Week 7: Business as Unusual
Week 7 February 12 -18
Prompt: Business as Unusual
Baretta’s Theme (Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow)
Don’t go to bed, with no price on your head
Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time
And keep your eye on the sparrow. When the going gets narrow.
Don’t do me dirt or you’re gonna get hurt
Don’t run away till you hear what I say.
Keep your eye on the sparrow,
When the going gets narrow.
Kelsey opened the door and Melissa quietly entered.
“Is the coast clear?” Melissa whispered.
“What are you whispering for? Mary is asleep and even if she wasn’t she is deaf as a post.”
Kelsey thrust a pair of crystal candlesticks towards Melissa, “Here take these.”
Melissa turned to look for something to wrap them in for protection. “Did you find the jewelry yet?” she said as she reached for two hand towels. Ignoring the lovely needlepoint work she hastily wrapped the crystal.
“Not yet” Kelsey sounded annoyed. “The old bat keeps talking about having put them somewhere safe, but who knows what that means in her demented mind? I don’t know how much time we have left. She’s getting pretty frail.”
A weak voice sounded from across the hall “Who’s out there? Is someone there?”
“Oh hell!” Kelsey said, “She’s awake. You stay here.”
Melissa moved across the hall. “I’m right here, Mary. It’s just me.”
Mary Alexander turned her rummy eyes towards her caregiver. “Were you talking to Robert? He hasn’t been to visit me in so long.”
“No dear, I wasn’t talking to anyone.” “I heard voices” the old woman’s tone turned quarrelsome.
“Now dear, don’t upset yourself. It was just the TV.” Melissa soothed
“I know someone else is here.” Mary insisted,” I can smell them. They’ve been here before. They wore the same nasty perfume. Where is my perfume? The good stuff my Robert gave me?”
Trying to distract her Melissa said, “Didn’t Robert say he would be gone a few days? Remember you told me that. I think he will be back tomorrow. Yes, I am sure he said he’d be back then. In fact, he left you a note. You settle yourself and I will try to find that note.”
Hope eased the suspicious look on Mary’s face. “A note? A note from my Robert?” she asked.
“Yes, I’ll find it for you right now. You just settle back here and take your medicine like a good girl, and I’ll go get it.”
Mary took the pills with a sip of water. Melissa watched as she calmed, closed her eyes, and drifted into sleep. She turned and moved out of the room.
“Damn it, Melissa!” Kelsey whispered harshly,” Why did you go and bring up Robert?”
“What was I supposed to do? Go and get the expensive, unopened bottles of perfume her son brought her, that we have already sold? By the way, she’s right. Whatever you are wearing stinks. I told you, she may be deaf, and her sight may be going but she still has a nose like a bloodhound. Don’t wear it anymore when you come here. We have almost cleaned her out.”
Kelsey sniffed at her wrist slightly offended and said “Good thing this one only had the one nosy relative. Her son was asking too many questions. He had to go.”
“It wasn’t hard to mess with his insulin and send him off with that sugar-filled treat. Now, he’s in a coma at the hospital. Even if he comes out of it, we’ll be long gone. With any luck we’ll be working somewhere else and taking care of some other old biddy. Business as usual.” Melissa started. “Wait. Listen. Did you hear something?”
They peeked in on Mary whose slow rise and fall of her chest indicated she was still asleep. Melissa said, “OK, I think she’s out for a while, let’s hunt for that jewelry. I know it is here somewhere.”
In time Kelsey left without any jewelry. But she did get away with Mary’s laptop, mini tablet, and other electronics. Melissa fixed Mary’s dinner, carefully adding a small dose of morphine. Not too much. If the old lady died suddenly there would be too many questions. They could be patient now that Mary’s son Robert had been handled.
A knock at the door surprised Melissa. Mary’s friends were all as old as she was, and it was rare for her to have any visitors. When Melissa opened the door, she was taken back to see the minister from the church Mary attended.
“Reverend Ed?” She stepped aside and opened the door.
“Sorry to stop by so late and unannounced, Melissa. I stopped by the hospital to see Robert and was told he isn’t expected to make it through the night.” He shook his head sadly. “I came to be with Mary for a bit.”
“Surely, you don’t intend to tell her,” Melissa said. “With her dementia, it will just upset and confuse her. I know she won’t understand what you are trying to tell her,”
“You are probably right,” said the man of God, “I’ll just pop in for a short visit with her then leave.”
Melissa didn’t like this at all but what could she do? She looked around the room. Many of the lovely pictures, vases, and items that had graced the room were now missing. ‘If he asks, I’ll simply say she’s been giving things away to friends.’
The minister seemed not to notice anything off in the house but seemed intent on his mission to visit the lady of the house.
Melissa slipped in first to make sure her charge was presentable before leading him into Mary’s room. Resting back on pillows in a pink satin bed jacket Mary, only a little groggy, received his visit as if she were royalty.
“Rev Ed, so nice of you to come to see me. I get so few visitors these days that it brightens up a long day.” The minister pulled a chair close to her bed and sat down taking her hand. As he sat Mary looked up at Melissa. “Do you mind if I speak alone with my minister?”
Melissa didn’t like this either, in fact, Mary seemed more alert than usual. Damn it all! Why hadn’t he waited 10-15 more minutes? After she had been dosed with her dinner, Mary would have been out like a light. She paced the room like a hunted animal until after the longest 30 minutes of her life, the door opened. Rev Ed pulled it closed behind him.
“She asked for a few minutes alone. Melissa, you have been a saint to take such good care of her.” He took her hand and she actually managed to blush.
“Well, Rev Ed, believe me, I’m no saint. I am just doing what anybody would do to help such a kind soul like Miss Mary.”
“Well, I say she’s lucky to have found you,” he said as he moved to the door. “I’ll get out of your way. Thank you for indulging me and letting me talk to her.”
Several hours later Kelsey was awakened by Melissa’s panicked phone call. “She’s dead! Get over here!”
Kelsey made record time.
“What happened?” were the first words Kelsey said when she arrived. “Did you give her too much morphine?”
“No, I did not! This isn’t my first rodeo, Kelsey.” Melissa angrily snapped.
They stood over the body of Mary Alexander. “Well, I have to call 911. Is there anything out of place here before I do?”
They both looked around. Kelsey sighed, “I sure would have loved to find that jewelry, but we got a pretty good haul anyway.”
The paramedics came and announced the obvious. The ambulance took Mary Alexander for her last ride, and she travelled to the path of the recently deceased. Melissa was surprised to find out that Robert had also passed within hours of Mary but was truly shocked to be greeted by Rev Ed and the police early the following evening. The charges were elder abuse, robbery, and the murder of Mary’s son Robert.
“You have no proof!” Melissa shouted.
In answer, the police lifted a stuffed bear that had been sitting unnoticed on a bookcase. Not being literary types Kelsey and Melissa had shown no interest in the books or the bookcase. The policeman showed them the back of the bear. It was a nanny cam.
“Miss Alexander’s son, Robert, had heard so many stories about unscrupulous caregivers and he wanted to protect his mother, especially as her dementia increased.” the officer said with a cool tone.
“She told me about that special bear when I came to visit her.” Reverend Ed said. “You two often spoke in front of her as if she was invisible. She had moments of lucidity that you might have noticed if you hadn’t been so intent on stealing from her. He moved to the bookcase and lifted up the two books the bear had been resting on.
Turning so the women could see he opened the bottom book. It had a false front and inside was a hollowed out space with a green velvet bag. “She suspected you were looking for these.” He poured the jewelry on the side table. “She also asked me to tell you, she would see to it that it would no longer be ‘business as usual’ for you. You won’t be stealing from anymore helpless old ladies.”
He chided himself for enjoying the look of shock on their faces as the police took them away.
The ending was SOOO satisfying! I was so glad those women got what was coming to them. You really have such a knack for these types of stories. I love your focus on invisible people and the way you give them justice. Well done!
Thanks Bridgette. I’ll really be interested in your feedback for the next story. This is more in your lane of storytelling but I thought I’d give it a try. ❤️
Such a good read and current theme. Elderly, demented seniors can be at risk from greedy caretakers. Satisfying ending.
Seniors can be extremely invisible BUT that doesn’t mean they are powerless as Melissa and Kelsy found out! Thanks for reading and giving feedback.