Old Timer

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Bernard's peaceful life in the nursing home is shattered when a new carer starts working there.

Submitted: May 02, 2017

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Submitted: May 02, 2017

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‘Would you like a cup of tea, Bernard?’

Bernard McCardle smiled at the carer. She wore the same nurse-style uniform as the rest of the staff in the nursing home.

‘I would love one.’ He said.

Bernard had been in the home for almost five years. At seventy seven years old a widow for nearly a decade, the home served its purpose. He was comparatively healthy and tried to keep as fit as his age and the nursing home regulations would allow. He got on well with the other residents and the staff. Even the more demanding residents always had a good word to say about him.

He saw a member of staff he did not recognise. The man was around thirty years old and had a swagger in his walk. Bernard heard one of the other carers telling someone that the man was starting today to replace Vicki who had left the week before. Bernard shook his head. Considering it was the guy’s first day he was already walking round like he had been there years and as though he was in charge. Bernard looked away and sipped his tea.

Eventually the new starter approached Bernard with the manager of the home. The manager grinned as she introduced him.

‘And this is Bernard. He’s been here a few years now. I just know you two are going to get along. This is Carl.’

‘Good afternoon.’ said Bernard.

‘Alright, old timer?’

There was something about the way he spoke to him that Bernard really didn’t like. His tone and expression was sneering, mocking and patronising all at the same time. Carl turned and walked away. Bernard sighed. The new starter was going to be trouble, he just knew it.

That afternoon most of the residents were in the large living room. The room was the main area the residents gathered in and was known as the day room. Some of the residents watched Columbo on the television, others read books or magazines or did jigsaws. Bernard was flicking through the newspaper. Carl crossed the room like he was a rock star on stage. A lady called Mabel waved her hand.

‘Excuse me,’ she called out to Carl. ‘would you mind getting me a glass of water?’

Carl stopped. He glared at Mabel with a look of outrage and disgust.

‘Have your legs stopped working?’ he snarled. ‘Get it yourself. It’s not waiter service, you know.’

‘I’m not so steady on my feet. The old carer, Vicki, she used to-’

‘Vicki doesn’t work here any more. I do. Things are gonna change around here.’

Carl marched out of the room leaving Mabel close to tears. As a few of the women comforted Mabel Bernard shook his head.

‘That’s one.’ he whispered to himself.

A few days later Bernard was in the day room with the other residents when Carl entered. His hair was ruffled with the ‘just got out of bed’ look and his eyes were red. Bernard knew a hang over when he saw one. Carl winced at the noise in the room. He walked straight over to the television set. He turned the volume down. Several residents called out that they were hard of hearing and needed the volume turning up.

‘That’s tough.’ Carl snapped.

One old man stood up. He approached the TV. Carl stepped in front of him. He pointed a finger.

‘Don’t you fucking dare!’ he yelled.

The man went back to his seat.

‘You lot better sit down and shut up. I’m really not in the mood.’

He turned and left the stunned room.

‘That’s two.’ Bernard muttered.

A few days later Carl came to the end of another unpleasant, bad tempered shift. He charged towards the door. A female resident with a walking stick was in his path. He pushed into her with such force that she tumbled to the floor. Moaning, she stared up at Carl.

‘Clumsy bitch. Watch where you’re going.’

The other residents surrounded Carl and the fallen woman. As some helped the woman to her feet others protested at Carl’s actions. They shouted and screamed at him.

He laughed at them.

‘What are you going to do about it?’

‘We will complain. They will have to do something about the way you’re behaving.’

‘I will tell them she tripped. You know how unsteady these old duffers can be.’

‘We will tell them what’s really been going on.’

‘Who will they believe? You know how confused they get. They get things mixed up.’

He grinned. He gave them a mocking wave.

‘See you in the morning.’

He slammed the door shut behind him.

‘Three.’ Bernard said.

Carl was an hour into his shift when the alarm came from Bernard’s room. Carl entered the resident’s bedroom.

‘What’s up, old timer? Have you had a fall? Or have you wet the bed?’

Bernard was sitting in the hard backed chair. He was dressed in his best suit.

‘What’s all this? You’re dressed up. You ain’t going nowhere.’

Bernard got to his feet.

‘In my day people used to dress with style.’

Carl laughed.

‘These days,’ Bernard went on, ‘people go out on a Saturday night dressed like they’re going to the gym.’

‘Aye, it’s not like the old days, granddad.’

‘Eh! Show some respect.’

‘What are you going to do about it? Hit me with your walking stick?’

Bernard moved with speed and agility. Step. Step. Step. He threw out his fist. Carl was rocked back by the blow. He stumbled. Blood gushed from his nose. He looked at Bernard. The resident now had something in his hand. Was that a gun?

He slumped back against the wall. He stared at Bernard, eyes wide.

‘What young people forget is that old people are still people. We were not always old. You look at me and see an old man. I wasn’t always this old fella.’

Bernard jabbed the pistol into Carl’s chest. He stood over him like a boxer after knocking out his opponent.

‘You have no idea who you’re dealing with. Back in the day I was one of the most feared men in Manchester. I controlled half of this city.’

‘What?’

‘You heard me.’

‘You were a gangster?’

‘That’s what the newspapers called me when I was sent down back in nineteen seventy three.’

Bernard aimed the pistol at Carl’s head.

‘For killing you they’ll probably send me to a secure home for the rest of my days. That’s a price I’m willing to pay.’

‘Please don’t.’

‘I never want to see you in here again.’

‘I’ll go now, I swear. You wont see me again.’

‘Get out. And next time you see an old person don’t forget they were young too once.’

Carl dashed from the room. Bernard laughed. He placed the toy pistol back on the table. He must remember to tell his grandson to stop leaving his toys behind.


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