If she put her oxygen back on, she could think better.
November 9, 2013
A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental
“Ahhhh!” Laroux Dimitri sighed audibly as she entered her own home once again. Nurse Pennypacker had agreed to drive her home, off the clock, as a friend. She occasionally did this for her special people who had no other way to get there, and Laroux didn’t. Transporting patients was strictly forbidden by the hospital, unless that was one’s legitimate job description. What people did on their own time was their business. Laroux had to wait in the waiting room for Nurse Pennypacker’s shift to end. It drove her nuts. They needed the room so another nurse helped her get checked out and parked her in the waiting room with her things.
When no one else was paying attention, Laroux had gotten an orderly to switch the TV channel from CNN to a soap opera channel. She wasn’t current on these soaps, but she enjoyed watching the smorgasbord of emoting.
“Let’s get you situated!” Pennypacker barked, as they arrived at Laroux’s home. She knew the whole scenario was iffy, but after all, the little old lady felt her independence was a necessity for quality of life—most people do.
Nurse Pennypacker crinkled up her nose at the stale stuffiness floating about in the home. It was like a neglected museum. She did not want to appear nosy. She did locate the oxygen concentrator and checked it. It had seventy-five feet of tubing and that was enough to get her everywhere she needed to go. It was Laroux’s good fortune that she kept a spare key in a hiding place, outside. Because of this, healthcare professionals of different ilk had been able to get her home ready for her return. Nurse Pennypacker handed Laroux the nasal canula and instructed, “You know what to do.”
Then, Nurse Pennypacker went to the Life-Line console by the phone and activated a test of the system. “Here is your necklace.” She handed it to Laroux. “Wear it at all times. Even in the bathroom.” Is there anything I can do for you before I go?”
“No. Thank you for going to all this trouble.”
“Oh, I forgot something.” The nurse left by the front door and retrieved Laroux’s terrarium from the back seat and brought it into the room. Laroux pointed silently to a good spot for it.
“I’ll be off, then. This was always an achingly-difficult part for Nurse Pennypacker, but she knew it was best to just go and let them get on with what lives they had left, sink or swim. “I will try to come visit you in a week or two—you know how it is, though.”
Laroux nodded with a smile.
“I am locking the door and leaving the key in its special hiding place.”
Laroux nodded, again. With that, nurse Pennypacker was gone. Laroux plopped herself down in her favorite soft chair and reached for her TV remote. Exhaustion consumed her.
* * *
When Laroux came to, an infomercial for collapsible garden hoses was blaring on the TV. “Oh, be quiet!” She muttered. She had been informed that home aides had come in and removed perishables from her refrigerator and cleaned it. Meals that she could microwave were being supplied by a senior center daily, shortly before noon. A traveling aide or nurse would be coming in daily before that to monitor her vital signs and check her status. They would make sure she was taking her meds as prescribed. She had her oxygen and a necklace to summon help if needed.
“I guess I am fixed up,” she mumbled out loud. “I think I will go make a snack, maybe some toast and jelly and a cup of tea. To be on the safe side, I guess I’d better take this oxygen off while in the kitchen.” After her snack she went back to her chair. “So good to be home. Now! I must get hard at work to help Angus and Skeeter. Think, Laroux, think! Who is creating these brainless bodies and why? Oh. I guess I should put my oxygen back on. I could probably think better.”
* * *
“Here is today’s mail, Miss Dimitri,” the aide said as she came back in the front door.
“Oh, good!” Laroux mumbled when she came across an envelope from Angus. “I am getting a vibe, already.”
Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.