Routledge Manor sat in about two acres of beautifully manicured lawns and beds, with a pond it was possible to go boating on. It was fronted by two large stone pillars, each surmounted by an impressive stone eagle which appeared to be about to pounce on visitors, with a wide circular gravelled drive leading on to an equally impressive entrance; wide steps leading up to the front doors.
Lord Granger, its owner, would have used the place as a weekend retreat, however, rather than going the route of so many impoverished peers, he saw business sense in the manor's commercial usage, so nowadays it served as a rest home for the elderly that could afford it and a horticultural college.
Combining the two was a stroke of genius. It offered the patients wonderfully romantic views from the windows of their large airy rooms, whilst the horticulturalists, got to see their efforts commercially appreciated.
It was here that one James Spratt, 'Jack' to his friends, had lived for the last three years. Now an octogenarian, James was almost bed-ridden. He suffered from osteoporosis, or 'brittle bones' disease amongst other things and his lack of mobility made him surly and bad tempered. It was something that had worsened noticeably over the last year.
He suffered a heart attack just eighteen months earlier and since then, his condition had deteriorated. He had gone from being a quiet and unassuming man to a tyrannical old goat, with all the social graces of a tormented crocodile and often needed little or no reason to go into a rage. Needless to say, this had the effect of alienating him from the other patients and staff alike, but it didn't stop him.
He often took his vexations out on the staff and since many of the nurses were trainees, he seemed to delight in tormenting them the most. Almost daily, a young student nurse would run from his room in tears after an encounter with the now infamous Mr. Spratt, vowing never to set foot in his room or be in his presence again.
The Matron, Mrs. Jeffries, was used to this and classed it as part of the training. She saw Mr. Spratt as an object lesson, something these poor unsuspecting nurses were likely to encounter in other areas of their work and a valuable teaching aid, telling the nurses "you're not always going to be appreciated, ladies" and adding "you'd best get used to it."
Not one of the nurses would readily agree to clean or administer to his needs and the staff would draw lots to see who would have to bear the brunt of his whip-like tongue and foul temper, unless there was a new girl amongst them of course! Then, they would take bets on how long the poor, unsuspecting student nurse would last in the room with him, but it was never very long, most commonly measured in seconds rather than minutes.
The Matron, Mrs. Jeffries climbed out of her car in the parking area, situated at the west side of the house at five-thirty on Wednesday morning. It was the only area that had tarmac down and was lit by three lights on a pole in the centre, a safety measure in case of accidents. The gravel was too easy to stumble over and the well-lit car park neatly marked, made it all much safer in dark mornings, such as this very morning.
She hung her coat on a hook and looked at the roster for the day. Nurse George was on leave and it looked as though she was going to have to make the rounds herself. She took her clipboard and stepped into the hallway, going into the office.
"Morning ladies." she said brightly. "Anything I need to know about?"
"Mrs. Gough was moaning again, but we gave her a mild sedative and she's been sleeping like a baby ever since." said the nurse, sitting in front of an array of TV screens that showed images from the CCTV system covering the entire house and car park.
"Good." said the Matron. "I'll get doctor Stevens to give her a quick once-over later. Anything else?" she asked as she leafed through the pages on her clipboard and wrote 'doctor' against Mrs. Gough's name on the list.
"Not a sausage, Matron. It's been quiet."
"Good-oh!" she chirped and made her way out of the office to the lift, pressing the button for the top floor. The old lift creaked and groaned as it made its way ponderously to the very top of the house, jerking to a halt when it reached its target floor. The doors squeaked as they opened.
It was quiet. It always was at this time of the morning and her soft-soled shoes squeaked as she walked the corridors, checking that all the doors were locked. It may seem prison-like, but often the patients would be found wandering the corridors, oblivious to where they were and since all the rooms were equipped with bathrooms, it was felt safer if the doors were locked during the night, when only a handful of staff were on duty.
James was asleep when the nurse stepped into his room at five-forty. He opened his eyes just a crack, to see the tall slender woman at his window, arms stretched wide as she opened the curtains. His sleep-befuddled mind wasn't focussed and he put the feeling of recognition down to that. He let his eyes shut and his train of thought took off using the recognition as its route.
"Wakey, wakey!" said Elizabeth, her arms stretched wide as she parted the curtains of their London Flat, overlooking St. James' Park.
"Good God woman. What time is it?" mumbled James.
"It's time to enjoy a beautiful sunrise."
"I'm still asleep."
"Not anymore!" she said getting into bed beside him. She was naked and that never failed to get a reaction. She snuggled up to him and he could smell the fragrance she always seemed to wear. It was a fragrance with a lingering smell like lavender. He liked her smell.
He turned to face her, feeling her breasts crushing against his chest.
"See? You're all awake now!" and feeling his member starting to stiffen, she added "All awake!" He chuckled and kissed her deeply, their tongues meeting and swirling as he turned her onto her back and propping himself on his elbows, he left the warm wetness of her mouth and started to kiss his way down to those breast. She let out a low moan as he enveloped her engorged nipple with his lips.
"Hmmm." she murmured, reaching down to his turgid member, wrapping her hand round it and gently pulling back and forth.
She let go as he slid down, tracing a line from her breasts, around her belly-button and through the bush of her pubic area, teasing the hair out of the way with his tongue and licking down the length of her slit, returning to the nub of her clitoris, lapping and prodding with his tongue.
"Fuck me James." she breathed, opening her legs wide as he climbed over her and positioned himself at the entrance to her vagina, ready to plunge into her warm wet depths. He could feel her fingernails tracing down his back to his bum, grabbing and pulling him into her.
She wrapped her arms round his neck and her legs round his waist as he thrust as deeply as he could into her. She bucked and whimpered as he thrust his hips, the two of them moving as one and finally, climaxing together, laying there as his tool softened and eventually slipped out.
"Oh! That was nice." she said and he kissed her.
No matter how much he saw of Liz, he couldn't help but think how lucky he was, how fortunate that she had fallen for him. He felt like a dog with two tails, never knowing which to chase and which to wag!
"Are you awake?"
"Wake up, Jack."
He opened his eyes, his tool aching, rock solid under the bedding. It hadn't been like this for years, and he reached down to touch it while his eyes tried to focus upon where the voice was coming from.
"Naughty, naughty!" said the voice and he jerked his hand back, still desperately trying to see who it was; who was talking to him, that voice sounding so familiar, yet at the same time, beyond his grasp, his mind working in overdrive, as long-forgotten memories flashed through his mind, fleetingly touching upon his consciousness.
"Jack?" he thought. "No-one has called me Jack in years." But as the fog in his mind cleared, he could see things more clearly.
"Jack?" said Liz as they say on the banks of the Thames. They were in Oxford, looking for property, deciding that a more sedate lifestyle might be in order. "What did you think of that last place?"
James remembered the property well. They lived there for nearly twenty-five years.
"I like it."
"Really?" she asked.
He knew she did and if it was in his power to give it to her, he had to. "Yes, really." he assured her.
"Oh Jack, I love you so much!" she said throwing her arms round him and hugging him tight enough to take his breath away.
"I know." he replied. "I love you too." he whispered, hugging her back and they sat there on the banks of the river, with the weeping willows in the background, casting that dappled shade upon them and the water's surface before them.
"Come on Jack, up you get." said the voice once again.
Jacks eyes opened slowly and he peered at the person leaning over him, the images from his dream melting into nothingness.
"What the hell kind of time is this to be waking an old man for God's sake?!" He asked sourly.
"Time to enjoy a beautiful sunrise." she smiled turning down the bed. He glowered as once again, that feeling of recognition hovered just behind or beyond his conscious mind and he looked intently at the woman above him. The nurse was not perturbed and merely returned his icy stare with a warm smile above her perfectly starched uniform.
He continued to fuss, moan and curse as the nurse attempted to dress him, but despite his many vituperations, the nurse remained calm and pleasant. If anything, she just smiled more broadly. She actually drew a deep breath and paused ever-so-slightly after one particularly obnoxious outburst, which ordinarily would have had the other nurses running for cover.
"You're a feisty one and no mistake." He said and smiled at her. Then a quizzical look crossed his face as he looked at the woman, but he just shrugged and the rest of the procedure went quite smoothly. A thought suddenly struck him.
"Isn't it a bit early for breakfast?" The nurse stood and smoothed down the front of her uniform.
"I thought I'd take you for a stroll round the garden. The fresh air will do you good. It might at least calm your potty-mouth down a bit." James sat bolt upright in his bed.
"You're going to do what?" He said with look of profound incredulity. "You know the garden's out of bounds. That old trout the Matron has stopped me going out there; stopped anyone as I understand it. She'll flay you alive if she catches us and I dread to think what I'll get." Then he grinned impishly. "It will be fun to see her face though won't it?" he chuckled.
Now dressed, James was looking forward to his trip outside. He hadn't been out for ages and suddenly, this one nurse, one he felt sure he'd seen before, but curiously, couldn't place, seemed intent upon getting him out there.
Who was she? She seemed impervious to his language, his outrageous insults and even his stares, which normally made the nurses feel uncomfortable enough to leave. Not this one. She had something alright, courage and despite her having woken him up from his dreams, stopped him doing something with his first stiffy in God knows how long, he was warming to her. There was something about her, a vaguely familiar fragrance.
The matron was on the second floor. The "squeak, squeak, squeak" of her shoes, ringing down the empty corridor.
She loved this place. It was probably the biggest building that wasn't a hospital she'd ever worked in and it oozed character and history from every stair, wall, moulding or rug. What a place to work.
She exited through the heavily sprung fire door at the end of the corridor and made her way downstairs to the first floor.
"You could have got me one of those electric chairs." grumbled the old man.
"No need. I'm here and I'm perfectly capable."