Dinnertime Conversation

#FlashFictionFeb Day three post 2/3/2021

Care plan reviews were meant to be for the benefit of the resident but most of Mr. Tiller’s reviews involved the aides charged with his care being yelled at by management for their inability to re-direct him successfully into social interaction outside of his private room.

“Ladies, Mr. Tiller is on your assignment because you are some of the best I have,” said Linda, the Assistant Director of Nursing.

Linda didn’t emphasize the word “best” she emphasized “you” indicating openly that she didn’t think much of the evening shift choices she had for “best I have.”  Cindy doubted very much Linda could call the names of the best she had if they didn’t wear ID badges displayed prominently.

Linda continued to drone on about how state board would penalize the facility if care plans weren’t followed, like none of the staff she was keeping from their personal plans or duties was aware of state policies.

“Linda,” Cindy interrupted, “We all know what state says about care plans. The point here is that Mr. Tiller doesn’t want to socialize. He’s blind, Linda. He doesn’t know anyone here and doesn’t want to. He’s happy to eat in his room with his dinner aide.” Cindy was on duty with Mr. Tiller in fifteen minutes and there was no time for hashing over the rules. Tiller was a handful, even with her work partner Allison’s help.

“The point, Miss Cindy,” hissed Linda, “is that you are licensed by the state to perform your duties and one of them is to follow the care plan. So, do it.” Linda slammed her folder and walked out of the conference room.

“Well, that was fun,” Cindy said to Allison, who was busy rolling her eyes and flipping a bird in the general direction of Linda’s wake.

“She would shit herself if we walked out on her,” Allison sneered.

“Yeah, well I know someone else who is probably going to shit himself out of spite for being forced to the dining room for dinner,” said Cindy.


“I do not wish to be dragged from my room to a drafty dining hall that smells like bird excrement!”

Tiller was screaming, which wasn’t new. He liked to scream because it scared the less experienced aides away from him.

“Mr. Tiller, believe me, Allison and I would much rather let you stay in your room for dinner, but the state says you should have the opportunity to socialize.” Cindy’s words didn’t soothe him. They never did.

“The state doesn’t know me! The state doesn’t know anything! Stop it! Stop combing my scalp off! Aaaauuuggh!” Tiller wasn’t nearly as upset as he was dramatic. An English professor in his heyday, flourish and excitement in telling a story was still mandatory for any idea he wanted to get across.

“Please, Mr. Tiller,” Allison said quietly. She had a way with Tiller no one else did. He calmed, she continued, “It’s family night, we have visitors in the dining room. Please just go down with us. I promise you won’t have to stay long.”

Tiller remained stoic until the moment he was certain he’d been parked at one of the family-style dinner tables reserved for the monthly affair. As soon as the wheelchair was locked in place, he slammed his fists on the table and began asking in a very loud voice, “Does anyone at this table really know anyone else?” His query was met with silence which is precisely what he wanted. Tiller took control of the room just as he would have an auditorium full of students.

“How do you know anything?” He bellowed. “How are you certain of any one thing in life?”

Again, no answer from the shocked diners.

Tiller continued his soliloquy at full volume, “Do you know for sure you’re not a homosexual if you’ve never had a homosexual experience? Can you say as an alpha male you’re certain that kissing the red, ripe lips of a beautiful Spanish man in the moonlight wouldn’t be intoxicating if you’ve never done it?” Tell me! Can you say you know it for sure?”  He had increased the volume to a level that was undeniably heard by everyone in the entire room each time he said “homosexual.”

This time there was no answer from the diners because as soon as he unleashed the “h” word Cindy scurried over to “re-direct” him right back to his room before he caused one of the visitors to have a stroke and end up at Sunny Acres themselves.

The rest of Tiller’s performance was screamed over his shoulder as Cindy quickly rolled him away. “The bouncing of round, beautiful breasts on a Polynesian girl as she sways in front of a ceremonial fire…tell me! Can you say they wouldn’t be lovely to hold?” He finished this thought by cupping his hands below his own breasts.

Tiller stopped shouting when he realized he was back in his own room. He was perfectly calm. He asked Cindy to have soup and coffee brought to him. He complied with her every request in assisting him back to bed and was very soon snug and comfy in his private abode, happy once again.

Mr. Tiller’s care plan was amended the next day, but not because he wanted it changed. It was changed because a family member complained that their 92-year-old mother did not need to hear such filth from a crazy man while eating her meals.

And that’s how Mr. Tiller won his last battle. He died six weeks later alone, peacefully, in his bed.

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As a former transportation industry writer, I learned that a regular paycheck is nice, but writing about something you're no longer interested in is miserable. Apparently, I like writing more than money - so I'm back to freelancing at 52. It's not as altruistic as it sounds, I'm also cranky and difficult and refuse to fit in anymore, making steady employment pesky and potentially dangerous to my psyche.

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