An aging and crippled homicide detective and his long dead partner team up to solve one last case.
“We here at Sunset Village like to think of ourselves as facilitators, referees as it were for the end game,” Mr. Wainwright was showing Nathan and Susan, Ben’s children, around the Village’s big common room. A huge carpeted lobby filled with upholstered chairs and sofas. Ben sat in his wheeled chair pretending not to listen. This was just a formality. The decision had already been made that this was going to be Ben's new home. It was the best of the assisted care facilities in a hundred mile radius. It was centrally located for the kids to come now and then. The tour was to help orient the new customer and reassure the family that he would be well taken care of.
“Don’t worry about your father being bored; we’ll find plenty to keep him busy. We have a regular activity schedule and a full time activity coordinator.” Dick Wainwright pointed to a hand lettered white board on an easel listing the day’s activities. There was something going on for almost every hour of the day. “Have you met Kerry yet?” Nathan and Susan shook their heads. Wainwright didn’t miss a beat and called over a pretty, perky twenty something. “This is Kerry Collins, our director of activities, she’ll see to it that Ben here is fully occupied.” Wainwright patted Ben on the shoulder as he said this. Ben felt like biting his hand.
“What does your dad like to do?” Kerry asked Susan.
“Dad likes to read,” Susan said. “Mysteries mostly. He used to be a homicide detective you know, before the accident I mean.”
“Well that’s just great,” said Kerry cheerily.
“Excuse me,” said Nathan who usually let Susan do the talking. “What’s great? That he lost the use of his legs or that the stroke has addled his brain?”
“Oh no,” Kerry sputtered. “I meant that every second Thursday of the month we have mystery night. We watch movies and talk about mystery novels. Once in a while a theater group comes in and acts out a little who done it. I’ll bet your father would love that. Wouldn’t you Ben?” Kerry knelt down and addressed Ben in that annoying way young people have when speaking to the elderly.
Ben made a raspberry noise.
The tour continued. Wainwright ushered them into the lovely dining room and introduced them to Armando Parma. “Armando is our dining room manager and head nutritionist. Any complaints about the food go right to Mr. Parma.” Wainwright flashed his capped tooth smile. “Just kidding, we pride ourselves on our wonderful cuisine.”
“Does your father have any special dietary requirements?” Armando asked.
“No,” Dad eats everything. A lifetime of street food has given him a cast iron stomach.” This wasn’t quite true. Ben had been chewing antacids for years to keep his indigestion under control.
“Would you like to see the kitchen,” Wainwright asked.
“No, that’s okay,” said Nathan looking at his watch.
Armando Parma shook hands all around and excused himself. To Ben he said, “I hope we’ll be seeing you around Mister...er?”
“Ben,” croaked Ben, “Just call me Ben.”
Ben stared at Parma’s bald head and muscular build. An image flashed into his head—a bald head, a pool of blood. At first Ben thought he was having another of his mental lapses or mini strokes that had been plaguing him of late. But it was a legitimate memory from fifteen years ago, a dead bald man broken on the sidewalk.
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