Illustration: Denis Shifrin
We had another one of those false alarms on Friday in the lounge at the retirement home. It was full of residents, all busy with their coffee and cake; conversations and arguments were raging up and down, a few great-grandchildren were running around and getting in everyone’s hair – normal Friday morning bedlam. I looked around to watch the action for a moment and there was Harry, fast asleep in an armchair. I envied him being able to drop off in the midst of all the noise. He even had a small smile on his face as though he was far away in some serene place, undisturbed and uninvolved.
I see Harry often. Our apartments are on the same floor so we often bump into each other waiting for the elevator and we chat about important stuff – the weather and the food, the politics and the food. A big man, he seems quite fit, although he uses a cane to get around. He’s one of those quiet men… never speaks unless spoken to. Always has a smile on his face.
I glanced at him again and saw that he had not moved. Of course, after that I kept turning to look at him. After all, how long can a man sit without moving? Finally the penny dropped. Harry had left for some other place. No noise, no hysterics. Like a magic show - one second here, next second gone.
I got up, crossed the floor and stood looking down at him. Mike joined me and we stood uncertain for a moment, looking for a sign of life.
“He’s gone, huh?”
“How can you tell?”
“Dunno. I don’t have much experience with this stuff. I reckon he’s gone.”
“Should I go for help?”
“Yeah, may as well get another opin…”
At that moment Harry came to life. He blinked, fixed the smile on his face and said, “Hi guys! Have we had coffee yet?”