III. The Rise of the Silver Hair Robin Hoods
“I never did ‘misplace’ anything again while your grandpa was alive. After he died however…” she clicked her teeth, “well, that was a different story.
“After your grandpa died I was so angry with God. Angry that He had taken my daughter and her husband at such a young age and left you without parents. Then He actually took away my husband. My little rebellion was the only peace I could get. It was as if I was saying, ‘you may have taken away my loves but I can take things, too.’ And I did.
“Until, of course, old age crept up on me and I started forgetting where I put the people’s stuff. That was the first time I felt bad because then I felt I was actually stealing. I’d forget where I got my trinkets from. It became a mess because I returned them to the wrong house and suddenly my friends were all mad at each other accusing each other of stealing. That was no fun. So, again I stopped.
“Then when your uncle put me in the Shady Pines nursing home I once again became bored.”
“You know, if you get bored you could play a game like Suduko or something. I mean, there are alternatives to getting bored,” I offered what I thought was a decent solution.
She shrugged her shoulders again. “Your uncle put me in Shady Pines and talk about boring. That is one small step up from death. So I had to create some excitement the only way I knew how. I started moving things again. But there was a nurse there that was pretty smart. She was onto me. I couldn’t fool her one bit. I no longer could hide behind living on that house on the hill. Eventually I was asked to leave.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I interrupted. “You got kicked out of Shady Pines?”
Again she shrugged. Was I talking to my grandma or a teenager?
“Uncle Davis said he pulled you out because the care was inadequate. I posted unfavorable reviews all over social media. And you got kicked out for stealing?”
“I never stole anything from that nursing home. I moved stuff. Coffee cups, pictures, charts, bed pans, x-rays. It was ideal because I could do it all at once instead of having to remember to follow up. But that nurse was too smart. She knew I was up to no good and caught me. Of course, your Uncle Davis didn’t believe the administrator when she told him about my actions. He defended me. It really ended up being a mutual decision that I leave.
“The same thing happened when I was put in the nursing home by Aunt Cheryl’s. I may have been kicked out of that one, also.”
This was a lot of information to take in all at once.
“That’s why they brought me back here to Red Fox.”
“They told me it was because I was your favorite grandchild and you wanted to be near me.”
“Of course, you are my favorite. I helped raised you. We spent a lot of time together.” She said as if she had forgotten the story she had just told me.
“No, you’re here because you keep getting kicked out of nursing homes. My grandma, a thief.”
“Hey, shhh,” She said looking down the hall toward Deputy Marks. “I actually haven’t been charged yet. Don’t incriminate me.”
“Incriminate you?” I whispered. “They caught you at the fairgrounds trying to steal the lariat from a statue.”
“Darn thing was heavier than we expected.” She mumbled. “You know, your cousin Petey has known about this for years and it never bothered him.”
“My cousin Petey is okay with this?” I asked. “That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. He probably asked you for tips.”
“He should have! Maybe he’d have better luck. For one thing, I could teach him a bit about misdirection.” She looked at me and sized up her audience. “Misdirection is when you use something as decoy but the whole time you are after something else.”
“I know what misdirection is,” I replied. “I’m just not entirely comfortable tying it in with my grandmother’s criminal activity.”
She rolled her eyes and waved her hand as if I was the one saying ridiculous things.
I shook my head to erase that whole train of thought. “So what, you moved to Red Fox Nursing Home and assembled a gang?” I asked standing up.
“I moved there and started playing my game again. This time though, I had a roommate. And Helen, though quiet, notices everything. I had to come clean or else she would have ratted me out. Instead of turning me in though, she joined in the game. But she doesn’t have the years of experience that I do. She was a rookie and kept getting caught by the other residents. The more residents that found out the more that wanted to play the game.
“And the Silver Hair Robin Hoods were born,” I finished for her and she nodded her head. “Why do you call yourselves Robin Hoods? I mean, Robin Hood’s shtick was to give to the poor. You just misplaced things out of boredom.”
She nodded. “I agree. It wasn’t my idea. I didn’t even want a gang I just wanted to do my own thing but the more that found out about it the more concessions I had to make. If we had to have a name I was in favor of something more appropriate like the Golden Pixies.”
“That does have a better ring to it and fits your objective better.” I couldn’t believe I agreed with her on this point but from a marketing standpoint, if this were to become publicized, the name did fit better.
“Well, men are first and foremost boys at heart. The old men in the nursing home didn’t want to be known as pixies. They thought Robin Hood sounded much better. At that point, I could not care less about the name. I just wanted to get back to the game. And really, we did help the poor.”
I looked at her. “What poor? You didn’t give to any poor people.”
“I said we helped the poor. Our game helped all the poor residents in that nursing home from being bored to death.”
“Grandma,” I reprimanded. “That’s a bit of a stretch don’t you think?”
“You sound just like your grandpa,” she said. Normally I found the comparison flattering but this time her tone suggested otherwise.
“Okay,” I felt the weight of her chastisement. “Please continue,” I swallowed, “with the rise of the Silver Hair Robin Hoods.”
“As you know, a game like this escalates. You always have to outdo the last successful one. We moved out into the community always trying to one-up the last group. A few weeks ago a group actually managed to misplace the mayor’s pearl necklace while she toured our facility. It took the staff over an hour to find the jewelry. ” She paused as she reminisced. “You have to admit, that was impressive. The only thing that could top that is to take something from the police. But there was no opportunity for us to something that bold. We settled for community property instead.”
“The lariat,” I said.
“We knew they wouldn’t have time to attach it to the statue until tomorrow so we made our plans. It would have worked beautifully except the darn thing was heavier than we expected.”
“It looks heavy!” I said. “I am glad you two did not hurt yourselves. I mean, Helen uses a walker. What made you think you could even get it in the car?”
“Just because you see us as old and decrepit doesn’t mean we see ourselves that way,” she successfully quieted me.
“Time is up!” Deputy Marks said walking back to the cell. “Mr. Horndecker, if we can have a word, please?” He unlocked the cell and I stepped out. As he shut the door again I couldn’t help but wonder who the woman was that I saw sitting on the cot. She looked like my grandma but at this point I wasn’t so sure. Surely, I was still asleep and this was some weird messed up dream.
But it was no dream.