Home Care

Scotty was surprised to hear the doorbell because he didn't get a lot of visitors. He carefully pulled himself out of his easy chair and limped to the door, revealing the person standing on the front porch when he opened it. He didn't recognize her at first although there was something vaguely familiar about her from the moment he laid eyes on her.

"Mr. Scott," the woman greeted nervously.

She didn't say anything else as she stared at him, hoping he'd say something in reply. Scotty peered at her trying to place her and slowly his eyebrows rose and his mouth turned downward. Her hair was much shorter before - almost butch and multi-colored. She used to wear a nose ring and baggy grunge clothes. The person standing before him now had longer hair (to her shoulders) which was one color - brown (brushed and styled). The nose ring was gone and she was wearing a skirt and a colored blouse with sandals. But Scotty knew it was her.

"You have a lot of nerve returning to the scene of the crime," he growled.

"I'm here to apologize."

"I could call the cops, you know," he threatened.

"How come you didn't then?"

"Because they would have arrested me for being stupid," he said angrily. "You need to leave."

"Please, Mr. Scott," she said desperately. "I'm here to make amends."

"I really don't want to talk to you," Scotty told her tartly.

"I don't blame you," she replied. "But I'm not going to leave until we settle the past."

"I could slam this damn door in your sorry face," Scotty threatened, moving the door back and forth on its hinges.

"I'll stand out here all night if I have to."

Scotty gave her a long hard cold stare of hatred and disgust before limping away, leaving the door open. He returned to his chair and dropped into it in defeat, overwhelmed by the memories of her betrayal.

His visitor tentatively stepped into the house, closing the door behind her before slowly walking into the living room while glancing around at the surroundings.

"Hasn't changed much," she observed.

"Where's that dirt bag son of a bitch good for nothing bastard of a boyfriend of yours?" Scotty demanded.

"He's dead," she revealed, collapsing onto the couch. "OD'ed a couple of years ago."

"Oh," Scotty muttered awkwardly, not sure if he regretted being so insensitive. But he couldn't bring himself to say he was sorry because the jerk really was a bastard.

"That's when I got clean and sober, Mr. Scott," she told him. "I've been doing good for a long time. Rehab, now meetings, therapy, the works."

Scotty stared at her for a long moment trying to decide if he should forgive her or shame her. He was surprised at how angry he still was but there did seem to be something sincere and remorseful about her.

"You stole my dead wife's jewelry," he said bitterly. "My dead grandmother's antique silverware."

"I feel horrible about that," she said. "Real shame."
"I trusted you."

"And I violated that trust," she freely admitted. "That's why I'm here. To own up to it." She opened the small purse that was slung over her shoulder and pulled out a wad of bills. "I've been trying to save money to pay you back."

"It's not about the money," he said, his voice quivering. "My dead wife's jewelry. My dead grandmother's silverware. Heirlooms. Sentimental value. Memories."

"I was a thoughtless, careless, self-centered addicted jerk," she said. "There's nothing I can say or do to take away the pain I caused. I'm truly sorry for what I did."

"It was a very vulnerable time in my life," Scotty reminded her. "My wife killed in the car accident. Me severely injured and needing help around here. You were supposed to be a Home Care Aide keeping the place clean, preparing some meals and helping me get around."

"The company didn't know about my problem," she said.

"Did they know about your boyfriend?" Scotty frowned.

"I never should have brought him in here," She admitted with guilt.

"I was defenseless," Scotty said. "I was at your mercy."

"I took advantage of you," she said knowingly. "I went about as low as anybody can go."

"Fucking that guy while I slept in the next room."

She looked away in horrified humiliation. "You knew?" She asked with embarrassment.

"I heard!" He said with disgust.

She didn't know what to say so she held up the money in her hand. "Will you take this?" She asked.

"No," he said. "It's blood money to me."

Her eyes filled with tears. "I need to try to make it up to you somehow."

"I'm not ready right now," Scotty admitted. "It still hurts too much. Your loser boyfriend ridiculed and humiliated me. You used me and violated my boundaries. Took advantage of my situation. Preyed on me"

"I'm so terribly sorry," she said, her voice breaking.

"Look, I'm glad you're getting your life back together," he told her, lightening up his tone some. "You're young. There's time for a do over for you. I wish you well. Live a long and fruitful life. Give back. Do some good."

"I can't leave with this unresolved between us," she said with determination.

"You can't force people to forgive you, young lady," Scotty said with annoyance. "It doesn't work on your time schedule."

"How are you doing these days?" She asked with concern.

"I'm disabled," he replied with resentment. "I'm on a fixed income. My leg is permanently disfigured. I get migraines. I miss my wife. My job."

"I'm sorry," she said softly.

"I don't need your pity," he snapped. "I need you to leave."

"I don't have anywhere to go," she revealed.

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm not from around here," she sighed.

"So go back to where you came from."

"I'm not from anywhere," she admitted pitifully. "Bobby snatched me away from a foster home when I was sixteen."

He almost felt sorry for her for a brief moment but then he remembered how she laughed at him the day she took off with Bobby for good, belittling him as she left and telling him how pathetic and weak he was.

"Couldn't I stay here again?" She asked hopefully. "I'll help you," she promised. "Cook the meals. Clean. Keep you company. You wouldn't have to pay me."

"I could never trust you," Scotty seethed. "Fool me once, the joke's on me, fool me twice the joke's on you."

"My whole life is a joke," she muttered, staring down at the rug as the tears fell from her face.

Scotty fought the pangs of sympathy that he felt resonating within. He needed to remind himself that this woman was no good.

"Where did you come from?" He wanted to know. "Where did you go? Where have you been?"

"We never stayed in one place," she sighed. "We moved on when the cops got to close. It was always the next fix. The next place to steal money. I had a home care certificate so I could get jobs wherever we went as long as I kept my record clean. Agencies are always looking for cheap labor. We headed west when we left here. Bobby died in Colorado. That's where I went into rehab. Then I slowly made my way back here."

"Why here?" He asked suspiciously.

"I couldn't stop thinking about you," she admitted. "How terrible we were to you. You are my salvation now. I'm convinced of that. If you'd only give me a chance."

"You pawned the jewelry and silverware?"

"And your coin collection," she said with shame. "And the candlesticks that were stored down cellar."

"The candlesticks were my grandmother's too," he said sullenly. "The coin collection my uncle's."

She pulled a locket with a chain out from under her blouse. "This is the only thing I have of my real family," she said as she stared at the locket in her hand. "The only photo of my mother. It is my only possession of any importance or meaning. My heirloom." She handed it toward him. "Take it," she said. "It will be my ransom. Your guarantee that I won't do anything to hurt, harm or violate you again."

"How old are you now?" He frowned.

"Almost twenty-five," she said defensively.

Scotty groaned. "Jesus," he said. "I can't have someone your age hanging around here."

"I was barely twenty-one when I was hanging around here last time," she pointed out.

"You were working here last time," Scotty clarified.

"I would be working off a debt this time," she reasoned. She shook the locket still in her hand. "Please," she begged.

Scotty had to be the same fool he was three years ago. A fifty-five year old broken lonely man with a bum leg and a miserable life staring at the woman who had made him feel so small and useless, who had stolen from him and victimized him. But he hadn't shaved in six weeks or gotten a hair cut in over a year. He never went out anymore. He was depressed and useless. Maybe he needed something drastic in his life to shake him out of his doldrums. He leaned out and took the locket from her hand.

"First sign of monkey business and you're out on your ass," he warned.

She swallowed hard as she watched him take possession of her treasured locket. "Please be careful with that," she said softly.

"I know how it feels to lose something," he reminded her.

"Thank you," she said softly, wiping the remains of the tears from her face. "For giving me another chance. I promise I'll do right by you."

Scotty didn't reply as she got off the couch and went out the front door, returning a moment later with a large duffle bag she had stowed in the front bushes.

"You know where the room is," Scotty said when he saw her with her belongings.