Author: Frank “Blue Moon” Berry
Walter shifted uncomfortably on the hospital bed. He felt fine now, with no remaining effects from the crushing headache that had caused him to pass out at work. Looking back now, he could see that the headaches had come more frequently and had recently become more severe.
He figured it was stress. At 41 years old and two years divorced after a short and unhappy marriage, Walter had thrown himself into his work, all but giving up a social life with only the occasional night out with the guys. The few dates he’d been on lately had been of the blind variety and all had ended badly. A few of the dates even started badly.
But now, after the fainting spell, he’d taken his first ambulance ride and been subjected to some tests that sounded scary. Waiting to hear the results was even scarier. He’d seen the neurologist who performed his tests pass by his room a couple of times. She would glance at him quickly and then keep going, in a way that made Walter feel the news that was coming would not be good.
She passed again, lingering for a moment, looking up the hall at someone Walter couldn’t see. She pointed at the door of a supply room and raised five digits on the other hand, seeming to indicate a meeting there in five minutes.
The other person apparently accepted, as she nodded and smiled. He could see the outline of black thong underwear on her shapely butt as she walked away. Walter laid back on the bed and waited. He had drifted off when he heard footsteps. When he opened his eyes, the pretty doctor painted on a grim face as she walked into Walter’s room.
“Mr. Smith?” she began, “I’m Doctor Amy White. Do you remember me from before? You were pretty out of it when..”
“Yes, you were the doctor who performed the brain scan,” Walter answered.
“That’s right. We need to talk about what we found. Is your family here?”
“No family, Dr. White. An ex-wife living who-knows-where, no kids, parents dead, an aunt somewhere in Ohio. I’m afraid I’m all there is.”
Dr. White bit her lower lip apprehensively. “This isn’t going to be easy, Mr. Smith. Are you sure you wouldn’t like to call a friend? Someone, anyone?”
“I guess I’m not a very social person. Because of my work, I spend a lot of my free time living in my own imagination.” It was true. As a software designer for children’s games, he spent a great deal of his time in the ether of made-up worlds and situations. Sure, he had made a comfortable living while sitting in front of a computer wearing sweats, but the social cost had been considerable.
Dr. White turned on a lightbox across from Walter’s bed and slapped an x-ray into the clip, holding it in place. “Do you see this spot right here, Mr. Smith?”
Even from across the room, Walter could make out the mass amid the gray squiggles. Its size took his mind away from the swell he could see under Dr. White’s top. “This is our problem. It’s not a tumor. It’s a blood vessel that has weakened considerably. I won’t lie to you, Mr. Smith. If we try to do surgery, there’s about a one in ten chance you’ll survive. If you do survive, you might well have a stroke on the operating table that could leave you incapacitated. However, without surgery, you have very little time left.”
“How much is a little time?” Walter asked.
“I would be very grateful, with a mass like this, to get six months,” she said.
Walter sagged into the pillows. Instantly, he was filled with regret. Not for the future days that would not come, but for the pathetic way he’d spent the 41 years he’d been granted. And now, he had maybe six months to wrap it up.
“If you choose not to have the surgery, you would want to get your affairs in order. We can give you medication for the headaches, but, other than that…”
Dr. White’s voice trailed off as Walter stared blankly into the hall. He saw a tall black-haired man stop in front of the supply room, look both ways, then duck inside. Dr. White glanced up quickly and saw him, too. Quickly, she turned back to Walter, coming close to his bedside. As she placed her hand on his arm, he blushed. It was immediately obvious that the blood was flowing just fine in other areas. “If you don’t want to have the surgery, get dressed and go. Today. Enjoy every day. Do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Because there’s no tom-…” She stopped herself before she said it, but already, the words hung in the air. There really was no tomorrow. As he pondered what she said, the black-haired doctor exited the supply room, looking at the read-out on his beeper.
Dr. White apologized to Walter for his misfortune and he thanked her for her candor. Her pace quickened as she exited the room, going immediately into the now unoccupied closet. As he thought about that black-haired doctor getting to squeeze Amy White’s big white tits, he felt a stab of jealousy. She was just the sort of girl he’d always been attracted to, tall, smart, beautiful in a girl-next-door way. Walter would never have asked her out, though. Not even when he was under thirty.
Walter threw his legs over the side of the bed and slipped into his sweatpants and sneakers. With no time left, time wasted sitting in a hospital mourning old “What-ifs” seemed especially pointless. Still, he couldn’t stop thinking about the women who had walked in and out of his life. Some had stayed a while, and treated him poorly. Others went by because he wouldn’t say, “Excuse me, I wonder if you’d like to…”
Walter left the room pulling his sweatshirt over his head. Turning towards the hospital’s exit, he saw the black-haired doctor go running by with an incoming patient on a guerney. The patient was covered in blood and crying with pain.
And then Walter had a thought.
Turning to his right, was the supply room door, and turning the handle would take no effort whatsoever. The question was, did he have the guts? Were his last days going to pass just like all the others?
He turned without another thought to the door and slipped quickly inside the closet. The room was brightly lit as he faced the back of Dr. Amy White. Walter quickly reached over and switched the light off and locked the door.
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