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Spring Fever in Memory Care (Palm Bay Veterans’ Home)

by T. G. Hardy

The tall Masai princess of a nurse always makes me smile.

That’s the only constant in my life.

Comes from the heart, this smiling, she says, not from the brain. My brain is not reliable, but my heart seems to be.

But my brain has its moments, like right now, when I can at least follow myself.

I’m naked and alone with this juicy woman, and she has me strapped to a plastic seat, which she will lower into this vat full of warm salt water. I forget my beef jerky limbs — I’ve got a trophy hard-on going and D’Arcy is kind enough to take note.

She makes big eyes, “My maman liked to say a man’s brains were in the head of his pickle. Your brain’s acting lively this morning. You should maybe exercise it, give it some physical therapy.”

“Hot damn. Let’s get started.”

“No, you — on your own. Can you?”

“I was in the Navy. Thirteen years.”

“See, you’re making sense already.”

I start touching myself, real self-conscious at first. I close my eyes and after a stroke or two, I’m dancing — as they say — like nobody’s watching.

She whispers, “What are you thinking of, A-B? An image from the past?”

“No. I’m picturing you and me all soaped up in that shower over there.” I switch to baritone. “On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin’-fishes play, An’ the dawn comes up like thunder —”

“Lovely, your poem. Took me back to Haiti, the dawn coming that way, like thunder.”

The seat moves down the rail and my ass floats off the seat bottom and I’m weightless, held in suspension by the harness straps. This triggers something.

“I got one — an image from the past,” I say, grateful for the diversion. I was getting too close to thunder, too quickly.

“Take me there,” she says.

“The floating, it makes me think of dogfighting, going zero-g to unweight and accelerate, looking for 350, my ass cheeks floating just off the ejection seat.”

“Must have been exciting, this type of flying.”

“Actually, D’Arcy, the coolest part was just taxiing the F-4.”

“Really now?”

Oui. From the cockpit, sitting clear out on the beak of the beast, you can’t see the wings behind you and you feel like you’re bareback clear out on the tip of a huge throbbing phallus and, shit, it’s your own . . . actually more like you’re its, rather that it’s yours —”

I lose my place, that taste of rust again in my mouth, and I start to cry.

She bends, this woman, to kiss my forehead.

T.G. Hardy served as a naval aviator with Fighter Squadron 33, flying F-4 Phantoms off the USS Independence. After the service he pursued a career in consumer marketing. Six years ago he quit Manhattan and repotted himself in Colorado, where he began learning the craft of writing at Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop and the Boulder Writing Studio. He is working on a short novel, and two of his short stories have recently appeared in SpringGun Press and the Faircloth Review.


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