A desolate old timer parked on a wheelchair somewhere out of reach, graciously shared with me part of his ancestral wit:
-Death is okay, believe me. What’s a pain in the ass is illness. I know what I’m talking about.
A couple of male nurses, fresh out of their nicotine break, pay little or no attention to us.
-You see? The world belongs exclusively to the young. Old folks like me, we have to move away. Clumsy. Dated. Out to a demolition derby. Yes, look at me, look at them. I’m too slow. No gas.
Forcing himself, the relic farts with a smile, emphasizing his point.
-Actually, still plenty of gas, but no value. What a contradiction. I’ve been victimized by doctors and now I’m kept alive by them with their needles and pills. Stranger, do yourself a favour, don’t die of old age. Like the dinosaurs sang way back when, jumping jack flash is a gas gas gas.
In the emergency room, life noticeably removes makeup, cover-ups, disguises, and curved to the bone, it frequently faces the melodramatic symphony of death. A rusty coin dealing with the nature of its other side. Head or tails. The choice is not even yours. Is it theirs?
A bald headed cancer patient, terminal, is rushed in. Brave, walking by herself, she’s battling her tough situation. At the end of the corridor, her daughter is comatose. Damn it. Drug overdose.
The team of doctors, handling numbers and statistics, changes from total certainty to “God only knows. We did our best.”
Members of the family gather in the labyrinth of hallways and waiting rooms. Are you in… Are you out? Anxiety kicks in. Desperation takes control. The vicinity of the finish line counts every second. Race over for you too? Game over? Over and over. Room 17. A ninety year old lady weeps inconsolably fearing the worst, her worst, as she starts banging the paper-thin sheetrock cubicles that separate our destinies. Judging by her screams, she doesn’t want to go. Afraid to jump to the other side. Daughter and pregnant granddaughter try to calm her down. In front of my door, they both chat about heritage, money and a hooray of bureaucratic matters. Time to go, or time to renovate “ownerships”? In good terms, my wife communicates with them. There’s an empty waiting room just around the bend. No interest. And yakety yakety yak.
In room 18 I’m trying to prepare for the breaking news: A third stroke? Strike one, strike two and strike out. That’s the name of the game. Well, not today. Saved by the bell.
Dick, pumped up, in overload, and cunt wide open, in room 19, a young couple giggles and loudly proclaims their mischief. He’s in for a broken leg. She’s just in for the ride. Apparently, a good ride vented to the four corners of our maze. The nurses talk. Talk talk talk. The doctors frown. Everybody knows. The smell of death approaching in 17. The possible conception in 19. That’s all there is to it. It doesn’t matter if the old lady left three houses, jewels, a stash of cash in a mattress… if the guy in room 18 left a bundle of paintings and thousands of pages with more questions than answers, and the riotous couple, possibly a pair of ginger head twins. The boy will be pushing papers in a mental hospital like his dad. The girl, like her fat-bottomed mother, will be in charge of the slaughtering house. Pigs, cows, sheep… rats. The doctors still frown. The nurses, who wrote the true Good Book on life and death, still talk talk talk, peppering the issues with their biblical yakety yak.
Painting: The cancer patient . Vision 20/20