By Ted Stetson
    Published by Three Door Publishing
    Copyright 2011 Ted Stetson
    Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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    Cover art by Ruxandra Papp
    by Ted Stetson
    Linda Moon walked down the long hall
of Summerville Nursing Home. Today the smells weren't that bad. The
hall didn't reek of urine and shit and there was no odor of puke.
And the stench of chlorine, ammonia and cleanser wasn't terrible.
In the morning after breakfast, the hall was usually empty, not
that it made it any safer. A barren hall with gray tile floors and
plain walls without a railing could only be so safe. But, at least,
breakfast carts weren’t in the way, and the floor was
    A wet floor was worst of all. Sharon
Britt had broken her hip because she’d slipped on the wet floor.
They said Britt should have been in bed after taking her meds, but
Linda knew the truth. Even though Britt had insurance, the
ambulance had taken her to the welfare hospital where the new
doctors, probably that Danny Slocombe, had practiced some
procedure. Maybe they'd get it right this time and she’d be back in
another week. Another week they kept on saying, and she'd be in a
wheelchair and they’d send her to the convalescent clinic. Hardly
anybody came back from there.
    Linda walked into the pale green
activity room. A few chairs and tables were occupied. On the pale
green walls were scenic pictures that were supposed to put the
residents in good spirits. A small radio-CD player on the other
side of the room had Nate King Cole singing the same song every
day. She passed Larry and Richard playing gin rummy. They weren't
supposed to gamble, but boys will be boys, even when they're
eighty-year-old grumps. Larry laughed as she walked past, which
meant Richard had cheated and won again and Larry didn't have the
guts to tell him. Larry smelled like he bathed in that cheap
aftershave his grandkids gave him and Richard like he needed a
    "Good Morning, Mrs. Moon," Richard said as she
walked past.
    "Yeah," she crabbed back at him and
Larry laughed again.
    Powell, a new worker in spotless
white pants and shirt, sat down with them. His eyes were sunken and
his cheeks hollow from drinking, but they must not have noticed it
when they interviewed him for the job. Of course, they noticed
everything about the residents so they could charge them extra.
Powell dropped a handful of coins on the table, probably loose
change he ‘borrowed’ from the residents. "Only have time for a few
hands," he said.
    Larry laughed. Even though her back
was to them, she would bet Larry and Richard exchanged a secret nod
only a hungover drunk like Powell would miss, that they were going
to cheat him. But it really didn't matter. Powell stole from
someone in the nursing home and these two would steal it back.
Griffin used to say he'd won his old quarter back so many times he
couldn't count the marks he'd made on it.
    She turned one of the bridge chairs
toward the window and sat down. One day she wished they would open
the window and she could smell the outdoors, but someone had once
complained of a draft so everyone had to suffer. She reached in her
big bag and took out a small toy. It was a plastic chrome miniature
knight, without a horse or sword, standing straight and tall. When
her grand nephew visited last year he said it would keep her safe.
She didn't think it would, but at her age she wasn't going against
any mojo, even one made-up by her nephew. She took her knitting

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