This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Many years later, Elizabeth, the art critic I had befriended in detox, started having health problems as her age advanced. She had a visiting nurse for a little while, though, she eventually moved into a retirement home downtown. I visited her once. Elizabeth spent her remaining months in a room with three other bed-ridden elderly women, Edna, Janice, and Susan. Elizabeth was given the bed next to the window. Elizabeth began narrating the action outside her window to the other ladies in her room: at the bus stop was a young girl – very nice-looking, and elegantly dressed, but with a somewhat searching look about her; a stern man with a white moustache and almost no hair – who was wearing a exercise pants and a sweatshirt; another middle-aged man – who seemed to like wearing a seer-sucker suit, as he wore a different coloured one daily, he also perpetually carried an umbrella with him, rain or shine. Every morning the day nurse, Linda, would come into the room to take vital signs, and draw the curtains from Elizabeth’s window. Elizabeth would begin describing the events outside to the other bed-ridden octogenarian women: a school boy, perpetually late, is running down Euclid Avenue with his tie untied – and trying to catch the number 6 bus. The man in the seersucker suit was poking at a piece of crunched-up newspaper with his umbrella. The elegantly dressed young gal was standing off to the side – looking distracted with thought. In the afternoons, the women were moved from their beds into a recreation area. Some of them knit. Others played bridge. After awhile, the afternoon conversations began to centre around Elizabeth’s morning narratives of the outside street action. The other women on the floor became heavily involved in the daily goings-on outside Elizabeth’s window. Extensive feminine analysis set in: perhaps the man with the umbrella was British – Janice’s first husband was
British, “and he always carried an umbrella, you know… and well after we emigrated to Canada.” Linda, the day nurse, told me that she had, “never seen the girls so ebullient.” One day Elizabeth told of a handsome young doctor who arrived at the bus stop in the mornings, and perhaps after finishing his night shift in the Emergency Room. The young doctor always looked wearied and worn, as he drank from a water bottle – his stethoscope tucked into the pocket of green hospital pants. The elegantly dressed young woman immediately began watching him. She used various tactics, trying to get the young doctor’s attention – sometimes she would wander into his peripheral vision and posture herself coquettishly, while checking the fabric on her skirt for non-existent stains. But the doctor was unavailable for attention. The doctor took the number 6 bus, the young gal the 9. Early one morning, when the schoolboy was chasing the number 6 down the street, the young doctor began talking to the girl. The 6 arrived. The boy barely made it. The man in the seer-sucker suit stepped onto the bus. As the number 6 pulled off, the doctor was still talking to the young girl. He looked at ease, and was talking with much hand gesture. The young girl would occasionally touch her hair, and let out a few giggles. As the 9 pulled up to the stop, the girl wrote her number on slip of paper and gave it to the doctor. She stepped on the bus, and it pulled away. The doctor stood at the bus stop looking at her number on the piece of paper, then waved to the bus as it left. Elizabeth continued narrating the courtship of the handsome young doctor and the searching girl for several months until one day, Elizabeth passed away in her sleep. Janice was moved to Elizabeth’s bed near the window. The morning nurse, Linda, came in to open the curtains, and Edna and Susan sat up in their beds – looking at Janice, and waiting for details of the world outside.
“Well?” Susan said. Janice looked out the window and saw nothing but an empty air shaft. She turned to the other women, who were anxiously awaiting the day’s events, and began, “… the school boy is running down Euclid Avenue, chasing the 6…” # Cairo 2004.