If The Alcohol Doesn’t Get You, The Women Will

“Six months,” the doctor said. “A year at most.” More than the cancer, it was the interchangeability of these two time frames that bothered him. Six months made quite a difference, at least to Jason, but he didn’t think to protest this until he was halfway home. By then, it didn’t seem worth the effort.

The first thing he did was take down the pull-up bar that he’d installed in the optimistic first few days of January. It seemed like a waste of minutes, now, and there was no point in trying to be fit for your own funeral. He stood looking around his tiny apartment, the faint impressions where where the bar had hung, and then turned around and walked to the bodega on the corner. He bought a package of golden Oreos, three different flavors of beef jerky, Doritos, a pint of ice cream, instant ramen, a Snickers bar, and smoked almonds. The bodega didn’t have shopping baskets so he had to wedge food in the crooks of his arms and beneath his chin.

He ate dinner lying on his bed, surrounded by junk food, and marveled at the perfect blankness of his own thoughts. He kept waiting for grief, or anger, some emotional detonation. Instead he ate, took a piss, drank water straight from the bathroom tap. His body didn’t feel any different than it had that morning. He opened a beer, even though it was only Tuesday, and opened a porn website without bothering to use a private browsing session. The government couldn’t throw him in prison if he died before he even got to trial.

Near the end of his second beer, he was watching some blonde girl get pounded at both ends and thinking about all of the things that he wouldn’t get to do. Heroin. Paragliding. Anal sex. There was still no real sadness, just an expanding feeling in his chest. Underwater sex. Big game hunting. Going on every ride at DisneyWorld.

Instead of calling his parents, he opened another beer and started filling out a spreadsheet. He felt like the main character in an action movie, with a series of increasingly difficult missions to carry out. Once he’d listed every fantasy he could think of, he ranked them by both priority and difficulty. If his body was at the beginning of a slow decline, it was important to start with the physically strenuous items. If he was lucky, his heart would just go pop in the middle of sex.

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