(The above was written two days ago, and I haven't done squat since. The items that follow are old news. But, since I've been idle for six weeks or more, you wouldn't know that. Kicks in the ass will be greatly appreciated.)
A ferocious alligator, which appeared after a recent storm, yawns as it relaxes behind the C Building.
Al has had more than his share of difficulty lately. Mostly, he is having respiratory problems. Six weeks ago, the doctor ran some tests on his lungs and discovered cancer in the left one. That is what is causing him to cough up blood.
He was back in the hospital for two days during the first week of August. That Tuesday at dinner, Al recited the litany of his ailments five or six times. And with each repetition he seemed to get worse. If one more person would have asked Al how he was doing, he probably would have stroked out before he finished the saga. He asked me to follow him to his room, in case something should happen, which he never done before.
Al seemed a little better when we talked that Wednesday morning. On my way to dinner that afternoon, Helen, Al's next door neighbor, told me they had taken him to the hospital a few minutes earlier. Penelope, who spent several hours in the hospital with Al, called around eight. The big concern, she said, was Al's racing heart. If the doctors could get his heart rate down, they would send him home.
Al called the next morning, said his heart was beating at an acceptable rate, and he would be on his way to Covenant Woods as soon as the damn doctor showed up and did whatever the hell he had to do to get him the hell out of the goddamned hospital. Unfortunately, by the time the doctor came by to see Al, the ticker was ticking much too rapidly.
Friday afternoon, with the help of hospice, Al signed himself out of the hospital. Whether or not he was ready to come home was the topic of lively debate for several days. Even Al wasn't all that sure he made the right decision, but he was absolutely certain he wasn't going back to that goddamned hospital.
The years and ailments are catching up with Al. Every thing is more difficult for him now, and he says more often than ever before that he'd like to go to bed and never get up. But Al is still Al. He knocked on my door one day last week.
"Antoinette took me to Publix this morning, and I bought seventy-five dollars worth of shit. You've got take some of this stuff. If you don't, I'll end up throwing it away," he said as he handed me some strawberries, blueberries, pepperoni, kielbasa and a few other things. "I had a hell of a movement earlier. I was sitting in my chair reading the paper, and it happened. I went into the bathroom and dropped my pants. I could see it coming out of the diapers. I said, 'Holy shit!' Then I spent forty-five minutes cleaning my ass."
A woman, whose name, unfortunately, I don't know, maintains an impressively brisk pace on her evening walks. We're seldom out at the same time, but we were one recent evening and talked for a few minutes.
"How many laps do you do?" I asked.
"This time of year, usually three. Once in a while four, if it isn't too hot, but always at least three."
"That's about a mile-and-a-half, isn't it?"
"Something like that. I used to walk five miles every day, but when I turned ninety, I decided I didn't have to go that far."
Janet was smoking a cigarette when I was out Tuesday morning. We talked about the weather, and she told me about her back problems, while keeping an eye on the goings on up the street.
"I'm being nosy. Jane got a new dog, a little terrier of some sort. Dorthy said it's really cute, and I'm trying to get a look at it. Wait a minute - I'm not nosy, I'm curious. My kids think I'm nosy. When I ask a question, they always say, 'Mum, you're being nosy again.' But I tell them, I'm just curious."