Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blindness and Rain

I've used all my wood keeping the van warm these past nights so must prowl the edges of the Harbour looking for drifting planks off houses and boats from shipwrecks long ago. OR start using the wharf as firewood. It's like 45 F here. This is preferable to the 103 F that Boston is suffering through right now.
I'm reluctant to drive again after a few weeks without the van moving. Who knows what will go wrong with it. But there is no option.

Last night I visited Harbourview Manor, the local elderly home since I saw a flier looking for
entertainment. I brought my guitar and played all the songs I've been playing over in the restaurant on the island. Bound Down For Newfoundland, Now I'm 64, Petty Harbour Bait Skiff. And others. A man seated near me kept saying, "How much does a guitar like that cost?" Right in the middle of my song.
"$300" I'd say and mess up the melody.
"How much does a guitar like that cost?" he repeated...
And he asked that about 20 times.
"Sounds real good." he would say randomly. "And how much does..."
I was patient. Maybe he didn't remember my answer or if he had asked. Short term memory had vanished. Pretty soon I had forgotten if he had asked.
"$300." I said again.
"He'll just keep asking..." said the nurse.
I nodded.
"I'm from New Hampshire. Anyone know where that is?"
"Sounds real good..."
It was like doing a standup routine in a mortuary.
"OK. Here's a song called 'Rubber Boots." I announced and began to play an Irish waltz.
"How much a guitar like that cost?"

Then I butchered the toy keyboard trying to play Joe Cocker and Barry Manilow.
"Last Night, we said goodbye, now it seems years...," I sang out of tune until a resident turned up his radio so I could only hear accordion tunes down the hall. That was my cue to leave but the nurse served me tea biscuits and a piece of banana bread with two fellas from Cartwright.
"What's this?" said one, poking his fork at a green thing on his plate.
"That's a Kiwi," I said. "They're good. From New Zealand, I think. Mmmmmm." I bit my Kiwi.
He poked it again and tasted it. His taste buds were dull. He was indifferent.
"How much that guitar cost?" yelled the man from his easy chair.

A white haired woman pushed on a door that had a sign "STOP" on it. I remembered passing the Edgewood center in Portsmouth on my way to PHS and a similar woman (now dead) was scratching at the door and pointing at it like, "Let me out. I'll pay you with candy corn."

One day, if you're careful, you'll end up here at Harbourview Manor, picking weeds from the memory garden and listening to strangers play tunes you vaguely remember.
"Sounds real good."
"Thank you. My pleasure."
"How much does a guitar like that cost?"

I finished my bread and tea. The television turned back on and a glossy show came on with tight editing and makeup. A man with slippers on shuffled by using a walker. His eyebrows fell over his eyes.

I bussed my table and a pretty Labrador nurse was in the kitchen cleaning the stainless steel. Was she wearing a wedding ring? My eye was too blinded by bacteria to tell.
I said hello and packed up my stuff and walked into the rain falling on the Memory Garden.
"How much does that...?" called the man through the door as it closed.

If I could live on Kiwi and tea biscuits I think I could make a good career out of playing the old age home circuit. Eventually, I'll have my own room overlooking the memory garden.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.