“We used to dance.” Carl leaned forward on his bed. “At the Starlight. Sometimes we stayed to the wee hours of the morning. Everyone wanted to dance with Lizzie, but she was mine. We got married in that old cathedral down town.” He scratched his right earlobe. “What was its name again…”
“Shhhhh. Jeopardy’s on.” Jacob rolled onto his side, turning his back on his roommate. “I can’t hear the answers with all your yammering.”
“Did I ever tell you how we met?” Carl smiled. “I was a soda jerk…”
A bewildered look shown in Carl’s eyes.
The morning sun cast dancing shadows across the drawn window shade. The persistent clatter of the medication cart rattled in the distance; its wobbling wheels resonated through the hall. Carl raised his head off his pillow as the sound drew near.
“Good morning, gentlemen,” a cheerful voice called from the corridor.
“Lizzie?” Carl’s eyes brightened at the sight of the young lady entering his room.
“No, Mr. Jensen. I’m Tiffanie, remember?” She pulled the curtain around the elderly man’s bed. “I’m here to give you your medicine.”
Confusion washed over his expression. “Did I tell you how we met? I was a soda jerk at the corner drugstore.” He chuckled as he caught his breath. “Every Friday we’d go to the Starlight. We used to dance…”
“Yes Mr. Jensen.” She handed him a small cup with several pills in it. “You’ve told me many times. Now let’s take a look at your vitals.”
Carl gagged on the medication.
“Dr. McBreen is coming to see you today.”
Trepidation etched through the creases of his age-wearied face. “Where’s Lizzie?” He gazed at his surroundings. “She was just here a minute ago.”
“No, Mr. Jensen.” Tiffanie heaved a sigh. “Your wife died two years ago.”
He sat in stunned silence.
“I’m sorry.” She pulled the curtain back. “I’ll check on you later.” She pulled the screen around the neighboring bed. “Hi, Mr. Taylor. Time for your medicine.”
“I bet the boys line up to dance with you.” Carl’s hands trembled as he reached for his glass of water. “We used to dance, Lizzie and me. Every Friday night at…”
“At the Starlight. I know, Mr. Jensen.” Tiffanie checked the aged man’s blood pressure and pulse. “Please, try and relax.”
“Will she be here today?” Loneliness echoed in his voice. “Will Lizzie be here?”
“No, Mr. Jensen. She won’t…”
“Lizzie!” Carl gestured to a figure in the doorway. “Is that my Lizzie?”
“I’ll be right back.” Tiffanie walked to the door. “Deanna, I’m glad you made it.”
“How’s he doing?”
“It’s been a rough few days,” Tiffanie whispered to the visitor. “He’s asking for your mother again.”
“I talked to the doctor.” She wiped a tear from her eye. “He says dad’s going into stage three.”
“Is that you Lizzie?” Carl’s voice interrupted.
“I can’t stand seeing him like this. This disease…” Her voice waivered, "It's robbing him of everything he is … or was. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want this to be my vision of him.”
“Just be there for him.” Tiffanie put her hand on Deanna’s shoulder. “And try to hang onto the good times.”
Deanna took a deep breath. “Hi dad.” She walked toward her father. “It’s me, Deanna.”
“Deanna?” Carl squinted his eyes. “Did you bring your mother?”
She sat on the chair at his bedside. “Dad…”
“Did I ever tell you how we met?” He paused while he caught his breath. “I was a soda jerk at the corner drug store.”
Deanna heaved a sigh. “I’d like to hear about that.” She held his hand.
Carl’s eyes lit up. “Every Friday night we’d go to the Starlight. We used to dance…”
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