The A.L.F.: Resident’s Revenge
(Working title)
A Novel
By Bruce Cooper
This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons or places living, dead or otherwise would be purely coincidental and quite amusing.
©2016 Bruce W. Cooper, all rights reserved

List of Characters:

Eve-Lynn...Lady with large Chanel hat.
April--------------Assistant cook
The Big Chef---------an unnamed assistant cook
Laura---------The young receptionist
Glenda----------Red headed lady
Mitchell Napolitano-------------Food service manager and head chef.
Carly-------Ring leader and spokesperson
Roland-----------------Carly’s friend
Herman-----Resident curmudgeon, nickname, “Oscar the Grouch”
Roseanna Rivera-----------House supervisor
Sergeant Henshaw-----SWAT team leader
Noel Bushmiller-----Facility administrator
Marcus----------Maintenance Department manager
Valery, Jennifer, Evelyn--------Case management ladies
Ned-------Resident with aluminum foil knife
Mona------Health aide
Ed--------Tall resident
Roger-------Resident protester
Mack--------resident genius
Chen----------Mack’s friend
Rena------New resident and protester
Hiram Nussbaum-----------Chief operating Officer, ElderSpace Corp.
Mr. Jacoby--------President of ElderSpace and Hiram’s father in law
Jan.....Mr. Jacoby’s secretary at ElderSpace
Shanisha-------Dining room server
Mr. Johnson-----Resident with unzipped fly
Mrs., Cochran------Want’s to zip-up Mr. Johnson’s fly.
Miss D’Angelo---------Resident looking for imaginary cat
Big Thom-------Resident and smoker
Melissa...........Recreation director
Delbert...Customer Service Rep.
Maggie...Unsocial resident.
Olga...Disgruntled resident.
Mary...Olga’s roomy who likes “Nykill” cocktails.
Ari Feinbaum..Head bookkeeper at ElderSpace

+ + + +

Chapter 1

It started out as a routine day at the facility. Residents arose from their beds at the usual time; washed, dressed, and headed off to the dining room for breakfast, which that day consisted of a bowl of medium warm cereal, two partially frozen toaster waffles, and a flat, round, and a gray sausage patty made of some innocuous meat by-product, in other words, it was breakfast as usual at the Center. 

Also, as usual, were the under-the-breath grumbles and comments made by the diners who were angered by the haphazard way breakfast was thrown together, again.

To the casual observer, these protestations would seem like the typical remarks made by any group of malcontents who are gathered in common surroundings like an army base, a prison, English boys boarding school or assisted living facility, but today, somehow the choice of words was more coherent, more focused and sounding much more rebellious.

As the day wore on, the grumbles turned to growls and the comments turned to accusations. Residents gathered in small groups in several corners of the facility to discuss matters in hushed tones, which quickly turned to silence whenever a staff member or “resident-snitch” came near. These small “cliques” would eventually break up and re-form into larger, more vociferous groups that, because of their size had to re-assemble in the auditorium upsetting those residents who had congregated there for the regular Tuesday Bingo game.

Chapter 2

As lunchtime approached, the larger groups began to break up and the participants slowly began to make their way to the dining room where they all went to their individual tables only to find that, like breakfast, an equally arbitrary “fast food” type lunch had been arranged. This time it was burgers, but not burgers made of beef but rather of turkey whose composition remained as unidentifiable as the sausage, they had for breakfast. Even the single slice of artificial American cheese food which tried, with little success, to melt on top of the lukewarm ground turkey meat could not make this boring burger taste any less lackluster. The sweet potato fries too, were cold which only incensed the residents even more. As each table was served, one could feel a swell of discontent drift over the room like a cloud of poisonous gas, precipitating another round of moans and groans, which slowly built to a crescendo terminating in a tirade of profanity, some of it quite colorful.

“Crap,” “horse dick,” and “bung-burgers” were some of the descriptive expletives shouted out by the residents. Some of the more colorful expressions included phrases, which I had never heard before and must have dated back to the First World War such as, “trench tripe”, “shell shit,” and “Hun burgers with mustard gas sauce,” were also tossed around. To say the least, there was a distinct ominous feeling in the room.
At meals end the crowd, now holding nothing back, began to chant in unison as they filed out of the dining room linked, arm in arm like protesters in a 1960’s freedom march. As they walked, rollated, limped, or shuffled out of the room they sang, “We shall overcome,” and a bastardized version of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” Glory, glory hallelujah, this food belongs in the sewer.” Yes, there was something definitely brewing that day and we old-timers knew it was not going to be pretty.

It was 1:30 in the afternoon, and residents once again congregated in small groups in different parts of the facility. There was no longer any hiding their displeasure and no more muted conversations. Even the most indifferent passersby could plainly understand what was being talked about. As I walked around the building, finding small groups that I could eavesdrop on, a few words and catchphrases came to the forefront. Phrases like “chicken shit again”, “don’t they fuckin’ know how to cook anything else,” and “I’ll just order a salad” were among the slogans most bandied about. While these words were normal and usual, never have I heard them expressed with so much bitterness. At one point, I am sure I saw a particularly cantankerous septuagenarian spit a wad of something on the floor after learning that chicken would be the main course for dinner that evening, for the third night in a row.

As the afternoon wore on, even the usual Tuesday “bootlegged” movie of the week, and a round of Rummikub could not quell the growing dissension in the ranks. At five O’clock as dinnertime drew nearer and each resident read the newly posted dinner menu, one began to get the feeling that some manner of retaliation was at hand. It must have been the same sentiment felt by Eisenhower while planning the invasion of Europe but with more secrecy. I tried hunting down the usual “troublemakers,” the ones that are always in the Case Management office or the administrator’s office complaining about the heat, or the cold, or the service or why there was no toilet paper in the lobby restroom, but I could locate none of them, not a good sign. I did come across a group of residents seated in the small kitchen area on the first floor. Some were eating takeout pizza while others ate TV dinners they had warmed up in the only microwave in the facility available to the residents. The “conspirators” spoke quietly and stopped when they noticed me near. Although they knew I was no friend of the administration, they could never tell if I was on their side or not. My position as the editor of an online resident’s newsletter made me a professional blabbermouth in their eyes, but more on this later.
In lieu of a dinner bell, chimes, or any other signaling device, the facility uses the old tried and true method of having a shrill voiced dining room attendant shout out, “DINNER FOR THE SECOND SEATING,” as if she were calling the hogs in for a nice trough of slop. I fell in line behind a particularly feisty woman who held the end of her cane with one hand while thumping the “hooked” part on the palm of the other hand in some sort of rhythmic beat, a beat that seemed to catch on with other cane-wielding residents.

Thump, thump, thump, three quick beats at a time; they beat a cadence all in sync with each other as they marched with determination into the dining room. They approached their assigned seats as usual, but this time they did not sit down. Instead, they stood behind their chairs, heads bowed in some mock silent prayer. The wait staff looked at each other in astonishment, unsure at what they were to make of this new show of solidarity. They looked to April, the assistant cook and temporary person-in-charge, for guidance but she was as clueless as the rest of them. 
“Sit down everybody, sit down, it’s time to eat. You’re holding up the other diners,” shouted April to no avail. The standees refused to sit. 
The words “BITE ME,” from an unseen resident resonated around the crowded room like a sharp report from a 75 mm field Howitzer. “Bite me, bite me, bite me, other diners chimed in using the same tempo as the cane thumper’s. Soon, it seemed as if the whole room was awash in chanting.” Bite me, bite me, bite me”.

There were some chuckles and snickers from a few of the non-participating diners, but not as many as one would think. Those residents, who were not into what was happening or just were too absorbed in themselves to care, just sat in silence staring into their bowls of Cream of Turkey soup. Some of them appeared embarrassed by this sudden outbreak of civil disobedience and continued eating their meal without even looking up.

The comparatively “polite” chanting turned rowdier when another, more imaginative refrain was introduced to an appreciative audience that cheered when the new words to the old mantra “Hell no, we won’t go”, became “Hell no we won’t sit, we won’t eat this crappy shit” was introduced. The words were now accompanied by the ringing of cups and glasses being struck with knives, forks, and spoons. It was like a wedding reception when the guests want the bride and groom to kiss. “Hell no, we won’t sit, we won’t eat this chicken shit” repeated the crowd which was now beginning to get surly. Finally, some of the protesters who could no longer stand had to sit down because they were getting tired and their legs would not hold them up any longer. 

Noticing that some of their compatriots were sitting, the other members of the group decided to join their comrades and sit too. Thinking that the protest was over, the servers began to resume taking orders for dinner. To all appearances, it seemed that the “rebellion” was short lived. 

                                              Continues Below

Chapter 3

Quietly and politely, the diners gave their dinner orders to the servers. It would have appeared that normalcy had returned to the dining room, that is unless one was observant enough to notice that all of the protesters, about thirty of them, had ordered the same main course, boiled chicken with pineapple mustard sauce over a bed of linguine. The very dish they were protesting against, very odd I thought, or was it.

A few minutes later, the servers arrived with the food, served on plates with plastic covers to keep it warm. Some folks ordered the alternate dinner item, a bland serving of store bought cheese filled ravioli with a teaspoon or two of insipid red sauce drizzled on top. By my count there were about 50 or 60 chicken dinners distributed among the multitude with the majority of them concentrated at the tables near the far wall where the heavily draped windows were and where the largest concentration of “rebels” were seated. This anomaly went unobserved by April, who thought “So far, so good.” 
April was now standing next to another one of the cooks, a large man wearing one of those tall white chef’s hats or toque’s, who surveyed the scene looking for signs of dissent. The diners noticed him too, and reasoned that they would have him to contend with if things got ugly.

“Yep” said the big chef, “All’s quiet on the Western front” he quipped, emphasizing the word “Western.” However, he may have spoken too soon because just as he made the “Western front” comment, the sound of one of those heavy plates was heard crashing against something hard. April and the big cook looked around and were relieved to see that the “crash” was caused by an empty dish slipping out of the hands of one of the new servers. A sigh of relief came from both April and the big cook. They both returned to the kitchen to complete assembling the plates of food.

Chapter 4

When all of the food had been served and all of the deserts had been brought out of the kitchen and the staff began, hastily to clear the tables in the hopes of finishing early, one of the diners arose from his seat near the dining room entrance and, in a big booming baritone, voice, yelled “Geronimo.”

Immediately upon hearing that signal, a plate containing a large boiled chicken breast flew, with the accuracy of a Cruise missile, across the room in the general direction of the kitchen entrance where it hit the door frame and crashed to the floor. From the opposite end of the dining room came another chicken part. This time it was a leg, no plate, covered with ketchup. Flying across the room it resembled a severed limb blown off by a hand grenade. The leg hit another diner square on the nose, a diner who was not part of the protest.

Taking exception to being hit with a chicken leg by one of those “troublemakers” the non-combatant resident went on the offensive and threw the only food he had left on his plate, a large slice of Boston cream pie, in the direction from which he thought the leg had come. Unfortunately, he was wrong and hit a red headed woman named Glenda, who wished to remain a neutral observer of the scene.

“Fuck,” she yelled as she wiped a dripping piece of cream pie from her red hair (the color of which could not be compared with anything in nature). She stood up from her seat, looked around the room, and spied a man who had just risen from his seat to go to the lavatory and, thinking he was the person who threw the pie and was trying to escape, lobbed some leftover three-bean salad in his direction. The clump of pickled green beans, chickpeas, and red beans broke up in midair like shrapnel and managed to hit not one, but four diners who were too preoccupied in their dinner to pay attention to the ensuing melee. The four diners, oblivious to what was going on, continued to finish their meal until another volley of food came raining down on them, this time it did make them sit up and take notice. The four of them stood up, grabbed some of their ravioli, still topped with sauce, and flung them, like little square Frisbees, in the general direction of Glenda who now had a dinner napkin covering her bright red head. The barrage continued with food coming from all directions. The “bombardment” was a combination of ravioli, veggies, pies, puddings, and a variety of chicken parts, which made up the greater part of the airborne assault.

Any staff still in the room, made a hasty retreat to the kitchen where, they gathered near, but not too near the automatic doors. They were content to watch the “action” from a safe distance. Bets were taken as to who started it, with the majority putting their money on red-headed Glenda.

Food was now flying all over the room with no specific target in mind, whether you were a protester or not, if you had food on your plate, you tossed it at something. Some of the residents aimed for accuracy while the majority was interested only in distance. An ex-high school quarterback was reliving his youth by reenacting a play he made back in 1952 when he tossed the ball more than 50 yards to his old friend Marvin for the winning touchdown. It appeared his accuracy had not diminished as his entire plate of mashed potatoes found its target, the “HOW TO HELP A CHOKING VICTIM” sign, across the room.

“TOUCHDOWN,” he shouted, lifting his two arms up over his head in the “H” position signaling yet another game-winning toss.

Pointing in the direction of the kitchen, one of the resident ringleaders shouted, “It’s them, it’s their fault,” she yelled. “They’re the ones we should be throwing the food at.” A silence came over the dining room as the rebels stopped and, as if one person, all pivoted around and faced the kitchen. This prompted an immediate reaction from the staff, who tried with little luck, to close the automatic sliding doors. 

Too late, a dish of chocolate pudding with whipped cream whizzed by the head of one of the new servers who, took off her hairnet, threw down her apron and ran out the service entrance at the rear of the kitchen yelling “Them folks is nuts” and, “I knew I should have taken that job at McDonald’s”.

The barrage continued with whatever was left. Bread crusts, pie crusts, chicken bones and assorted deserts were now part of the salvo of food. When that was gone, the mob turned to the dinnerware and cutlery to provide fodder for the “cause.” Nothing was too big or too small to be considered ammo.

Chapter 5

April and the big chef found refuge in the thick glass-enclosed office in which the food service manager usually worked. Their “Boss,” Mitchell, had been away for a few days attending an “Assisted Living Food Service Managers Workshop” in Las Vegas. He had gone to the last one a year before and had found it “Most educational,” returning with new recipe ideas, none of which the facilities management would let him implement. Their chief complaint, the new menu included only six chicken-based dishes per week and besides, it costs too much.

April, in a shaky voiced asked the big chef, “Should I call the cops?”

“No, not yet, I’ll handle this,” said the big chef who grabbed a large aluminum mixing- bowl off the shelf and placed it on his head like a helmet. Straitening his white jacket and closing the top button of his shirt collar, the large man slowly opened the door, peeked around the corner and walked towards the automatic doors, which were still not functioning properly.

The staff, which now had armed themselves with kitchen utensils, made way for the big man as he moved toward the opening.

“Whoosh,” a half-filled bowl of cold turkey soup flew past the big man’s head barely missing the glass doors of the microwave oven behind him. Not fazed by this personal attack, he picked up a large long-handled ladle and stepped out of the relatively safe confines of the kitchen.

Someone had turned off the lights in the dining room leaving the place mostly in the dark with only a glimmer of fading sunlight left to illuminate the room. The big chef made an imposing figure as he stood about one foot outside the door silhouetted by the fluorescent lights against the background of the white tiled kitchen. He looked bigger than his 6ft. 4 inch frame.

Halfheartedly, a resident threw a small, mostly empty plastic mug at the chef, which fell harmlessly against the wall behind him causing no more damage than a coffee stain. For the moment, the battle appeared to be over.

April, feeling that it was safe to come out of the closed office also, fell in behind the big chef. Both of them walked slowly through the dining room surveying the damage and the mess. Some of the residents still had cups, forks, and even knives in their hands and only put them down when the big man walked near their table. Positioning himself strategically at the main dining room door, his big form blocking most of the entrance, the big man held the large soup ladle high over his head like a sword.

“Don’t nobody move” he said in a stentorian voice. “We gonna have some words”. 

An elderly resident, who was profoundly hard of hearing did not respond to the command given by the big chef and began to leave the dining room. 

“Where you think you’re going? Sit down and shut up,” said the chef unaware that the man was deaf and could not hear a word he was saying. The resident naturally did not respond and continued walking towards the dining room door, whereby the big chef put his massive hand on the smaller man’s shoulder, causing the smaller man’s knees to buckle like a paper cup, sending him to the floor.

The other residents, feeling that this was a blatant use of brute force, began to yell at the big chef using words like “bully”, “tyrant” and “Gestapo.” April, still using the big chef as a shield began to walk backwards into the lobby, wanting no part of what she knew was about to become an all-out insurrection.

One of the biggest taboos here, and most other institutions of this sort, is physical contact between residents and staff and the taboo of all taboos is the assault of a resident by a staff member. The dropping to the ground of the deaf man clearly was a violation of the trust between the two groups; a violation, which the rebellious group of residents felt had to be avenged.

Continues Next Sunday

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