Author Topic: A step away  (Read 1171 times)

Offline A.W.M

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A step away
« on: April 01, 2010, 09:15:55 PM »
                                               
I have watched them before, the lone figure walking the long dusty road, pausing now and then to turn and gaze back from where they came, then looking forward, a sigh, then another step forward, toward a world unknown. 

It was noon when he picked up his belongings at the desk. Nurse Norma Becker slide open the glass window, and seeing Horace standing there, nodded her head in recognition, and tried in vain to smile.  “Just a minute,” she said, and closed the window, leaving Horace to stand there staring at the glass.  He took a deep breath and looked around the drab waiting room.  A single dead palm in a green pot near the door was the extent of the office decor.  The walls were painted white.  The ceilings painted white, long ago had turned a light shade of brown from cigarette smoke and a leaking roof.  In the corner, the stained paint was peeling.  A two-bladed ceiling fan turned slowly, unable to move the stale air.  Horace brought his attention back to the window.  He could see a silhouette on the other side of the glass.

The window opened and Nurse Norma pushed out a brown bag.  “Better look in there to see nothing is missing.  I got to have you sign a form saying everything is okay.  Just knock on the glass, careful like, when you are ready to sign.”  The window was closed.  He looked down at the bag.

Doctor Fillmore had been the one to conclude that keeping Horace confined in the state hospital for any additional time was not cost wise,  since it had been made clear by the administrator, cost cutting was in order, and the sooner the better.
“You must look at our patients and determine if each patient is contributing to the bottom line.  You will see those patients here under the government health plan do not, in any way, contribute to the well being of Bancroft’s bottom line.  Privatization is the way we must go.” The administrator, sitting at the head of the table, let his words settle among the staff.  He paused to drink from his bottle of water.  “After all, “he started again, “it is our livelihood I am concerned about”

 Doctor Fillmore spent considerable time reviewing Horace's record.  He was being sustained by the government.  He had entered the establishment more than ten years ago, committed for uncontrollable violence, a near killing of a family member.  A judge had seen fit to have Horace committed until such time as he could be certified as Non –violent.  But then, no one followed up, and the months turned into years.  Ten years. 

Horace took the brown shopping bag and walked near the door where the light was better.  He tried to remember what had been taken from him ten years ago, stuffed into a brown bag and locked away.  He sat down on the floor and turned the bag upside down and looked at the items lying on the dirty tile. A pack of opened cigarettes, a book of matches with the words “Finney’s Bar and Grill” on the cover.  For a moment he though of lighting up a cigarette, but then he had not smoked for ten years, and the desire faded as his attention was drawn to his wallet.  Inside was his driver’s license, expired.  He tried to remember, did he have money on that day over ten years ago, when the police officers had escorted him to this place?  If so, it was not in his wallet.  He pulled out a fishing license, a library card, both discolored and faded.  A picture of a girl with pigtails took his breath away for a moment.  Anna was smiling, as if the minute the picture was taken was the happiest moment in her life.  He felt a tear roll down his cheek.  A daughter he had not seen or heard from in ten long years.   Slowly, he replaced everything into the brown bag except his wallet.  He pushed the wallet into his back pocket.

Nurse Norma opened the window just as Horace was getting to his feet.  “You got to sign this,” she said, pushing the form out the window.

Horace signed his name and left the form at the window.  He clutched the brown bag against his chest, turned away, and walked towards the door.

“Good luck, Horace,” Nurse Norma called, as she closed the window.  Horace did not hear Nurse Norma as he stepped out into the bright sunlight, the screen door slamming behind him.





   
Most people live and die
with their music still unplayed.
They never dare to try.

~ Mary Kay Ash

Offline adl

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Re: A step away
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2010, 07:00:08 AM »
I like it. So poignant!
~Amanda, aspiring writer and archaeologist

Offline A.W.M

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Re: A step away
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2010, 07:53:16 PM »
Thank you for taking time to read and comment. 
The best to you.
Most people live and die
with their music still unplayed.
They never dare to try.

~ Mary Kay Ash