Ever and Always
Chapter 9: How Did it Start? - August 2021

Copyright© 2015 by Banadin

The next day he and Marsha rode a bus to a chain store where they bought some reputable looking clothing. They changed at the store, and put their old clothes in the store bags. From there they traveled by taxi to the White Marsh Mall, spending six hundred dollars each, on much better apparel.

This included a business suit for Rick, and appropriate dresses for business wear for Marsha. This along with shirts, blouses, ties, hose, shoes, socks and underwear along with other items gave them a good start on a professional wardrobe. They also bought several casual outfits. By careful shopping, achieved their objective and have a little money left over.

They took a cab back to the rest home. They both went to their rooms, and put their purchases away. At dinner time, they dressed casually and went down for their meal. Silvia was just getting ready to go home and saw them. What she saw brought her up short. She was seeing two people who looked to be in their healthy seventies if it wasn't for their wrinkled faces.

Neither was stooped over. They both looked taller because of this. This wasn't the frail look of eighty-year-old's. Rick was tanned from all his time outside. Marsha was delicate looking with a pale complexion. Her eyes looked large because of the skillful application of makeup. These weren't the people that she knew two months ago.

"Rick and Marsha, I don't know what's happened to you, but it's for the better. If only we could bottle it."

Marsha replied, "I think it is the clean living and good food here."

That little joke resulted in several comments about institutional food. At the end, they did agree the food could have been a lot worse. It was also enough of a change of subject that Silvia forgot about their appearance.

Over the next several days, Rick and Marsha had many serious conversations. They centered around two points. They had to obtain their records from Northeast without anyone being the wiser. They needed to get out of William Donald.

As Marsha put it, "I am tired of sleeping in a room with a smelly person in the next bed. Since I have woken up, I have three roommates, they have all died, and not one of them ever spoke a word."

After some discussion, Marsha realized she had the power of the office! The rest home was not running at full capacity, so she would make certain that the second bed in their rooms would only be used as a last resort. Later discussion with Silvia found easy agreement with this solution.

They agreed that Rick would keep working his corner even though they knew the risks. They needed the seed money to find and obtain their funds and restart their lives.

As far as the records went, Marsha now knew the proper forms and procedures, so she ordered them from Northeast, sent to her attention. It took a month for them to arrive. There were two packages each about six inches thick. The City of Baltimore at that time was using a delivery service which arrived just before noon every day.

Rick who always returned to the home after his morning stint made a point of being friendly with the messenger. Marsha provided herself and Rick; William Donald Schaefer Rest Home badges which they wore on lanyards around their neck. Silvia's only comment was, "Good, new people won't question you."

Head Nurse Lisa Hawkins was friendly to them but never questioned them. Marsha asked Silvia about Lisa's attitude.

Silvia replied, "She is just going through the motions. She has put in for retirement. When we lost the support from Baltimore East, it took the heart out of her. She will be gone at the end of the year."

Lisa's attitude worked in their favor, if the Head Nurse and Silvia the Office Manager did not question Rick and Marsha, then why should anyone else? With their identification on their lanyards, most of the staff thought they worked there. It was obvious Marsha was office staff. Rick seemed to come and go, but no one questioned what he did.

Rick got into the habit of meeting the messenger near the front door and signing for the day's deliveries. The messenger knew that was okay, Rick had the proper identification, and it saved him the steps to the office. The day the packages arrived from Baltimore East was no different; Rick signed for them and set them aside in a hall closet while he delivered the rest to the office.

He then returned to the closet and retrieved the packages, and took them to his room placing them in his wardrobe. Since they had bought their clothes, maintenance had installed a simple hasp to make the wardrobes lockable.

All it took was a work order issued by Marsha in the office. Rick chuckled and thought to himself, "Maybe she could get us on the payroll. Nah, better not try that, though we are getting pretty good with gaming the system. James Bond, eat your heart out."

The thought of James Bond made him think of the beautiful Bond women. This gave him a twitch that he had not felt in years. He shook his head and went back up front.

That night they discussed what to do about the files they had. There was too much to lie out on a table in the lounge without Silvia asking questions. During their discussion, Marsha kept rubbing her jaw. Rick asked her what was wrong.

Marsha replied, "Nothing my gums are sore. I have not been able to put my teeth in all week."

"Let me see." Marsha opened her mouth.

Rick peered in and said, "Oh my god. Marsha run your finger over your gums and let me know what you feel."

She did so, and her eyes got as big as saucers.

"Rick, I am teething!" For all their talk about their bodies looking younger, nothing brought it home to them like this. What was going on? Rick tested his gums and could feel nothing, and they were not sore.

However, they did not feel as sunken, as though the gums were filling out. They discussed this in circles until they realized they just had one more piece of the puzzle, or they had another mystery. There was no way to tell at this point.

They talked about how the files could be reviewed without anyone knowing. It was decided that Rick would buy a brief case and carry them to the Enoch Pratt Library branch several blocks away. He would review the files there; no one would question what he was doing. He would do this after lunch before his afternoon shift on his corner.

The next-day Rick took a bus to Wal-Mart and picked up a cheap briefcase. Upon returning to the rest home, he locked it in his wardrobe along with some pads of lined paper and pens that Marsha had got from the office supply cabinet.

Rick got into a routine, up early for morning shift at the corner. He was back to the rest home by nine. Then spent time with coffee and newspapers; The Baltimore Sun, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

He would then go online in the small work area set up for patients. That was a nice area but he was the only one who ever used it. It was set up by a volunteer group to help the patients.

Rick thought that was funny. The patients were not in condition to use the computer setup; hell most of them weren't even conscious. It did make the volunteer group feel good. He saw them as liberals, and he was using it to read the Drudge report. Talk about your irony.

He would have lunch with Marsha sharing his thoughts on the news of the day. Marsha usually agreed with him but was careful not to let him know she thought he was a bit of a conspiracy nut. He was not extreme with secret cabals; he just thought there was more organization to forces pushing America towards European Socialism than she did.

Marsha felt it just was human nature in action. Not necessarily the best of human nature but still normal.

After lunch, Rick would take his briefcase to the library and go through the files writing copious notes. He would return to the rest home a little after three o'clock and proceed to his corner for his afternoon shift.

By this time, Rick had realized that Bill was correct, he did have customers. Most people were regulars going to and from work. In the morning, he would be in the left-turn lane going south. In the afternoon, he would work the curb side lane going north. This avoided trying to sell the same crowd twice in one day.

After several months, he recognized cars and drivers who would never let him wash their windows and those that usually did. He got into the habit of giving all cars a cheerful wave and a smile. It did not get him new customers, but at least stopped the wiper blades.

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