Sunday night, the rumor returns to me, like a punch to the gut. It lingers on the fore-front of my thoughts and gnaws at my peace of mind.
On Monday, I am due to visit a curmudgeon of an old woman. She usually stays in her bed with the covers pulled up to her neck and mixes subtle insults for me with complaints of her health. There is a haughty pride in her suffering that she is only too glad to share with others.
However unpleasant, it is not the curmudgeon that concerns me. Rather, it is the visitor who is staying indefinitely in her basement. He’s a wanted man with a bit of a mental health issue, already a felon, holed up in the damp and cool space underneath of the woman’s home. He is quite naturally no longer taking his mood-stabilizing medication.
The situation gives me cause to wonder how strong the fight or flight instinct might be in a person so clearly desperate to avoid capture and arrest. Does he ever leave or do friends come to visit? Who is providing food and water to this person of questionable character when the old woman claims to be bed-ridden and living completely alone? How many other curmudgeons are also hosting criminals in basements and back bedrooms?
If I allow my mind the freedom to continue to wander, the questions keep coming and a sense of fear pervades. Instead, I’m taking control and roping in my imagination. More than anything, I’m sincerely hoping that it’s another silly rumor and then maybe looking for a new job on my next lunch hour.