[previous chapter] [start from the beginning] No, in case you’re wondering, I don’t particularly enjoy killing people, even out of mercy. It’s a job that needs to get done, and done well. I can do that. I can do a lot more, mind you, but nobody will let me anymore.

Yeah. If you’re going to recruit people to do jobs like mine, it’s always a good idea to look for someone who doesn’t have much to lose.

I am not what you’d call a hardened criminal. In fact, I got into the nursing business to help people, and for a while I did just that, and I believe I did it well. But one day I helped someone too much, and that cost me dearly.

I was working in this home, see, where they’d mostly ask me to do the jobs that smaller female nurses couldn’t do, like lifting patients or helping the heavier ones move around. One day I was helping this woman walk down the corridor and she slipped. I quickly grabbed her around the chest from behind, and prevented her from crashing to the floor.

Would you believe she accused me of sexual assault? Yes, sir. Because in the process of saving her ass I (very) accidentally squeezed her tits. Would you believe I really, but really, didn’t mean to? Would you also believe it didn’t matter one bit? Oh, hell. I don’t even know why I would need to explain any of this to you. I don’t need to do stuff like that to get any. Old bags really aren’t my thing.

My employer at the time sympathized with me and probably believed me, too. But the old biddy made such a fuss about it, threatened to tell the newspapers and sue the nursing home until kingdom come. They had to let me go, they said. “They” here being “the lawyers”.

Not that it did any good. The newspapers were told anyway because the woman’s daughter saw a chance to make herself and her mother famous – at my expense. The story made a few headlines on TV and radio. It was amazing how, on open-line radio shows when they were discussing my case, most women would side with the patient and most men would side with me.

Maybe one day I’d like to write a small story based on this experience. But first I’ll have to get less angry about the injustice of it all. Which, given that I’m dying, may not happen soon enough.

Anyway, up until I got fired I would have said I liked helping older folks live their last days in relative comfort. I might even have said it was a privilege to provide them with the good care they deserved. But my career was in ruins because nobody will hire a guy who’s been fired from a job over these kinds of accusations. I’ve got things to say about the presumption of innocence, but they’re not very nice… Anyway, the short story is, I had to do something different.

Unfortunately this proved more difficult than I thought. I was 29 when the incident happened, and I spent a few fruitless years after that looking for another nursing job. That was before my opinion of the “justice” system cemented in my mind. My resume looked fine, but things always got bogged down at the precise point where prospective employers would ask about why I’d left the previous job. How do you explain that you were let go because a patient claimed you’d sexually assaulted her when you’d done no such thing? Since the law defines sexual assault as any kind of sexual touching that is not welcome and that I had, in fact, accidentally touched her, the whole thing hinged on my intentions, and I had no way of proving my innocence.

Employers would usually say “I see” or “OK, thank you for coming, we’ll let you know in a week or two” and I’d never hear back. When I’d phoned to follow up on the interview I was usually told they’d just hired someone else who happened to have one more qualification or someone who happened to be available weekends or something, but that I’d come in second or third and that they were going to keep my resume handy in case they needed someone else, which they never did.

So there I was, in my early 30s, unable to find work, not knowing what to do. Even my so-called friends hesitated to offer help. What if the accusations were true? You couldn’t help a guy who’d done that, right? It might hurt your career, your reputation, maybe even your relationship if your wife or partner decided helping a friend accused of sexual harassment wasn’t something they were willing to put up with.

If the old woman’s daughter hadn’t talked to the newspapers about it, if the story hadn’t made the news so much, maybe it would have been different. But I was effectively radioactive.

Well, then, fine. I’ll be radioactive alright.

[next chapter]