Friday, June 16, 2006

Mal wandered the halls, mind wandering as he passed the large windows, shafts of late afternoon sunlight lighting his face in random bursts. It was strangely quiet for a Sunday afternoon. Most of the residents were in their rooms, asleep or doing whatever it was that they did when left alone. He came across few visitors, eyed them warily with trepidation and tried to look busy. His white coat was wrinkled and creased; no chance to iron it the past few days. A strain of piano-laced cabaret music fled down the hall ahead of him from Mr. Poransi's room. He paused, his tiny food cart wobbling to a stop ahead of him. Burst of too-loud laughter from the entertainment room. Must have been watching the Oldies channel.

The walkie-talkie at his waist crackled, and he jumped, startled.

"Mal, did you sign out Mrs. M? She's not on the premises, and wasn't supposed to be out today." Evie at the front desk. Worrier, too organized, anal-retentive. Good attention to detail. Too much stress. Snuck pills from storage on the late shift.

"No I did not. I haven't seen her today either, maybe she went for tea again? Ask Carl, he may know. Will call if I see her." Sighed and glanced at his watch. Another hour to go. The retirement home was quiet, a rambling old estate surrounded by a few acres of park. Family was always welcome to visit, but so few really did that there was little point in setting official visitng hours. He felt sorry for the residents, who had little in the way of entertainment and less in love and support. The staff was stretched thin these days, a blessing in disguise for him since it let him grab extra hours to pay for expenses. He ran a hand through his brown hair and set off to find the wayward Mrs. M.

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