Written By Neil Goradia (Grade 8)
Susie’s grandfather had trouble remembering things. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease through which a man would slowly forget everything he knew, even his own name. This was indeed very sad for the poor family of four living in the crowded city of Danville. The family could barely make ends meet with Susie’s father, Frank working as a key maker. Her mother, Margaret was a part-time tuition teacher and she got paid a paltry sum to teach children with special needs at the local church. Due to these unfortunate circumstances, Susie’s family could not afford to pay for her grandfather’s medication and soon, the day came when the family had to make a big decision.
Susie loved her grandfather very much but she was aware of what was going to happen to him. One Sunday when the sky was gloomy and overcast, Frank called for a family meeting to tell everyone that they were moving grandfather to an old age home which had opened around the block. The place was called Sunshine Meadows Retirement Home and it’s head nurse had generously offered to treat grandfather’s disease. The family walked grandfather to the retirement home and when they arrived, Susie felt like a million shards of glass had just pierced their way through her heart. She looked up at the sky, hoping to find some solace in the beauty that surrounded her. She did not leave her grandfather until she was pulled away from him by her father. Then too, before leaving, she gave him a big slobbery kiss on his wrinkled cheek and then ran off, crying down to her parents.
The next week was very sad for her, until the following Saturday when her parents took her out for a stroll. They went to the ice cream shop to eat a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream and Susie almost forgot about her plight until she looked out the window and saw ‘Sunshine Meadows Retirement Home’ written in block letters on an old crumbling wall. Seeing her sad face, Frank told her that they had another surprise for her. Then he took out a shiny, green slip from his pocket and gave it to Susie. When Susie saw it, her joy knew no bounds. On the slip, in a rather funky font was written ‘Sunshine Meadows Retirement Home’ visitors pass. With her newfound strength, Susie dragged her parents along with her giant scoop of ice cream to the rusty old gate. She presented the pass to the scrawny looking watchman who held it close up to his face and inspected it. He then put a tiny tick mark on the ticket and let them in.
Susie ran as fast as she could into the old but sturdy building and hugged her grandfather, who was sitting there with the other old people who had been sent to the retirement home. It was funny that he did not seem to know what he was doing, sitting there or remember who Susie was but still hugged her back. Susie did not mind when he asked her who she was and blamed it to his disease, but then, Susie noticed something peculiar. All the other old people also seemed to forget who their visitors were. As far as Susie knew, grandfather’s disease was not contagious so she found it to be suspicious but decided not to think too deep into the matter.
Just then, the head nurse barged through the heavy oak door and in a very friendly voice, called the attention of everyone. Then she changed her tone into a very gloomy one and told everyone that she had some bad news. Mr Lawson, the oldest resident of the retirement home had run away from there and so they would need to hire more nurses (apart from their usual staff which was nurse Bloom, nurse Kimi and nurse Becky) to take care of the old residents. The head nurse would make a mountain look like a molehill and Susie’s teeth started chattering just looking at her. Even after listening to the head nurse’s speech, Susie still had suspicions in her mind but decided to bury them. She then went to spend the rest of her time with her grandfather, and they enjoyed a nice game of cards but soon it was time to go. Before going, Susie promised to visit her grandfather every weekend and she was true to her word as she came the next weekend, and the next one and the next one.
On one visit, while Susie and her grandfather were enjoying a game of cards, Susie noticed something strange. Her grandfather’s face looked as though he had just walked through a bitter winter storm and got frostbite. She asked him if everything was alright but a nod was all the answer she got. Again, Susie decided to ignore this and continued with her turn. Then something truly strange happened. Susie began to notice this happening at regular intervals and so she made up her mind to see what the cause was.
That day, late into the night, Susie snuck out with a makeshift pair of binoculars (finally science class paid off!) and went and stood on the front porch of the retirement home. The watchman was fast asleep and Susie had a waif-like structure so she could easily slip through the gate without making a sound. She felt like a cat robber and she was on a top priority mission. Then, she lay down on the front porch and with her pair of binoculars, peered into grandfather’s window. She saw the head nurse through the window and nothing seemed to be suspicious until she saw the nurse take out a tiny bottle filled with blue liquid which the nurse slyly poured into a glass of water. This sent shivers down Susie’s spine and made her heart beat faster than a racehorse. A series of questions flooded into her mind. What was the blue liquid? Was it just grandfathers medicine, or was it something more sinister? Suddenly, she felt a bright light shine upon her. She had been spotted by Nurse Kimi! She put on her jacket and ran for her life and she barely managed to escape, slipping through the gate seconds before she was almost caught!
Now Susie knew that something was afoot. She raced home and quickly tucked herself into bed, as she knew that if her parents found out, she would be in big trouble. On that Saturday, Susie stormed into her grandfather’s tiny housing space and demanded him to confess. Reluctantly, he began ‘I’m sorry for not telling you this earlier as I did not want to worry you with my problems but they treat this place like a prison and us, as the inmates. Our food is like rat poison, and if even one syllable of protest inches out of our mouths they hurt us so badly that our throat can’t pronounce any sound! At night, they put sleeping pills in our food and force it down our throats to make us sleep. Of course, they do all this only on weekdays so on weekends they seem like angels to the visitors.’ Susie knew that things were terrible but she was shocked at the extent of it. Fury and anger coursed through her veins like an angry sea. Together, the duo began to plot and plan on how to give the nurses a taste of their own medicine. That evening, Susie went home happily, knowing that things were going to get settled.
The next evening, grandfather and Susie put their plan into action. Grandfather crept up the stairs, with Susie not far behind and he snuck into the head nurse’s room. Then he slyly took out a tiny vial, filled with ants from his jacket pocket and emptied it onto the nurses pressed uniform. The black, stinging bullet ants burrowed into the dress and some even went into the pocket. Suddenly, Grandfather’s head began to feel dizzy. He was having a seizure! Just then, the head nurse stormed into the room. Luckily, Susie had hidden behind the curtains Just in time and was not noticed by the head nurse. Unfortunately, Grandfather was still in the room, exposed to the big, burly woman. She charged towards him and held him by the ear, but in an unexpected turn of events, he began to bawl like a baby.
Since it was visitor’s day, the head nurse was afraid that Grandfather’s crying might attract a lot of attention so she tried to shush him but it did not work. Just as the nurse was about to lull Grandfather to sleep, he stopped crying and started to run around the room like a sugar rushed child. He pretended that his fingers were horns and ran towards. Unsurprisingly, Grandfather’s, little ‘ram’ did not affect the head nurse a lot. She quickly picked him up by the waist and prepared to hurl him down, onto the beautifully hard yet polished marble floor. Susie could not bear to watch her beloved grandfather die so she closed her eyes but just then, a man in a blue uniform barged in through the door. On taking one look at what the lady was doing, he shot her with his tranquillizer gun. She immediately collapsed but managed to cushion Grandfather’s fall.
Apparently, one of the visitors had been alarmed by the huge racket and had called the police. Although Grandfather seemed to be unhurt, the sudden jolt had rendered him unconscious. Just then Susie’s parents arrived on the scene. They worriedly asked Susie what had happened and Susie narrated the whole story to them. They were taken aback by what they heard but it was confirmed by all the residents of the old age home who had rushed up to see what the matter was. Suddenly, father’s eye fell upon two slips of paper tucked in the corner of the room. He went to read them and to his surprise, they were bank account numbers and passwords! He quickly picked them up and handed them over to the police officer. Soon, the whole place was a Scotland Yard investigation site.
After hours of interrogating the nurses, the detectives finally figured out that the head nurse and all the other nurse had been stealing directly from the bank accounts of the old people! This, along with how the nurses had been treating the old people got them a life sentence in jail. As for the head nurse, she had escaped and was on the run, probably plotting another evil scheme. Since grandfather helped save the residents of the home and their money, they decided to chip in to send him to a hospital in London where he could get high-quality treatment. Together, all of them started a new old age home meant to pamper people who had retired and they named it after Grandfather, ‘Collins and Co retirement home’. All the previous residents of Sunshine Meadows retirement home moved there (including Mr Lawson who was found hiding in the attic), and as for Susie and her parents, they have found a new life as Susie’s father works as the manager of ‘Collins and Co retirement home’ and her mother works over there as a nurse.
Featured Image Courtesy – Church of Jesus Christ