Norman Anders was an 88-year-old man who had died alone at his kitchen table among his collection of coffee cans filled with currency. He had been going to eat at the homeless shelter every day for the last 23 years. Not much was known about him, other than where he lived and that he pushed an old shopping cart from the Safeway that had been out business for better than twenty years. Some of the town elders had said he was a janitor for the school, for what seemed like forever. They said he didn’t talk much, and no one had ever seen him with a woman. Norman was quiet and indistinguishable.
The house he lived in was an aged clapboard late Victorian tenement, nothing fancy and not very big. The Help for the Handicap-able workers had applied the last paint job to the place. The house still held its charm, despite being old. No one knew how he had come to live in that house. With the way people moved around now a days, nobody knew when he moved in, and many of the neighbors said he was there when they moved into their homes. He kept the yard himself, with an electric weed eater and an assortment of hand tools. He would speak to everyone, but he wouldn’t hold a lengthy conversation with anyone. He took the newspaper and didn’t own a television set. A fact that was learned in 2008, when his neighbor Mr. Swanson had offered him extra coupons for a new DTV converter box. Norman had turned them down and told Mr. Swanson thanks, but he didn’t watch TV.
Inside of his house were newspapers meticulously stacked in chronological order. There were close to a hundred stacks throughout the house. Mister Anders, if he were still alive, could tell you where the paper was for a specific date, going back fifty years or more. There were no pictures of loved ones on the wall, no family photo albums, no brick-a-bract adorning the end tables. With exception to the stacks of papers, Anders house could have been a display in a department store window, it had something of a museum feel too it. Tonight, the Anders house be quieter than it has been in the last 60 years, and at about 11am tomorrow, when the Meal on Wheels volunteer comes to bring him his dinner. She will make her last delivery to 1496 Maple Street.
Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock! came the sound at the door. Then came the voice of Elise Hagaen, “Hello! Meal on Wheels” She turned the knob on the front door and gently pushed it open. Again she said “Hello! Meal on Wheels” She went on inside as had done for the last four years. “You hoo! Meal on Wheels! Your lunch is here Mr. Anders!” Something about the house was different today, the house was quiet, and had a different smell and feel to it. Elise had been trained to interact with her clients so that she would not just bring the food, but to examine the clients surroundings. Seeing to the clients health, asking them about their supplies such as insulin, syringes, heart medication, etc.. It was not acting as a doctor or nurse, but to act as a stop-gap measure for any person who might tend to forget, or just simply run out. She had come upon a few clients that she convinced to go the hospital, eight of the dozen clients she convinced, were truly life threatening, Three were literally knocking on Death’s door.
Mr. Anders was usually at home when she brought the meals by, she thought maybe he was in the bathroom. “You hoo! Mr Anders are you here?” she called out to the empty house. Still no answer, the only sound was the steady ticking of an old electric clock. Glancing at it, she noted that her grandma had a clock exactly like that on her wall when she died in 1985. 1105 a.m.the clock showed on its face. she wondered if her grandson could read a clock without a digital display. She was calling out hello again as she rounded the door to the dining room, but the sight of Mr. Anders arm muted the last part of her hello.
She had a fright, like the sudden realization that someone is right behind you, when you didn’t hear their approach. After composing herself for a few seconds and muttering under her breath that he had scared the hell of out her. She started scolding him for scaring like that, but the odd position of his leg stopped her. Mr. Anders was seated at a dining chair slumped over the table. His eyes were open and glazed over. Elise didn’t have to feel a pulse to know that he was dead. His right leg was straight out, as if he were a NFL linebacker in a three-point stand.
Elise bolted for the front door screaming “Oh my God! Oh my God!” She was in such a hurry to get out of the house that she ran right past Mr. Anders’ phone sitting next to the door. After sobbing for a minute, she grabbed her phone from the center console of her car and dialed 911. She had a queer thought as she dialed, “wasn’t 911 for emergency! I don’t think Mr. Anders was in an emergency anymore, and they might arrest me for abuse of 911!” She said aloud ” Well let them try!” The phone was answered on the first ring, “911 emergency, what is your emergency?” Gathering her self so as to be audible, Elise told the dispatcher, “Mr. Anders is dead in his house at..14….96…..Maple Street.”
A fire engine was the first to arrive on the scene, Elise’s thoughts were why did they send that? There is no fire and Mr. Anders didn’t need CPR. About twenty seconds behind the Engine, were two police cars. A Fire Captain was the first to reach Mrs. Hagaen as she trembled next her car. She was startled to see a woman under the bright red helmet approaching her. “Ma’am, what’s going on?” the Captain asked in soft but confident voice. Elise pointing towards the house said to her “I was here delivering Mr. Anders’ food and found him dead in the house.” The Captain, thinking ahead to whether this incident will be a rescue or a homicide investigation, asked Mrs. Hagaen “Why do you believe he is dead?” Elise pondered the Captain’s question for a second and replied “He is stiff and his eyes are glazed over” The Captain halted the fire crew as they approached front door. Elise saw the name “G. Close” on the back of the Captain’s Helmet as she ordered her team to standby. Turning back to the street she signaled to the fire engineer with a peculiar signal, as if she was taking a picture with a camera. The driver came out of the cab of the Engine and then took out a bag out of a compartment. As the engineer walked up with the bag, the Captain turned her attention back to Elise. “Ma’am this officer has some questions. Please remain with him until I come back.” Captain Close took the bag and Elise had noticed that there were cameras inside. Removing one of the cameras and passing the bag back to the driver, she headed towards the house, walking quickly, as if Mr. Anders might still be alive.
By 3 pm the house was quiet once again. The body of Norman Anders was resting quietly at the county morgue, being investigated as an unattended death. The coffee canisters of money had been counted, documented, and deposited into the police evidence vault.