Tuesday, November 6, 2007


WENDI Chapter 3
R. D. Ice

Wendi had to give up living in her converted chicken house. No heat and no water. This winter had turned out very cold. What was an 80 year old woman to do? She was crippled up with arthritis. With no other choice, she moved in with Maude McDaniel who ran a nursing home out in the country near Butterfield Junction.

But she wasn't happy. "Maude, it's just like being in jail," she said. "I can't go down to Hardee's and get my biscuits and gravy. I can't go downtown and walk up the street. All I can do is set here and look at the walls."

"Wendi, what do you want? It's warm. You know the others. They're all friends of yours. Just be happy."

But she wasn't happy. In her frustration she would move things around and sometimes hide them. She would complain of being cold, and then she was too hot. Nothing seemed to satisfy her.

One day in late January when the weather had warmed up somewhat, she dressed in her warmest clothes. She had a silver-glitter top some cheer leader had given to Heart & Hand. She always wore her long underwear. She had dark knit pants and fur lined silver boots. She put on her red toboggan and wrapped a silver scarf around her neck. She put on her heavy fur coat she had fished out of someone's trash can. Then she sneaked out and walked into Butterfield Junction. She knew a few people there. Surely she could push herself in somewhere.

She walked down a side street and went into a house.

"Wendi! What are you doing in my house?"

"Now Elsie, don't get your dander up. I got to have a place to stay. That Maude run me out. I can't put up with her anymore."

"Wendi, you can't stay here. I'm all alone and I can't put up with you. You got to find someplace else. You just can't stay here."

"Now Elsie, just one night won't hurt. Just put me up for tonight. I'll go out tomorrow and find some place to stay."

Well, you can't stay here. But I suppose one night won't hurt anything. I got an extra bedroom upstairs to the right. But you got to get out of here tomorrow morning!"

Next morning she wandered over to the gas station. She knew the man who owned it. Maybe she could get something out of him.

A young girl was behind the counter. Wendi had never seen her before. "Where's the old goat who runs this station," she asked? "I want him to give me a place to stay. It's cold these nights."

The girl looked her up and down. "Mr. Scott will be back soon. I don't know as how you will get anything from him. His granddaughter, Little Nancy, is in the back. She takes in stray cats and dogs and such like."

"I know her," Wendi said. "I'll go see her."

She went into the storeroom in the back, picking up an item or two along the way which she stuffed into her pockets.

"Wendi! What are you doing out on this cold day?"

"I need me a place to stay. I been out at Maude's, but she run me out. I'm too old to be doing things like that."

"You can stay with me a few days. You can keep the children company. Come along with me now. I'm on my way home."

"Children!" Wendi said to herself. "We'll see about that. But it is cold."

So Wendi was soon in the little house on the hill.

The ambulance from the Emergency Squad slid to a stop in front of Little Nancy's house.

"She's in here!"

Little Nancy was holding the door open.

They rushed in to find Wendi lying on the floor. Sam Johnson got down beside her and began checking her vital signs.

Wendi moaned and tried move.

"Do you know what happened?" asked Sue Wright.

"I don't know just what happened," said Little Nancy. "She came staggering out of the bathroom and fell on the floor. She was so sick! She vomited all over. Do you think she might have had a stroke?"

"Oh my head!" Wendi moaned again and made an effort to sit up, but she could not. She rolled over on her back and spread her arms out. Her face showed the distress she felt.

She continued to moan. She moved her arms and legs a litle, but was too weak to do much more.

"Oh my head, my head" she mumbled.

San Johnson continued to work with her.

She opened her eyes and looked at him.

"There ain't nothin' wrong with me, Sam Johnson. You get away from me. I'm feeling better. I'll get up from here just as soon as I can."

"We better take her to the clinic," said Sue. "You don't know what might be wrong with an old woman like her. We better play it safe."

"Old woman!" snorted Wendi. She tried again to sit up, then fell back, only semiconscious.

They lifted her on the stretcher and loaded her into the ambulance. Then they rushed off to the clinic. Little Nancy followed along in her car.

"What have we got here?" Dr. Hefflin felt Windi's forehead, then took her pulse. "Wendi, what have you gone and done to yourself this time. Have you been drinking that liniment you make up?"

"Doc Hefflin, you old goat. There ain't nothing wrong with me. I don't know why they brung me here. I wisht I was back home in my chicken house out in the country."

Little Nancy spoke up. "Doctor Hefflin, Wendi went in the bathroom to take one of those pills you gave her. After a while she came staggering out and fell down on the floor. I was scared she had a stroke or something. I called the emergency squad right away."

"Is that right, Wendi? A nitro pill? For your heart."

"Yeah, you old goat. I took one of those nitro pills all right. My throat was feeling scratchy so I swallowed the pill and washed it down with some of that cough syrup you give me."

"What! You could have killed yourself! Don't you know better than that!"

Wendi closed her eyes. All this talking had worn her out.

Dr. Hefflin just shook his head. "Nancy, you did the right thing by bringing her in. I'll give her a shot to help her get over this. Then you can bring her back in a few days, say Monday. And see that she puts that nitro pill under her tongue like she is supposed to."

Little Nancy took Wendi home. Things seemed to go well. But Wendi was very weak. She had to be helped to the bathroom, and spent most of the time in bed.

On Monday Rev. Brother Ed Harris, the Methodist preacher, was in the clinic when Little Nancy brought Wendi in.

Wendi looked up to see him. "Brother Ed! What are you doing here!"

"Wendi! I'm just here for a checkup. What are you doing here?"

"That dang Little Nancy brought me in. I ain't sick. I just need some yellow root and cream of tartar. That would fix me up fine."

Little Nancy spoke up. "She had a spell. We called the Emergency Squad and brought her in. We were afraid she had a stroke. Dr. Hefflin told us to bring her back today."

"That old goat!" Wendi said. "It's those pills he give me. I ain't a-taking no more of his medicine."

"Now Wendi," Nancy said, "you know you need those nitro pills. You've got to keep your heart working right. But you can't do things like you did and get away with it."

The nurse came to the doorway. "Wendi, the Doctor will see you now."

Nancy started to get up to help Wendi.

But Wendi got up stiffly and hobbled into the exam room.

While she was gone, Little Nancy talked.

"Brother Ed, we were sure worried about her. She took a nitro pill with some of that prescription cough syrup and it made her deathly ill. We called the Emergency Squad. It made her so mad and she still hasn't forgiven us. But we had to do what was best."

Brother Ed just shook his head. "I've known Wendi for some years. She can be stubborn. And you never know just what she will do. I'm glad you tried to help her."

"We love her like family. She gets along with the kids and they love her too. But she surely does have some strange ways."

Wendi came out of the doorway followed by Dr. Hefflin.

"Nancy, you've done a good job. You surely have taken good care of Wendi. But now she needs something more. It isn't fair to your children and family. So I'm recommending that you put Wendi in Maude McDaniel's nursing home for a while. She can do what needs to be done. Maude can see about her medicine and she knows what to look out for."

"I ain't a-going to do it! I know that Maude McDaniel. Knowed her for years. I stayed with her a while. But I ain't no old woman to be put in such a place! I ain't going back there!"

"Now Wendi, it won't be for long. Just till you get to feeling better. Then you can go back with Little Nancy. But you got to get in better shape. It isn't fair to Nancy's kids and family. And it isn't fair to you. You got to take care of yourself."

Wendi snorted and looked angry. But eventually she gave up. She knew it would be better for her. At her age she had run out of choices.

"Nurse Pratt," said Dr. Hefflin, "go call Maude and get it all set up. Little Nancy can take Wendi on over now."

"And Wendi, those nitro pills go under your tongue! You hear me! And don't take that cough syrup at the same time!"

"Yes you old goat. I hear you. You better be glad I don't put a spell on you."

Dr. Hefflin smiled and shook his head.

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