall. I thought he was going to talk to me but he never came over. One of the junior girls told me he was waiting for me. Wasn't he the man. That was the end of it. Ohzie was what I was singing about in the kitchen while the Righteous Brothers wailed. It would have led to sex, I think. He was perfect. He had cigarettes and a car.
On Saturday mornings I had to bring them eggs. Mostly they had poached eggs on toast. That was normal. Some of them had a little soft boiled egg in an egg cup. Many of them had special egg cups. It was like they had them all my life. "I see you've brought me my soft boiled egg," said Mrs. Curtis, who was really nice for a while. You'd watch their personalities drop right out. One day Mrs. Curtis would be a nice old woman with a sweetness about her and an intelligent gleam in her eye. Yes, I like my egg very much. Started to stare a little too long after she said that. You'd watch the skin pucker and start to grow slack. Greyen. You'd watch the eyes get tiny, go away. First the nurses would encourage her to eat. Then you'd see them feed her. I was always afraid they'd ask me to feed her, and one day they did. I pushed the little spoon against her silent lips. The eyes looked scared. Who am I? Like a little cat. I'd see her whiskers glow in the morning light. I'd just sit there for a while. Push the spoon against her lips. Let them get a little yolky. I'd sit there in the light just like her. You're not too good at that, said Lois, for once being nice.
Mr. Casey had a big plate of fried eggs. Three of them. He was bald. And had a voice like he was from some other part of the country. The Midwest. It wasn't the voice so much, it was the words and how he'd say them. Well, young lady, how are you? Huge teeth, dentures I think. He was bald and wore big glasses and had a loud salesman voice. But he was mostly gone. Greeting me was the one thing left he could do. And eat his eggs. Feed himself. He seemed to read the newspaper. It was always there with his glasses when he didn't have them on. They would just rest there on the counter. On the lap of his table. Their furniture was so funny, if you thought of it apart from them. It was someplace between school desks and adult high chairs.
Some of them had these formica pieces that would swing around the front of their beds so they could sit up. Some of them had flaps like that attached to their sitting chairs. They were there to sit, to eat their last meals, and then to lie down. If Mr. Casey wasn't sitting there with the big eggs in front of him he was just standing there in his room like a burst of energy that hadn't yet left. He was tall, had a big wiry build. But he reminded me of this horrible character on Superman. It was someone really evil and finally at the end of the episode his face was in the sky. This huge bald man. Still talking. Scaring Superman. It was like he had taken over the skies. He was mad. This is what Mr. Casey really felt like. A nightmare sun. And when he wasn't thinking, when he wasn't even waiting at all he would still stand there like a plant in his brown and maroon wool striped bathrobe with his slippers on going smack, smack. It sounded like lips but it was his moist jaws creaking, his loose shaky teeth. It was his gears. Hello young lady how are you. Smack smack. It affected me so much. I could hear it when my back turned. It felt sexual. Appreciative. I'd like to eat you up. Smack. He turned up in my dreams. There was a burning sky, the world had ended and Mr. Casey had a huge ladle and was in charge of the stew. There it was, giant tubs. One vat had human livers, one was kidneys, with barley or little tiny organs, glands, something small, white and peanut-like, tiny balls of fat sitting on the surface of the immense stew at the end of the world. All the colors were red and orange and everything was warm, too warm. He was standing there with all the parts, and he wanted you. He wanted you to become part of his soup. Smack smack. Everything was gone and there was that sound. Monster. Old monster.
One day old Hoppy was lying there still on her bed. She was beige grey. Her mouth was open. She was dead. This was bound to happen to someone. It was just a question of time. I had brought her eggs in. I put them on the little white table next to her bed with tiny silver dots. I didn't care. I stood there staring for a moment. She looked like a photograph of a dead pope. I had seen dead people before. I had seen plenty of them. And they were usually old. But her mouth was open like a fish. It was stiff. Her last little sniff of air had come and gone. Miss Fish, I thought. I had to come in and find her. It was just my time. Lois, I called for the nurse. It's Hoppy, I think she's dead. I was holding the tray. Um-hum. Send her eggs back down. That seemed particularly lonely. Hoppy's eggs going down stairs. Creak creak. The red light went out.
I told Janet after the weekend. Hoppy's dead. Shhitt, Leena. Janet sat down. You mean, you know them and I know them, we both know them. We always did Hoppy's lines. Janet started crying. It sort of made me sick. Yeah, I scratched the back of my head and I lit a cigarette. I could handle upstairs.
Mrs. Wilson cried. My, My, My, Ba-by, Ba-by, Ba-by. Her my sometimes would go higher and higher, my-yeeeeeeee, Baby, Baby, Baby. A picture was created of a burning house and a child that had died and I wanted there to be a story attached to her song. Her eyes were closed, usually, she had pure white hair, curly and wild with a yellow after-tone. There was a deep purple surrounding her eyes. She wore a little pink sweater. And she sang all day long. It drove everyone crazy. The nurse would jam a tray onto a shelf and mutter to her self, her teeth gritted, "Will you shut the fuck up." Everyone imitated her. You couldn't be on that floor or the one beneath it without picking it up at some point and you knew everyone went home to their families and sang Mrs. Wilson's song. Do you think something happened to her, I asked Lois. Absolutely not. She has a lovely family. She had a lovely life. She's just nuts. Finally she stopped making sounds at all and quietly died. We all wanted her little squeal to come back, just once. There's an idea that what you get in nursing homes is care and privacy. I mean, they cost a lot of money and you don't die alone. But it's sort of like being in a museum. A college dorm, a fraternity house, with old wood and stairs and a small population of people get to watch you go down. You're a stranger, an oddity. You've kind of been installed. The times when they got visitors seemed really pathetic to me. The little girls twirling in the halls. Go in and say hi to Grandma. The cards would pile up around their trays. My niece gave me this, said someone pointing to a pin on her sweater. She'd smile and you'd smile and say, oh that's nice. A person was turned into a greeting card. It wasn't like you had to send your aunt a thank you note for the check. You'd visit. She was a little bag of money sitting on a chair, smiling. Everybody had to come and see that their money was still there. I think the state paid for some people but no one ever came to see them, and they seemed almost better. The place was more intense for them. It was one world. The nurses, the trays, me, the weather, the other oddball in the room. She makes me crazy, can't you make her shut up? She never wants to talk. People with visitors were a little smug. I knew what their life was like. I think being with a person is better than caring about them. I cared about them more than their relatives did, and I didn't care about them at all.
My friend Lorraine lived on Swan Street, which ran right into mine, Swan Place. Her house was huge and grey. There were two sides to it, two separate doors with separate numbers, 5 and 7. There were little wicker baskets next to each doorbell, I think for the mail. There were big metal knockers on the door, but to use them was a joke. You could just walk in. Hello, you'd yell into the dark house.
Once when I was exactly four years old my mother was having my sister or had already had her, I don't know. It was in the wonderful years, the end of them, before I went to school, when I had my mother alone. We were in our house and suddenly some men came in, firemen, dressed in black with their cowboy hats on and they put my mother on a chair and carried her downstairs. I felt naked and alone. I felt the hugeness of my house. I was small. There was this furniture. Curtains rugs and stuff. It's been insisted for years that my mother must have explained that this was going to happen. She would not have just left me like that. But I remember it. The huge gonging silence. And then the doorbell rang and it was the happy voice of Germaine Guyash, Mrs. Fleming, Lorraine's Mom. She lived in the huge grey house on Swan Street. There was a teeny little moment that permanently lives in my head that oh, it's okay. She will be my Mom now. It didn't seem to matter who held the job. A happy woman came. She sat in the kitchen of the grey house all day long, nervously smoking cigarettes. Years later I learned she did drugs. Happy ones that keep you busy. She came from a huge family in Ontario. She was very very poor, she had a twin. And that was exciting, that there were two of them. It seemed a string of Moms could wrap around the world with this woman's kindness and energy. It was a dark huge old house. They owned both sides and all the rooms. The Flemings took in boarders. They had all these ladies who lived in rooms. A whole life lived in a little bedroom upstairs in the Flemings' house. All of them came down, from time to time. They would sit around the metal kitchen table with Mrs. Fleming. They would all make their entrances in the doorway to the kitchen. Behind them was the dark that I continually mention. Above the dark was a wooden staircase that led upstairs, around and around. One floor was Lorraine and Bill's rooms and later on little Eileen. Beyond them lived the boarders and in all the rooms on the other side. It seemed like the Flemings had an endless number of rooms, Lorraine was always showing me another one, sometimes empty, where we could play.
But these older women, women alone in their forties and fifties and sixties, had rooms full of beads and old clothes and pictures of men. I never saw rooms like this again till years later in San Francisco, hotels on Castro full of queens. It was like old starlets lived here. But the one I mean to focus on is Mrs. Beatty.
Not Aunt Louise who disgusted me and ruined the table. Who didn't know how to make an entrance. Who just walked in with her tiny tiny steps. A gigantic head on such a small woman on such an presumptuous power trip. Very big smile when she came in, as if she had already been there and she just noticed you, and what are you saying now? With her very Eleanor Roosevelt no-chin look and small tan spots and many small bumps all over her face. What is that? I asked Lorraine. That's just how she looks. And wouldn't pursue it with me. I think she wore pearls, occasionally.
Or Aunt Kitty who was Lorraine's best friend and they had spent hours together in Kitty's small room, and these days were fondly referred to during me and Lorraine's early maturity once Kitty was back into business and opened a shop -- a tearoom inside of an office building in downtown Boston, and Kitty read tea-leaves and her partner was an artist, a cartoonist, and she did exaggerated caricatures of their customers and then pasted their mugs all over the tearoom which was a hangout for old ladies.
Eileen draws Lorraine would tell them, but I didn't think this was what I was planning to do. And Lorraine and Kitty would sing the little songs that they had sung together in Kitty's small room and I wondered how I could have not known that this was going on and it explained perhaps why in her childhood Lorraine was adverse to going out. She had a private life with Kitty in her room. No, I never saw Kitty in that house. She had shimmering silver grey hair and you knew when she was younger she had been very pretty. She had those kind of eyes. A pleased little cat, and very wry. Kitty was an exception; she moved on. Kind of show business odd, but still she was a woman and the whole gang spooked me because they were all women and women wind up in little rooms, women wind up alone.
Looking back it was not a bad scene. The final one before the Nursing Home. Many long hours in that house, and they made tea and really appreciated donuts and little sweets. And then Mrs. Beatty came in. Though she was a woman, she seemed like a man. She had chestnut brown hair piled up in turban-like folds and on top of it all she wore a little velvet hat with a veil. She wore rimless glasses with a string hanging from their legs. She sometimes smoked a cigarette in a holder. And she had faded freckles all over her face. Her voice. That was the most prominent thing about Mrs. Beatty. She had a scratchy gravelly voice that always seemed on the verge of making a tremendous joke. She was jeering at someone and yet you could see she was smiling, she was joyful and her joy had a foreign air of sophistication. She wore a big brown fur coat. With fox heads in there somewhere. I remember her wearing navy blue. The dress under everything, perhaps. She came from the beginning of the century, the 20s or the 30s. She was like Arthur Godfrey, or especially, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Though he was never my president, but my parents', I knew Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and he was on teevee in history shows. He smoked like her and wore those glasses and had that twang. So she was left from his time. I had been in her room because Lorraine did little errands for all these women, and once I had suggested that I could do it too but she said her mother wouldn't like it, and besides they were her friends. And they were. Lorraine had a ton of old tired mothers who loved her. In Mrs. Beatty's room there were a lot of pictures of one handsome young man with his hair slicked back and parted down the middle. Many of the frames were round and the photographs were brown, which I had never seen before. And she had great curtains in her room, very curly and fancy and her bed had the most complicated spread and there were little round tables and chairs and more than anyone's room hers was a world. There was an overhanging lamp which I think was blue, blue and white. It was like she was royalty. It was like she was a queen. And of all the women who lived in the house Mrs. Beatty made the best entrances. In fact she made only entrances. She would arrive and hover framed in the doorway to the kitchen not saying a word, and Mrs. Fleming (known in particular to Mrs. Beatty as Gerry) would look up as if surprised and go Mrs. Beatty, as if she was deeply honored and kidding at the same time, and Mrs. Beatty would light up and say something in her growling flirting voice to Gerry, and then she had arrived. She would never sit down, she never joined the crew in the kitchen. She had her moment and then she was gone. Her moment was long. She introduced the concept of boarders to me. I asked Lorraine who Mrs. Beatty was one day when I was very young, and Lorraine said she is one of our boarders. And then I had a category for them all. I never wanted to be a woman because they wind up alone.
So when I saw Mrs. Beatty's big bare butt being lifted off a potty seat by a nurse who was strong enough for that, and I could smell her shit, but mostly it was her white nakedness and the fact that Mrs. Beatty was one of the most covered people I had ever seen in my life, certainly the most covered woman, and there she was without her hat or her cane which I had forgotten, which added to her elegant authority, and it was all gone, her colors and her fur and even her voice. I don't even remember quiet whimpers from this white marvel arched over her pan after taking a dump. The hair was all hanging down loose, there was so much of it, and she turned or I saw her face somehow and there was nothing in it. She was gone. I almost convinced myself it was not her. I wanted it to be someone else so I wouldn't have to have seen what I saw. This is Mrs. Beatty, said the nurse, digusted. And the unspoken message was she won't be here long. When did she go there? I never heard. Someplace in my life between ten and fourteen.
Janet quit the job before I did. She turned 16, she got a job at Sears. I was alone. I began working with a big girl, Kathy Kelly, the daughter of one of the nurses. Mrs. Kelly was a skinny little tough woman. She smoked cigarettes, had jet-black hair that she must have dyed by then. I'm beginning to understand the meaning of female hair color. When you lose that, everything changes. It's like you're going bald. Your hair's getting lighter people say.
Mrs. Kelly didn't like me. I felt. I was afraid of her. Some people, you know their criterion for life is, are you tough? They sniff you out. They decide to treat you a certain way, based on that whiff. They might need to wipe you out. I was embarrassed by my desire to get Mrs. Kelly to like me. I'd say something mean about someone. Trying her out. She ignored me. I just had to work hard and shut up. Which was probably her thing, getting that.
So Kathy had the job. She was big and sexy. Tall, large breasts, hair piled up in that greaser way. Tight uniforms. Little shoes. Little feet, really, which was hot. Smoked, of course. She slammed her trays around at night. I took tips from her as to when we could smoke. She controlled the radio, singing along and no choruses from me, thank you. You go to the Catholic school, she asked once. Then her mother would come down. She would sit there in her chair looking skinny and tired and old. She'd look at me then because she needed someone at whom to aim a tiny groan the moment before she lit her cigarette. It was a bitter world. She had a son who was in Vietnam who she was clearly crazy about. He married a gook. He sends me a picture of this chink. What am I suppose to say. She's a chink. Ah, she shrugs and cringes. He loves her. Great, I say. She looks like a girl for a moment. You two sweethearts almost done? I'll finish my smoke outside. Wait for John. The other son.
Everything shifted a tiny bit. Janet was gone, Kathy hated me, Mrs. Kelly was waiting and Mrs. Shore started to end her night, because everyone was down there, with a beer. Some bottled beer, something special that came in heavy green bottles. I think it was German or Dutch. It being European made it seem medicinal. And Mrs. Shore was clearly sick, I think it was alcoholism. So she'd pour her beer in a very solid looking glass and she'd place the full glass behind me where I was setting up trays. On this little table. I don't know why she put it there, there was plenty of room in the kitchen. So the heat was on one night. It seemed I was going particularly slow. Maybe it was the holidays, a special meal. I was depressed. Janet being gone it was like being alone. Smash, smash, I was slamming my trays down, trying to go fast, trying to let them know I was working hard. It was just a job. It used to be our secret. Crash. I don't know what I was thinking about but I could feel them all watching me so I quickly turned and knocked Mrs. Shore's beer off the table, onto the floor spilling it halfway across the room and breaking her glass. You, she stared and pointed at me, you get out of here and never come back. It was like I was a dog. Mrs. Kelly smiled. It was my first job. And I cried when I was walking home in the dark, so relieved.