The New Nurse

Posted: January 18, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

old mansion at night

“Old Mansion at Night” by thimic at DeviantArt

Jonathan arrived at the estate in the middle of the night. He waved at the limo driver as he pulled out of the wide turnout in front of the mansion. Gravel skittered away under the wheels. Jonathan could barely see the far side of the curved driveway. Who lived in this place? “Someone who needed a live-in nurse,” he said aloud. And had been willing to hire a someone from abroad for the job.

He knocked on the door. He checked his phone. It said 9:36 p.m. Eastern US time, which meant it was 2:36 a.m. back home. Jonathan had slept on the plane and in the limousine, but he still felt exhausted. He looked to his left –- gardens –- and to his right –- more gardens, and a walking path that led out toward the ocean. Cliffs, judging by the sound of the ocean, and the way the path turned into blackness.

Jonathan remembered that it was the 21st century and rang the doorbell. He heard large, angry dogs barking. Jonathan chuckled. He liked dogs. They always got along with him sooner or later. He hoped these would feel the same way.

Still nothing. Jonathan dialed the number of the estate’s guardian, a Mr. Keyhull. It rang, but no answer.

He heard a buzzing sound. Jonathan looked around. He saw a security camera turn towards him and stop. A red light clicked on, like a cigarette lit below a single unblinking eye. “Good evening, Mr. Miller. Welcome to Newport.”

“Thank you. Mr. Keyhull?”

“That’s correct. I’m afraid the first floor of the house is closed. You’ll need to come around to the back, where I’ll let you in.”

Why couldn’t he meet him out here, in person? Mr. Keyhull had been far more charming in the interview. “Very good.” Jonathan pointed toward the walking path. “This way, then?”

“No, the other way.”

“There’s no path.”

“I don’t want you falling into the ocean. The way’s very clear. You’ll be fine.”

The red light clicked off before Jonathan could protest. What the hell?

Jonathan hefted his backpack and duffel bag. He started walking. His joints ached. Jonathan imagined which muscles hurt, which tendons were overstretched, and what kinds of work he could do to help himself feel better.

The garden had a decorative path that was meant for appearance, not for actually walking. Jonathan tripped over a sprinkler head and nearly fell into a forest of sunflowers. Their brilliant yellow cheer smiled at him in bitter irony. Jonathan was tired, the night was gray, his host was being a douchebag, and he was over three thousand miles from a pint of beer and his friends. He remembered that his phone had a flashlight app. His phone was low on juice but it was better than nothing, so he turned it on and kept walking.

He came around the side of the house. A man in a wheelchair sat waiting for him by a utilitarian-looking door, maybe a maintenance entrance. Mr. Keyhull had bushy, steel-gray hair and sharp eyebrows, with deep lines in his forehead and a deep, stony voice. He had a blanket over his knees.

“There! Well done, and welcome.” They shook hands. Mr. Keyhull’s hand was cold, his grip firm. “It’s good to finally meet you in person. You’ll forgive me for not standing up. My knee is acting up and I frankly didn’t feel like walking.”

“We’ll see what we can do about that,” Jonathan said brightly.

“The hell with that. You’re here to help me with physical therapy, not fix every ache as they come up.”

Mr. Keyhull turned away and rolled into the house. Jonathan waited to sigh until Mr. Keyhull was across the threshold, and out of earshot. Oh, joy.

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