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Visiting the Zen Man Al

Page 4


Al was seated at the head of the corridor again, just by the door of his new room. Between times he must have been moved there. The door with his name on it with the floral border was closed and we didn’t enter this time. Stan in the chair on the other side turned out to be a Lancashire man. Soon after arrival his wife wheeled up and came over to chat; on the last visit she had also put in an appearance. At the time of their marriage she had been nineteen and Stan an especially handsome twenty-one, as the photos brought over proved. The wife herself was in for some respite, she said. Stan had been in the home a number of years. There had been a tragic suicide of the son in his early forties; a daughter had three children, two autistic and one with Aspergers. One of these, or one of the great-grandkids possibly, was a high achiever and worked in robotics. Stan had been a footballer and cricketer, as well as lawn bowler here in Australia. Out near Manchester the wife had been a member of an operatic group and the pair met at church.

Al would not have heard any of it, nor been much interested if he had, even years past. He sat in the corner of the couch eating the grapes. By the desk of the attendant Doris the jabberer sat facing away with a pair of dolls with her in her chair. She was giving the woman a hard time directing the unceasing stream in her direction. Later she made a number of us laugh with some foul language. At one point the poor Filipina, the attendant, came around the front of the desk to wipe the dolls with a wet cloth and then dry them for Doris. None of this was noticed by Al. The Australian had seemed a better option than The Age and he leafed through it reading a number of the columns on a number of the pages. The business pages he had discarded.

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