Sunday, June 18, 2006


Mal made anothert tour of the home, checking on various cases as he made his rounds. Checked off that each resident received his evening medicine, stopped in a few rooms to chat for a minute or two about the day, the weather, how this season's sports teams were doing. Mrs. M still hadn't shown up by the time he slotted his time card and signed out for the evening. He wrote a quick report, left it with the front desk for the night shift.

The afternoon and early evening sun gave way in the south to a bank of thunderclouds, dark and menacing on the horizon. Rain before the night was out, he was sure. Even as he watched, lighting flickered through the storm and a cold wind picked up. Reached up to adjust his glasses and checked the his messenger bag was closed all the way.

The first drops were just beginning to fall as he unlocked his apartment, the crescent moon of previous nights now hidden for the duration of the storm. The place wasn't in the best part of town, but at least management kept things tidy, and the rent was cheap. Mal never saw his roommate. A few years older than he was, the man made an art form of entering and leaving with minimal noise. Paid his rent on time, and kept his portion of the kitchen tidy. No reason to complain. Mal threw together a quick sandwich, checked his email as he ate. Nothing new. An hour later he was in bed, fast asleep.

Mrs. M wandered in the next morning, looking slightly confused and partially dazed. Her pupils were dilated, and she made repeated mention of “that nice man at the cozy house.” After a checkup by the resident doctor she was given a sleeping pill and led back to her room with orders not to leave the premises unaccompanied.

Bobby was in charge of the front desk. Jittery, his cracked Garfield mug close to hand. The desk a scattered mass of papers, pens, inkwell – where did he get inkwells from, and whatever for? - random office paraphernalia that always seemed to accumulate around him no matter where he went.

“Hiya Mal. Might wanna be careful... Abrahams is up in arms over the whole Mrs. M debacle, and looking to tear somebody a new asshole. Coffee?”

“Thank you, no. Which cup are you on? Never mind, it doesn't matter. Did she ever show up?”

“Like a lost kitty comin' home. They tranq'd her and locked her in her room. She's out like a light, shouldn't be up again til tonight. Supposed to have an hourly check anyways though, and since you're the first one here, hey look! You get to look in on her.” Manic grin as he took a swallow of coffee.

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