|A rose on the lapel of my jacket, I stood shocked, watching the knife push into my midriff with agonizingly slow motion. The joker was about my age, that is, all of 87 years. His toothless smile curved with just the hint of evil as he turned the knife around (I think it was clockwise from my vantage point) and plunged it in as far as the hilt.
It was the excruciatingly slow movement of his rheumatic hands that caused me to scream with hitherto un-experienced pain. Even as I clutched the knife and tugged at it, he stood there, the grin still intact. His eyes had now settled to a charming, glazed look that old people have.
The knife came away with a lot of difficulty, as it had penetrated, first, my leather jacket, and then, my 50-year old, pure leather belt, the top edge of my trousers, my suspenders, my vest, and my skin, in that order. As the blade was barely two inches long, I guessed the knife hadn't done me much harm. However, there was blood on its tip. I threw it aside and mustering up whatever courage I could, grabbed my "assailant" by the collar and drew him close to me.
With my esophageal speech - (I had had my larynx removed five years ago after it developed a cancerous growth, you see) - that came out like a tinny whisper, I "yelled" at him: "Buzz off, you chicken-shit Sam, or I will make mince-meat of you!" His cackle turned into a pained rasp as he tried to dislodge himself from my bony grip. Angered, I made a fist and landed it on his jaw with whatever force I could muster.
He fell with a gentle plop and passed out on the lap of the three old ladies who sat on my 63-year old sofa. They had remained silent throughout the little episode that had just taken place, not because they were morons, blind, indifferent, or crazy, but because they were all sound asleep, the heads of each one on the left drooped on the shoulder of the one on her right, with the right-most lady resting her head against the pole of the lamp-shade that stood on the side-table.
The trio woke up with a start and screamed. Now, three women screaming at the top of their voices is counted as being a little more terrorizing than the collective sound of a conference of crows (or, to be a bit more polite, a cackle of geese), but when three senile women scream with their shrill voices, a hint of battiness in their demeanour, a poor old man like me can be easily rattled, what with all my muscles already atrophic and my limbs full of 87-year old bones!
They all looked at me askance, and I shrugged my shoulders (oh, that hurt!) and dusted my palms to show that it was all in a day's work. Bravado is something a guy cannot shed even when he is in his late eighties (what a moral to take from my story!), and the women were suitably impressed. They heaved the man off their laps with a collective effort and came up to me and slavered their kisses on me. One of them even leaned to examine the small blot of blood that had just appeared over the knife wound and "tched tched" sympathetically.
Then, just as I was getting used to being the cynosure of all eyes (we all live in independent houses in an old-age home), the old guy came to, and rubbing his eyes, looked at me and started cursing me for not sharing my things with him.
"Look, that was MY wallet you picked up in the mess. MY keys, MY handkerchief, and MY ..." I began to vent myself. Half of this was for the benefit of the old man himself, while the other half was to "impress" the ladies. "What gave you the right to come into my room and attack me?" I added with bluster.
He rubbed his jaw and went over to the dressing table to examine the bump that had formed due to my counter-attack. It was not just a bump, but also a bruise ... He looked back at me with a look of pure detestation. He turned to look back at himself and banged his palm on the table. A bottle of natural honey, sent by my 23-year old grandson Arnold, tilted over. It was open, and had a spoon right in it. The honey trickled over the shaft of the spoon, and the sight of the slow drizzle of honey from a spoon must have set some of his rage aright, for he bent down faster than his age would permit, and began to lick the drops of honey that fell into his mouth.
Stupid, honey-fanatic Sam!
"Yum ..." he said between licks.
Helplessly, I looked at the ladies and again shrugged my shoulders. They all clapped their hands and started laughing. One of them had the presence of mind (a rarity at our age) to run to the phone to summon the warden.
"Warden, come quick to Mr. Bennington's room. He's been hurt ... do call the house doctor too, if you can," she said into the phone.
I went back to my rocking chair by the hearth, my hand pressed over the ooze of blood that now stained my hand and a wee bit of my trousers. My tired legs folded underneath my thin body as I sat down to await the warden. My assailant had finished licking the honey and now stood before the dresser, honey-licks on his cheeks and chin, to await the warden too.
I had had enough of action and adventure for a day, and by Jove, it was time to recoup my strength and repair myself for another day.
Word Count: 998