Memories

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Watching the minutes slowly tick past on the generic clock, the nurse made the last of his rounds. Walking from bed to bed, checking to see if the patients were well, or at least not dead. The nurse was almost to caught up with the droning of his life to hear his name. “Andy” an old wispy voice let out. Startled, the nurse turned to see old men eyeing his nametag. “I once knew an Andy.” The nurse knew what to do, often the elderly patients went on tangents about their lives, and he would always pretend to listen respectfully. “Oh really?” asked the nurse feigning interest, “why don’t you tell me about him.” So Andy sat down, preparing for another long story of boredom and exaggerated half-truths. “he was a real guy that Andy, he’s the one that started all stealing” said the old man casually slapping his toothless gums. The nurse was intrigued for the first time by a patient’s story; he leaned in closer. “Yes, he knew we needed the money, he knew it was the only way.” A short cough, “he was odd though, not very usual behavior for a lad”. “I remember this one time, me and the others were with Andy…”
Soon the nurse was completely drawn into the story, eyes closed, letting images of the story fill his mind.


Hooting and Howling, we ran from the gas station, full of an odd mixture of joy, pride, and anxiety. We ran like lightening, we ran like thunder, we ran through the woods, and over bridges, until we were sure we were far away from any police that might be looking for us. Andy, was acting like a leader to us, he was holding the sack full of our new treasure.. If I remember right it was me, Andy, Reo, and um Anthony I think his name was. All of us were standing in a circle staring at the brown bag full of money, like starved dogs staring at a steak. “We’d better get a move on” said Andy staring at us with the eyes of a man that was neither child nor adult. We all let out a tired moan and set back towards home with hungry smiles. Like a miniature parade of hoodlums, we hiked through the dark, back to deserted inn that we called home. Andy never walked with us, he always stayed just far ahead of us so we could not here his mumblings. For someone so young, he had many problems. Eventually the trees thinned after walking for an a long time and we saw “Le Buffle Amer”. I still haven’t seen such a beautiful place since I left. I remember the sign was still half visible above the door. What we called home was a pit, no electricity, no heat, but fortunately the former owner was fond of candles. But it was still our home. On the front step, Debra flashed us a stained smile, and told us to hurry up and come inside.


There must have been fifteen, no sixteen of us living there in that place, no one stayed for ever, every month someone new would join us, or an old friend would leave for ever. But life was good, free from the law, free from responsibility. Gathering around the table everyone gazed with big eyes as Andy dumped the day’s profit on the table. “There must be 600 dollars right there” Anthony called out, everyone was relieved, we would make it through another month. Around the table everyone was hugging everyone except Andy, he stood there, staring at the pile of cash with cold eyes. He never did a thing for himself, it was always for the community. In my whole life I have never met a kinder man. Debra had us clean up the table so we could eat our meager stew of life. Quietly Andy crept out through the back door, I followed him. “I can’t deal with this” he told the air around him. “All of this crap, the stealing, the running, the hiding, I’m eighteen god damn it!” He turned and saw me, “sorry” he apologized, “this life of ours just isn’t right, ya know?” Before that moment, I had never thought about it as right or wrong, it was a matter of life or death. “We never chose to be here” I told him, trying more to persuade myself we were in the right more then him. “Then who did?” he screamed, “what kind of sick joke is it to have children fend for themselves?” I looked into his cold dark eyes; the hardened eyes were dripping with tears. “I can’t live this life anymore.”


And both the patient’s, and the nurse’s eyes were dripping with their own tears. “What happened to Andy?” Asked the patient, unaware that his shift had ended nearly two hours ago. “I woke up in the next morning and he was gone.” ‘BEEP BEEP’ the nurse’s pager was signaling him to start up his next shift in the retirement home. The nurse risked the time to ask another question to the old man. “What did you do?” “What else could we have done?” the old man questioned “we followed him.” For a few seconds they just stared into each other’s eyes, “thank you” said the nurse.





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