(Here the reclusive Mac Eagan discusses the pranks he played in the nursing home)
Oops! I meant BUZZER!
Literati! I think what he meant is he is trying to beat the odd couple–oops!–I mean beat the odds! Ya get three chances to win $500 by submitting up to three entries in our contest, but each must use the prompt: I swear, it’s not too late.
Mac is back at the nursery home. Let’s see what he’s up to before the nurse makes her rounds. Here is:
Barry, Harry, Jerry: Beat the Buzzer
by Mac Eagan
Jerry stood at the reception desk of the Shady Days Assisted Living Center, tapping Harry’s sweepstakes entry envelope on the counter. It was supposed to have been mailed that day, but the desk nurse failed to put it in the outgoing basket.
Jerry continued tapping the envelope, thinking. Harry stood nearby.
“Let it go, Jerry. Entering wasn’t even my idea.”
“C’mon, I have a plan.”
Jerry ignored Harry’s objections and headed outside. Wally, the shuttle driver, was leaning against its hood.
“Wally, we need a ride.”
“Now, Mr. Flanders, you know I can’t just leave. Paperwork has to be filed.”
“File your paperwork when we get back. We have a deadline to beat.”
“Mr. Flanders – “
Jerry gave his most convincing smile. “Wally, I’ve told you. Call me Jerry. Better yet, Uncle Jerry. You know, I only let certain people call me Uncle Jerry.”
“You mean like Jamie, the day janitor, five of the nurses, and all the female volunteers?”
Jerry stepped closer to Wally and lowered his voice.
“This ain’t for me. It’s for Harry. Been kinda depressed, you know? Anyways, he’s got this idea he can win a million dollars. Doris didn’t put his entry in the mail and he’s all sad about it. You and I know nobody wins these things. I just thought if I got it to the post office on time, he might feel better. C’mon, help a guy out?”
“Jerry, what are you saying to him? Don’t ask Wally to break more rules. Let’s go back inside.”
Wally looked at Harry. He did seem less enthusiastic than usual.
“He’s not asking me to break any rules, Mr. Flanders. It’s just a short trip. Let’s get going. We’ll beat that buzzer.”
“Move, Harry; the man’s doing us a favor and you’re holding him up.”
A few minutes later the shuttle was on the road. The men were silent at first, but the quiet soon got to Jerry.
“So, Harry, suppos’n you did win this million dollars, what would you do with it?”
“Haven’t thought about it. Are you sure you’re not getting Wally in any trouble?”
“Nah, Wally’s fine – right, Wally?”
Wally looked at Harry in his rear-view mirror.
“Everything’s fine, Mr. Flanders. So, Mr. Flan- uh, Uncle Jerry, what would you do if you had a million dollars?”
“Spend most of it on wine, women, and song. Then waste the rest.”
Jerry checked his watch. They were cutting it close.
Finally they arrived. Jerry charged into the post office and saw the clerk at the counter pull down the steel grate.
“Wait! I have a letter that has to be postmarked today.”
“Sorry, sir,” she said, “you’ll have to drop it in the slot for tomorrow.”
“You don’t understand.”
“Rules are rules. No mail collection after 5:00.”
Jerry looked at his watch. 4:58. He pulled out his cellphone. 4:58.
“Your clock is wrong. I’ve still got two minutes.”
“Our clock is the one we go by. Drop it in the slot.”
“That’s it? Just blindly follow a rule even if it’s wrong? Typical government mentality…I swear. It’s not too late!” he yelled.
Jerry turned and saw Harry. Jerry gave him a triumphant smile, in stark contrast to the startled look on the clerk’s face.
“This is ridiculous! My tax dollars hard at not working! Of all the injustices in this world…”
Jerry was at full volume now and paced furiously around the room waving his arms. The clerk was frozen by his antics, not sure what was happening. Jerry turned back toward the counter.
“And let me tell you –”
Jerry completely stopped moving. The silence was as oppressive as his noise had been. Surprise mixed with fear on Jerry’s face as he grabbed his chest, as if trying to reach through muscle and bone and squeeze his heart back into activity.
Jerry leaned forward, then slid one foot to keep from tipping over. He slid the other foot past the first. Foot past foot, Jerry slid his way to the counter, steadied himself on it, then sank to one knee. His body turned as he sat on the floor, leaning against the wall.
The clerk set down her basket of letters and came to the lobby. Harry rushed to the counter also.
“Sir? Sir? Are you alright?”
Jerry stared ahead, focused on nothing.
Harry looked over the clerk’s shoulder at Jerry. Jerry stirred a little, then looked at them both.
“Sir, are you OK?”
Jerry looked directly at Harry and gave him a purposeful nod. Harry straightened up and saw the envelope sitting on the counter.
Sir, are you OK?”
Jerry nodded again.
Harry picked up the envelope and slid it through the grate and into the basket.
Jerry shook his head. “Wh- What happened?”
“I think you had a heart attack.”
“A heart attack? How…? Where am I?”
“At the post office, Jerry. Ma’am, we have a shuttle outside. We’ll take him straight back and have the nurses look at him right away.”
For added drama, Harry walked Jerry back to the shuttle. They were silent until the shuttle cleared the parking lot, then loud guffaws broke out between them.
Jerry spent the ride back telling Wally of their adventure inside the post office. When they arrived, Harry looked at Jerry.
“I know what you would really do if you had a million dollars. You would find some place to live where you could get room service at every meal, someone else would clean up after you, and you would devise some system for getting whatever you might want.
“You would have a chauffeur and on occasion, when he went above and beyond, you would tip him $50 so he could take his wife to dinner.”
“You don’t know me like you think you do.”
Jerry pulled a bill from his wallet, and handed it to Wally.
“Now you take my friend, Benny, here along with your wife to The White Raven. Tell ‘em Jerry sent ya.”