Mind Your Elders
J. David Jaggers
“Come on Mr. Randall, back in bed, it’s time for your insulin.” I say pulling a small hypodermic needle from the pocket of my scrubs.
“Fuck you asshole, I want to go home.”
“Now Mr. Randall, you know I can’t do that, doctor’s orders. Take your shot and I’ll get you a chocolate pudding and turn on the soaps.”
Mr. Randall raises a withered middle finger. “I said I want to go home. You can’t keep me here, you little shit.”
God I hate old people. They bitch and moan about everything. I mean hell, half of them can’t even wipe their own asses without me but do I get a thank you Carl? Not a fucking chance.
Then there’s the smell; that sick, sweet odor that oozes from their pores.
It haunts me.
Every day I change their piss soaked diapers and feed them and every day they complain. Like it’s my fault there’s nobody coming to take them away. No children, no family, they’re all alone and whether they like it or not, this is home.
When I’m finished with Mr. Randall, I have to give Mrs. Whitwell a fresh catheter. I dread waking Agnes, she has Alzheimer’s and when she’s up she screams and howls, upsetting the other residents.
“Where am I? Is that you Jimmy?” she says. She’s little girl Agnes right now and thinks she’s in Iowa where she grew up. “Please tell momma I’ll be good. I want to go home now, I promise I’ll behave.”
This will go on for hours if I don’t intervene, so I give her a sedative. It helps us both honestly. When she’s out, I change her catheter, check her for bed sores and brush her hair so it doesn’t get tangled.
I think back to nursing school. What the hell happened to me? I wanted to work in the ER and save lives but somehow I ended up here, tending to these breathing corpses.
Once Agnes is done, I review my clipboard.
Morning meds, check.
Diapers and catheters changed, check.
The only thing left is to unstrap Charlie and give him a bath.
“Fucking hell. Is it Thursday already?” I say out loud. I hate bathing Charlie. It’s an exhausting ordeal that always ends with one of us bruised and bloody. Charlie’s a runner and has tried to escape so many times I’ve lost count. Poor guy has to be strapped to his bed now for his own safety.
“Alright Charles, wake up buddy. It’s bath time.” I say entering his room. The space reeks of urine despite being flooded with disinfectant. Charlie’s lying on the bed, secured with thick leather straps. He’s asleep when I come in with the wheel chair.
“Come on Charlie. Time to wash the stink off you.” Charlie just snores, a thick string of drool running down his stubbly chin. I undo the straps from his wrists and poke him with a finger.
“I said come on Charlie we…”
Charlie’s fist jerks up, smashing my nose. My world goes bright with pain and I stumble back, tangling my feet in the wheel chair. I lose balance and everything goes black when I tag the back of my head on the doorframe.
When I open my eyes I can see a pulsing blue light coming from the window and reflecting off the dingy walls. Charlie’s gone and before I can pry myself from the overturned wheel chair, two policemen rush in and grab me.
* * *
From my cell I can hear the guards talking. It’s all over the news. The biggest case of elder abuse in the state’s history. Twelve senior citizens held prisoner in a suburban basement, drugged while their alleged captor collected their social security checks.
I lean back on the hard cot and close my eyes. When they find the graves in the back yard, they’ll seek the death penalty for sure. How did things get so complicated? All I ever wanted was to help people.
I take a deep breath and notice the cell stinks of sweat and mildew. A smile grows on my face as I realize, it doesn’t smell like old people.
Available from Dead guns Press