Alphonso Greatwood and his Mean Machine
Alphonso Greatwood was big, black and boisterous. So was his electric scooter, designed for maximum mobility for the immobile. The black scooter was a piece of art. For one thing, it had a red and orange roll bar over the top. Aluminum wings were attached to the front. Wild red and orange racing stripes – the same colors as on the roll bar – were painted on the wings. A GPS was attached strategically on the front and a small pony saddle was mounted behind Alphonso. “Bitch Seat” shouted from it in orange letters. In addition, he had whitewalls and an unusually loud back-up signal that played the Nebraska Fight Song.
It was a mean machine and that was its name. “The Mean Machine.” From the day Alphonso Greatwood signed his contract to rent a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor of Meadow Lakes Retirement Community, he became known as a holy terror and a traffic hazard.
Alphonso had been 25 years old when he signed with a new, first-year pro football team called the Kansas City Chiefs. Not a sterling career. No hall of fame bust, just consistency as an offensive lineman. As one of the greats had said, “My job is pluggin’ holes.” And Alphonso had plugged. He plugged until his knees were busted, his back cracked in two places and his helmet dented so many times it had knocked certain words right out of his head.
That was what was most annoying. Hell, the knees and the injuries were just part of the game, but when he tried to think of a word, when his sentence was coming out just fine then there was just a sudden stop and the next word scurried away like a scared rabbit? That got to him.
Now all six feet six inches of him was stuck in a scooter and as sure as God laughs at old football players and racing stripes, Alphonso Greatwood was going to keep up his reputation and make sure he and the Mean Machine showed some personality.
It wasn’t bad here at Meadow Lakes. None of these nice retirement communities would admit it, but a big invisible banner hung over their front entrance.
Welcome! Now you’re old.
No one saw the banner, but everybody knew it was there all right. But they were good places. Here at Meadow Lakes, which had neither meadow nor lakes, the food was good, the people were pleasant and while a few walkers and scooters were parked at one end of the dining room during meals, there weren’t very many and a majority of those were temporary. A lot of the people here still went to work every day. Long shot from a nursing home, Alphonso thought.
And the women! So many widows. Some were real lookers, too. When he’d played football there were women everywhere. Young. Busty. Narrow hips. Great legs. Groupies and the players could have about any one of them they wanted. Well, Alphonso had had his share and with a name like Greatwood he’d taken advantage of every rumor, every scandal and every joke about his having a Great Wood. Unfortunately, that had changed. Now, as The Mean Machine zoomed down the hall toward the dining room, he wondered again why he had never married, never found the right girl, never even asked anybody. It was something he . . . searched for the word. . .missed. That was it. He missed never being married, never being anyone’s most important person.