Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging


elder care

Fowl Play–Chapter Seven

image Chapter Seven

Construction of Heritage Village began in the early 1980s and proceeded in stages to the present, with plans for additional condominiums and an acute rehabilitation-slash-fitness center near ground breaking. Prominent display of architectural renderings of the future additions greeted both residents and guests when they entered the main lobby. In the 1980s the concept of a facility offering senior citizens whole life living arrangements, ranging from full independence to full nursing care, had made strides in major retirement regions like Arizona and Florida. Heartland entrepreneurs seized the budding idea and Heritage Village became one of its first blossoms.

Even before the first of the baby boomers turned fifty the notion that Granny and Grandpa would live out their senior years in their rocking chairs on the front porch found challenges lobbed from a whole new brash bunch of old folk. Prominent among these challengers were eighty year olds who ran the Boston Marathon and Harley clubs composed of members all past sixty years old. Top that off with the fact that the citizens of the United States elected Ronald Reagan to the presidency when he was near seventy years in 1980 then reelected him in 1984 when he was seventy-three. Clearly the number of people over the age of sixty was mushrooming and just as unmistakably they were not trundling off to “old age” homes or being pushed aside. The united senior voice demanded an ear that would listen. The nursing home business twitched its ear and responded.

Over the next several years senior residential care facilities transformed into the total retirement whole life campuses that now dotted the landscapes of all fifty states. These changes coaxed more reluctant seniors to chuck the family home opting for condos with amenities that included trips, golf and no yard work. Their children relaxed knowing that when mom or dad’s health declined the whole life plan would provide on going care appropriate to their parent’s needs. The multi-million dollar conglomerates running these campuses exploded as the popularity and the need expanded. Most of them occupied high-rise corporate offices, had holdings in multiple states and a surplus of rising young executives—median age 35—who kept the acquisitions coming and the bottom line in the black.

Heritage Village had at last count 90 sisters in 26 states all owned by Elder World Enterprises, Inc. Corporate offices were located in an enormous glass and steel building in Louisville, Kentucky. The executives at Elder World seldom, if ever, involved themselves with the actual business of their multiple holdings, visiting sites only for ground breakings and other photo opportunities and hiring health care administrators as managers to set up boards of community leaders, professional staff and representatives from the families of the residents, to enact policies and procedures, deal with state and local legal issues, accreditation, manage staff and deal with the endless day to day routine.

At Heritage Village the day to day business rested with Mavis Purcell. Single and forty-five years old Mavis seldom worked an eight hour day or a forty hour work week. So as she escorted Amy Davidson along the circuitous route to the staff wing at nine o’clock in the evening after arriving that morning at seven Mavis did not entertain thoughts of martyrdom, but she did acknowledge, at least to herself, weariness. With her weariness came diminished conversational skills. This did not seem to bother Amy who seemed deep in her own thoughts. Mavis did marvel at how well she navigated the halls with her limited vision. Wyatt Davidson had told Mavis, without elaboration, that an early childhood trauma had caused Amy’s blindness. Her other disabilities began developing in her early thirties with a final diagnosis coming a month before her mother’s death. Amy had multiple sclerosis. He had said little else except to tell Mavis not to underestimate Amy. While blind, she did see shadows and movement. Given time he expected she would need little assistance getting from place to place at Heritage Village, although she might need help out of doors. Her guide dog, Brutus died not long after her mother’s death, but he had requested another in hope that she would accept one.

“We are approaching the corridor that leads to your apartment, Amy. When we get there . . . oops! Right now!” Mavis said, causing Amy to brake suddenly, “you need to make a left turn. Sorry, I didn’t realize how quickly we were moving. I need my running shoes to keep up.”

“No, problem, Mrs. Purcell. I am sure once I get the layout in my head, I’ll be less of a bother.”

“Call me Mavis and call me if you need me.” She added, “Until you get the layout in your head. Here’s your door.” Mavis eased Amy in the right direction with a touch to her shoulder. She noticed waiting for Amy to unlock her door that Helen Marcum’s door was slightly ajar. Spying, Mavis concluded.

Farewells concluded and Amy safe inside her apartment, Mavis turned to walk away. As she did, she heard the distinct click of Helen’s deadbolt. Tired as she was the image of Helen spying on her new neighbor produced an impulse to laugh. Fortunately, she restrained the urge only giving into it thirty minutes later as she soaked her body in a wealth of bubbles. Whether it was the bath or the laughter, Mavis didn’t know, but she dropped to sleep not remembering much after her head hit the pillow.

In her last conscious action, she inhaled and the magic of the night’s music filled her head to toes. Holding both breath and music for a moment she lingered in a state of suspension then exhaled. Her next breath did not register as intentional, but with it came a parade of animals led by turtles, followed by chickens, dogs, cats, a menagerie not unlike artistic renditions of Noah’s Arc, except these animals marched into the multi purpose room at Heritage Village to the strains of “Lead on O King Eternal.” By morning she would have forgotten that vision at least until the real thing happened at two o’clock the next afternoon.


Mavis Purcell’s retreating footsteps prompted not only the closure of Helen Marcum’s clandestine observation but also that of another positioned in the dim light of the wing’s solarium. Having chosen a wing back chair, the man simply sat very still until Mavis had departed and Helen had retreated behind her door. He slipped off his shoes before arising then padded in his socks away from the staff apartments.

Braking Points–Chapter Twenty-one


Chapter Twenty-One
Greenville, South Carolina
“Are you hungry? Sharon has some soup and sandwiches fixed. Would you like to come out to the kitchen and eat with us?”

Who were these people? Lily stared at one of her interrogators, the brown haired one. Another woman, the silver haired one, stood in a doorway across the room. Behind their smiling faces evil lurked, Lily was sure of it. A regiment of these despicable terrorists had abducted her and subjected her to cruel punishments without a shred of remorse. They seemed to be enjoying themselves at her expense, teasing her, mocking her She shrunk back as “Brownie” reached out to pull her from the chair.

“No! No! Turn loose of me. Why don’t you leave me be? Who are you people?”

Lily saw “Silver” moving in to assist “Brownie” so she yanked her arm back. As she did the skin on her forearm peeled back and blood sputtered from a hundred different capillaries on the surface of the tear. She looked down at the wound, at the arm and screamed.

“Sharon, get a damp cloth. Her skin is so fragile. We’ll need another large gauze pad and antibiotic cream, too. Sh-h-h, Momma Lily. We’ll get you all fixed up.”

The calming voice might fool some of their captives, but Lily wasn’t fooled. They’d patch her arm, before they drug her to the torture chamber. As hard as she tried to remember all that had taken place since they’d brought her here, only a few of the most terrifying experiences remained clear, and even those were incomplete like pictures torn in half.

In the shadows of her mind other horrors flitted into view only to dissipate before she could see them clearly. She glimpsed herself naked and screaming. Her throat constricted and her mouth dried out remembering vaguely a spoon being forced between her lips. Images drifted in and out of the fog in her brain. One thing was certain they wouldn’t stop until she was dead, but as big and evil as these monsters were, Lily didn’t plan to die without a fight. If she stayed, she’d be dead soon.

Escape was her only chance for survival.

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