A Story of Bee

Posted on: January 21, 2010
6 comments so far (is that a lot?)

A Story of Bee
By Robert Cleversy

 

 

Her name was Beetrice, Beetrice Rose Macintosh. First, before you correct me, her name is spelled Beetrice but is pronounced Beatrice. Her mother liked bees and decided to name her that way. Beetrice will be the first to tell you that her mother was a loon. That’s the second thing I need to tell you, Beetrice can be pretty assertive when it comes to speaking her mind.

 

I first met Bee in the summer of 2006. I was having a tough year. My wife left me after six years of marriage. One day I was sitting in my living room watching TV, the next thing I knew she had the house, the furniture, and all of our savings. She told me I was a weak man and that was the reason she left me. Right after the divorce I began to drink and stay up late. It didn’t take long before I lost my job. Since I couldn’t work anymore, my car got repossessed and I was evicted from my apartment. I guess her thing about me being weak was true.

 

So, there I was 34 years old and living with my younger brother in his house. Don’t get me wrong my brother’s a great guy and has a terrific wife and family. It’s just that when you’re sleeping in a four-year-olds racing car bed, a person begins to wonder what they’ve done wrong in life.

 

As if I couldn’t go lower, I got arrested for driving under the influence. Technically, it wasn’t a DUI, it was public intoxication. Since my car got repossessed I didn’t have a way to get around town so I started to ride a bike. Well, you got it; I came out of my favorite tavern a little after midnight and was met by our local police. They probably would have let me go under different circumstances. In this case as they drove their patrol car towards me I decided to relieve myself. I got off the bike and held the seat in one hand and unzipped with the other. As they neared I let the bike seat go to zip up. The bike rolled about ten yards and smacked into the side of the cruiser and was crushed under the rear wheels. I tell everyone it was a DUI because let’s face it, it sounds pretty stupid to say I got a ‘bicycle under the influence’.
Despite my pathetic story, the judge was not very forgiving. I got a hefty fine, mandatory counseling, and community service. When I contacted the court clerk she gave me a list of places and things I could do to serve my community service. On the list was Evermore Nursing Home. I figured a nursing home would be quiet and something I could at least enjoy. That’s where I met Bee. Remember Bee? It’s a story about Bee.
Bee was one of the patients at Evermore. She lived in 3 South, Room 4. I’ll never forget the first time I met her. I was walking down the hallway with the director of the home. She was showing me the wings and explaining what they expected of me while I was there. That’s when I first heard her voice.
“You brought me that crappy meal again!” She yelled in her high pitched voice as the tray slammed to the floor.

 

The attendant kneeled to the floor and pushed the plate back to the tray. “I’m sorry Mrs. Macintosh, but this is the meal the cafeteria sent.”

 

“Get that crap away from me. I’ll eat a can of dog food instead.”

 

The young girl steadied the tray and tried to be polite. “Ma’am you can’t eat dog food, it’s no good for you.”

 

“Are you telling me that dog food can’t be eaten? Is that what you’re trying to tell me young lady?”

 

The attendant gave Bee a confused look and began to speak when the director politely excused herself and went into the room. “Bee, will you quit giving Becky a hard time. She’s just trying to do her job.”

 

“Well I’ve told you and those bozos in the cafeteria not to bring me that diet food.”

 

“Bee, you can’t eat anything you want. It’s not healthy.”

 

“I’m 81 years old. I think I’ve done pretty well for myself up to now figuring out what’s healthy and what’s not.”

 

The director gave a light giggle. “I’ll talk to the chef and see if he can make you something that you like but without all the sugar. You Ok with that?”

 

Bee gave a shrug. “Guess I don’t have much of a choice.”

 

I glanced into the room to take a peak at the show. There she was in all of her prime. Bee was a thin woman. She had curly grey hair and dark glasses covering her eyes. She sat up in the bed with a small blanket covering her missing legs. I was a little stunned at how a small unimposing lady could give them such grief.

 

As the director came from the room she looked to me. “I should tell you now that you’ll be assigned to this wing. Bee will be one of your patients. She’ll probably take up most of your time.”

 

Take up most of my time? She was just one little old lady; how tough could that be?
We began to walk down the hall. “Why would she take up most of my time?”

 

“Bee’s lived here for about 16 years. She’s diabetic. That’s the reason she came here. Although she tried to take care of herself as best as possible, the disease has ravaged her body. She lost her legs several years ago. She went blind about a year ago. Despite her condition she’ll give you a run for your money; she’s a feisty one. I’m putting you with her because I’m hoping she won’t fight you like she does my staff.”
I was a little confused and a little stunned. “What do you mean fight me?”

 

“Oh don’t get me wrong; Bee can be a very caring and compassionate person. Just don’t show weakness. Weakness is something she won’t tolerate.”

 

Weakness, well that’s something I didn’t need to hear.

 

I took the bus to the nursing home. I took the bus because I didn’t have a car and the bike was totaled in the incident. I think ‘incident’ sounds less stupid than what really happened with the cops. Anyways, I had 80 hours of community service. The way I had it figured I could get it over with in a couple of weeks.
Three South had one registered nurse assigned to the wing. She was responsible for all the patients. Her name was Katie Brown. She was off the day I had my walk around with the director so I met her for the first time on that Monday morning.

 

She was stunning, a beautiful woman with dazzling blue eyes and auburn hair. I was at a loss for words as I stood at her desk. She glanced up to me from her work. “Can I help you?”

 

“Hi, I’m Dave. Dave Edwards. I was assigned to the wing and told to report to you.”

 

She smiled. “Right, I got your paperwork this morning.”

 

She stood and pointed towards the television room. “There are 14 patients on the wing right now; most of them will mingle around the TV room. That is except for Bee.”

 

“I had a brief encounter with Bee last week.”

 

She nodded. “So, you realize she can be a handful.”

 

“Oh yeah.”

 

“I want you to get to know her. She’s a really interesting person. The main thing is that with her diabetes she needs to have a strict diet. No sweets of any kind. She won’t be happy with you but if you stay firm she will respect you.”

 

“Got it.”

 

We walked towards Bee’s door. “You ready for this?”

 

“No problem.”

 

Katie pushed Bee’s door open. Bee was laying in the bed listening to music on her small radio. “Bee, it’s me Katie. I’m here with the new attendant, Dave.”

 

Bee reached to the radio and turned it down. “Is he another one of those dufuses from the county court?”

 

Katie turned to me and grinned. “Well, he is from the county but I’m not ready to say he’s a dufus.”

 

“Well bring him over.”

 

We walked closer to the bed as Bee pulled herself up. “Does he talk?”
I cleared my throat. “Yes ma’am.”

 

Katie brushed my shoulder. “I’m going to leave you two alone to get to know each other.”

 

As Katie walked out the door Bee spoke again. “Are you looking at her butt?”
“Excuse me?”

 

“Her butt, stooge. Were you looking at it as she left the room?”

 

“Ma’am why would you ask me that?”

 

Bee waved her hand in the air. “I’m asking the questions here.”

 

“Well, to be honest. Yes, I was.”

 

Bee nodded in appreciation. “Good, good to know those things. You see at my age I need to know those kind of things.”

 

“Why is that ma’am?”

 

“Ok, let’s get some things straight. Quit calling me ma’am. I was a WAC in World War 2. The guys would use the word ma’am on the woman officers they didn’t like. It was their code word for the b word.”

 

“The b word?”

 

“You just acting dumb or are you in some witness protection program? The B word, you know that word most women don’t like to be called.”

 

“Right, the b word.”

 

“So, quit calling me ma’am. Call me Bee.”

 

So, Bee why did you ask me if I was looking at Katie?”

 

“I need to know.”

 

“Know what?”
“If you’re gay.”

 

“And what would me being gay have to do with anything?”

 

Bee waved her hand in the air again. “Did you eat lead paint as a kid? You being gay is important for me to know. It makes a difference on what we’ll talk about. I doubt if you’d want to listen to Liza Minnelli with me, would you?

 

“I’ve never listened to Liza Minnelli before.”

 

“Exactly, because you’re not gay. Do I have to explain everything?”

 

“No ma… Bee. I get it.”

 

Bee turned her radio back on. The opera music filled the room. Bee pointed to the radio. “Carmen, you ever heard it before?”

 

“No, never.”

 

“Carmen’s this harlot that thinks she can use men for her own devices and never has to pay the price. It’s one of the greatest operas ever written.”

 

The music was enchanting. I had always thought of opera as something to put people to sleep. This was different. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying but it captivated me.

 

“This is wonderful Bee.”

 

“Take a seat burger boy. They’re getting to the good part.”

 

I pulled a chair close. I wondered for a minute whether to ask her why she called me burger boy. Best left unsolved for now. It was opera time.

 

She applauded as the opera ended. She turned the radio off and turned to me. “When’s lunch burger boy?”

 

I shrugged. She caught my mistake immediately. “Did you just shrug?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“You know I’m blind.”

 

“Yes Bee, my mistake.”

 

“Just go get me some food.”

 

No matter how many times she gave me a hard time, I began to enjoy it. She was blind and crippled yet she would tell me a joke each morning. I thought of all the wasted time I had spent feeling sorry for myself. In her I saw my weaknesses and vowed to change them.

 

It didn’t take long to realize that asking Bee questions was not a wise idea. She asked the questions. I also soon realized that if I asked Katie dumb questions, she would always take the time to explain the answer. It was in this little ruse that I had to ask Katie one burning question. I leaned close to her at her desk. Her sweet perfume gave me goose bumps. “Katie, why does she call me burger boy?”

 

“You don’t know.”

 

I shrugged in ignorance. “She thinks your name is Dave Thomas, not Dave Edwards.”

 

“Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s?”

 

Katie smiled. “That’s the one burger boy.”

 

“You think I should tell her it’s not Dave Thomas?”

 

“Are you kidding me? You’ve had it easy with her. Be grateful that’s the only thing she picks on you about.”
I looked into her wonderful eyes and longed to ask her out. “Are you seeing anyone?”

 

“Dave, I can’t date anyone under my supervision. Why don’t you go check on Bee?”

 

I stuck my tail between my legs and moped back to Bee’s room. She was fumbling with her radio, searching frantically for music she found acceptable. “You need help Bee?”

 

“I can’t find squat this afternoon. Here take this thing.”

 

I set the small radio on the shelf and sat in the chair. “Tell me about what you did in the war?”

 

Bee pulled the blanket up to her waist and lifted herself higher in the bed. “I was in the Woman’s Army Corps. We called ourselves WACs. I was a Major and worked in logistics. I did similar stuff for General Washington.”

 

“There was a General Washington in World War 2?”

 

Bee paused. “Did you go to high school?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“And in that high school did they have a US History class?”

 

Oh man, this was going to be a scolding. I knew better than to ask a question. “Yes, I took US History.”
“Did you pass or just sit there with your thumb up your brains?”

 

“Yes, I passed.”

 

“Well how many General Washington’s are there in US History?”

 

“The only one we studied was George Washington.”

 

“You know who he is burger boy?”

 

“The first President.”

 

Bee nodded. “You got it. I helped his cause during the War of Independence.”

 

I knew better than to ask another question so I tried to stay with the facts. “Bee, not to sound dumb but you’re not old enough to have lived that long ago.”

 

“Of course not, it was in my previous life.”

 

Previous life, this was going to be good. “I’ve heard of people saying they’ve been reincarnated.”

 

“Most people have been reincarnated. I’ve come back four times now. Sometimes you come back as another person, sometimes you come back as an animal. You ever heard of Edgar Cayce?”

 

“No.”

 

“He was well renowned for his understanding of reincarnation and how people come back. You ever think about what happens to us after we’re dead?”

 

“No, I just figured we died.”

 

Bee’s word grew more intense. “The way I got you figured burger boy is that you’re repaying in this life for things you’ve done wrong in a previous life. If you keep screwing it up you’ll come back as a bug in your next life.”

 

“I guess I need to quit screwing up and get it right.”

 

“If you do get it right you may come back again as a person or as something you’ve always wanted to be.”

 

“That sounds cool.”

 

She turned to me. “What have you always wanted to be?”

 

“I’ve never thought of that Bee. I guess a dolphin or a penguin.”

 

I leaned closer. “I guess you’ve already decided what you’re coming back as.”

 

“A bee.” She replied.

 

Cute, a bumble bee. I could see her having fun stinging people. Then I let a question slip out. “Really, a bumble bee?”

 

“I didn’t say bumble bee genius. I said a bee.”

 

Do I dare ask her? Another one of those best left unsolved.

 

We spent each afternoon listening to opera and debating life. Before developing diabetes Bee had spent a full life. Besides her time in the Army she was a burlesque dancer, a painter, a mother, a shrewd businesswoman, and briefly, a state senator. Her husband passed away years earlier. She outlived both her children. She had no grandchildren and her loneliness showed in her sarcasm.

 

We spent one afternoon listening to the rain. She made me put on a blindfold just to make me listen. As I sat there in my darkness listening to the rain, she quizzed. “Tell me something burger boy, you dating?”
“No, I haven’t dated since my divorce.”

 

“Why’s that?”

 

“I guess I haven’t felt like dating.”

 

“You telling me you haven’t thought of boinking that little nurse Katie?”

 

I lifted up my blindfolded to see if she was grinning. I knew if she was smiling at me she was also testing me. She was. “No, Bee…”

 

Before I could finish she was ready to fire again. “No, you haven’t thought of boinking her. I thought you told me you weren’t gay.”

 

“Yes but no…yes, I’ve thought of boinking her but no, she won’t go out with me.”

 

“That’s because you give off that loser aura.”

 

“Loser aura, Bee? Don’t hold back on this one.”

 

“Did you just jump right in and ask her to go out with you?”

 

“Well, yes.

 

“Loser, capital L.”

 

“You’re a real confidence builder.”

 

“You need to get to know a woman before you start talking about dating. Your ex-wife what was her favorite color?”

 

“I have no clue. I guess that’s the reason she divorced me.”

 

“You got it genius.”

 

“So, how do I get Katie to go out with me?”

 

“What do I look like, a lesbian? How should I know how to go out with a woman?”

 

“I thought you might have some tips.”

 

“Come here burger boy.”

 

I leaned closer. She spoke in almost a whisper. “Did it ever occur to you to ask her?”

 

I leaned back. “I’ve tried but she’s always working.”

 

“Well, just because I feel sorry for you I will give you one tip. She loves dogs.”

 

“Really, does she have a dog?”

 

“No, she had a dog last year but it died. She was really hurt. It was this little Chihuahua. She loves those Chihuahuas.”

 

“You think I should get her one?”

 

She waved her hand in the air, here it comes. Why do I keep asking questions? “Well just go to the pound and adopt them all. Listen, BB you can’t just dump a dog on her. What if she doesn’t like it?”

 

BB, now she even has an acronym for burger boy. “I got ya. I just wish I could spend some time with her outside of this place.”

 

She patted my hand. “Just be patient.”

 

The weeks faded fast and my service was coming to a close. I was bringing Bee our last lunch together. I was carrying the tray down the hall when I saw the commotion at her door. Katie was there with one of the doctors. As I approached I realized she had tears in her eyes. “Is everything alright with Bee?”
“Dave, Bee’s had a stroke she’s fading fast.”

 

I looked to the doctor in disbelief. “Is there anything you can do?”

 

He shook his head no. “Bee made a pretty tight living will and made it very clear that she was not to be kept alive with any excessive means. I think she would rather have us let her go peacefully.”
“Can I see her?”

 

He nodded. “Of course.”

 

I leaned close to her and held her hand. She squeezed it softly. “Thank you Dave Edwards for being my friend.”

 

“Thank you Bee.”

 

She tugged at my shirt and pulled me closer. She gave me a soft kiss on the cheek and whispered. “A Chihuahua.”

 

He hand grew limp. I pulled the radio from the shelf and turned it on. The words of Carmen filled the room as I sat there and listened to one last opera with my friend.

 

Her funeral was on a Tuesday. I saw Katie there and thought of Bee’s last words. Did she want me to get Katie a Chihuahua? I almost smiled thinking of how even with Bee gone she was still very alive inside me.
A few weeks later a lawyer called me at my brother’s house. He asked me if I could meet with him that afternoon. It seemed that Bee had mentioned me in her will. He was an older man named Tyler Robbins and told me he had known Bee most of her life. He explained to me that Bee specifically changed her will right after we first met. “I’m not here to explain Bee,” he stated. “You know how she is.”
“I don’t understand.”

 

“Mr. Edwards, the nursing home Bee lived in is owned by a corporation. Bee owned the majority share of stock in the corporation.”

 

“So, she owned the nursing home she was living in?”

 

“Right, anyways she had me change her will so that all of her shares would go to you.”

 

“Me?”

 

“It states that as long as you’re working at the home you keep your shares. Based on my calculations you’ll never have to worry about needing another job.”

 

I was stunned. I tried to speak but there was more. “She told me to tell you something. She made me memorize it. She said, ‘burger boy don’t screw this up’.”

 

I left his office and sat on a bench near the lake watching the joggers come by. I was now a millionaire and didn’t quite know how to take it in. Bee was right, don’t screw it up. I had a real chance and knew if I put my heart into it, I could make something of my life.

 

As I sat there in the afternoon sun I felt a tug at my pants. I leaned over to see a small puppy pulling at my pants. I looked around to see if there was an owner near and then bent over to pick it up. Its tail wagged feverishly as I plucked it from the ground.

 

The little Chihuahua licked at my face when I heard a familiar voice. “There you are.”

 

It was Katie. “Is she yours?”

 

“Yes, I just got her yesterday. I decided to take her for a walk when the next thing I knew she’s gone.”
The puppy kept licking my face. Katie smiled and pointed. “She really likes you.”

 

“She’s pretty friendly.”

 

Katie moved closer. “You want to take her for a walk with me?”

 

“What about not dating people under your supervision?”

 

Katie smiled. “You’re not working for me anymore. The way I hear it, I kind of work for you now. You got any rules about dating someone who works for you?”

 

“Me, no”
I paused for a moment and looked at Katie. “Katie, what’s your favorite color?

 

“Pink, why?”

 

“Just curious.”

 

Katie pulled the leash from her pocket. As I handed her the puppy I glanced at the tag. It was simply engraved, ‘Bee’.

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6 Responses to “A Story of Bee”

  1. Michael Hill Says:

    Great little story!

  2. Myra West Says:

    Good story. It gave some good laughs and some lumps-in-the-throat as well. Keep writing, Robert.

  3. Julie Hines Says:

    Wow Robert, I'm impressed. Great story, keep it up.

  4. Jay Arunachalam Says:

    Great Mr. C! Lovely story! I will look forward to your book now.

  5. Eddie Wiggins Says:

    I was very impressed. I felt like I was there in the story. This is the mark of a true writer.

  6. Joan Kaplan Says:

    Lovely. Touching. Well written.

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