Mrs. Tillynaught’s face was nearly clear of the mud, so she asked, “Nora, have you had any premonitions lately?”
Last thing on Nora’s mind: her supposed ESP powers. “Um, nope.”
“Don’t you feel like there’s something strange about to happen?”
Randy said, “Do you, Linda?”
Mrs. Tillynaught glanced heavenward. “It’s been a while since anyone died. And I feel it in my bones. Well, more my skin. My skin and my bones. A slithery feeling.”
Nora said, “Maybe you’re the psychic one.” Maybe you’re the psycho one.
Mrs. Tillynaught giggled, a little bit like a pre-teen grade 10 girl. “Oh, no. I mean, do you really think it’s possible?” She leaned from her chair closer to Nora, who was now spraying and wiping the salon mirrors. “Can people like you recognize those traits in someone else?”
At that moment Mrs. Balanafeel’s unmistakable high-pitched voice said, “And this is the salon. And look, here’s Randy, your supervisor, and here’s Nora!”
Everybody turned to the door of the salon and standing beside Mrs. Balanafeel, who was looking extra round in her horizontally striped sweater set, there he was! Looking resplendent in his pre-ripped jeans and pre-scuffed t-shirt, Ryan glanced around the room, his eyes landing briefly on first Randy, then Mrs. Tillynaught, and lastly Nora, where they lingered and possibly registered a slightly surprised hint of joy.
With a secretive wink of approval at Nora, Randy went over to Ryan and shook his hand. “Excuse me, what? I’m his supervisor? Why didn’t anyone say anything to me, I wonder? Hi, Ryan. Welcome to OG.”
Ryan shook Randy’s hand back. “Yeah, so, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do. Hi, Nora!”
Randy said, “Yeah, me neither.”
Mrs. Balanafeel said, “That lovely little nurse Nicole said you’re to supervise him. As per Mrs. King.”
“I have to do forty hours of volunteer work,” said Ryan, shoving a slightly crumpled sheet of paper towards Randy. “This is from school. You’re supposed to sign it every time I come here to volunteer. Sorry, it was in my bag.” He tried to straighten it out a bit, and Randy took it. “And could you fill in the top part here, please, if you don’t mind?” Ryan pointed at the top of the sheet.
Randy took the sheet and placed it down on the counter of the salon, between the sterilizing cup of combs and scissors and the little plastic chest of drawers where Randy kept all the clips and curlers and stuff. “You bet,” he said, whipping a pen out of a drawer. He glanced at the pen, “Purple okay?” and started scratching words across the top of the paper.
Ryan glanced at Nora, a slight smile on his cute mouth, possibly shy and nervous? She felt her mouth twitch into an embarrassing grin, blinked, and looked away. She had a very important and banal job to do, and that was to sweep up the floor of the salon, which she got right down to.
As she swept, in the opposite direction of Ryan Calder, she heard him say, “So… what do you want me to do?”
Don’t say ‘help Nora.’ Or DO say ‘help Nora. No, don’t. Or do… or–
“Let’s see. On Tuesdays we have watercolour painting, on Wednesdays, gardening, and on Thursdays, organized games in the games room, which would be things like Bingo, Trivial Pursuit, maybe a bridge tournament…. Mondays and Fridays the salon is open by appointment, and every day the TV lounge and games room is open. That’s just afternoons. Will you get here about the same time usually?” Randy glanced at his watch.
“Yeah, if I go home first to drop off my stuff. Is that okay?”
Randy nodded. “That’s perfect. Probably best thing for you to do is just join in with the activities, hang around the games room, basically talk to the residents and keep them company. They don’t get a lot of visitors.”
“Sure, that’s what Nora was saying,” Ryan said with a quick and, did she notice, nervous glance in her direction. Nora swept faster and with great concentration.
“Let me just finish with Linda here, and then I’ll show you the rest of the facility. Would you care to join us, Evelyn?” Mrs. Balanafeel tittered as Randy deftly removed each pink curler from Mrs. Tillynaught’s hair, brushed it out with the special natural-bristle brush, then shaped it and sprayed it with hairspray until a solid helmet of perfectly formed yellow curls adorned Mrs. Tillynaught’s head.
Mrs. Tillynaught put her glasses back on her face and looked at herself in the newly polished mirror, turning first left and then right to get the profile as well as the full frontal view. Touching her hair ever so gently, she said, “What do you think, young man?”
Randy turned and looked at Ryan. Mrs. Balanafeel turned and looked at Ryan. Nora forced herself to stop pushing the broom long enough to join the others in putting Ryan on the spot.
“Fabulous, ma’am! I think we should get your photo for your Snapchat! Where’s your phone?”
The ladies giggled, Mrs. Tillynaught placing her knobby hand across her bright red lips. Randy grinned. Nora rolled her eyes. As if the old people had Snapchat accounts, or even phones.
“I have no idea what you just said, dear, but it seems to be making me blush,” said Mrs. Tillynaught.
“Shall we?” Randy smiled, sticking out his elbows for Mrs. Balanafeel and Mrs. Tillynaught. Ryan turned and gave Nora a befuddled smirk as he followed them out of the salon.
Alone and lonely, Nora went about her work.