Tuesday, April 10, 2012

“You're going to die, Pop. Most likely tomorrow. I’ve already taken the liberty of cleaning out your wine rack.”

I could feel death coming on quickly. Sitting upright, my shoulder pinned to vinyl, blood stewing.

I waited for the clarity. The one they say comes just before you die. I waited for the clarity so I could dictate that final haiku, to add to the collection of haikus I'd never written and didn’t regret not writing.

While I casually waited to die, I asked for my window to be pushed open, to sample the sweet smell of the outdoors one last time. But the smells were no more pungent than they had ever been before.

I was waiting, with my youngest, Geoffrey.

“Can you feel it, Pop?”

“I can, Geoffrey. I can feel it. But, who knows, it could be days…”

He had left his own chair and was leaning across me now; his armpit smothering the crusted mess where my oxygen mask used to be.

“Pop, where's the coin?” He asked, foraging through my pockets.

“What coin, Geoffrey?”

“Your lucky coin, Pop. From the war.”

“Have I ever told you the story of that coin?”

“Yes, yes. Her basket. A baby, other romantic crap. Heard the story. Now, do you remember where you put that coin?!”

I did remember. It was in my coin pocket, as it had been since the day Carienne had entrusted it to me. The beautiful Carienne, with her…

“Pop, snap out of it - the coin?”

“Help me a second, Son, I'll check in my pocket.”

As if I were a car he were helping start, Geoffrey pushed on my middle back. Forward now, I peeled an arm from the vinyl and began the charade of a search, like I had done decades earlier when performing magic tricks involving his infant ears. As I had done back then, I kept the coin in my hand the whole time.

“Can you feel it?”

With that, I put my hand behind my back and shoved the coin inside me.

“Yes, Son, I can feel it. I can feel it coming on quite quickly, now.”