A little October fun for you to enjoy.
“Gramma, you don’t understand—”
“He promised me and he never broke a promise! He’ll keep this one!”
Tired of the perpetual argument, Wanda gave a deep sigh, shook her head, and went back to reading the gossip section of her favorite news website. Once her Grandmother went to take her shower, she’d call her brother and tell him what was going on.
“She refuses to accept that he’s gone, Bud,” she told him an hour or so later. He could hear the raw defeat in her tone. “She’s been like this for the past week and I’m just about ready to scream.”
“Wanda, Nana is set in her ways and you know she won’t change her mind about this,” not for the first time, Bud was over the moon that he hadn’t been saddled with the care and feeding of his Grandmother. He just wasn’t comfortable with old people.
“But it’s not going to happen, Bud. He’s been gone for eight months now. Dead. Buried. She’s been to his grave once a week since he died,” Wanda said. “There is no way she doesn’t know he’s rotting in there. Or in Heaven, if you believe in that shit.”
“I know, Wanda, really, I do,” Bud reassured his sister. The woman was nearly apoplectic with frustration and that was only going to increase with the old woman’s stubborn insistence that her husband, their Grandfather, was going to take her out to dinner for their seventieth anniversary, which would have fallen the following day. “Dr. Esterhaus said that this may be a sign that she is slipping into dementia, but she is nearly ninety. She’s had a long life.”
“Bud, I’m at my wits’ end here! It doesn’t matter what I say, or if I try to distract her, she’s absolutely fixated on the idea that he’s somehow going to be taking her to dinner tomorrow night!”
“You’re getting hysterical, Wanda,” Bud remonstrated his sister. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll come by tomorrow evening after I’m done with work, and we can have a quiet anniversary dinner for her. Set a place at the table for Granddad and we’ll go through the whole thing and she’ll be happy.”
“I don’t think you understand this, Bud—”
“Wanda, I’ll be there around five thirty and we can try to have a talk with her then,” Bud said quietly. “Meanwhile, I’ll start asking for recommendations on a senior care home. It’ll mean less stress for you.”
It would cut into his inheritance of the old broad’s money, but there were some things that could not be avoided. With luck, he could pass that unfortunate shortfall onto his sister, as he was the named Executor of her Will.
“She’ll never agree to it, Bud,” Wanda said, not for the first time. “She’ll put her foot down and get ugly about it.”
“Wanda, sometimes you have to be forceful and not give them that option. If necessary, we’ll have Dr. Esterhaus sign a statement about her declining mental condition.”
He heard his sister sigh deeply on the other end of the line.
“Okay, Bud. We can do that. Now I have to go, because it sounds as though her shower is done and she’ll be wanting her evening cup of tea before she goes to bed.”
The phone disconnected and Bud went back to the architectural plan he’d been working on when his sister called for the umpteenth time that day. He smiled, feeling pleased with himself for having come up with what sounded like a solution to their problem.
The next day, work was steady and Bud remained undistracted until just before it was time to leave for the day. He was glad he’d gotten his sister to cook, as he hated cooking for himself. He knew Wanda would build a good dinner and they could see about calming their Grandmother down and making her see reality.
It was a short drive to his sister’s place, and he took advantage of his sister’s second parking space, slipping his sporty little red Miata into it. As he left the car, he grabbed the bouquet of autumn flowers his secretary had bought at his request that day along with the box of chocolate truffles he knew his Grandmother would like.
He was only a few feet from his sister’s front door when he heard his Grandmother yelling. It didn’t sound good at all. Running his fingers through his hair to loosen it up so he would appear to be more relaxed, Bud rang the doorbell.
The shouting within stopped. A moment later, the door opened to reveal his Grandmother, dressed in the yellow silk gown he knew his Grandfather had bought for his Grandmother a decade before. She had worn it for every anniversary night since.
“You’re lovely, Nana!” he enthused as he walked in the front door, handing her the bouquet and chocolate. “Happy anniversary!”
His Grandmother gave his gifts a sour look. She knew her grandson kept a stock of chocolate candies on hand in his office. He used them to woo prospective clients and considered them a tax write-off.
“He’s late,” she growled. “The reservation is at six thirty tonight! He made the reservation last year while we were there for our sixty-ninth anniversary! They’re expecting us!”
It was clear that his sister had been unable to shake the old woman of her continued delusion. He sighed.
“Nana, Wanda has cooked a very nice dinner for the three of us,” he told her. “You wouldn’t want to disappoint your granddaughter, would you?”
“She’s wasting her time, Robert,” the old woman stated angrily. “Hyram will be here soon and he and I will be off to celebrate!”
Bud put out a hand and gently guided the irate woman to the parlor, where Wanda had poured three stiff drinks. Two fingers of bourbon in each glass, he estimated.
Did she think getting Nana blasted was the best option? Their grandmother probably weighed fewer than a hundred pounds, soaking wet! The alcohol would hit her like a freight train.
Wonderful. A drunken, angry, demented old woman as a dinner companion for the night.
Thanks for the fresh Hell, Wanda.
“Have a seat, Nana,” he said, smiling his most ingratiating smile. “We have a bit yet before dinner, right Wanda? Let’s relax a bit then. We can talk while we wait!”
Muttering under her breath, their Grandmother sat on the beautifully embroidered armchair that had always been “hers”. She accepted her drink when Bud offered it and took a small sip.
“It’s not bad,” she sniffed, “but Hyram liked to serve liqueurs while we waited on dinner.”
“We don’t have liqueurs in the house, Gramma,” Wanda said, her tone a bit more sharp than she intended. “We have bourbon, vodka, tequila, and gin. It’s all pretty basic.”
“Your loss,” the old woman muttered under her breath. She looked up at the clock.
“It’s nearly six! Our reservation is in a little over a half hour! What’s keeping you, Hyram?”
“Gramma, don’t you remember? Grampa died over six months ago,” Wanda said. “He’s dead and buried at Holy Cross. He’s not going anywhere.”
“I don’t care, Wanda! He always kept his promises!”
The doorbell rang. The room went still and quiet.
Quiet as the grave.
“Well, aren’t you going to go answer the door,” the old woman asked her grandchildren. “Don’t keep your Grandfather waiting.”
“Nana!” Bud responded with a scowl. Perhaps Wanda was right. He was glad he had made the appointment with the Family Law attorney. They needed to get a Power of Attorney in place as soon as possible for the old bag. She was clearly off the rails.
The doorbell rang again.
“Are you expecting anyone?” Bud asked. “It’s a bit late in the day for deliveries, isn’t it?”
“No,” Wanda replied. “Maybe he arranged for flowers before he died? I’ve heard of that happening before.”
Bud made a face.
“It’s a waste of good money,” he complained. “I’ll go see whoever it is, and then we can discuss this further.”
“Don’t speak of me as though I’m not here, young man!”
“This is insane, Nana,” Bud said to his Grandmother. “You’re not well!”
This time, instead of the doorbell, someone banged on the door, hard.
“Well, whoever it is, they’re not going away on their own, Bud,” Wanda said wearily. “Please go and send whoever it is away.”
“With pleasure,” her brother replied, setting down his drink and rising from his seat.
“I’ll just be a moment.”
He disappeared from the room and Wanda heard the front door being opened. There was a strangled cry, and then a loud thud, followed by the sound of slow, heavy footfalls.
“Bud? Are you all right? Who was it?” Wanda called, half-rising from her place on the chesterfield.
There was no answer, but the sound of footsteps got closer and then a dark figure filled the doorway. The old woman gave a cry of joy and leapt from her seat.
“Hyram! Sweetheart! I knew you’d come, no matter what these youngsters kept trying to tell me,” she exclaimed.
“Happy anniversary,” the half-rotted thing said as it shambled into the parlor. It handed the ecstatic old woman a bouquet of flowers that looked suspiciously as though they had been plucked from a gravesite.
“Why, they’re lovely, Hyram! Thank you!” She kissed the thing’s grotesque cheek, her expression one of delight.
“Only the very best for my girl,” it rasped, kissing her back.
“Nice dress. Ready for dinner?”
“I’ve not eaten all day, my dear, so I’m famished!”
It hooked a bony arm through the old woman’s bent elbow, and looked at her with its one remaining dried out eye.
“Gorgeous,” it said.
They stepped over Bud’s still form as they left the apartment. He’d hit his head on the edge of the doorframe and a significant pool of blood had formed under his cooling body.
“Silly children, telling me you weren’t coming, just because you’re dead! You promised me the day we met that you would always keep your promises, and you have.”
Neither paid heed to the mindless shrieks of their granddaughter as they went on their way.