At the Starting Gates

And they’re off…sort of

Stewart, Emma, Mildred, Franklin, SueBeth, Rona, and Mabel all had nearly identical walkers lined up against the wall. Eventually, after dinner they would peel them away and go about their separate business. They didn’t collude or plan to line them all up together. It just happened that way.

SueBeth was the first to finish her dessert and head for the walkers. She took the first available walker.

Franklin was seated next to the array of mobility devices, and said, “It’s not yours, SueBeth. That’s mine. Yours I think is the second from the other end.”

She stepped back and steadied herself against Franklin’s shoulder. She saw they were all identical, all black with black rubber handles and a basket under the seat

“How do you know?” she asked.

“I just know these things.”

“You say this one is yours?”

“Yep, the one you just grabbed. I have my initials embroidered on it somewhere. I’ll know.”

Mabel and Stewart were the next two to finish dinner and traipse over to their walkers.

Stewart saw the problem right away. Even if he could remember the order his was in, he wasn’t the last to push it against the wall.

“Stewart,” Franklin said, “I think yours is the fourth from the left, and Mabel, yours is to the right of Stewart’s.”

“Yeah, but what if I don’t want to take my walker?” Mabel said, pushing off from Franklin’s shoulder. “What if I want to just grab the first one I see and deal with it later?”

“Your choice, I guess,” Franklin said. “I think you know that’s probably not the best idea here. I don’t know why you guys don’t have some colored string hanging from the bottom of your walker to identify it.”

SueBeth said, “Where’s your identifying string as you call it?”

“I didn’t say I had one. I just said it’d be nice if we all had one. Then we wouldn’t be having these problems.”

Mabel yanked the first walker away from the wall and headed towards the elevator.

“Hey, where’re you going with my walker?” Franklin asked.

“What’s the trouble here?” Emma asked.

“Mabel just grabbed my walker and is probably in California by now the way she took off.”

“They look all the same to me, Frankie boy,” Emma said. “Let it go. They’re all in great condition. They’re all black and they’re ours for the taking.”

 “Don’t call me Frankie boy, and no, they’re not ours for the taking. I paid cash money for that. Insurance wouldn’t cover mine. A couple hundred bucks if I remember right.”

“Won’t one of the other ones do?” Emma asked.

Rona and Mildred approached the walkers, and Mildred asked, “What seems to be the trouble here? Getting in a fight over walkers?”

“Well, Mabel took mine and I want it back.”

“What’s the big deal, Franklin?” said Mildred. “They’re all the same, though I suppose you have forbidden candy in yours, which is why you’re being so protective.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mildred. Candy’s forbidden unless the nurses dole it out. Then they pander to us and call it a treat. Some treat. Pfft. I just want my walker back.”

Franklin continued to mutter about his walker being stolen while Mildred watched him.

“Er, Franklin, was it milk or dark chocolate that was in your basket?”

He looked up at Mildred with a sneer. “What business is it of yours, Millie girl? See, how do you like that butchering of your name? Dark. Milk. Both. Who knows what my daughter packed inside it. It was a gift and I want it back.”

“I think the phrase is, ‘busted!’ Not that I’m gonna turn you in for something as meaningless as candy. There are more important things in life to get upset over.”

“Want some when Mabel returns it, Mildred?”

“Sure. Love the dark stuff myself. Shh. Don’t tell ‘em. They’ll just spoil it.”


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