Cowboy Games

c6628979e34af213c77d34b7db2fd12a-d4b6j17The Cedarwood Home for the Elderly stood at the end of a dead-end street in a rotting borough of a dying town, an apt image not lost on the staff and residents– well, some of them anyway. The arrivals came in minivans full of harried and frenzied families. The departures left in black station-wagons where the back seats were always quiet. The visitors’ lots grew weeds from disuse.

Eileen taught grade school for forty years before retiring and within two years her son, David, dropped her off with a peck on her cheek. He visited often at first, then rare phone calls, and finally silence. She wished him a happy life, but loneliness crept in to her days. She slept those away and enjoyed the nights instead.

Mister Jameson, three doors down, wandered the halls in the wee hours, sometimes clothed strangely and sometimes not at all. The word on the ward was that syphilis turned his brain into cheese. No one knew about his life before Cedarwood, his tenure longer than everyone else including the staff.

One night, Eileen’s mood wasn’t the best. She conned one of the orderlies into fetching her some brandy, an easy enough task for a woman not afraid to peddle her charms. The liquor burned her throat but made the time more tolerable.

She considered the length of the tie on her house coat and wondered if the wall sconce light would hold her weight, assuming her courage held. A noisy hooting and hollering from the hallways interrupted her pondering. When there was a loud knock on her door, she startled and stuffed the fuzzy would-be noose under the mattress.

“You in there, Eileen?” said the familiar voice through the door, this time drawling like a cowboy from a bad western movie.

She yelled at the door. “Go back to bed, Mister Jameson. It’s three in the morning.”

“I have a six shooter pointed at your door. You best come out, little lady. I hear you got a bit of booze to lubricate the joints.”

Eileen smiled to herself. The wall sconce would be there tomorrow. Tonight, there waited another lonely soul. She walked over to the door and opened it.

“Greetings, Marshall Dillon.”

“Howdy, ma’am. Might I come in for a spell?”

Mister Jameson wore cowboy boots and a felt brimmed hat. He wore no holster, but his pistol looked loaded with lead and ready to fire. She closed the door behind him and let her house coat fall to the floor.

Author Notes

18 Comments for “Cowboy Games”


Good one, Doug. I liked the ending, especially. I worked in nursing homes for 17 years in administration. (I worked for the administrators, CEO’s, etc.) I worked at very good homes and saw a different slant. But, no matter how good a place is, no one wants to be there. I saw families that were very attentive and I saw sad old soles who had no one. Glad I learned the escape routes in case I’m ever in one.



Thanks, Lina. Dealing with my mother-in-law currently in a nursing home with vascular dementia. Such places can be a source of gallows humour, despite it all. Keep mum about your escape plans. 🙂

Tim Hillebrant


Hey Doug,

That was great. I love the last bit- brings a lot of smiles to what could otherwise be a depressing tale. We begin our lives being cared for by others, and all to often end them the same way- without nearly as much love in caring. I worked briefly in a Nursing Home, when I was getting my CNA License and doing my clinicals. It was a depressing place, and became even more so when my grandmother was admitted to the same one- where she died 3 years later. Your story reminds me a lot of some of the people I knew there.

Nicely done.



Things are so bad with my mother-in-laws’s vascular dementia now. The truth of these places is so much sadder than I dare write about.

Glad you liked this lighter fare, TIm.


WoooHoooo! Now, this is a spicy bit of Nursing Home humor! I love it…really love it. You have endearing characters, and real-life drama and thoughts from them. The backgrounds of their life made it painful as to where they ended up.

When I was a CNA I had a particular Alzheimer’s resident who had been a former prim and proper school teacher, probably for close to forty years. She had deteriorated into a combative, foul-mouthed memory of her former persona. It took three CNA’s and a tripod gurney to get her into bed, as she clawed at you, cussing boisterous profanity when trying to move her, dress her, go to the toilet, etc… It is amazing the strength old folks can display, their tiny scrawny bodies giving out what little control they have left in the throws of dementia.

I see you felt the need to find some humor and hope in the Nursing Home scene, as did I. Nice Work!

Write On!

Lisa Doesburg


Oh my! Haha! Now that was an unexpected ending! I shouldn’t laugh, though. I worked at an assisted living home and as aides, we were not allowed to interfere with any late night liasons. (unless, of course it wasn’t safe)…This was great, Doug, loved it.

Raymond Tobaygo


Good afternoon, Doug

The first paragraph captured how patients come into the home and how they normally leave in a Hearst Loved the ending.

My father was committed to a nursing home in December (He’s 90). The experience was soul-crushing. Nearly all the patients were asleep, normally stooped over in their wheelchairs. I wish his home had patients like the one’s you’ve described.

Enjoyed the post!

Take care and stay safe,


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