Chapter 36

Kirby and his big bulldog, Louie, have been living in our basement for half a year, ever since last summer, when Brian rounded them up. There’s not a lot he does or can do. A chunk of his brain is missing. He can’t work. He’s got heart disease, so he spends a lot of time going to the doctor.

The rest of the time he smokes dope.

I have no issue with pot, even though neither Brian nor I take drugs. I think it should be legalized for many reasons. Smoking pot seems to be helping Kirby’s heart. The last time I took him to his cardiologist the doctor said Kirby was getting better.

“I don’t know what you’re doing, but your heart is getting healthier,” he said. “I didn’t expect that to happen.”

Kirby forget things, maybe because of his brain surgery. It’s like the first stage of Alzheimer’s.

One day he was eating an apple. He didn’t finish it, setting it down on the kitchen counter. I thought, OK, should I say something, like get your apple? No, I think I’ll wait to see where his head is.

Kirby watched some TV, did this and that, went downstairs and came back up. By the end of the day what was left of the apple was brown. I threw it away

The next morning, he came up and said, “Jewels, I just had an apple. Have you seen it?”

“No, sweetie, that apple was yesterday.”

“Really? I swear I can taste it, like I just bit into it.”

“I wouldn’t trick you Kirby. It got gross. I threw it away.”

“Oh. Sorry, Jewels.”

“It’s OK.”

After Thanksgiving we had to take him to his doctor to get his medicines changed up. When we did, the next week he started vomiting. We thought it’s probably the medicine change. We got him some food and he ate it and got all fattened up again.

I called him from work.

“How are you feeling?”

“I just ate a pizza.”

“So, you probably don’t want any of the Kung Pao chicken I’m bringing home?”

“I love Chinese,” he said.

After work, which was a ten to nine day, I was sitting on our living room couch, having Kung Pao, when Kirby came up from the basement, doubled over, holding his stomach. “You’ve got to take me to the hospital,” he said. Is it the flu? Is it the medicine again? Is it the pizza and the chicken?

Is it the full moon? My mom was a nurse, she worked in the ER sometimes, and whenever there was a full moon she said, “Oh, shit, it’s a full moon.”

It affects emergency rooms most. If you’re going to have a drug overdose, if you’re going to have something go wrong inside your body, if you’re going to have a freak accident, the full moon is going to make it happen. It’s crazy in emergency rooms whenever there’s a full moon

If you’re going to go nuts, have an episode, boom! You shoot for the moon and land on the roof.

I dropped him off at Fairview Hospital. The ER was packed. “Get in there,” I said. “Don’t sit around. At least get seen.” Kirby shuffled inside.

I sat in my car in the parking lot for an hour, waiting, getting pissed. I called Brian. ”I might have to drag someone out of the ER,” I said. “I’m going to have to beat someone if they don’t tell me what’s going on.”

“We’ll switch out,” he said. “Just come home. I’ll go take care of Kirby. You come home.” It was 1:30 in the morning by the time Brian got home.

“What is it, the flu?” I asked.

“I told them to stop looking at his brain or his heart and look at his gut, which is what was giving him trouble,” said Brian. “When they came back, they said, he’s going to have a ruptured appendix here soon. He needs an operation.”

It was wildly inflamed. They took it out in the morning.

I felt horrible. What kind of a caregiver am I? It never clicked with me, although I knew a lot of adults have flu symptoms when they have appendicitis.

We went to visit him. He was sore and queasy, but all right. They did it laparoscopically, so it was going to be a fast heal.

On Tuesday, back at work, Regina, the new girl at the front desk, stopped me and said, “There’s an envelope here for you. It has your name on it. I keep forgetting to give it to you.”

I thought, someone probably forgot to tip me, and they felt bad, ran in and dropped it off. I was on break later on, having lunch in the back room, not thinking about anything, when Regina came in.

“Here’s that envelope.”

I opened it, expecting a few dollars for me. I found a sheet of paper.

“You have opened your heart and your home to someone less fortunate and are taking care of him. I’m sure your bills have doubled, so please take this, and God Bless You.”

Inside the folded sheet of paper were five one hundred-dollar bills.

Even before I was done reading, I was bawling like a crazy person. I called Brian.

“What’s the matter? Why are you crying?”

I took a picture of the money with my phone and texted it to him. He called me back.

“Julie, that is so beautiful, it just shows you how good God is.”

Whoever it was went to a lot of trouble to make it an anonymous gift. We could have checked the surveillance cameras in the shop, but I didn’t want to disrespect what they had done.

Kirby was back home in our basement, feeling better. He would probably feel even better if I brought some Kung Pao home after work, something to get his spirits and strength back up.

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