Sunday December 7th, Bristol St House
Finally got a chance to sit down. It’s been a busy shift with Jill leaving the ironing (tempted to repay favour next time she’s on after me), vacuuming, and Gary messing his bed again. Robert’s still outside. Silly bugger. I can understand why he’s upset but it’s hard enough working here without him playing up.
Wish I was with Tanya and Celeste. Just got another postcard from them yesterday. Raving on about Venice. Bitches. I bet they’re just sending them to torment me. What a party animal I’ve become. Spending the summer here working full time. Still, I need the money. And the pay’s not too bad. I guess it has to be. I know the intention’s good, but are we really integrating these poor men into the community?
After tomorrow have three days off. No plans. No use checking with Jenny, she’ll just be making googly eyes with Todd. I need to get off my arse. Will force myself to jog around the lake twice each morning. Maybe I’ll bump into that guy Mark again.
Just checked out the window. Robert’s still sitting there. Wish he’d get out of that suit and tie, he must be so hot. But there’s no use wasting my breath. Sunday’s always suit day.
He looks so lonely. I don’t know why they don’t house him with someone else with Down syndrome. At least he’d be able to talk to them. Feel like ringing up his parents. Giving them a what for. Something like: Get your arses down here right now. You know he expects you every Sunday. Surely you can spare a measly hour a week? Yeah right. I’m full of shit. Still, it would get some of the tension off. Me that is. Robert’s been tense all day.
First it was his hair. I recombed it. Then it was a few wrinkles in his shirt sleeve. I got him to take it off and reironed it. Then it was his hair again. Then one of his black Velcro laces wouldn’t stick. Then his tie knot was too loose. Then it was too tight. Then he noticed a tiny stain on his pants’ knee. That was it.
‘I need to wash it off,’ he said, or something like that.
‘Robert, we can’t stick your suit in the washing machine,’ I tried to tell him. ‘Sarah can take it to the drycleaners tomorrow.’
‘But mumndad are coming today!’
‘They won’t notice that little spot,’ I said. I wanted to remind him that they might not even be coming but didn’t—he was upset enough as it was.
I wiped it with a damp rag. It didn’t make any difference but I thought he’d settled down. Hah!
Ten minutes or so later I was pouring out their breakfast when Robert came out of his bedroom again. He had his red parka on over his suit.
‘Where are you going?’ I asked.
‘But your workshop’s not open today.’
He went to the front door. I tried to stop him.
‘I have to go!’ he yelled.
‘Robert, you’ll wake up Gary,’ I said. ‘Why do you have to go to the bus stop?’
‘To wait for mumndad.’
‘It’s way too early,’ I said, pointing at the clock. ‘If they’re coming, they’ll drive to the house. And it won’t be before the little hand gets to the two.’
It didn’t work.
He opened the front door and walked out, slamming it behind him. He was already outside the gate by the time I caught up with him.
‘Come on,’ I said, taking his arm. ‘I’ll make you a hot chocolate with all milk and extra sugar.’
He pulled away from me and kept walking.
I ran and stood in front of him.
‘Robert, you can’t go to the bus stop.’
‘Get out of my way!’ he yelled. ‘You RETARD!’
Great. It was quarter past eight on a Sunday morning and I was standing out in the street being shouted at by somebody I was being paid to look after. To make matters worst we had an audience. A lady outside watering at number 48 and I saw the curtains of number 43 move. I bet there’ll be another complaint.
Nothing I could do though but let him yell himself out. When he finished he was crying. I wanted to give him a hug but couldn’t. It’s strictly against the rules.
It took a while to talk him back to the house. Even then he wouldn’t come in. He wanted to wait for his parents by the letterbox. Somehow he’s gotten it into his head that they’ve forgotten where he lives. We reached a compromise. At least on the porch he’s been out of the sun and I’ve been able to check on him regularly.
By then Gary had woken up and I’ve been at it ever since. Toileting, showering, dressing, feeding him his cereal. Got him on the couch in front of the TV. Usually he’s by far the most work. But today I think it’s almost been equal.
Need to go out and get Robert’s dirty snack plate and see if he wants some more water. Maybe he’ll finally be ready to come in.
It’s nearly five. His parents aren’t coming today.