Al moves the checker--[pfft]--across the board, but his mind is elsewhere. 1:45 p.m. Still fifteen minutes to wait until the best part of his day. Longest fifteen minutes of his gosh-darned life--and he'd fought in 'Nam. .
[Thinks] Pat on the back, Al, you censored yourself even in your thoughts. Just goes to show you can still grow as a person even when you're 88 and your legs have gone to shit.
"Al, your go again."
"Alright, alright, Ralph." [Pffft]
Today he'd tell him about the farm. Place sat in the most perfect cleft of land in North Georgia, where--at a certain time of year when winter gave way to spring--you could stand in the field, watch sun and moon face each other. Dew on the grass sparkled, marble-size, in morning sun. And there was that one godforsaken cow that thought he could croon like Sinatra but even his moo sounded just wrong. It had to be a crime for a cow to moo like that.
A laugh tries to bubble up at the memory. Al stifles it. Ralph'll just ask what's so funny, then Al will explain as usual, and Ralph will squint, shrug, look back at the checkerboard, leaving Al to feel like his sister Becky when she got stood up for that dance of some sort all those years ago.
[Pfft] "Got your piece again, Al."
"Oh. Damn." [Pfft] .
Back to Becky's dance.
What was that dance? Becky would've remembered, if she was here. Hell, how Becky would laugh if he brought up that awful cow! They used to poke it sometimes, make it moo, then she'd double over cackling. One time she did that and fell over, right into a patty. Cow's revenge. .
He stifles another laugh.
He'll tell Alistair about that when he comes in... three minutes. Thank God. And what kind of a name is Alistair, anyway? He'd tease him about that. Kids these days and their sissy names. .
The front door of the nursing home jingles when it opens. Al sits up a little too quickly, rubs the pain in his back. Here comes Alistair with that absurdly colorful bowtie and weak-ass mustache... that glint to his eyes that says "You matter." (Cont'd in the comments.)
"Hey, Al," he says, pulls up a chair.
"Hey, Al--or are you too fancy to have a nickname like mine?"
Alistair laughs. Al starts talking about the farm. Alistair listens, listens so intently that Al is certain he can see the rolling hills reflected in his eyes. Alistair never knew the farm--never knew Al before he became a volunteer three weeks ago, for that matter--but anyone who knew the farm or knew Al was... well, they wasn't here. That's for damn sure.
But Alistair is here, and he listens like he cares. So Al curses and teases, talks and reminisces... and for two hours every Wednesday afternoon, Al is seen.