Old Man Randall’s Return

“We’re here Mr. Randall. Home sweet home. Do you want me to give you a hand–”

“No! Just leave it. My arms aren’t crippled, ya know. I can get it my own damn self.”

“‘Course, Sir. My apologies,” the driver says and takes off his Patient Shuttle Service cap to wipe the perspiration from his forehead. He watches Mr. Randall exit the van, without a pinch of grace, clattering his white cane and suitcase. One side of Mr. Randall’s shirt hangs lower than the other on account of the buttons not being in their correct, corresponding holes. “I can help you get settled inside and maybe stick around until the occupational therapist shows up for your appointment.”

“Nah, I’ll be fine. Piss off.”

“As you say, Sir. God bless.” Even though Mr. Randall wouldn’t have been able to see it anyway, the driver stifles an eye roll; his Momma had always said that God sees the backrooms, the bedrooms, and every speck in the dust brooms. He hops in the van and heads back towards Baton Rouge General Medical Center.

Mr. Randall starts rolling his wheeled suitcase towards (what he believes to be) the general direction of his front porch, across a gravel walkway and then the lawn. He drags the hospital-provided cane behind him instead of using it as The Rehab Vixen–his crude pet name for her–had taught him.

“Randall!” Mr. Filmont, who had been peeping from his kitchen window, jogs from his neighboring home over to Mr. Randall. “Nan and I heard you were coming back today. We were so terribly sorry to hear about the accident. If there’s anything we can do–”

“Listen to me, Filmont. I haven’t had a moment’s peace in a long time. Those damn doctors and nurses may as well have chained me to the toilet. Not to mention they fed me so much we-support-you sunshine up my rear end that I could just vomit.”

“…I see. Well, I just wanted you to know that we looked after your house for ya and even set up a–”

“At this point, I don’t give a rat’s prickly ass. I want to be let alone. I came into this world alone and that’s how I’ll stay.”

Mr. Randall pays no mind to the fact that Mr. Filmont leaves in a huff, mumbling something that sounds like rotten old prick.

Managing to feel his way inside and into his kitchen–mostly by his mental map of the route–Randall realizes how hungry he is. He traces his fingers along the counter top and stops when he feels a warm, glass dish. It smells like the hot cider that an old woman at the apple orchard shop used to let him taste for free as a child. Mr. Randall doesn’t see the welcome-home card–the one written in feminine cursive earlier that day by Nan Filmont–behind the glass dish. He plunges his bare hand into the pie and shoves a hunk past his dry, thin lips. He wipes his fingers off on his pant leg and smacks his tongue on the roof of his mouth in satisfaction.  

He reaches for the cabinet for a drinking glass then freezes. There is a strange clicking sound in the kitchen. Perhaps a hiss. Mr. Randall listens intently. He moves toward the noise. He can still perceive only a hint of daylight since the accident and now realizes he’s moving toward the picture window.

Mr. Randall’s cherished plant collection is healthy as it ever was. Well-taken care of; the Filmonts had purchased and seen to it that an automated system dispensed and misted water for the plants at timed intervals.

The system triggers itself and Mr. Randall–standing too close–is doused in the face with a couple streams of mist.

“No. NO!” He thrashes around the kitchen in a panic and pricks his arm on the spikes of a hand trowel that Mr. Filmont had accidentally left on the kitchen table when tending the flower boxes. “Not again! You goddamned demon!” In his fit, Mr. Randal punches and kicks anything in his path, and tumbles halfway through picture window. A shard of glass impales his abdomen.  

“Oh my God Mr. Randall! Mr. Randall!” The occupational therapist arrives, her heels frantically clacking on the wooden porch over to her would-be client. “I’ll call 9-1-1! Hold on!” She tries not to breathe too deeply in order to avoid the sickening coppery smell of blood, which is dripping down the white siding beneath the busted window.

“Nooo,” Mr. Randall sobs. “Even if you call, that sonofabitch will find me again anyway. He took my eyesight before and he came back to finish me off.”

“Who? Who came back Mr. Randall?”

“The cobra. The spitting cobra. In my own kitchen this time!” Mr. Randall sputters and grunts. His words come weaker now. “I know it’s him. I know it’s the same snake.”

 

~~~

Featured Photo Cred: Me! ❤

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