Author's Note: Hey guys! This is going to be a small series of short stories to get some practice with writing for short word counts (IE, 750 words or less). I'm notoriously bad at it, so enjoy an insight into the life of Rick.
"Remember that time you did a thing and something happened? That was pretty cool, right?"
He sighed. These days all Jim could muster were questions of little substance, ever since his accident. A bunch of nonsense that Rick was supposed to decipher in a lame attempt at creating conversation. 4:30 couldn't come fast enough for him, he decided.
"Rick, do you remember?" Jim looked hopeful this time, certain that he'd said the right thing. His face held all the bright light of boyhood innocence encased in a thick outer shell of old age. A wealth of experience that had been lost, to be replaced by a well of youth untapped for decades. It just barely made up for the constant annoyance that Rick felt every time he had to answer another of Jim's questions. Barely.
"Of course I remember, Jim. It was the coolest thing I've done yet", another sigh. When Rick had taken the job he'd been warned of Jim's unique outlook on life, but the hiring firm he'd contacted for this position never informed him he'd be looking after what may as well be a child.
He had decided against children for a reason.
Rick checked his watch: 3:35. Thank god that he wouldn't have to handle Jim for much longer today. He glanced over at his ward, who appeared to be struggling in his mind with some complex problem or another, his face scrunched in deep concentration. It was amusing and sad at the same time, a man no longer visited by his children, his grandchildren, reduced to little more than a fool. He pitied him.
"Whatcha thinking about there, Jim?" Rick decided he'd play the nice guy today. At any given moment he was quite fond of giving Jim a hard time, but it was all in good fun. Jim never understood what Rick's jokes meant anyway, so he was safe from any complaints.
"They told me to do a thing today. What is the thing, Rick? Do you know?" Jim searched Rick's eyes for a light of confirmation. Surely Rick must know, he was the one taking care of him after all. "Do you, Rick?" He asked again.
"They never told me shit, Jim. You're on your own this one." It was the truth. Homecare Ltd. never gave Rick the time of day, let alone a day plan for his charge. It was a crap company with crap pay, but it gave him the money for a dingy one bedroom apartment in the dive of downtown, something he couldn't afford when he was living in his tent on Lewis Ave.
"Oh." Jim looked disappointed, his youth deflating in the span of a single heartbeat. He was an empty shell now, all sense of inquisition gone from his mind. Another blank slate chalkboard waiting to be written upon. Rick was guilty of doing this to him daily, but it wasn't his job to foster his boyish curiosity. He was just the attendant.
Beep beep! Beep beep! Beep beep! Ah, 4:30 at last. Another boring and uneventful day for Rick had gone by and he could now make his way home on the same city bus he took every day, exactly at 4:37. He could go home to the same ratty couch, the same sunken mattress, lay his head on the same old and shrunken pillow, close his eyes until he has to come back to Jim. Always Jim.
That's just how Rick's life was.