Most of the TV programs may be crap, but the in-house network provides something far more interesting. Frank isn’t terribly interested in hearing about Alzheimer’s, but he certainly is interested by the new psychologist.
“After losing my grandmother to Alzheimer’s, I made it my goal to find out everything I could about this dreadful disease. I’ve studied Alzheimer’s for four years. I don’t know everything, but I’ve got some innovative ideas. I’ll be working with different groups here at Sheltering Oaks, trying my techniques. If you’d like to volunteer to be in one of my groups, or want to join up just for fun or information, please contact me.”
She rattled off her name and phone number. It also appeared in huge letters at the bottom of the screen. When she was done, she smiled until the camera faded. The name and number remained on the screen.
Frank stared at the screen until one of the facility infomercials started up. Clicking the remote, he found a cop show he liked and left it on while he ate the remainder of his meal.
Even with the drama unfolding before him, he couldn’t keep his mind off the young woman he’d seen. He’d never been so taken with a woman in his life. She was pretty, vivacious, intelligent, witty and had a voice that sent shivers up his spine. He remembered her name, saying it aloud, liking the feel of it on his tongue.
“Marka Ventimiglia.” Not pronounced exactly like it was spelled, he noticed, practicing. “Ven ti MI lee ya,” he said slowly, experimentally.
Someone knocked at his door. Thinking it might be someone about Mr. Penwarren, he groaned quietly as he stood up.
“Be right there!” He called. He dropped his plate in the kitchen sink and went to the door. “What’s he done now?” He asked automatically as he opened it.
It wasn’t Sue or one of the other staff members. An attractive brunette stood there.
“I’m sorry? Who did what?”
“Oh, no one you’d know. Frank Atherton. I just saw you on TV.” He held out his hand.
She smiled. “Marka Ventimiglia. Nice to meet you. I feel really stupid asking, but yours is the only room with a light on. I took a chance that someone was up.”
He invited her in. She hesitated a moment, then followed him inside.
“What can I do for you?”
“I’m embarrassed to ask. I’m staying in a guest room and I’m out of toilet paper.”
“Really? No spare?” He was puzzled by that. “The girls usually put it under the sink.”
He walked to his restroom. It was quite spacious, with a tub and a separate, walk-in shower. He opened the sink and didn’t find a spare paper under there. Checking all the cupboards, he came up empty.
“That’s weird. Gimme a second.” He dialed the front desk. “Sue, it’s Frank.”
“Hi, Frank. All’s quiet at the moment. Whatcha need?”
“Dr. Ventimiglia is with me and she hasn’t got a spare roll of toilet paper. Neither do I.”
“Oh, gosh. You want me to run some up there?”
“No, you don’t need to. Is Kathy around?”
“She should be. Shall I call her?”
“No, I will. Thanks.” He hung up and dialed the housekeeping office.
No one answered. Puzzled, he hung up and dialed again. Still no answer.
“I’ll try later,” he told his guest. “Do you need some immediately?”
She looked slightly uncomfortable. “As a matter of fact. . . .”
“Please, make yourself at home.” He gestured to his restroom. “Want some coffee?”
“Love some. I’m a caffeine addict. I also drink a lot of water. Hence the urgency.” She closed the door behind her.
He set up a pot of coffee, pulled out the half and half and sugar packets. She came out just as the coffee finished.
Smiling, he served her, inviting her to sit on the loveseat. His laptop occupied the chair. He set it carefully on the floor and clicked off the TV.
“I’ll give Kathy a call again a minute,” he explained. “She might be on break.”
“Thanks. I’m just learning my way around. I got here yesterday.”
“I caught your show tonight. Interesting. You should get a good turn out. I’ll talk it up for you.”
“You wouldn’t believe the success I had when I was doing my clinical,” she responded excitedly. “It was amazing, the results!” She sobered slightly, catching herself before she got too crazy. “I won’t bore you with details. You’ll have to excuse me, Mr. Atherton. I get very excited about my work.”
He smiled, eyes twinkling. “I’m glad one of us can. I’m either playing nursemaid, mother or cop. I never thought I’d have a job like this. None of my duties were in the job description.”
“The director, Mr. Norton, speaks very highly of you.”
He laughed abruptly and rather rudely as he finished his coffee. “Yeah? Boy, that was lie. He thinks I want his job.”
He couldn’t tell if she was serious or not. Looking surprised, he set his mug down.
“Not really. Too much schmoozing.”
“Isn’t that in your job description?”
Frank laughed, shaking his head. “I’m not a schmoozer. I’m more of an in your face kind of guy. Let me give Kathy a call.”
© Dellani Oakes