Tom was tossing and turning on his bed. He was sweating just laying there. The blinds started to rattle, the first sign of the change that has been forecasts all week. But the high pressure system was just sitting over the interior and was not budging. The North Westerly blew the hot air to the usually pleasant coastal strip. But change was in the air.
He remembered he had to see the doctor. Getting older was no fun and his body was on the downward slope now; that was for sure. After relieving himself, which was a torture in itself, he had to put eye drops into his eyes. He rinsed his parched mouth and inserted his dentures into his mouth. The red wine he drunk the previous night had given him a dry mouth.
He stumbled to the kitchen. The first steps in the morning were always difficult and painful. He filled a glass with water from the tap and took a tablet against his high blood pressure.
“What a life!” he said to himself, “I need a new head and new legs. Still the bloody doctors insists of prolonging my useless, painful life.” The doctor even offered him Viagra to spice up his life. Tom refused as he had no object of desire. Women in his age bracket were looking for younger men and he was not looking for women older then he was himself. That’s where the matter rests for him. “Why bother?” he asked himself and told friends so when they insisted that he needed female company.
With each step around the house his heart pumped blood into every limb making his legs feel better after a while and when he came out of the shower Tom was even whistling a long forgotten song. He tried to remember the title and after a while it came to him, “Que Sera, sera..” that is what is was. Tom smiled and got dressed. He wanted to see the doctor after breakfast.
“Take those tablets and come back in three weeks,” the doctor said last time he saw him. It sounded like an order. The three weeks were up and Tom did not want to disappoint him. What else would he have to do? Watch telly? He didn’t like it either. The evening news was enough for him. That kept him up to-date, he thought.
When he left the house for the short drive, he noticed it was much cooler. At the doctor’s surgery he found a waiting room full of sick, or in need of a medical certificate, people. The receptionist was a competent, middle aged women used to bully people around. Tom never liked her. When she handed Tom his Medicare card back she said,
“Take a seat Tom, Doctor will call you in when it is your turn!”
“Yeah, what else?” Tom thought and headed for the only free chair between a dark haired woman and a younger one who was holding a giggling baby on her lap. When he reached the chair he noticed silver streaks in the dark hair of the older, Mediterranean looking, woman. She lifted her face up to him, looking with her sparkling brown eyes straight at him and giving him an encouraging nod. The young woman did not noticed him at all as she just stuck her nose into the baby’s belly to tickle him, which of course produced more giggles from the happy child.
Nobody said a word and Tom looked across the room to a table with magazines. He could not spot anything of interest, like Times or National Geographic, only women magazines. Time passed slowly and patients were coming and going. When the doctor came out and called out,
“Ms. Turner!” the young mother jumped up and walked into the doctor’s room. No more giggles. But Tom could hear the voice of the woman on his right,
“I was the last before you. So when I go in – you will be the next. You need not to worry when your turn will come.” Her voice was soft and assured.
“My turn will come!” Tom thought but did not tell her. Instead he said,
“That’s good to know. It is always good to have a point of reference.”
“So, you are sick?’ she asked him.
“Not really, the doctor needs money and asked me to come in to see him today,’ Tom said with some sarcasm in his voice.
“If you are not sick, you should be home and work in your garden.”
“I hate gardening. It tires me out.”
“You not like wedge-a-tables?” she asked.
“The work tires me out, that’s all. So, I give it a miss. The veggies are cheap enough at the local supermarket.”
“No wonder, you look so skinny. Doesn’t your wife feed you? A man that doesn’t eat well can not be a good man. You know what I mean?” she asked with a wink and pushed her right fist into the air. He thought, that woman is a straight talker, not talking around the bush. He liked that.
“My wife is gone.” Tom told her.
“What do you mean gone? She is travelling on holidays or what?”
Tom only pointed to the ceiling – did not want to say any more and hoped the conversation would end there. Surely, pity and respect for his loss, which he did not feel any more, would shut her up. But no, a smile went across her face and he heard her say,
“That is good. I can invite you to my house and cook Greek dinner for you. Do you like that?”
“I done know. I don’t even know you.”
“Sorry, I’m Helena and you are…?”
“Aren’t all Greek females called, Helena,” he thought to himself.
“Ah, Thomas the Saint, who is always searching for the truth. I like that! Thomas, you know what? I will cook baby lamb cutlets, Paithakia or would you prefer Souvlaki, pork Kebabs?”
“Excuse me, Helena, aren’t you going dam busters here?”
“I’m Greek, not Italiano. I’m not making any pasta.”
Tom was praying that the doctor would call Helena in and stop her siren song. On one hand he found it great that a woman felt like that towards him, but on the other, he was taken aback by her forwardnes. Such freshness and straight talking. She looked full blooded and he decided that he would not scream for help in case she wanted more from him.
“For Christ sake, give it time, Helena of Troy,” he thought. If all Greek women are like that, no wonder they started a war that was still talked about after three thousand years. A new frontal assault was coming.
“For dessert, I’m baking the best Baklava you ever had.” Now it was his turn to misunderstand.
“Balaclava? Isn’t that some headgear bank robbers wear?”
“No,no, Baklava, it is like cake dripping with sugary syrup. We will have Greek coffee and drink some Ouso.”
“Helena Ducati.” Tom heard the doctor’s voice. Finally, relief was at hand. His little world was close to collapse, his defences crumbling. Helena had been ripping away his protective shell. His senses were strangely aroused by her interest in him. Perhaps he should have plucked his ears like the ancient mariners did. He did not know anything about her, but as she walked away from him he noticed that she was very slim. She was perhaps in her sixties and out to smother some dotty old gentleman. Except, Tom did not see himself neither dotty or as a gentleman.
After a while Helena came back out and the doctor called him in. As Tom passed Helena she gave him a big smile. Her eyes sparkled again as she said in her soft, warm voice so nobody could hear,
“Thomas, don’t worry, I told the doctor about us and asked him to give you something to make you a strong man,” and and the ‘r’ in ‘strong’ sounded like a distant thunder warning the weary traveller.
Tom could not believe what Helena just said. This woman was deliciously outragous. And indeed, he wanted to find out more about her.
“I wait here for you and will give you my phone number when you come out.” Tom was in a daze when he walked into the doctor’s consultancy room.
Of course the doctor did not mention any conversation he had had with Helena. He checked Tom out and seemed happy with his condition. Tom did not mention his problems passing urine in the mornings, because it would have only encouraged the doctor to order more tests.
“I think we can continue with your medication. You have enough repeats and I want you to come back in five month. Anything else I can do for you?” he asked with a slight smile. Was that what Helena meant? What did the doctor want to do for him?
“No thanks, Doc. I don’t need anything.” Tom told him.
Sure enough, when he came back into the waiting room he spotted Helena waiting for him holding a piece of paper. She gave it to him and said as they walked out to the car park,
“This is my phone number, promise you will ring.”
“I’m not sure I should. What about your family?”
“Not to worry, my husband is where your wife is,” she said and this time it was her that pointed to the heavens.
“My children live all over Australia and I’m a strong Greek woman I do what I like and I can handle anything. Stop doubting, Thomas,” she said and her hand touched his arm.
“Go, where the Lord is pointing you.”
She looked at Tom with her dark brown eyes in which he suddenly saw a new future for himself. He nodded, but still doubting . He said to her,
“Give me a couple of days. Dinner sounds great and if I accept, I’ll bring a bottle of wine.” They shook hands, went to their cars and departed in different directions.