Frank Atherton is the assistant director at a nursing home in Ohio. For an ex-military man, the job may seem a little tame, but he actually likes the mundane, day to day routine. After the chaos of war, it's nice to relax. He's happy there, until Ralph Penwarren shows up. An insufferable man, Penwarren has already made Frank's life hell, and it's only been a couple hours. Instead of staying at home, Frank decides to stay on site in one of the guest rooms, in case there is an emergency with Penwarren. By chance, he meets Dr. Marka Ventimiglia, a new psychologist on staff.
Frank hung up, turning back to his visitor. "Sorry. Had a little problem with a guest. He's a real jerk. In fact, he's the reason I'm here tonight instead of home—with a beer." He flopped into the chair with a sigh.
"I hear a story in that."
"His name's Ralph Penwarren. His mom lives here. She fell and he blames us. Long story short, he's going to make us as miserable as possible before he leaves."
"My Gran would call him a pip," Marka replied with a sly grin.
"Mine would call him a prick," Frank countered. "She's been married to a Marine for fifty-six years. She doesn't take crap from anyone. She'd eat Penwarren for lunch."
"Sounds like you should give her a call."
"Maybe I will."
They were laughing quietly over their little joke when someone knocked at the door. It was Kathy. She bustled past Frank with several rolls of toilet paper.
"Sorry it took me so long. I dropped by Dr. Ventimiglia's first, but she wasn't there. I didn't want to go in.... Oh, hi! I didn't know you were here."
"I came to see if he had a spare. That's how he found out he hasn't got any either."
"All you have to do is call housekeeping. We'll take care of it. The numbers should be on top of the TV."
"They were. I didn't realize there was anyone there at night."
Kathy smiled, handing her some toilet paper. "Once in awhile someone gets up and pees the floor or spills. Most nights are pretty quiet. I inventory and fold sheets, that sort of thing."
"Thanks for the information. I'll be staying in a guest room for a few weeks. After that, I'll move into a house in town. They're remodeling. It's not ready yet."
"Oh, sweet! What house?"
"The cute periwinkle blue house on the corner of Main and Fifteenth."
"You'll love it! My husband helped with the remodel. He finished the floors. All oak," Kathy said. "It's got a great view of the park and pond."
"Yes, I saw. That and the kitchen are the two things that sold me on the house."
"Kenny also helped with the cabinets. He's a great carpenter. He works here part time too."
"I look forward to meeting him."
"If there's anything else you need, holler. I'll be sitting in my cave watching TV and folding sheets." Kathy withdrew, a questioning look on her face as she passed Frank.
"Night, Kath. See you in the morning."
"Bright and early," she replied, winking as she left.
Blushing, Frank shut the door behind her. "God, we'll be the topic of gossip for the next week."
He pointed to himself, then her. "You being here in the middle of the night—"
"It's just past ten!"
"Around here, that's like two o'clock in the morning anywhere else. Be prepared for it. The entire staff will know before noon and half the residents by supper."
"I hate to think what the talk would be like if we were naked." She paused, reddening. "Sorry."
Frank burst out laughing. "Don't be. I was thinking it."
"But you're too much of a gentleman to say it. Sometimes my mouth works faster than my off switch."
"No, you just beat me to it."
"You won't get in trouble, will you?"
"Only with myself."
She was clearly puzzled.
"I handle things like that. Actually, it's flattering."
"Yeah." He scratched his head, one hand in his pocket. "Found in a room with a pretty woman like you— Sorry, now I need my off switch."
"Could be worse things."
"Yeah, we could've been naked."
© 2015 Dellani Oakes