Mac Eagan

(Mac Eagan appears here with Gary Clark and Michael Stang in “Stand Up Guise”) Good evening from the towers that are A Word with You Press near Friendship Square in Moscow.  Just getting ready to turn out the lights and head home when there is a knock on my computer.  And who could it be?  …

(Mac Eagan appears here with Gary Clark and Michael Stang in “Stand Up Guise”)

Good evening from the towers that are A Word with You Press near Friendship Square in Moscow.  Just getting ready to turn out the lights and head home when there is a knock on my computer.  And who could it be?  Mac Eagan. Sending in a story for our nude contest in honor of Peggy Dodds.  In fact, the contest title is The First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of-Passage Contest.  It has been a while since we have heard from Mac, and I must say, seniority has its privileges. We have a backlog of stories to post, but I put him at the head of the queue just because. (It’s great to be king!)

Here is Mac Eagan’s first entry into our contest, which accepts submissions up til Thanksgiving.

 

Barry, Harry, and Jerry–Mail Call

by Mac Eagan

 

“You ready?” Jerry bellowed as he entered Harry’s room at the Shady Days Assisted Living Center.

“Sheesh, don’t you ever knock?”

“What for?”

“Decency – I might have been getting dressed or something.”

“Knocking wouldn’t matter none if you was getting dressed. You woulda been hiding in the bathroom.”

“Excuse me? Hiding in – ”

“You always was prissy like that. Since we was kids. You ready?” Jerry’s voice filled every corner of the room.

“No, I’m not ready. And why must you shout all the time?”

“What?!”

“WHY MUST YOU – oh, please,” Harry’s voice dropped at the sight of Jerry’s silly grin.

“Gotcha.”

“You did.”

“Every time.”

“Still, you should at least knock. Try showing some manners. All the nurses knock before coming in.”

“They don’t for me.”

“Of course they do. They’re professionals.”

“They used to, but they don’t any more.”

“That’s ridiculous. Why would they stop – what did you do?”

“Oh, just having fun. Nurse knocks. Says, ‘Are you decent?’ I say, ‘Hold on a sec.’  Then,” Jerry paused, “I tell her it’s OK to come in.”

“And by then you’re completely undressed.” Harry rolled his eyes.

“Nothing they ain’t seen before. Now, they don’t knock. Guess surprising me ain’t no worse than just coming in.”

“You’re unbelievable.”

“What’s unbelievable is you’re not ready yet. Barry’ll be here in thirty minutes to watch the game.”

“And it takes less than two minutes to walk down to the TV room. I’m still eating my lunch.”

Jerry used Harry’s fork to lift the edge of a gravy-covered puck.

“Put my Salisbury steak down,” said Harry.

“I don’t know what a ‘sow’s berry’ is, but I’m pretty sure this ain’t steak.”

“It’s a beef patty.”

“Hmmm.  Me, I always get the peanut butter sandwich.”

“I don’t see how you can eat the same thing every day.”

“I don’t. Today I had a soft taco and rice.”

Harry took the fork away from Jerry, then paused for a moment.  “Tacos weren’t on the menu today.”

“I know. I said I always get the peanut butter sandwich.”

“Jerry, I’m too old for this. I know everything in your brain connects somehow, but just tell me.” Harry looked at the puck, the synthetic shine on the gravy and the Technicolor green peas, and lost his appetite.

“You know Jamie, the day janitor? He brings his lunch. His wife’s from Mexico. Some days we trade.”

Harry was still a little baffled. “He trades you authentic Mexican food for a peanut butter sandwich?”

“Peanut butter and jelly. And an apple. Oh, and the five dollar bill I put on top of the sandwich.”

Jerry walked over to the only other chair in the room and sat down as someone knocked.

“Mail call,” came a female voice from the hallway.

“Hold on a sec,” Jerry called out as he stood and grabbed his belt buckle.

“Sit down!  And keep your clothes on.” He turned towards the door. “Come in.”

Jerry frowned, but remained standing.  A blond woman in her early twenties came in.  She set several envelopes next to Harry’s lunch tray.

“Are you still working on this, or should I take it?”

“You can have it. Thanks.”

She smiled and left the room.

Harry picked up the envelopes and shuffled through them.

“Nothing of importance,” he said. He held them out.  “Jerry, would you mind putting these on the stand beside the bed?”

“My pleasure.” With a slow underhand pitch Jerry sent them into a high arc over the bed.  Two landed on the stand and slid to a stop but the third separated from the pack and hit the floor.

“Jerry!”

“I’ll get them – keep your pants on.”

“You’re the one who needs to be keeping his pants on.”

“Funny.”  Jerry picked the envelope off the floor and put it on the stand next to an existing stack. He picked up the second stack and thumbed through them.  Jerry pulled out one and waved it at Harry.

“You haven’t filled this out yet?”

“What? The sweepstakes?  Nobody wins those.”

“Sure they do.  I saw them on a TV commercial.”

“Those are just actors.”

“Too ugly to be actors.  They were real.”

“There are ugly actors.”

“Name one.”

“Steve Buscemi.”

“Someone else.”

“That French guy…Gerald? Gerard!”

“Dippy-do?”

“Depardieu.”

“Maybe.  Why haven’t you filled this out?”

“Nobody wins; especially not me.”

“You don’t win because you don’t play.”

“I don’t win because I don’t win.  Besides, the deadline is today and the mail has already run.”

“Today’s mail delivery is yesterday’s mail.  The mailman arrives around 3:00; I’ve seen him from the TV room.  The facility sorts the mail for the residents, then delivers the next day. Harry, I swear, I promise, it’s not too late.  We fill this thing out, take it to the front desk, it gets picked up and postmarked today, and you’re in.”

“It’s a waste of time.”

“What else are you going to do with your time?”  Jerry had already opened the envelope and emptied it, and was searching Harry’s room.

“Here.”  Harry held out a silver pen.

Ten minutes later they were standing at the reception desk.  Jerry put the envelope in front of a nurse.

“This needs to go out in today’s mail. Harry thinks he’s gonna be a millionaire.”

“Leave it there on the counter and I’ll take care of it.”

Harry and Jerry went to the TV room.  They called Barry to make sure he was coming.  He said he thought it was supposed to be next weekend.

As they left the TV room after the game, Jerry took a quick look at the reception desk.  The envelope was still there.  He hurried over.

“Has the mail guy not come yet?”

The nurse looked confused, then saw the envelope.  Harry was now standing next to Jerry.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” said the nurse, “I completely forgot.  I guess it will have to go tomorrow.”

Harry sighed. “I told you, Jerry, I don’t win…because I never win.”

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Before you end up in a nursing home, you could enter our contest…I swear, it’s not too late. Details on the home page.

31 comments

  1. tlrelf says:

    I so could not live in a nursing home. . .However, if these guys were down the hall, we could create all kinds of trouble together! A fun read. . .and be sure to put this home on THAT list. . .elder abuse for sure!

    • Mac Eagan says:

      Sure you could not live in a nursing home? Not even one run by Boorteans?
      Thanks for the read and the comments.

  2. Parisianne Modert says:

    I like how your conversations stay engaged and lively back and forth. This allows me as a reader to stay connected with the scene and with each of the main characters. Well done.

  3. barbkeeling says:

    My Mom lived in an assisted living place for nearly 10 years. Sounds so like that. Wonderful when simple things are so important. Enjoyed that patter which kept me glued to the word frolic.

  4. Having worked at a nursing home, those men were perfect characters. I’ve seen those guys, fed those guys, helped change those guys diapers… the guy that waits to get undressed… ya… he is there. Loved this little romp.

    • Mac Eagan says:

      Oddly enough, my wife also worked at a nursing home when she was just out of high school, although these characters are not based (specifically) on any of the patients she helped take care of. Would you believe the idea came from an old married couple? That and several bits and pieces I have gathered from all over the place. Thank you, Tiffany.

  5. Ripped from the pages of a Hollyood script, I swear Celtex could not have written this better. Mac, the dialog is flawless, flawless! And you made it your own with the ending. The stuff of American Idol? No. So you think you can dance? On certain terms. Would I play a five hundred dollar chip in the machine? You bet my knee cane I would.

    • Mac Eagan says:

      Ahhh, Mike, I never thought I could dance but you certainly make me want to sing. Thank you very much.

  6. Diane Cresswell says:

    Oh ya – Mac has returned in full flavor!!! This is outstanding and you nailed the characters. Could see the old guys so clearly. I agree with Michael – great script. You have been just sitting in your typing cave just waiting to bring this one out into the light haven’t you??? Glad you did!

    • Mac Eagan says:

      Thank you, Sal. If I could just get the small fry to stay away, I’d be set. She’s talking herself into entering this one but, if I know her, it will be one of the last stories sent in.

        • Mac Eagan says:

          Oh, she’s still writing. But she’s getting to that age where she wants to do her own thing with her peers instead of showing off in front of my friends. I keep dropping hints in front of her about the great stuff here that she is missing out on. I think she will be back.

          • Salvatore Buttaci says:

            Many are bitten by the writing bug early on life. I was nine. Once bitten, it doesn’t matter how far they stray. As a teen I liked stick ball and boxing, both of which took up my time and kept me from writing poems and stories, but the itch was always there. Whenever sorrow came, I took to the pen. Whenever joy showed her face, I filled pages and pages with happy words. One I’d scratched away the insistent writing urge, I’d settle back and get wrapped into other ventures like nonstop reading. Once I reached my fifties I knew how much I absolutely loved writing to the point where I committed myself to writing every single day.

          • Mac Eagan says:

            Well, you’ll be pleased to know “her own thing with her peers” is still writing. It just happens that she *lowers voice* – don’t tell Thorn this – found another site for posting her work. I had to join it just so I could keep an eye on her, but it is way too large and doesn’t have the great feedback and camaraderie that is found here. But many of her classmates are there and, most of the time, I’m not.

          • Salvatore Buttaci says:

            I respect parents who keep tabs on their kids, though your daughter sounds trustworthy and sensible. Maybe she can write for us here and at the other larger one?

  7. Glclark says:

    One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Bucket List, and Grumpy Old men all rolled into one. This is probably my favorite of all your writing, Mac. Characterization, humor, and a shadow of pathos all wrapped up beautifully in this story. You never fail to amaze me…….

    • Mac Eagan says:

      Hiya, Cowboy!
      It does my heart good to see that you picked up on the pathos thing. I wanted it to be subtle but I may have overshot the mark.
      I am up for any suggestions on how I might have been able to bring it a little more to the front without it clashing.
      Thank you very much for your observations.

      • Glclark says:

        Mac – Don’t change a thing. You did not overshoot the pathos. It’s just that I saw that and was proud of your characterization skills. These guys are wonderful and you did not overshoot the mark. It’s all there – the guys are what they are and I love them.
        BTW – Wouldn’t it be fun if we dropped Granny into that nursing home?

  8. barbkeeling says:

    What fun, why not take your story on the road. Some assisted living or Senior park who would get a kick out of it all done as a read out-loud play. They’d “get it”. I get it, I am in my 80’s

    • Mac Eagan says:

      Only if Clark and Stang go with me. I’ll be Harry, Mike can be Jerry and that leaves Gary to put on a dress and play the part of Granny.

    • Mac Eagan says:

      Bronwyn, thanks for the nod. And the pick-up on the sadness. I had to get suggestions from my beta-readers on how to present the last line, and I still think I left it too understated. But I really do appreciate your feedback; I know I at least pointed the ending in the right direction.

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