#AtoZChallenge, April 14, 2018, Meals on Wheels
26 posts. 26 days. And 26 letters of the alphabet, one post beginning with each letter, in April.
Follow me as we visit the not-quite-normal retirement village of Twilight, Arizona, where reality clashes with the unexplained.
Meals on Wheels
Mickey Meadows stopped his car in the Sutton’s driveway and pocketed the key. At seventy-two, he took longer than he used to get out, but once he had, he opened the back door and removed a container. Holding it in one hand, he pressed the doorbell with the other.
“Meals on Wheels,” he crowed through the steel security door.
A minute later, Dale Sutton opened the door.
“Morning, Mickey,” he said, standing back to let the other man in.
Mickey stepped into a room that never failed to amaze him. Dolls of every size and shape lined the perimeter and flat surface. Shelves took up three sides of the room, all filled with dolls, sitting, standing, leaning, and boxed in display cases.
It gave him the creeps, but he’d never said a word to the owners.
“How are you, Dale?” he asked, handing over the food container.
“Couldn’t be better.” The man waived him into the kitchen. “Can you sit a spell?”
“Only for a minute. I’ve two other deliveries to make today.” He followed Dale into the kitchen, where dolls topped the microwave, refrigerator and nested in a metal shelf unit.
“How are you, Helen?” he asked the frail woman drinking coffee at the table.
She smiled. “Better than I was.”
“Good to see you recovering. How long has it been? Two, three months?” He eased into a chair and removed the battered hat he wore, exposing his bald head.
“Four.” She held up the required number of fingers. “We won’t be needing you much longer. I’ve already started making breakfast for us.”
“That’s great, just great. It’s sad to say, but I don’t get to see too many folks stop using Meals on Wheels once they start.” He nodded as Dale set a cup of coffee in front of him.
“That’s not us. Another month or so, and I’ll be fully recovered.” Helen gazed at her husband, her adoration almost painful to watch.
Dale pulled out a chair and sat. “Tell us what’s next for you, Mickey. I’ve never seen a busier man in all my life. Was that you planting shade trees in the median on Berry Street on Friday?”
“It was. We’ve got another half-mile yet to go.” He ticked off his upcoming activities—calling bingo on Thursday nights, the stage production of Harold and Maude, and volunteering at one of the three Twilight recreation centers.
“And what show is next at the Twilight Bowl?” Helen asked, leaning forward, excitement in her eyes. “I might feel well enough to go.”
“That would be a Johnny Cash impersonator.” Mickey took off his black-rimmed glasses and wiped them on the hem of his shirt. “We’re expecting a big crowd, so come early.”
“Where do you find time to volunteer so much?” Dale asked, sliding a plate of cookies toward him.
Mickey waved them away. “I can’t imagine not helping.” The old adage held true. ’Tis better to give than receive. His heart expanded each time he helped someone else. He couldn’t image not giving.
Helen patted his hand. “You are a prince among men.”
He looked away, flattered but embarrassed. “I’m a regular Joe trying to do his part.” He heaved himself up. “A Joe who needs to make a couple more deliveries so other good folks like you can have lunch.”
Mickey collected the empty carrier and left. Driving his route, he tried not to think about all the times he’d volunteered, personally and professionally. His mother had drilled charity into him at a young age. He’d helped her deliver food to the poorer families in the neighborhood, helped mow lawns, fix loose screen doors, and shovel Milwaukee snows. He’d not expected thanks or gratitude. Helping your fellow man is what you did.
Less than an hour later, he pulled into the carport of his little condo, his mind clouded. Helen Sutton’s words haunted him. Had he leapt at the many chances to help for some other, less altruistic reasons? Had he thought of the reward to himself first and others second? Why was he the first to raise his hand?
Contemplating his true reactions to those less fortunate, Mickey sat on a folding chair in his bare living room and ate from a can of beans.
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Monday’s #AtoZChallenge, April 16, 2018, No Trespassers Allowed.
Norm Holloway’s anger at a trespasser crosses the line in tomorrow’s supernatural tale.
Until then, blessings,
p.s. Dale and Helen Sutton appeared in The Theory of Dolls
Twilight, Arizona now available on Amazon
I’ve “volunteered” the complete Twilight volume for you.
Don’t want to wait until April 30th to read all twenty-six Twilight stories. For a limited time, they are available on Amazon for 99¢. From Arizona Heat to One-Zero-Zero, read and enjoy twenty-six stories set in the strange retirement community of Twilight, Arizona.
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