It has been anything but a quiet week in the old-folks home. Perhaps it was quiet in other areas of the establishment, but here in the apartment nestled between Richie's on one side and Alice's on the other, the peace was disturbed on several occasions.
In recent weeks, William has been spending more time in Richie's apartment than he has for well over a year. He pays his visits during the daylight hours, for which I am most grateful. There was a time, not all that long ago, when he was there nearly every night until midnight or later. I'm not one to begrudge a pair of buddies a few beers and a pleasant conversation. But on most days, Richie and William each had a few beers by 10 am and several more than just a few by the time they got together in Richie's place for a lengthy series of night caps.
It is challenge to make sense out of anything Richie or William say, but is never difficult to hear either of them. Richie is from somewhere in New England and has the accent to prove it. Once he gets rolling, which seldom takes long, he sounds like an enraged Red Sox fan hurling insults at the umpire from the Fenway Park grandstands. Still, Richie struggles to make himself heard over William, who tries to sound like a Marine drill sergeant, only louder.
One recent afternoon, as I sat at the computer squandering another day, the voices in Richie's apartment got louder and angrier. "You took my wallet," Richie yelled.. "I didn't take your wallet," Alice shouted. A door slammed, then there was quiet. An hour later, I was on my way to dinner, Alice was coming down the hall the other way. "He accused me of taking his wallet. I didn't take his wallet. Why would I take his wallet? He said I sneaked in to his apartment and took it. I didn't sneak in to his place. The only time I go in there is when he asks me in to have a beer. A couple weeks ago, he said somebody stole his wallet. Nobody stole his wallet. We looked around and found it. He forgot where he put it. I should sue him." I did my imitation of a concerned neighbor and went to eat.
As soon as Alice moved in, she began adorning her porch and the area around it with plants. One morning many months ago, Alice knocked on my porch door. She said she had a hose, but nearest hook up for it was over by Richie's apartment. Would I mind if she ran the hose across my porch? I had no objection. Alice hooked up the hose and routed it from the hookup, across my porch to her porch. The hose remained there until the day after Richie made the wallet accusation.
This past Wednesday, as I was squandering another afternoon, there was a knock on Richie's door. "Who's there?" he asked in his surliest voice. It was Kerri, the business manager here, she wanted someone to look at his arm. He made it clear he didn't need or want anyone to look at his arm. That evening, someone else knocked on the door and told him they wanted someone to look at the arm. Richie told the person to go away.
Thursday, I heard that Richie and William got into a fight. Richie got the worst of it. I went to bed at ten o'clock that night and quickly fell asleep. At 1:15 am, I was awakened by Richie's yelling. Lest I be accused of spreading "false news", I should tell you that this might have occurred at 11:15 pm. Between my nearsightedness, macular degeneration and without my glasses on, I often lose the first "1" in 11 and 12 when I look at the lighted, digital readout on the clock radio in the dark of night.
"Come in here," is what I heard Richie yell, or maybe it was, "Don't come in here." In any case, at least two men - based on my hearing two voices - did go in. I also heard frequent beeper beeps, but I have no idea where the men were from. And when they left, they must have taken Richie with them. I haven't seen him since.
Last night at dinner, Tony, who keeps his ear close to the ground, said Richie went home. It seems likely then that the men who came to his apartment were from a limousine service and took him to the airport. Over the past few weeks, Richie told several people he would be going home for a few weeks. And on Friday morning, the hose reappeared on my porch.
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