Every morning, old man Krane rises from his bed and pushes himself into his wheelchair. He shaves, eats a breakfast of yogurt and bran flakes, then wheels himself into the living area of the Royal Terrace Assisted Living Center. He stares at the television screen and never says a word. Hours go by, people move around him, but he doesn't move a muscle until it's time to eat again. His steely grey eyes almost never blink and the few white hairs that remain on his head hardly move at all. At the end of the day he goes back to his room, showers, then goes to bed.

This has been his life for the last ten years, ever since the mining accident that took his mobility. Even before he was confined to his chair, however, his body was slowly being eaten away by the cancer that spread through his lungs. Spending most of his life in the dark tunnels of a coal mine had left his lungs riddled with disease. Old man Krane's body quaked with each ferocious cough that tore through his lungs. Often he would wake up in the middle of the night with a hacking, horrible cough, sputtering up blood and black tissue. After he lost his legs, his family decided to put him in Royal Terrace because he could no longer take care of himself. What they really meant, however, was that they didn't want to take care of him.

It was Visitors Day. The Center swarmed with grandkids and great grandkids all being loud and overly friendly. Some of the family visiting that day obviously did not want to be, but still they came out of respect or guilt or because at least one of them still loved the aging resident they had come to see. Old man Krane, however, had no visitors. No mischievous grandchild was cleaned up and forced to behave for him. No snarling teenager was dragged into the Center and forced to smile happily. He had never received one single visitor since he first came there. Not one single card or letter graced his mailbox. Where other residents taped up poorly drawn pictures of houses and rocket ships – gifts from their smallest family members – old man Krane had only empty space. If it weren't for the checks that the Center received once a month, there would be no proof that he ever had a family.

So on this Visitor's Day, old man Krane sat in his wheelchair, his eyes riveted to the screen that told of wars in far away lands. His thickly muscled arms rested on their rests and his knobby, gnarled hands gripped his chair so tightly that his knuckles were almost white. No one else was in the living area but him, and the only sounds were the television and his harsh, laboured breathing. It was dinnertime, and all of the visitors with their corresponding residents were happily feasting in the dining hall. The muffled sound of their voices floated down the sterile white halls of the place. Old man Krane's steel-coloured eyes didn't move in their sockets. Silent explosions and gunfire were displayed on the screen as a woman's pleasant voice told of massive casualties.

"No, Daddy! No!" Screamed the voice of a little boy. Heavy footfalls resounded through the place. The old man's eyes flicked in the direction of the child. An angry voice mumbled curses through gritted teeth, making the little boy's voice shake and become louder. "I didn't mean to!"

Krane twisted his head a little and watched the two go down the hall. The boy began to cry and the man stopped, tightening his grip on the boy's arm and speaking threats in a low voice. His son continued to sob and protest, but the man only got angrier.

The old man's jaw clenched as he turned his hard grey eyes back toward the screen. A loud smack echoed through the air as the father hit his son. "Boy!" Krane grunted loudly, coughing to clear his throat. His voice was ragged and dry from infrequent use. "Come here, boy!"

The little boy looked between the old man and his father, trying to decide which he should be more afraid of. Eventually deciding on the new and unknown fear, he squirmed out of his father's grasp and scrambled over to Krane.

In his cold, knobby hand he held out a small toy car and softly spoke kind words to the child. They were the first kind words he had spoken in a long, long time.

"Hey," the father said weakly as the boy took the car and smiled. Irritation showing in his step, he trudged toward the old man and sank down in a chair beside him with a long sigh. "Kids," he offered with a huff. "You know how they are."

"Yes," Krane said accusingly. "I do." Both of the men watched the boy as he delighted in his new toy. The room was silent for a while until Krane started to speak. "You got a while, son?"

The man grunted. "How long are these things?"

Krane pushed a button on a remote and the TV turned off. "You got time." Settling back into his chair, old man Krane began his story.

"I had a wife once. Kids, too. Three of 'em. Two boys and a little girl. I never wanted them, but there they were. Greedy little guttersnipes, eating up all my money. There was always somethin' wrong with 'em. Earaches and stomach aches and broken arms. They always had to go to the doctor. And if it warn't that, they'd need money for school books or they'd be out growin' their clothes. Not to mention they'd eat me out of house and home.

"Oh, and the things they wanted me to do! I'd come home after working in the mine all day and I'd hear 'Come play catch with us, Dad!' or 'Won't you read to me, Daddy?' or 'Sign this for school, Dad!' or 'Can you pull my loose tooth, Daddy?' It was ridiculous. They were loud and rowdy and were always breakin' stuff. Then there were the endless nights when they'd have a bad dream and would come cryin' t'my room."

"They drove me near insane and I spent the least amount of time around 'em as I could. Any spare moment I had, I spent it far away from home. My wife bugged me to stay home more but I just couldn't stand those kids. I'd yell at 'em and cuss at 'em, but they never let up. I'd throw stuff, threaten 'em, hit 'em, but they were relentless. I decided it was best if I stayed away. I only came home when I had to, and I was drunk most of the time when I did.

"Before I knew it, my boys grew into men and my little girl became a woman. They all went off and got families of their own and they barely ever spoke to me again. Right when they got to an age where they weren't so irritating and were actually fun to be around, they up and left the house and refuse to speak to me. When they did, they were mostly yelling at me. Never seen such blatant disrespect for someone's elder! They would talk with my wife and would sometimes even come to visit her, but would get up and leave whenever I entered the room.

"My wife died a few years after and I was completely alone. At her funeral, my children blamed me for her death, saying that I drove her to her grave. Years went by after that, I don't even know how long. Days came and went but it didn't matter. I was old. I don't know how or when it happened but I was an old man. My life was most over. What had happened? Where were my happy memories? What had I done with the people in my life? Wrecked 'em, that's what. My children would hardly speak to me, and I didn't have any friends.

"My accident happened, and the children visited me then. They called me an old ruin, said it was what I deserved. They sent me here. Every day I live with the guilt and regret of my actions – my life. I was cruel and heartless to those that needed me the most, and I wasted my entire life." He couldn't speak any more. His voice broken painfully and his eyes streamed tears of remorse. He sniffled loudly, weeping openly. When he glanced up, he found all of the Royal Terrace staff and residents watching him, most with glistening tear-streaked faces. They had all turned out to hear old man Krane, who never said a word to anybody, speak.

The old man cleared his throat and swiped at his eyes. He grabbed the remote and flicked on the TV. "You should be nicer to that boy." He said to the man, who nodded numbly before looking away.

The people lingered for a while but the old man didn't speak again, and over time, he once again became just old man Krane, who never said a word and never had a visitor. But they never forgot the story he told, and they never forgot his face.