The Diver’s Suite
I didn’t hear what you said. Monday? Yes, I’ll be there.
I see his bare back for the first time in decades. It’s there, in-between the lop-sided bows of a hospital gown. His naked feet swing in the air below the examination table — or is it water. I beg him to watch me do my first dive. Arms straight, my hands joined in delta formation, I’m seated on the lip of a pool trying to will myself in head first.
The bleeding accelerates, filling the vessels meant for breathing. He turns away from my performance to cough.
2. Change of Course
I didn’t hear what you said. I need to leave? Yes, I’ll wait in there. I have my cell.
Sit. Stand. Pace. Wander. Fucking place looks like a 5-star.
Contact: “He’s been intubated. Only way to control the coughing. His condition is unstable. Rest. Come back in the morning. We’ll be touch if anything changes. Don’t worry, we’ve got this.”
“This being what exactly? Excuse me, this being what, exactly.”
3. Call in the Cavalry
I didn’t hear what you said. The Texan? Yes, I can hear him fine. He looks like something outta “Giant,” only in scrubs. I’m told he’s the master of this kind of tumor. Says he wants to blast, shrink, yank and then wait for instructions.
“Goddamn right little lady. Roll him outta here fellas!”
Empty room. Monitors silenced. Cords snoozing on the floor. The little lady’s head, full of white hot matter, breaks open.
A wild dog enters from the west, teeth bared, snarling, howling, waiting for her cue.
The shaman from Texas reappears. The little lady doesn’t waste a minute.
I didn’t hear what you said. Terminal? Yes, we’ve discussed the plan for that.
I whisper in his ear. Make my confession. Ask him to squeeze my hand.
I tell him the pills he found that time in my suitcase when I was 15 were birth control pills, not fluoride.
A priest in a white cassock appears. He asks my permission to begin the ritual of leading the dying home and I say yes. He’s a small man, with a kind face, and a silver box. As he reads the prayers and ministers the annointments, I sit on the edge of the bed, arms out straight, hands in delta formation above my head, and dive.