Following’s a true story. Happened in the spring of 1993. My Uncle Harold was getting on in years and although his mind and his spirit were strong, his body was failing and he ended up in a nursing home. Terrible place. He was in a room with a dead man… man wasn’t dead exactly, he just laid there, mouth open, looking up at the ceiling, uncommunicative. Irregular breaths. Sometimes, just out of nowhere, he’d snort and scare the hell out of Uncle Harold.
Somehow this dead man, who wasn’t really dead yet, had control of the remote for the TV. Seniority or closest to the TV or something.
When visiting, I’d come in saying, “Uncle Harold, how you doin’?” He didn’t have his teeth in most of the time and he’d gum out an answer like, “Ain’t worth a nickel, Jimmy. Dead man over there, shitting all over himself all the time, places smells like an outhouse in here, damn TV turned up for the dead fucker, I can’t sleep… place is hell, Jimmy.“
I’d call up sometime – Harold could reach the telephone from his bed – the TV would be so loud in the background and Harold without his teeth would be hard to understand, it was like calling Mars. Harold was easiest to understand when he was yelling.
Always early in our telephone conversations, he’d yell out away from the telephone, ‘TURN THE DAMN TV DOWN, SOMEONE… DEAD MAN CAN’T DO IT. GOT A TELEPHONE CALL HERE, CAN’T HEAR SHIT.“
He had been in that God awful place for a couple of month and was going crazy about the smell and the TV noise. One night he was trying to get to sleep and the TV was roaring. He yelled and yelled for someone to come in and turn it down. No one came.
Called 911. Honest to God, he did. Called 9…1…1. Operator couldn’t understand him clearly, something about a dead man…. in a matter of minutes he ended up with about a dozen people in that room… police, firemen, orderlies.
Got the TV turned down though.
Later, when the volume was too loud, Harold’d yell out “911,” and people would appear out of nowhere and turn that TV down.