It was noon and I had just finished mopping the kitchen floor and was standing breathless when Tim emerged from behind his curtain.
“The trouble is,” he said, not quite petulantly, “there’s nothing to do here. There are two computers and neither one of them works for me.”
Actually there are three computers and Jerry has gone to some pains to set one of them up so Tim can view the Astronomy Picture of the Day, check his email, and play an earlier, simpler version of a game he used to be able to play.
At another time he told us, “I don’t know anyone up here. All my friends are down at my place.”
“At the apartment house?” I queried. I only knew of one.
“No. AA people.”
“I didn’t know any of them lived around you.”
“I pass them on the street.”
I am afraid at some point he may insist on moving back to the dump, even though his life there had pretty well ground to a halt. He had given up studying Hebrew, his focus for the past dozen years, he was not motivated to get to the library every afternoon, as he used to do, he often skipped walking to the Senior Center for his single meal of the day. (He is 5′ 5″ and down to 122 pounds, only four pounds more than I weigh and I am 5-foot-nothing.) When we would go see him, he was in shabby robe and soiled slippers, and all he did, pretty much, was sit disconsolately on the edge of his bed while Jerry got his computer unstuck and I lined up his pills for the coming week.
I don’t see what there is to go back to.
Here, the hacking cough of his chronic bronchitis seems to be clearing up. He isn’t depressed when he is around people. He keeps his preferred nocturnal hours, sleeps till noon or after, reads his newspaper over a cup of coffee, and takes naps at will. He’s reading books again–since being with us, he has read Kahn’s The Harbinger, James’ Varieties of Religious Experience (again) and now a book about the Holocaust that he says he wishes he had never started because once you start it you can’t put it down and it’s horrific.
If he insists on going back to the apartment, which still has roaches–I think they all ran into adjoining apartments, held their collective breath and came back when the fumes cleared–when all his bedding and clothes are at our house (finally clean) and his bed has no mattress or pillow because Jerry dragged them out to the alley–well, we’ll evade that bridge when we come to it.