Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Malcolm Cloke

Albert

Albert would have been surprised to hear himself described as a nice old man.
Certainly, he had a lot to be nice about. He had Shirley, and then there was Fred next door, Mrs Johnson over the road and any number of people who stopped for a chat when they were out.
He sat in his militarily-neat kitchen drinking morning coffee with Fred. Yesterday the hospital had telephoned to arrange his next appointment. They had gone over the details carefully and they said that they would pop a letter of confirmation in the post that evening.
Albert handed the letter to Fred.
“What do they mean when they say I should be accompanied by a responsible adult this time?” It had worried him on the telephone.
“Don’t worry about it, old son, it’s just something they say.” Fred handed back the letter, his hand not quite steady.
“I’ll take you if you like but not if Shirley’s coming – I can’t keep up with the speed you two move at.”
Albert sat by the doctor’s desk listening carefully to everything he said. The fear that had grown in him over the last twelve months had ebbed away. His hands lay relaxed in his lap, no longer two iron fists.
“Thank you, doctor, I’m very grateful for all you have done.” He just wanted to get home to tell Shirley.
She was waiting for him in the hallway as he opened the front door.
“It’s alright, sweetheart, it’s all going to be alright.”
He hung up his coat and cap and went through into the sitting room, making himself comfortable on the sofa. Shirley sat next to him and he gently stroked her cheek.
“We needn’t have worried all that time Shirley. There’s nothing they can do for me – after all, I’m now officially blind. There will be no more silly talk about you being given to somebody else. We’re going to spend the rest of our lives together.”
He continued to stroke her face and to listen to the excited beat of her tail against a cushion.

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