Missing Pieces – Finale


After the nurse closes the door behind her and leaves, I stare ahead at the wall.

Great, because of her, I’ll be back in the Health Center tomorrow.

I readjust the pillow behind me and use the remote control to ease the chair back again. I’m not sure if I’m relieved that the insanity is over or if I’m made more aware of my helplessness. I look down at my left hip and shift to my good side.

A sharp pain radiates up my leg. I wince then pop a couple Darvocets in my mouth.

Despite the physical pain, I feel nothing.

Numb, I put my head back on the headrest and stare at the ceiling fan, whirring overhead. All the arguments and threats of another lawsuit are put to rest now. I’ve got no more leverage. The director of nursing and the administrator will have their way. Ruth will be sent to the Alzheimer’s unit, and I’ll return to the Health Center.

The end is near. My steady supply of bourbon will cease. No drinking in the Health Center.

Once again, I’ll have to share a 12×12 room with some blithering idiot and will be reduced to 144 square feet of anonymity; all the achievements in my life—the million dollar cases won, country club membership, and status earned—will only remind me how painful it is to no longer exist.

All because of those damn puzzle pieces. She always had to be working on a puzzle. She’d leave me to go in the study to put the same damn puzzle together over and over.

What about me? I needed her help.

She never understood that. Nobody in this God forsaken place does. She’s finally gone and I’ve got no help. I can’t even get a drink around here . . .

. . . maybe one more drink. I can still get one more. I can make it to the liquor cabinet, I’m sure I can. I’ll get good and drunk one last time even if I have to crawl there. My hip can stand one last strain.

I ease the chair forward and slide down. The pillow behind me tumbles to the floor. From inside the pillowcase, a heavy-duty zip lock bag, containing thousands of puzzle pieces I took from their boxes, spills out.

On my hands and knees, I crawl to the liquor cabinet. I look up at the TV one last time. Tiger Woods punches the air with his fist as he drains a putt. I better be careful not to get cut on any of the pieces of glass. Those damned puzzle pieces.

For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.
(James 1:11)

Posted in Fiction, Short Stories
One comment on “Missing Pieces – Finale
  1. Maggie says:

    What an amazing ability you have as a young writer to imagine yourself as an old man at the end of his productive life. Keep up the good work.