The Little Bear
by Grace Gannon
Littlebear had her Irish mothers flaming
red hair and her Navajo fathers high cheek
By night she
tended bar at her dads Littlebear Bar on
West Lenox Street just off the highway and two
blocks from the police station. The bar was a cop
hang-out but occasionally a lost biker would roll
off the highway and into the Littlebear for a pop
or two. When things got rowdy Angela dimmed the
lights, put on soft music, and watered down the
By day she was
the charge nurse on the locked Alzheimers
Unit at the Golden Ladder Nursing Home.
The unit was
usually confused but calm until the change of
shift at 3 oclock. Then residents revved up.
Those who were napping, sat bolt upright and
without assistance tried to escape from beds or
wheelchairs, ignoring the shrill motion alarms
that brought staff barreling down the hallways to
rescue them before they fell.
This was never
the case when Angela worked the three to eleven
because she dimmed the overhead lights and slid
Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, or Mel Torme into her
boom box. She figured if it worked at the
Littlebear it would work at the Golden Ladder.
She was right.
middle of November, when the days began to darken
early, the residents spent the late afternoons
nodding off until the med pass just before supper.
This respite gave Angela time to review the
nurses notes from the earlier shift.
Soothed by the crooning of I Remember You or Love
is Here to Stay, residents would nap with smiles
on their faces or leaf through magazines.
she shouldnt have favorites but Paul James
was her link between her jobs. He was a tall,
rangy 88-year-old sea dog with a tattoo on his
bicep of a topless Hawaiian nubile who swung her
hips from side to side when he flexed his muscle.
One night as
Angela worked the three to eleven, he ambled up
to the nurses station and leaned his elbow
on the counter. When she looked up he said,
Got any Coors back there?
a stray curl off her forehead. Id
give you one if I had one, she said.
How bout apple juice or Ginger Ale?
for a moment then said, Nah.
Whoopee smoothed from the boom box. He shuffled a
few steps and raised an eyebrow at Angela who
smiled, shook her head, and bowed over the chart
in front of her.
He turned to
his right, to one end of the empty hall, and then
turned left and looked down the other end of the
hall where Mary Alice Mulligan sat curled into
her wheelchair. Her chin rested on her chest.
Well, Paul sighed, Guess
Im not gonna get any action around here.
Might as well go back to my apartment.
Angela looked up with a smile when she heard him
mutter, What kind of a bar is this anyway!