The Greatest of These: Chapter 10: Page 2

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"He's had Alzheimer's for eighteen years, Chuck," replied Jerome, bluntly. "He's had better days." Jerome placed the last of the luggage in Charlton's room. "I've got to get back to the nursing home. Do you want to come along?" Charlton hesitated. "You have to face him sometime," advised Jerome. "Besides, I doubt he will even remember you. He hasn't recognized me in a long time."


Even though the sidewalks were intermittently dotted with glowing street lights, the light they gave off were surprisingly dim. The City Beautification Commission had recently spent $10,532.64 on hand-blown, glass street light covers. The street light covers did make the sidewalks more attractive, however, they had one side effect that the City Beautification Commission hadn't counted on. The white glass covers were so thick and ornate, that they cut down the light the street lights gave off by nearly three fourths. The commission hated to admit they had made a mistake, so the covers stayed. For this reason, Charlton tripped over two bushes, three curbs, and one nearsighted dog, (who was as surprised as Charlton), as he and Jerome made their way to the nursing home. Mullen-Overholt was only a short walk from Jerome's house, for Tom Mullen, (who had bought the house and presented it to Jerome), had thought it a convenient walking distance to and from work. As they entered the cement block building, Charlton prepared to brace himself to meet his father.

"Dad's in Room 3," said Jerome, leading the way. Charlton felt the palms of his hands. They were clammy. He quickly jammed them into his jacket pockets and stepped inside Room 3. Though he had steeled himself for this moment, Charlton was not prepared for what he saw. Vera was sitting on the edge of Arnold's bed, cradling his head on her chest. Arnold's face was bleached white and his eyes were red, as if he had been crying. Jewell Warren, the nursing assistant for Room 3, noticed Jerome standing in the doorway. Jerome opened his mouth, as if to speak to her, but before he could utter a sound, Jewell put a finger to her lips and led Jerome and Charlton into the hallway, carefully closing the door behind her.

"Please don't go in right now. We've just gotten him calmed down," pleaded Jewell.

"Tell Mom to come to the Recreation Room," ordered Jerome, authoritatively. As Jerome turned to go, Charlton noticed Jewell wrinkle her nose in distaste. "The Recreation Room is this way," directed Jerome, knowingly.

It was half past three in the morning, so Jerome was surprised to find Adam in the Recreation Room, slumped over in a chair by one of the tables, fast asleep. Jerome walked over to the sleeping plumber and shook his shoulder. Adam opened his eyes, was about to ask Jerome what he was doing in his bedroom, and then suddenly remembered where he was.

"Hello, Jerome," said Adam, stifling a yawn.

"Whatever are you doing here-- and dressed like that for?" asked Jerome, pointing to the dirt-stained overalls Adam was wearing.

"I've been gardening," explained Adam, still groggy from his nap.

"I can see that," retorted Jerome impatiently. The impatience in Jerome's voice put Adam on his guard. He rose to his feet, and smiled congenially.

"I couldn't sleep, so I worked in my garden. That explains the overalls," smiled Adam. "After doing that for an hour or two, I went for a walk, found myself in front of the nursing home, and decided to check in on Mom as long as I was here," he explained, taking notice of the tall man standing beside Jerome. "I guess I dozed off while I rested my feet." Jerome wearily pulled out a chair from the table and sat down.

"Always awake when you should be asleep and asleep when you should be awake," observed Jerome out loud. "People don't call you 'The Bat' for nothing, Adam." If Adam's feelings were hurt, he didn't let it show.
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