andy williams’ teeth

Frank’s carer, Eloise, appears by my side at the front door so unexpectedly it makes me jump. I think she must’ve been watching from her window across the street, but then again, she’s such a thin and hyper-active woman, with such a mass of fine, frizzy black hair, I suppose it’s just possible she picked up the vibrations by other means, like a spider, dashing out at the smallest touch of the web.
‘He won’t want no hospital,’ she says, pushing open the door and hurrying inside. ‘He’s a stubborn old git, but I’m used to him.’
It’s a strangely bare little flat – nothing to it, just a kitchen counter, a bed, a commode, and then Frank himself, lying on his back on the bed, waving his arms around. It doesn’t take a stethoscope to figure out that he’s got a chest infection. When he coughs it’s like someone trying to crank start an old tractor.
‘Oof!’ says Eloise. ‘Let’s have it up, Frankie Baby!’ She jabs me in the ribs with the point of her elbow. ‘He likes it when I call him Frankie Baby. We go back a long ways. Don’t we, Frankie?’
He gapes and groans.
‘What’s that, Franks? You want some Williams? All right then. Here we go.’
On the kitchen counter there’s an old record player, and behind it, a stack of LPs. She flips through them and pulls out the one she wants – Andy Williams, in a tuxedo and sunglasses, tipping his head back to a bank of coloured lights.
‘C’mon Andy’ she says. ‘Cheer us all up, mate. We have a need.’
She crashes the record onto the player, and drops the needle halfway through Moon River.
‘Hark at that’ she says. ‘Lovely.’
‘I remember reading this thing about Andy Williams,’ I say, clipping a SATS probe to Frank’s finger.
‘Oh yes?’ says Claudie. ‘Som’ink about a murder?’
‘No. It was when he was starting out. He said he was so poor he used to eat dog food.’
‘Dog food?’
‘I know!’
‘I can’t imagine Andy Williams eating dog food.’
She picks up the record sleeve and studies it more closely.
‘He had such nice teeth.’

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