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Visiting the Zen Man Al

Page 5

Pavle Radonic

Later he leafed through the journal that happened to have been left on the side table, finding some amusement in the description of old Trevor, the tedious bore at Cirino. In the passage Trevor had been described both as a corpse on his feet and a walking ghost. This seemed to have been part of the amusement for Al, who was already near the halfway mark of the nine months the doctors at Footscray had given him. The old Nonna who wheeled up during the visit must have been new, just arrived at the home. Coming up close to the couch she had surprised initially. At first she spoke in an Italian that was not understood. 

Reverting to English, she said she wanted a seat on the couch. Classical sweet old thing. With a little pressing she took a few of the grapes. For the most part she sat looking at Doris and listening to her, grave and stony-faced, shaking her head slowly. In the photos by Doris’s door up near the end of the wing she and her husband looked a fine young Italian couple in what may have been a wedding portrait. The old Nonna either knew, or assumed, Doris to be Italian. She spoke to her a couple of times in answer to some of the rattle. The room at the end of the wing on Al’s side of the corridor, opposite Doris up toward the street, held a figure in the bed that was all jaw. There was nothing else, just protruding jaw. The head on the pillow with the sheets up high was tilted far back and the jawbone pointed at the ceiling. Three Filipinas, two Indians and an African were attending on this visit. The strange thing was the minor kind of shock at the scene that day at the home. In fact there had been more than a little light-heartedness. It may have been different had Al been more alert.



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