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Memories from a Nursing Home
“You want to know what happened, right?”An old man looked at a young boy. The young boy nods his head “Good, well here is what happened, about sixty-five years ago, I met this young man named James. He was twenty-two years old I was just turning eighteen. He would get drunk, then walk through the neighborhood, cursing at no one in general. Well one day I went to the old Miller house. Their youngest child lives there now, you know. Anyway, my mom had just made some soup and wanted me to take it to Mrs. Miller, she had pneumonia again. With her husband and youngest son off at war, no one was there to take care of her. Her first boy, Mathew, lived way down in Florida and she didn't want him to come all the way up to Indiana. So my Momma told my Poppa that she would do anything she could to help Mrs. Miller.
“Well, on the way up there, I ran into James. He was new to town then so I introduced myself and asked how he was, but all he replied was 'Go to hell.' Pardon the language boy. Ignoring him I walked up to Mrs. Miller's house.
“When I got there the radio was on so I knocked on the door and asked 'Mrs. Miller, are you up?'
“She replied 'Yes son just listen'n to my radio. What you momma bring me this time?'
“ 'Just some of her famous potato soup. I think she even packed you some saltines this time.' I told her. 'You got anymore letters from 'em, yet?'
“ 'Sure did, dey came in dis morning, I couldn't get thems open though.' she said handing me the letters.
“ 'You want me to open them for you?' I asked grabbing the envelope.
'If yous wanta.' she replied waving the gesture off.
“ 'Here you go' I said handing back the letters. 'I'll be back later to check on you for momma,' I told her as I was walking out the door. That one was one of her good days.
“I had walked to 'the Getting Place' by the time I noticed some one followin' me. So's I turned around lookin' for who it was. To my surprise it was James, drunk as a skunk. He was just wobblin down the road, he went right past me before he jumped in front of Henry Smith's 1942 Oldsmobile. Luckily Mr. Smith had hit his brakes in time. I ran up to James and asked if he was alright but he just shrugged me off and told me to leave him alone. So I did, but I watched as he walked down the road and turned to go out of town.
“Mr. Smith, are you alright?” I asked.
“ 'Yes, is James alright?' he asked
“Yeah, I think so, he left before I could ask him anything else.” I told Mr. Smith. I went about my business after that.
“A year later a body had been found dumped in the woods near James' house. He kept going to AA meetings to try to quit drinking but they weren't helping him much. Everybody in town automatically pointed the murder at James. For a while I believed it myself. It turned out to Mrs. Miller, poor thing she wasn't hurtin anybody. When her husband came back from the war, he was devastated. The day after they talked to the town they arrested James. He stayed in Indianapolis for two months, when he came back people thought he had escaped from prison and was hiding out here. I started to go around his place mostly because people wanted for me to snoop around. The first time I went he asked if I wanted some whiskey. I declined saying 'I never touch the stuff.'
“ 'Good, don't,' he mumbled. It appeared that he was sober for once. ' It'll just ruin ya's life.'
“What'd it do to you?” I asked thinking I could pump him for information.
“ 'Ya don't want to know,' He replied. “'How old are ya?'
“Nineteen.' I said backing away. “My name is Willy, Willy Ginson.'
“ 'Oh nice to meet ya Willy. I've been trying to kick the habit for a awhile.' he said gesturing to the bottle.
“Everyone's noticed' I told him without thinking.
“ 'What ya say?' he asked titling his head as if he hadn't heard me.
“Nothin' sir' I told him.
“ 'I ain't no sir, just call me James.' He said .
“Oh, okay James, well I have to go my date will be waiting on me, so I'll be going.' I told him waving.
“ 'Come back again soon, ya hear.' he called after.
“So I left, but everyday after that I went back there. I talked to him and soon we were friends. I even helped him to quit drinking. He was always nice, but one time the police came, looking for him again. They didn't have any grounds to arrest him but they still questioned him. The next day they came back and arrested him again. James told me the cops had searched his place and questioned him. He also told me that he was innocent and boy he meant it, 'cause he swore on his mother's grave that he was innocent. That was when I went to visit him in the prison. People began to talk about his arrest and that he would be found guilty.
“There was a trial held in April, everybody in town went. They did all the people that was involved in the investigation on first. They put James on last. The trial was going awful bad, ' cause James had been drunk the night of the murder. Right before the jury went into the room a man came in the court room screaming and a howlerin'.
“That man pointed his finger at James and yelled ' Who do you think you are taking credit for my murder?'
“The man tried to stab James but the Bailiff got him. James was off the block for this one the Judge even said so, but a few years after that James admitted that he had killed a man a couple of years before he moved to Brookville.”
“Who?” the curios kid asked.
“Well he didn't tell me a name.” I told the boy.
“What happened after he told you that?” the kid really wanted to know more.
“Your mom is waiting for you kid. Come back again and I will tell you more.” he said helping the kid off the chair.
“Okay.” the kid said after walked away with his mother. The old man just sat there talking to he next person that sat down, telling the story over and over again.