(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?”
“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?”
“WHY MUST YOU – oh, please,” Harry’s voice dropped at the sight of Jerry’s silly grin.
“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.”
“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.
“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.”
“That French guy…Gerald? Gerard!”
“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.”
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.