Paris the 15th of December.
(Le Chateau de La Reine Blanche (the white queens castle)…
“Click, click, click,” went her wheelchair. Patches was constantly playing with the small gear shift-like lever on her electric chair. It was all she could do. The moving a bit to the right and then to the left, or even backing up gave her some sense of self control. Her world compared to everyone else around her went at about 0.2 miles an hour meaning: slower than slow.
And being that she had very little awareness of anyone else, unless that person served a purpose, she didn’t give a flying fuck about them. It was when she wanted it and how she wanted it. Was it the MS that did that to her? Or was it her personality that had created the disease where her body was slowly destroying itself? The lesions on her spinal column and the attack on her brain circuits leaving no room for a normal existance.
She had gone to Kansas State University and become an engineer in spite of the obstacles for women in that field. Later on she helped design rocket engines, was offered a job in Paris and jumped at it. Maybe living in a truly cultural city away from Kansas, away from her family would improve further her image in the eyes of others. Because inside, she didn’t feel good about herself and never had. She knew that deep down all the university diplomas in the universe and or learning a new language could not change who she truly was: a piece of shit.
“No, not there!” she spittled while yelling at the young woman who attended her for the first time that morning. “Open the cupboard. Those bowls are not supposed to be on that shelf!” Then: “No, no, no! Put that bigger bowl over there, under the orange one…not like that!” Though she never used her own cupboards anymore, today at least she wanted to control where they sat.
Unknowingly to the young woman, if she had changed the subject to something else, Patches would have quickly forgotten about the state of her bowls. But would’ve continued on with the pleasure she wrought at controlling the actions of others – it was her thing. Only a short reprieve was possible… That this woman was showing signs of weakness and frailty was a tickeling pleasure deep down. The more she could control a thing, the better she felt about herself.
“Like dis Madame Phuckett?” asked the woman timidly. She was quite afraid of the old woman who spoke to her like she was trash.
“No, no, no! Arggghh umm…no, take them out one at a time….Oh that one doesn’t look clean…Just take evrything down – we’re gonna start over!” And on and on the day went from one scene to the next: taking her to the toilet, wiping her ass, getting her phone charged, taking her pills, dressing her, choosing what to wear and which color, answering the incessant and shrill door “siren” (no one could qualify that as a door bell), chopping up her fruit and fixing a vitimin drink. It never stopped. Patches could do nothing on her own; she could tear off her glasses from off her nose with a gnarled finger, put them back on smashingly as if she were mashing potatoes (while smearing the lenses of course), she could still shovel food in her bird-like open beak (she had no lips) with a large spoon (her favorite activity after terrorizing the state paid help…)
The simplest of gestures were, through the perversity of Patches made to feel uncomfortable as if you had never known in your entire life how to cut a piece of fruit up or put a plate in the dishwasher or take off a coat. Thank god that Patches could teach them, right? Humanity would’ve been lost without her…
Patches had no flexibilty, besides if she could take off her own coat she would have done it her OWN way, not the way that someone else did it. So she would clutch her left unfunctioning arm close to her with a partially functioning right hand and scream at the person who was only trying to help. Wasn’t she paying for this service? (Well, no actually … but she had a selectful memory.)
Around five p.m. the announcement was made to Gelledge and Brandon :
” I’m…um abababa ha…ha… having guests over for finner no dinner from New York.” Being that her ability to communicate was a challenge, she made no further effort to explain details. And so her two “roomies” stayed in their respective living spaces that evening. Unfortunately however for Gelledge, he could hear every word of their conversation from upstairs in spite of headphones and a movie on You-tube.
The visitors were a modern gay family finally ( a nice surprise) two middle aged men with a daughter and a son who were teenagers. The discussion was typical with visitors from the states with their questions and curiosity about Paris and this gnarled old woman stuck in a wheel chair who actually seemed very nice. For the kids, it was a first to see someone handicapped up close.
But the instant where she could bring attention to herself, she did. One of her guests had a connection to writing….
“How much would it cost to get my book published?” Everyone turned to look at her amazed. The children “oooh – wow” surprised at this woman who lived in a castle, spoke French (was american) had been an engineer, was sitting in a wheelchair and was actually writing a book!
“Are you writing a book?” asked one of the men.
“Yes,” she lied. “My biography and I want it to be translated.”
“You mean you want somone to translate it for you?”
“No, I can do that myself; on English and in French,” she lied again. “How much would that cost?”
The two men looked at each other and the kids too with their eyes wide open. They were all wondering the same thing as it was more than obvious that this woman could not not type on any keyboard known to them.
“Well Patches, umm how would you write it – like with a tape recorder you mean?”
“Yep,” she replied. “It’s a biography about my life. I’d do it in English and then in French. But I’d need someone to edit it. How much would that cost?”
When the carrot question got an answer of 2000 to about 5000 dollars, Patches changed the subject. She didn’t want to spend any of her money. She only wanted to hoard it, like she did with her ‘things’. Her house and basement was crammed with useless stuff she would never use. Besides she couldn’t write.
When dinner was brought up and the apparent desire by her guests to go out to a restaurant, Patches became mute. She didn’t want to go out.
She had ordered all kinds of food by her personal chef a few days before and had to tell her guests that she had one.
“Well, I’m not sure about going out,” she began (this would be too eye opening to her guests about her multitude of handicapes) “I have a chef and have alot of food in the refrigerator.”
She had forgotten to tell them that she had ordered it exactly for an occasion like this – though not exactly for them – in fact she hadn’t really considered the many ramifications of ordering all that Christmas food, which was now sitting in several plastic containers in the fridge. It would remain there until her chef came to collect it.
When her guests verbalized their willingness to order take out (or anything at this point -their american dinner hour having been over three hours ago) Patches immediately sang, “I know a great Sushi restaurant. I have a card with a phone number. Its on the fridge.”
And that was that. They would have take out sushi for Christmas dinner. As they sat all scrunched up in the tiny kitchen, the conversation flowed easily thanks to the champagne and the newness of it all for the children. The men were happy to give this unique experience to their children. Patches was happy for an instant too and decided not to call upon Brandon to take her to the toilet, besides she hadn’t had her diaper doubled for nothing. She smiled as she released her bladder and sipped her glass of champagne.
“Oh Paris,” she sighed out loud while thinking to herself, “I’m living the dream in the city of lights…”