The Battle of Lexington (Short Story) Prolog

Prolog:

The Old Man

“Ms. Sanders, so good to see you again.”

 “Officer Bradley, I see you brought another wayward child to the hospital. Does he also need to log some community service?” Nurse Elaine Sanders worked at a retirement home in the small town of Pocatello, Idaho. The home served as a drop off place for grandchildren to dispose of their unwanted loved ones and state officials to place the all-alone ones. The retirement home also served as a good place for misguided youths to log community service after petty crimes. Sometimes the youths learned from serving the older people of the community, mostly they did not. However, she was always willing to help, especially when Officer Mike Bradley was the guy bringing them in. “What did this one do?”

 Officer Bradley was dressed in a gray business suit with a white collared shirt and blue tie. He did not have the most fashionable sense, but he did have a pleasant face and Elaine liked flirting with him. She always looked forward to when he came to the retirement home to drop of his parolees and check on their progress. Mike was single and eligible. He had asked her on a date the week prior but had fallen through. She was hoping that they would reschedule. He had claimed family issues, but Elaine had her suspicions.

 “Got caught shoplifting in WalMart trying to walk out with a new Xbox. He almost got away with it. The magnetic scanners at the door didn’t go off.  The welcome guy just happened to be paying close attention and called security. They stopped and confronted him just outside the door.”

“Well, maybe I can find someone for him to help. Is that him sitting in the lobby?”

“You have a knack for picking out who they are. Could it be he is the youngest out there?”

“That might give it away.” Elaine replied with a smile.

“Todd, come over here.” Mike waved the boy over.

As he stood up Elaine took a good look at him. Todd was probably fifteen or sixteen years old and stood about five and a half feet tall. His light brown hair was un-kept and hung over his ears. He had light blue eyes and a masculine face with strong cheek bones and chin. He looked upset at being here and his mannerisms did not suggest otherwise. He was wearing the same fashions that Elaine had seen on most young men his age. He wore long blue jeans that were way too baggy and would expose his behind if not for the enormous shirt hanging past his waist line. “I would prefer to be doing some manual labor than working in this funk.”

“You will respect Ms. Sanders and the people that live here. She has been willing to allow you to help out. Besides weren’t you just complaining about wearing a bright orange vest and picking up trash on the side of the interstate? At least I am willing to put you in air conditioning away from the mid August heat.”

“Whatever.” Todd stuck his hands deep in his front pockets and turned away from the conversation pretending to not pay attention.

“Dependent on your attitude here and the report that I return to the judge can help lessen your punishment.”

After a few seconds of silence from Todd, Elaine spoke, “They never change, do they?”

“Not usually. Two hundred hours community service, just so they can get caught again and end up in juvee later. It is a waste of the city’s tax money. So can you find a place for him?”

“You know I’m good for it,” She smiled at Mike and winked seductively, “as long as you will take me out on that date.”

“Please.” Todd mumbled sarcastically and slouched lower.

“You’ve got a deal.” Mike replied “I really wanted to go last time, but I had a family emergency.” Mike had innocents covering his face.

“Sure you did.” Elaine said “I am holding you to this one. I’m free Friday night.”

“Sounds good, I will call you later.”

“I will be expecting it.”

Mike turned back to Todd, “Straighten up, you might just enjoy this more than you think. Be nice to Ms. Sanders; do what she says and I might just recommend a reduction to a hundred hours.”

“I will think about it.” Todd mumbled back.

Mike turned back to Elaine and smiled, “Thanks, I promise I will call, I said I would make it up to you.”

“Okay, have a good day.” Elaine smiled back as Mike turned and walked for the exit. Looking back to Todd she stood from her reception’s desk seat and said, “Follow me.” then turned to walk down the hallway towards the residents’ rooms.

As they walked down the hospital white corridor passing rooms, Elaine talked, getting nothing more than a grunt or mumble from Todd. “Last week we had a family bring in an older gentleman that served in World War Two. He has Alzheimer’s, but still remembers his time in Europe. Right now he just needs some company. His family pretty much washed their hands of the matter.” Elaine shook her head as she spoke. “We get many of such cases. He likes to tell stories to anyone that will listen. Officer Bradley will be back in a few hours, we will see how you do with Shawn until then.” She stopped and looked back at Todd following her. “If you do a good job and don’t upset the poor man we will see about some more time fulfilling tasks tomorrow.”

“Sure, sounds like a party.” Todd said back. The two continued walking not saying anything.

Ms. Sanders stopped at a room with a small gray plastic plaque on the wall claiming the resident as Mr. Shawn Harris. She knocked twice on the plastic door, entered and spoke in a sweet loud voice to the old man lying in bed. “Hello Shawn, I have a visitor for you today. Still trying to read that book, I see.”

The room was small though neat. A large window on the far wall allowed plenty of light for the room. It was adorn with plain white curtains that were pulled open, providing plenty of afternoon light. Two cushioned armed chairs occupied the corners of the wall on the opposite side of the room from the bed. Next to the bed was a night stand. A flower vase filled with wilting tulips resting on top of the night stand. Next to the vase was a remote that controlled the television hanging on the wall. The TV was currently turned off and the old man was reading a hard bound book.

He lay with the bed propped up putting him in a sitting position. A blanket was pulled up to his waist. He wore a cotton brown stripped button up collared shirt. His nose and ears were large when compared with the rest of his face. His small eyes seemed to just stare at the book’s pages, almost lost. He had a full head of hair, though it was as white as snow and his face was clean shaven. His arms holding the book were quite fail and almost looked like they would break under the weight of the book. His head was shaking steadily from the disease affecting his mind.

 “Oh, I keep forgetting where my place is. But it is a good way to fill the time between visitors.” The old man said as he closed the book, not marking his place and set it on the night stand. Todd was the first visitor for the old man despite his family dropping him off over week before.

“His name is Todd and he is doing a school report on World War Two. Why don’t you tell him some of your experiences in Europe?” Ms. Sanders grabbed one of the chairs and pushed it towards the edge of the bed, tapping the back of the chair she looked at Todd who was still standing in the doorway and gave him a don’t-even-think-about-leaving look.

Todd sighed, walked to the seat and flopped in, leaving his hands buried in his pockets and slouched in for the long siege.

“I would be happy to help the young man, never been one to keep the stories in.” Shawn said to the nurse then looked down to Todd’s face, smiled and laughed, “Though my memory is not what it used to be.” He tapped his temple as he spoke.

“Good, I will be back in about an hour to check on you.” Ms. Sanders turned and walked out closing the door behind her.

Shawn’s eyes followed the nurse out of the room. Once the door clicked shut the lost, distant, un-recognizing look left his eyes, and the look of a wise old man turned to Todd seeing straight through his defensive slouch to his very soul. The once shaking old man was now as steady as concrete. His look bore into Todd until he started to squirm under the pressure. Then the old man spoke in the clear voice of a scholar. “Now, young man, you can tell me why you are really here.”

“What?!” exclaimed Todd.

“Why are you really here? It is a very simple question. I did not stutter.” Shawn replied in a matter-of-fact voice. “I can tell you do not want to be here. I can since it in your spirit, your demeanor, and your attitude.” He chuckled then continued, “What fowl deed did you commit that requires you to grace me with your glorious presence?”

“W-what happened to the nice old man losing his mind?” Todd stumbled out.

“First, my question then I will answer yours.”

“Fine!” Todd exclaimed, “I got caught stealing.”

“Oh?” Shawn paused for a second and rubbed his chin thinking to himself, “and I imagine this is your first time being caught…though, not your first time stealing. In fact, I would wager my life savings that you are quite an experienced thief?”  

“How…” Todd started to say but was cut off by the old man as he raised his hand.

 “We will talk about that later. Suffice it to say, that there is more here than meets the eye.” Shawn said as he pointed at his own eye and looked deep into the eyes of Todd again. Shawn dropped his had back down to rest on his lap. “Yes, I do believe our meeting is not a coincidence. But I do believe I promised to answer your question. Why am I here and why am I hiding under the illusion that I have Alzheimer’s disease?”

“Ya, that could clear things up some.”

“The lovely Nurse Sanders said you wanted to hear stories of me in World War Two. We will get to those at another time. For now we will start with the story of a different person in an earlier war…” Shawn’s hand again rose to his chin as he contemplated where to begin. “Ah, yes, now I remember. It has been a long time since I have told this particular story. But, seeing that you are who you are, it is the best story to begin with. It was the night of the eighteenth of April, 1775 around seven o’clock and the start of the American Revolution…

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