to tell the truth

“if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” –mark twain

he lurched forward & fell to the sidewalk, knees first followed by his outstretched palms, his head hitting the sidewalk & even though i was at least a 1/2 block away i thought i could hear the crack of his skull when it banged onto the concrete.   i ran toward him & as i got closer, he looked up at me with the pleading eyes of a child, “i’m hurt,” he cried, “where’s mary?”

this elderly man i saw almost every day, walking with his radio earphones jammed over a khaki bucket hat.  we had a nodding acquaintance.  i’d seen where he lived (the community in the valley below ours); sometimes coming out of his garage on his way for a walk, while i, likewise, was out walking, sometimes with the dogs, & sometimes alone.

“i’m hurt,” he said again, “help me.”  a childlike terror emanated from him, his voice may have squeaked, a young boy, hurt.

“don’t get up, just lay back down on the sidewalk until we can figure out what’s happened to you,” words from my mouth came out; i touched/rubbed/handled his arms looking for broken bones (only bloody scratches.)

“i’m hurt,” he cried, tears welling in the wrinkles at the corner of his eyes, “where’s mary?” he asked again.

“is mary your wife?  tell me your name.”


“dick, do you know who the president is right now?” (too much t.v.)

“where’s mary?”  he cried again, sobbing now.  i put my arms around him & held him close.  a neighbor woman came out of her house, “call 911, please,” i asked & she dashed back inside to make the call.  when she came back out, i asked her to sit with dick while i ran down the hill to his house to get his wife.

their garage door was open (no car inside,) i ran in, the door to the kitchen was open & i tentatively called out “mary, mary, are you in here?”  no response.  i ran back out & there she was in their car making the corner, i ran waving to her “stop, stop!”

“dick has fallen up in our neighborhood, we’ve called 911, he’s hurt & disoriented.  i’ll take you there,” i pointed in the general direction of where he lay (as the emergency vehicle wailed past on the main street.)

“i couldn’t find him,” she said, “he knows he’s not to go any further than our community.  he has alzheimer’s.”  & she backed the car up, turned it around & took off toward where i’d pointed, leaving me standing there (i had thought she might ask me to get in for the ride back up the hill, but i understood her fear & turned to jog after her.)

i made it back up to where dick was, now with firemen standing all around, mary kneeling beside him, rocking him back & forth.  they walked him to her car, put him in it, shut the door & she drove off with her husband.

i never saw him again & once when i waved at mary, she ignored me.


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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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