Elvis piped up: “Miss Oliver, think of it as you’re having a little vacation from everything you’ve done before.”
“Oh, Elvis,” she said. “You’re like a breath of spring.”
He had to smile. Seeing her so much, he
understood her alternative universe. “Reaching old age is loneliness, depression,” is how he would explain it. “You don’t feel you’re part of the world anymore. You’re in the way. You’re a pest. You have to depend on someone. That disturbs Miss Oliver. My goal is to make her still feel part of the world.”
In short order, he came to think of her as his oldest friend. He actually once told her straight out: “If I had never met you, I’d probably be dead or in jail. I grew up around drug dealers all my life. I wouldn’t have any choice but to stand on the corner, too.”
And so, in perhaps the most important hours of his week, he lost himself in the twisting labyrinth of this nursing home, and in particular, in room 470, becoming true
intimates with a wise old woman named Margaret Oliver who never thought of herself as a savior.