"White Not Blue"
for iiChallenge 1/28/2012 written in 40 minutes
June moved to California with Albert, her husband, to chase after another job.
“This one in the aircraft plant-”
“Do we have to go?”
“This gig is better than house painting, leak detection or pest control.”
June spends the ten grand from Pappa’s estate to invest in the dream in California.
“It seems like a good idea at the time.”
Between the morning job as a crossing guard and the night work at the nursing home, June has time to make meals for the children because Albert is gone. Albert went off on a new wanderlust.
June works at Aging Fountains home in Huntington Beach. When she applied for the position, she lied (just a little white one) marking that she had a Certified Nurse Assistant degree when in fact she had not taken any classes. June knows how to push an I.V., administer diabetes tests and check blood pressure. Skills she acquired caring for her father back in Crystal Springs. She misses the lazy evenings on the porch before Pappa died.
It is almost Christmas. California does not offer a season change; there is no blanket of snow. The lights in the lobby of the nursing home are the only sign of the season. Pine trees decorate the front of the apartment complex next to Aging Fountains. June takes it upon herself to cut stacks of the sappy needles to decorate the bare rooms at the nursing home. June parks her Chevy with the branches and the left over boxes of handmade tree ornaments from Mississippi near the service entrance of the building. The confier resin odors swell in the rear entry, blocking that of urine.
The last room in the hall is occupied by what looks to be a shriveled bobolink. In the electric hospital bed rests a lined buff body, dangling grey legs and piercing blue eyes.
They tell June, “John O’Grady in that room never speaks.”
“But he sits up?”
“That bird’s been in some kind of coma since 1977.”
“Can a person live that long in bed?”
“It’s the strangest thing. He can eat when spoon fed.”
“Anyone visit Mr. O’Grady?”
“Never, just gets a monthly check from John O’Grady signed by himself on the back for $5000.”
“What does the home do with the money?”
“They sign it over and pay for his rent, and keep the rest in the slush fund.”
In her calico scrubs with the garnet rhinestone pin June turns the television on in John’s room to a station playing, “I’ll Have a Blue Christmas,” sung by Elvis Presley. June hums as she tapes the branches on John's bulletin board. She push pins some on the windowsill. Then June allocates ornaments from the box choosing the crystal angel to place in the center. Her back is to Mr. O’Grady as she looks up at the North Star to hide the tears in her eyes. June thinks of family back home.
Mr. O’Grady starts to sing, “And when that blue heartache starts hurtin'. You'll be doin' all right, with your Christmas of white, But I'll have a blue, blue Christmas.”
“Mr. Presley is that really you?” June says startled.
The man with the cornflower eyes is silent. June tucks bleached covers around him kissing his forehead goodnight.
“I'd rather go on hearing your lies, than to go on living without you.”
Tell a story that Ellis is in fact not dead from Kristen Doyle
Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, KristenDoyle challenged me with "Tell a story that Elvis is in fact not dead" and I challenged ChaosMandywith "Tell me about caring for your mother who had a stroke".
Bobolinks are a native Mississippi lark like bird that eats insects and grains and has a long undulating flight.
The use of John O'Grady's name is fictional use and no reference to any real person.
Copyrights 2012 caroline gerardo for all short story and photographs reserved
I incorporated a bit of my own prompt to make it harder. I also used the prompt idea I gave to Chaos Mandy about caring for someone with a stroke. I haven't been a part of your group as much as I enjoy, busy finishing my next book. Please tell me what you think.