“Don’t think that I’ll forget this.” Penwarren pointed a stubby finger at Sue.
“Sue,” Frank Atherton interjected. “If you have any trouble from Mr. Penwarren, you call me personally. Day or night. Understood?”
“Completely, Frank. I’ve got you on speed dial.” She hid a smile of satisfaction when Penwarren blanched.
“Since you seem to know where that room is located, I’ll leave you to it,” Frank said politely.
“Can I at least get help with my luggage?”
“This isn’t a hotel, Mr. Penwarren. It’s a retirement facility. We don’t have bellboys.”
Frank held his hands out from his sides, showing off his expensive charcoal pinstripe suit. “Saville Row suits do not carry luggage, Mr. Penwarren. Good night.” He nodded, backing toward the elevator.
“Asshole,” Penwarren mumbled as he went out the front door.
“Douchebag,” Frank muttered as he waited for the elevator.
Normally, Frank Atherton would have been home already, his feet up, a cold lager in his hand. However, they’d known all day that Penwarren was due to arrive. Not knowing the exact time, he’d stayed, spending the night in one of the guest rooms, just in case there was trouble. He didn’t live far, but making the drive in the cold, on potentially icy roads, in the middle of the night, held very little appeal.
Ralph Penwarren was a bully. He was also a skinflint who didn’t care enough about his mother to give her the care she needed. He visited once a year and bullied and belittled his mother the entire time.
Mabel Penwarren was a lovely, sweet natured, delicate woman in her late eighties. She endured Ralph’s behavior, but it took her a long time to bounce back after one of his visits. This one was unscheduled, due to a fall she had a week before. Ralph insisted on flying in to harangue the retirement facility, using her well being as an excuse.
Frank Atherton had met Penwarren twice before. He’d worked for Sheltering Oaks Retirement Home for almost three years in the purchasing department. His military experience had done him in good stead. He was organized, efficient and able to handle any crisis that arose. When the previous assistant manager quit unexpectedly, he’d been the logical choice to take over. He’d found out on the sly that his predecessor had left largely in part because of Ralph Penwarren.
Once in his room, Frank kicked off his shoes, loosened his tie and shrugged off his jacket. The room was comfortably warm, the heat blowing gently from wall units in the living room and bedroom. The small kitchen had been fully stocked by the housekeeping staff, minus beer, of course. No alcohol was allowed on campus as it was a church sponsored facility.
The dining room had sent up a meal for him, which he hadn’t had a chance to eat. He opened the ‘to go’ containers and emptied the contents onto a plate. Popping it into the microwave, he started the Salisbury steaks, mashed potatoes and green beans heating. It smelled good. Not a gourmet meal, but beat the crap he usually ate all to hell and back.
Frank wasn’t a cook. He ate out or fixed frozen dinners for himself. He wouldn’t starve, but the dining room meal was the closest he usually got to home cooked. Still single, he’d never even had a live in girlfriend. Overseas most of his military career, he hadn’t had the opportunity to make or maintain a long relationship with a woman. Special Ops had to be ready to bug out on a moment’s notice.
He’d gotten more than one call when he had the rare female company. Women tended not to like the fact he had to toss them out in the middle of the night so he could go on some mission he couldn’t talk about afterward.
So, he was single, unattached, bored, frustrated and horny. It was just as well he didn’t have any alcohol. The way he was feeling, he’d probably have drunk himself into oblivion.
The microwave dinged while he was donning his jeans and T-shirt. He pulled the shirt over his head and crossed the 10 feet between the bedroom and kitchen quickly. He grabbed a fork out of the drawer and went to the living room to eat. This guest room was only partially furnished. There was a TV, wingback chair and loveseat in the living room. No dining room table, but a small end table with a single lamp took up space to the left side of the couch.
The bedroom had a chest of drawers, the other end table a queen sized bed and a floor lamp. He’d scrounged the unoccupied guest room next door and pulled another floor lamp out of the closet. This, he added to the illumination in the bedroom. He turned on the dining area light and the lamp before clicking on the TV. Setting down his plate, he got himself a soda from the fridge, popping it open one handed.
“Crap,” he mumbled, hitting the remote to change the station. “Crap—crap—crap. . . . Caca en Españole.”
He continued to click until he got to the History Channel. A program on military intelligence gathering was ending. He watched until they started a program on Nazi death camps. Preferring not to see that yet again, he clicked once more.
The next channel was the Sheltering Oaks in-home station. It ran informational programs about the facility, but also interviews of residents, special guests and random strangers. An attractive young woman was talking about Alzheimer’s. She stressed keeping the brain active and suggested mental exercises to strengthen the mind.
© Dellani Oakes