The Feedback

(Note: This is the second part of a story that begins HERE.)

“What I want for Mr. Burns’ future is what I assume you all want for yours” I said, looking around at the blank faces in the room. “So let’s think about that, shall we? I want him to have a nice, warm, clean place to live, where he feels comfortable and doesn’t have to worry about bedbugs or sitting around in his own urine day after day. I want him to live in a place with caregivers who really do care about and understand him; people who enjoy propping him up and maintaining his dignity. I want him to have nutritious food that might actually prolong his life, not promote his death. I want him to have friends and activities that stimulate and reward his creative side. I want him to have a hot cup of coffee every morning and a sunny window to sit in when he reads because here’s a man who’s spent his entire adult life at the mercy of people with too much to do and not enough time or resources to do it. He deserves the same happiness as you or I do and that’s what I want for his future.”

They all sat there for a long minute staring at their paperwork. No “Happiness” box to tick off, no “Needs a foster family” option. Finally, the social worker said: “We really appreciate your feedback Miss Adcock. He’ll be discharged on Saturday. Feel free to call us if there’s anything else we can do.”

I fought the urge to ask what they’d done so far and let the words sink in, hoping I could remember them exactly. Then I left the rehabilitation center and drove to WalMart where: with what would have been Walt’s next rent payment I bought him all new clothes including socks and underwear, a coat, a new pillow, a mattress cover, a reading lamp, a thermal coffee cup, some reading glasses, an electric razor, a television (because mine is in the bedroom) and an old-school antenna. That afternoon when I got home I disassembled my living room and had a big, screaming fist fight with God, who by all accounts, had just given Walter exactly what I’d asked for.

also see Slick City