I used to help take care of this guy named Danny who was obsessed with time. He liked to collect clocks. He had a row of clocks on the bureau by his bed. He liked to set the alarms and have them all go off and drive staff crazy. It was amazing how he did it because the clocks were set for a dozen different times and somehow he synchronized the alarms. Danny had Down Syndrome and lived at the residential house I worked at on an on-call basis. Danny was barely five feet tall. He had lived on his own for decades, worked as a bagger at the Giant Eagle grocery until they phased out bag boys. Did you ever wonder what happened to those people after they went to mostly self-serve check out? What was Danny to do? He loved shoes. He had a closet full of shoes. Danny was small, and it turns out he had figured out he could crawl through the ventilation system of his apartment, like a ninja. He would crawl into the apartments next door and take shoes, maybe one at a time, take shiny things like a jewel thief, or a mina bird. But after he was laid off, he grew sad and fat and one day he got stuck in the vent between his apartment and the next. The neighbors heard him yelling through the wall. When the paramedics arrived and dislodged him, it solved the great mystery in the complex that had plagued its residents of the magical disappearance of missing things. When the police arrived, they found in his apartment hundreds and hundreds of shoes, fat laced Adidas, red high heels, children’s slippers, old lady bunny ears, and a box full of jewelry, the real stuff and the costume all mixed up. It was the shine he had taken too. He didn’t care about the cost. I can’t remember if he was charged or not. Danny was far from dumb. He surmised long ago what he could get away with. He calculated the figures, he managed the odds. He liked wrestling paraphernalia and had the costume of Hulk Hogan and an actual belt that some wrestler had given him when he went to the Sports Arena for a minor league wrestling extravaganza. D had learned early on that having Down Syndrome could get you stuff. He was the consummate hustler. He was always trying to get $5 off me. Loan me $5 so I can get some food. These people here are STARVING ME. When I first met him, he asked me, do you know who Sharon Stone is, she’s a friend of mine. I said, yes, she’s a movie star, she was terrific in Casino acting alongside Deniro. Deniro the bum, Danny said. She carried him the whole way. He said, she calls me all the time. I looked at his regular staff who just smiled as if to say, here we go again. He said, ok she calls me every Christmas. I looked at other staff who were no longer listening and didn’t look up from their cell phones. Danny took my hand and walked me to the bookshelf in the common area and pulled down a giant picture book. It was a book of celebrities with portraits of people with Down’s Syndrome who had impacted their lives or were friends or family’s members of them. He flipped the pages and there he was with Sharon Stone. Turns out Sharon Stone had been his baby sitter when he was a kid. She had written in the text, Danny taught me so much about being confident, he was even then a trickster full of kindness. Danny beamed. Danny was starting to get dementia. He was starting to forget. People with Down Syndrome can get dementia early. He was only 49. I had to remind him what day it was, the small details were leaving him. One day I arrived at work and he appeared in the common area in full wrestling regalia, like hulk Hogan shrunk to size, leather tasseled jacket and championship gold belt around his waist. How do I look he asked? I said, you look like a superhero.

After decades of having a job, of having a license, I found out the final reason Danny could not live by himself was not his trickster ways but was because of his dementia. It is always the little forgetfulnesses that do us in. One day before leaving to go shopping he had started to run a bath then forgot to get in and left his apartment. He didn’t turn the water off. The water reached the top of the tub and overflowed and kept on going like something from a State Farm Insurance commercial, before it flooded the apartment and ran out into the hall. The fire department came and broke the door down and shut the water off, but the apartment was ruined. After that his case manager said he needed to live in a home, he needed someone to care for him. In Danny’s room at the residential house was a row of clocks, each set for a different time. When I looked at them, I wondered what elegies arrive for us with every passing minute? Danny, your clocks are all set at random different times, doesn’t that drive you crazy. He looked at me and said, no they are set for every time zone at sunrise and sunset around the world. We’ll I’ll be. Whether this was true or not I did not know. He was a trickster. He liked to make up things. I never got the chance to check if it was true. I think at the time I was only half listening, trying to surreptitiously find another resident’s size 10 sneaker that had come up missing in Danny’s giant pile of shoes.