Ivan by Ruth Deming

They finally decided to close the iron gates of Legacy Hills in Macedonia, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. The elderly people were terrified of President Trump’s whimsical behavior. A widely-respected widow, Flo Greenberg, said she could imagine bombers – yes! Bombers – flying overhead and wiping out their community.

 Legacy Hills was very tight. In the Ethan Reid Clubhouse, they would have square-dances, salsa dances, and even modified hip-hop dances, all taught by trained professionals. After all, these were wealthy people. They wanted nothing more than to enjoy whatever years they had left.    

Mr. Walter Straus was the oldest. Ninety-nine. What this man endured in order to have sex. When he was a spry 92, a urologist fashioned a working penile implant. “Such pain! If I knew then what I know now, I would never had gotten it,” said Walter, who couldn’t for the life of him get anyone to sleep with him. 

 Maladies aplenty attended the residents. The cancers – breast, cervical, prostate, skin (called melanoma) and pituitary that was slow growing.

 Flo Greenberg, the widow, lacked energy. Her physician, Dr. Fleisher, gave her a battery of tests and she was finally diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. How she had begged him not to give her an MRI – the “open” or “closed” machines were the same.

 “How’s this, Mrs. Greenberg,” he said. “You’ll take a one milligram of Valium.”

 “What do you think I am, Dr. Fleisher? A damn heroin addict. Or, that new thing, OxyContin?”

She slept like a baby while “in the tomb,” as she called it.

Deaths at Legacy Hills were inevitable. 

In a bright hallway, they honored every single person who had died with a color portrait, painted by one of their own: Daisy Fiorino. Most of the residents shuddered as they passed by, wondering when their own portrait would go up.

The front lobby was a riot of color and cheer. An aquarium in the corner had a variety of fish. A sign read, “Do not knock on the glass.” This was mostly for visiting grandchildren.

Off on the side was a bar, attended during certain hours by a bartender.

 Who said the elderly should not drink? One of those know-it-all food gurus on PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service? Dr. Mark Fuhrman with his GBOMBS diet – greens, berries, onions, mushrooms, beans and seeds.

 Or that new character, Dr. Josh Axe, who promoted the KETO diet. Only 38, he said, “Let’s eat like the cave men did.”

Periodically, Legacy Hills would get new residents. There were two qualifications: Money and health insurance.

Ivan passed the test. At eighty-two, he was partially balding, with a smooth surface that made women want to rub it. He became quite popular.

Once, he and Bea (short for Beatrice) sat in the bar and chatted. 

They both ordered white Chardonnay.

Bea had a lovely two-bedroom filled with reproductions of Vincent van Gogh, Renoir, Mary Seurat and others. She had refused the advances of Walter Straus and could certainly live out her days without sex. She wondered if she could remember how to perform.

One evening as she sat reading in her favorite chair, pink, like a bunny rabbit, she heard her door bell chime.

  Putting down her book, Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson, she walked in her multi-colored caftan to the door. She looked out the peephole, then opened the door.

 “Why, Ivan, how nice to see you!”

“Am I bothering you?” he asked.

“Of course not,” she said. “Come on in.”

Ivan made pleasantries about how beautiful she looked – he had no idea she was ninety-two – with her blonde hair and pink-painted nails.

“Can you give me a tour of your lovely home?” he asked.

Bea lived on two floors, as she thought it would benefit her health by walking up and down the stairs. If she didn’t have the strength, she would ride her Acorn Lift. It was fun and exhilarating. Her grandchildren loved it.

Once in the bedroom, Ivan threw her on the bed, and lay on top of her, unbuttoning his pants.

Bea said not a word, but reached over onto her bedside table, fumbled in the drawer, and produced a revolver, her late husband, Peter, had left her.

She smacked him hard on the head, once, twice, three times.

 He rolled off the bed, his head bloodied, and Beatrice dialed 911.    

Ivan, such a nice name.

Then she remembered there was an “Ivan the Terrible” of Russia.

  She walked briskly out of her room and walked to the front lobby to await the police.

Her hands shook. When the two police officers arrested Ivan, she went over to the bar and fixed herself a drink. No wine, this time. A nice Jack Daniels neat.   

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