true tales from the gates of the underworld

The Writer and The Old Lady
February 15, 2012, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Life | Tags: , , , , ,

His name is Robert.  Nobody really seems to know much more than that. People in our town know very little about him, which is unusual;  everyone knows things about everybody else’s business here.
People just know him as Robert.
He walks through the town all day, every day.
He wears the same long coat every day, and the same flat cap. In his hand a rolled up umbrella, a white paper bag with food in the other.  He likes to sit on a bench on the edge of town and eat his breakfast while talking to the sky, his eyes vacant.
His wits have left him long ago, just as his family and friends seem to have left him.
He intrigues me.
Although everybody seems to know about him, nobody knows who he is, only that he used to be a very intelligent man, a writer, with several millions of pounds in the bank.
Does somebody, somewhere care about him? Is he capable of holding a conversation? When you see him in the street he seems so far removed from the world that you wonder how he manages day by day.
Someone, somewhere must know something.


Her name is Hazel. This time, I know the name, I know the story. Her sister, 80 years old and in the tight grips of dementia, hasn’t spoken to her for thirteen years. Fearing that the end is nearing, she tried to get in touch with Hazel, but she can’t be found. The phone number listed as hers in the phone book is mine. There is no address, and the sister can not remember it. Nor can she remember that of her niece.
Others have phoned in the past, call centres, banks, cold callers, all asking for Hazel. They left me unmoved, or annoyed, at best, at the fact that companies don’t even know their customers’ phone numbers. This one touched me. Maybe it was the old lady’s pleading for information, a name, an address, a number, anything?, maybe the fear of growing old and lonely, or maybe it was just a spark, wanting to commit a random act of kindness, but I spoke to the Old Lady on the phone for almost quarter of an hour, listening to her story, and took her phone number. Promised to call if I heard anything.
I don’t know what I would do if I found out Hazel has died. Surely, the Old Lady would have heard about that.
So someone, somewhere must know something…


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