An Older Type of Care

It's a mistake to think one automatically becomes genteel with age.

In the Gutter, the only thing time brings is a thirst for revenge.

An Older Type of Care by Beau Johnson

“I never thought it would end like this, Rider.  Not with another man’s dick down my throat.”

It’d been years between now and the last time the Detective and I had done our bit.  Retired from the job, Batista had gone on his way, fishing and the life of a cabin-man his reward.  Me, I continued on, but slower, finding rage could age just fine.  It was a surprise, then, when the man up and made contact. 

Liver spots covered him now, a flurry, and nothing like back in the day.  His hair was gone too, all of it, save for the beard.  If he asked me to, I’d have put him down.  This how much I’d come to respect this man.  I say this not only because of the monster which ate at him, but for the Alzheimer’s as well. 

It is said that God can show mercy.   Taking in the machines and fluids Batista was hooked into, I say He has forgotten and died.

“This isn’t an isolated case either, Rider.  I’ve done my homework.”  I agreed with him, even before I started digging into it myself.  What we shared, my family’s demise, it does things to men like Batista and I, breeding a certain type of contempt for a particular type of man.  One step beyond is what allowed us to do the things most would not.  I am not wrong in stating as much, not when innocents are involved.

It started at night, first with missing time and then with something more.  The nurse’s name had been Gish, Robert J.  Six months removed from his last position in another rest home and here he was, in Batista’s rest home, preying on men weaker than he.  Tall and gaunt, Gish wore Buddy Holly frames above a blade-like nose.  An Ichabod Crane type, though in reverse, predator instead of prey.

“And you think he’s doctoring the meds?  That about the long and short of it?”  It was rhetorical, really, what I was on about, but Batista looked as though he needed to let it out.  Figured I was as good a target as any.

“You haven’t changed, have you, Rider?”  I couldn’t and would never, and only because I picture them still---my mother and sister as alive in my heart today as the day my search began.  Finding them as I did is what sealed the deal, showing me how broken our system truly was, their remains the last clean breath I’d ever come to take.   “Not that I’d expect you to.  And really, I can’t even say why I’d entertain the idea, even now.  Honestly, if the cancer doesn’t get me first, I swear the Alzheimer’s just might take away everything we’ve ever done.”  Same old Batista: heart on his sleeve.  The shirt was older now, sure, and clearly near the end of the wash, but the man was still the closest thing I had to a friend, wanted or otherwise.  I’d be good to remember as much.

Done, I told him I would do what he asked; that he’d had me the moment I picked up the phone.  He smiled at that, there in his bed, his old man face for a moment close to the man I began this journey with.  Pillows behind him, propping himself up, he growls one last thing:  “Do me a favor? Before you do him, make sure the goddamn bastard bleeds some, will ya?”  Not a problem, the night nurse an easier mark than I thought once I got him secured. 

Piece of scum taped to a chair, I’d taken Gish to a place I’d kept, one of the smaller ones.  Brought back old memories, did this, to a time when my arms were stronger than the tools I had come to lean upon.

“You know why you’re here?”  He did.  His eyes telling me as much: silent but for staring me down.  I told him anyway, listing every ailment of each senior he’d drugged and then forced himself into.  Finished, he finds his balls: tells me to fuck myself, and that I couldn’t have had it more wrong.

“They wanted me to,” is what he says, his eyes big and wide, like O’s.  I wasn’t buying.  Not after everything I’ve seen; the crazy he was trying to produce as far from real as real could get.  Wasn’t until the gun came out that we got to the business of what he really was.
“No,” he pleads.   “Just please…not my face.  Not my face!  My mother, man!”

Ok.  The face it was then.

Batista would understand.  

In Canada, with his wife and three boys, Beau Johnson lives, writes and breathes. He has been published before, on the darker side of town. Such places might include Underground Voices, the Molotov Cocktail, and Shotgun Honey. He would like it to be known that it is an honor to be here, down in the Gutter