Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Assisted Living," Part Four

“That was Gary,” Lorraine said, walking back to the kitchen.

“It still fits,” Oziel said, arms out. He pat his stomach. “How’s it look?”
“I said just a tie would do-“

“It’s the jacket I wore to your mother’s funeral. He gives abundantly more than we ask or think,” he quoted.

“Fine,” Lorraine said abruptly. “I’ve got some papers in the car for you to sign before we go. Is there more coffee?”


She left. Oziel peered out the window to watch her fetch a briefcase. Maybe he shouldn’t have recited a Bible verse. It always turned her off. Maybe the jacket from the funeral brought back the unpleasant breach. Maybe it commented on her shacking up with Gary. He poured coffee. He didn’t want to lose her again. She’d already run away once, to escape her mother’s criticism. They didn’t hear from her for years. The strain probably killed Jean. Now she was back. Physically, at least. Lending a hand. He should be grateful, like the father in the prodigal son story.
Lorraine stomped snow from her feet in the bathroom, then entered the kitchen where she set down the briefcase, shivering.

“What is it I need to see?” Oziel asked.

“Just some forms,” Lorraine said. “Gary drew up some things so we can legally use the money from the house sale to pay Assisted Living.”

Oziel knew it wouldn’t be cheap, and Medicare didn’t pay for such things. Everything had to go. The coffee burned in his stomach. Still, it wasn’t the money or selling the house. It wasn’t as though the prodigal was asking for the inheritance before the father was dead. It was his old heart pulled in two directions. He needed Lorraine’s and Gary’s help to sell the house and move to assisted living. God knows he needed some looking-after. Yet he was sickened by their live-in arrangement. The jacket felt tighter. Lorraine explained the forms, underscoring lines with her gold pen, but he didn’t understand a word. He signed by the “X” when she tapped it. The sleeve smelled musty.

John's new mystery novel, "Bleeder," will be released by Sophia Institute Press in August 2009 and will be available at as well as in bookstores.

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