A short story by Steven Jennings:
She slapped him hard across his old, wrinkled face.
“Open your damn mouth and eat, you old stubborn son-of-a-b*tch,” she demanded.
He just sat in his wheelchair with a sour look on his face. Every emotion within him wanted to cry, but physically he couldn’t shed a tear.
She brought the spoon full of mashed peas to his lips again and said “OPEN” in a curt voice.
He turned his head to the left, then the right, and then the left again as she tried to feed him. Finally she grabbed him by his thin, white hair and jammed the spoon deep into his mouth. He let out a silent cry as the pain shot down his spine.
Seven years earlier he had suffered a massive stroke that would’ve killed many. But not old James Earl Killborn. He was too stubborn to die. The stroke left him completely paralyzed from the neck down, and took away his ability to talk, or even make sounds. He is a complete mute.
James Earl spent the majority of his life earning millions as an oilman in South Texas. He was always in control of every situation as a rich, powerful man. But time has slowly robbed him of that too.
As she jammed the mashed peas into his mouth, she then twisted the spoon sideways and ripped it back out. He spit the peas all over her apron and face. This enraged her! She slapped him again across the other side of his face.
She knew she had to be careful to not put marks on his face. The last thing she wanted to do was raise suspicion amongst the other two caregivers.
So she hit him hard on the side of the head with the spoon. Then she hit him again in the same spot. As he tried to turn his head, she pinned his skull against the built-in headrest, and thumped him hard. HARD! Then again and again and again.
His old blue eyes filled with tears. At age 79, his strength was no match to hers. He stopped resisting. She leaned in and got right in his face as she gripped a handful of his hair.
“You will obey me and you will eat every last bite of these peas,” she said to him.
He just closed his eyes tight and prayed she would go away.
She knew he was trying to tune her out. So she pulled his hair roughly with one hand, and slapped him upside his head with the other. His body tensed up as he endured the pain of her abuse. She went harder. Pulled harder. Hit harder. He screamed a silent yell at the top of his lungs. Tears poured from his eyes and snot ran from his nose.
She then reached between his legs and squeezed his testicles…hard! The pain was too much. He passed out.
“Oh no you don’t,” she mumbled, “You’re not taking the easy way out today.”
She slapped his face and shook his shoulders. His eyes slowly fluttered open and the nightmare continued. She grabbed his balls again through his thin sweat pants, and began to torture the old man; pulling, yanking, twisting. He thrashed his head side to side as more tears and snot flowed.
“No one is here to save you,” she said through clinched teeth.
Then she let go. She grabbed the bowl of mashed peas and shoved a spoonful into his mouth. He gagged and spit them out.
“Eat mother f*cker! Eat!” she yelled.
She continued to jam more peas in his mouth. Fast and hard she jammed spoonful after spoonful into his now bleeding mouth. Only when the bowl was empty did she stop.
“She” is 46 year old Nickula. A registered nurse for 20 years, until getting fired. Reasons for getting fired: neglect, abusive behavior, and mal-practice.
When Nickula heard there was a caregiver position available at the Killborn estate, she jumped all over it. The interview process was quite capricious. It was conducted by Mr. Killborn’s attorney who was contractually obligated to handle such matters.
Mr. GreenEllis has been Mr. Killborn’s attorney for over 45 years. Personally, Mr. GreenEllis hated Mr. Killborn. Professionally, he loved him.
So when the first qualified person applied for that job, they were hired. Unfortunately for Mr. Killborn, that first person was Nickula.
After feeding Mr. Killborn, it was time for Nickula to bathe him. Followed by an hour of reading to him while allowing him to sip on his favorite tea. These events have been a part of his routine for years. And they were expected to be performed by the hired help.
Nickula still had 6 hours before shift change. She works the 6am to 2pm shift. So she wheeled Mr. Killborn to the den and just left him in the corner while she went to make his tea just the way he likes it. Green herbal tea with lemon, honey, and one sugar cube.
She put the cup just under his nose to allow him to smell it. His mouth watered and he tried to sip it. She moved the cup and set it on the tray built into his wheelchair. She then adjusted the tray to where the cup of tea sat only inches from his face.
“Enjoy your tea, darling,” she said in a sweet voice.
She walked over to the book shelf and selected a thick hardcover book. As she approached Mr. Killborn she asked, “Are you ready for your book?”
He just sat there expressionless.
“Hey! I’m talking to you…are you ready for your book?”
She knew he couldn’t answer, but it didn’t matter. His silence infuriated her anyway. Just the sight of him pissed her off. She smacked him upside his head with the book. She was about to hit him again when she got a strong whiff of shit.
“Did you sh*t yourself Mr. Killborn? It sure does smell like you’ve sh*t your pants,” she said.
She knew he did. She also knew that her talking about it would add insult and humiliation to a man that once lived with great pride. She just looked at him and shook her head.
He trembled with fear knowing something bad was about to happen.
“Maybe this tea will kill your foul smell,” she suggested.
She then poured the steaming hot tea on his lap, burning his dick and balls. As he thrashed his head in pain, she grabbed him by the hair and spit in his face.
“You nasty mother f*cker,” she said with a snare. She wheeled him down the hall, into the bathroom, turned out the light, and shut the door.
As Mr. Killborn sat in the dark, he wished he was dead. His life has turned into a nightmare. No one loved him. No one liked him. Even his caregivers despised him.
His lifetime of negativity had finally caught up with him. He thought about his wife and how bad he treated her, until one day he woke up to find her gone. What if he had treated her with love and respect? Would he be in this position now? What if he didn’t make her put up their daughter for adoption at age nine?
As he tormented himself with thoughts of his past…the “what-if’s” were more painful than sitting alone in the dark, cold bathroom.
Then the door swung open. It was Nickula. Her shift was almost over, so she had to get him cleaned up and presentable for the next caregiver.
That afternoon as Nickula was driving home, she stopped to pick up a few groceries. While in the store, she saw two pretty little girls. They looked to be around five and eleven years old. They were holding hands, and each had a candy bar in the other hand. Their father was in the checkout line when the girls approached him.
“Daddy, daddy. Can we buy these?” the younger one asked as she held up the candy bar.
He snatched the candy bar from her little hand and said, “I told you girls to wait over there and not touch anything!”
Then he looked at the older girl and said, “Now go put these back!”, as he shoved his fist with the candy bar in her direction. Both of the girls flinched. They were clearly expecting to get smacked.
As Nickula watched, her blood boiled. The scene brought back memories of her childhood. Her father used to hit her, and send her to bed with no dinner. And when it was time to eat, he’d make her eat every single bite of food that he knew she hated.
She used to cry herself to sleep and pray that God would make him die. He never hugged her, or said “I love you.” He treated her like a problem. He made her feel useless and ashamed.
The next day Nickula pulled into the Killborn estate only to be met by fire trucks and ambulances. As she walked in, they were strapping Mr. Killborn to a gurney.
“What’s going on?” Nickula asked Mrs. Lopez.
“I don’t know. I was feeding him his tea when all of a sudden he had a stroke or heart attack. So I called 911,” Mrs. Lopez replied.
Nickula acted concerned, “Will he be okay?”
“I don’t know,” Lopez said, “My shift is over, he’s all yours.”
As the medical staff loaded him into the ambulance, the chief medic had Nickula answer a few questions and fill out some consent forms. She followed the ambulance to the hospital. After six hours of sitting in the waiting room, a doctor approached her.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry to inform you that your father has passed away.”