“The Septic”

“You know you’re a pussy. When they letting you out of there?”

“I don’t know, Evan…fuck you…two, three more weeks. I got a hole in my stomach.”

“A hole. You’re a total zombie. What are they giving you? ”

“They leave the incision unstitched at first to make sure the insides heal.”

“Sponge baths…”

“Demerol. I woke up the other morning…three older nurses were leaning over me just gabbing away as they cleaned and dressed the wound…except for the bandage, I was naked…Christ.”

“Were they stifling their laughter?”

“Fuck you…thanks for cheering–oh, I dropped the…”

“Hank! Hank, take it easy. I gotta go. Okay? Maybe I’ll–”

“Yeah…asshole…thanks for calling…um, next time send me a mix tape that’s different from the other fucking tapes you’ve made for me. It’s always the same songs just in a different–”

“You’re welcome, prick. Later.”

A groan fell from the bed to the left of Henry’s. The old man, Nossiter, lay dying as far as he could tell. From eavesdropping Henry had learned that the man was blind, deaf, and hemorrhaging from his ass. Every couple hours through the night Henry woke to a nurse changing Mr. Nossiter’s bloodstained sheets amid the man’s feeble protests and cries of pain. How much blood could one lose out of one’s ass at that age and still be alive? Henry now feeling ashamed and childish at his low pain threshold as he tried to work this out. The pain wasn’t that great considering his belly was half open under a loose bandage. Just stiffness and though a large weight balanced on his midsection. Only sudden reflexive movements reminded him of his tenderness as when he was drifting off to sleep. His body relaxed until, at the last instant before sleep, an electrical shock jolted his entire body; from top to bottom of his wound.
It had been around a month total in the hospital until his doctor knew surgery was the answer. Crohn’s disease had narrowed three feet of his small intestine with scar tissue. Crohn’s disease caused bleeding in areas of the digestive tract resulting in the build up of scar tissue. Serious cases involved malnutrition, weight loss—intestinal blockage. Pain. The surgeon removed three feet of small intestine then had only to reconnect the disease free ends He was on a heavy course of corticosteroids to ease the inflammation, but he noticed only the toxic effect they had on his hormones; a common side effect of Prednisone was to cause nervousness and emotional sensitivity. He recalled one night balling his eyes out when his mother arrived late for a visit. He had imagined her getting into a car accident on the way to visit him. Even television commercials were heartbreaking on this stuff. It would have to be cartoons and sitcoms until further notice. Nothing controversial like Alzheimer’s medication commercials.

“Henry. Any complaints this morning?” the surgeon asked as he extended his hand in greeting.

“Hi, I’m feeling okay I guess. Not a lot of pain. Some…just–pressure. Stiffness? It’s itchy. So… yeah.”

“I’m going to stitch you up now. This is going to hurt. I will give you your pain shot plus a little Valium to relax you. Okay?”

“Valium…Oh, I–Uh huh.”

“All right? I’ll be back in about fifteen minutes.”

Henry appreciated the surgeon’s frankness. His musical East Indian voice played over in his head. In his mind he contrasted the surgeon’s soft tones with those of the American gastroenterologists that had been treating him medically. The different voices seemed to match up nicely with their respective source’s level of tact and empathy. The wise, good-natured, soft-spoken Indian surgeon. Henry became aware of his racial stereotyping, and felt a twinge of shame. It was true, however, that the medical doctors he had dealt with before his surgery were tactless assholes. He always felt like an insect whenever they checked in on him. He didn’t feel this with the surgeon.

He wondered what to expect from his stitch-up. Mr. Nossiter called out from the bed next to his. Some garbled name. The nurse arrived to give Henry his pain shot and Valium. Henry loved the nurses in the hospital. He wanted to stay there with them. The nurses injected Demerol into one of Henry’s buttocks every four hours. There was something pathetically erotic about it for him. It was comforting.

Henry recalled his first night in the hospital. He had been prescribed a course of enemas that had seemed to go on for hours. It was the job of an older nurse to administer these enemas to him every half hour or so. His intestinal tract was so inflamed at that point that she might as well have been shooting napalm up Henry’s ass. It was like being tortured. The embarrassment of the situation coupled with the fact that Henry couldn’t hold back his crying and moaning in front of this woman was almost harder to bear than the physical pain. The only relief for him was the look of honest compassion on the nurse’s face throughout the ordeal. It was hurting her more than it hurt him. She comforted Henry as if he were her own child. One must consider the fact that it is part of this woman’s job to perform such unpleasant tasks as this on a daily basis. She was his angel in that twilight, drug-hazed nightmare.

Soon enough the surgeon returned to stitch Henry up. Henry gulped and caught his breath as a shudder shot through his wound. It seemed to throb before the surgeon even touched him. “Now, Henry, there are some times in life when we all must endure a little pain. I gave you a little Valium to relax you, and I’m sure that your pain med has kicked in by now, but you are still going to feel this. I’ll try to do this as quick as I possibly can,” said the surgeon.

When completely tightened up, Henry’s stitched wound would look roughly like the stitching on a football. From Henry’s limited point of view it looked like an unlaced shoe with some heavy nylon fishing line tangled haphazardly into it. The surgeon went to work pulling the first section of the wound together as one would tighten up the laces of a sneaker. Henry winced as the first beads of perspiration popped up from his brow, his hand clawing and forming a fist around a section of blanket. The surgeon murmured some gentle encouragement. Just as another section of belly came together in the surgeon’s hands,Henry’s mouth opened involuntarily and let forth what seemed to be the most primal of screams. He felt at that moment as if he were channeling a demon. He had never heard a sound like that come from his own mouth. It didn’t sound like himself; it was too masculine in tone. The nature of the scream was completely unpremeditated considering the agony that birthed it. Henry wished he could have recorded the scream to show off to his friends and acquaintances. In hindsight, it was truly remarkable!

After a few more tugs and knots the surgeon announced that he was done. He took Henry’s hand in his, and gripped it tight as he stared intensely into his eyes. “Henry, I’m proud of you. You endured that well. You might feel a little sore later, but the pain meds should help. You’re healing up nicely. Starting tonight I want you out of bed for some short walks up and down the hall. You need to get your strength back little by little. A nurse will assist you. Let me know if you need anything else. Oh, and let a nurse know as soon as you start passing gas. This will be an important indication of whether or not the operation has been a success. I’ll see you soon, Henry.” Henry closed his eyes and slowly fell back into his narcotic haze. His hands were shaking, but there were only a few fiery, shooting pinpricks through his belly. He floated down now into a dark place of sleep and vivid dreams; trying to remember as he sank what it was like to pass gas.

Earlier during gym class Henry had first noticed him: a small, powerfully built black kid. He was the new kid—and mean. Henry did his best to not make eye contact with him just as he did with any of the more aggressive looking kids who clearly had some shit to get off their backs, and the need of a target. The black kid had glared and muttered something to Henry in the locker room. Henry couldn’t quite catch what he had said, so he just said ‘hey’ to him and went to class.

Flash forward and Henry is now walking down the steep hill from the school. There are some friends of his hanging with the black kid on a street corner. They all laugh in the self-conscious, high-pitched eighth grade style. Henry stops to say hi to some of the kids that he knows. They’re not as friendly to him in a group as they are one-on-one. Something Henry has been noticing lately. Henry gets the impression they are laughing at him, but he is not entirely sure of this. It doesn’t matter if they are or if they are not; he will think this anyway. The black kid says something to Henry that he can’t understand, because the black kid talks so fast and low. Henry just laughs and utters a weak: ‘what?’ At that, the black kid approaches Henry and picks him up off the street. The black kid squeezes Henry in a tight bear hug around his midsection, and shakes him from side to side while sptitting some unintelligible curses into his face.

The flatulence that Henry let out at that moment was veritably astonishing. A long stream of wet firecrackers followed by a two second pause, and some extended swooshes of foul air. Henry laughed in the extremely self-conscious eighth grade style that is practically the same thing as weeping. There were tears in his eyes of embarrassment and of pain. The black kid’s arms were like a vice. As the flatulence had begun, Henry’s friends seemed to be in a state of shocked disbelief. Some whispers and sidelong glances were exchanged for purposes of confirmation.

The laughter picked up again as soon as all were in agreement as to what they were witnessing. The black kid never laughed. He eventually placed Henry back on the street, and yet again said something to Henry that he could not understand. Without saying goodbye to his friends Henry continued his walk home. All he could think about as he crossed the bridge into his town was how dark the boy’s skin was.

“I feel horrible. I feel nauseous… and I’m having trouble breathing,” said the man in the third bed across the room from Henry and Mr. Nossiter.

“Do you wanna try to take a little water? Maybe it’s just nerves about surgery tomorrow?” asked the nurse.

“Yeah, maybe a little water. I just woke up and suddenly felt terrible.”

“Here. Why don’t you sit up for a minute? Need to use the bedpan?” The man lay with his hands covering his face attempting to prop himself up with his elbows, but failing to do so. He moaned to himself as he sipped his water.

“Uh…no…I think I’ll be okay. Woo. Maybe I am just a little shaky. Long day.”

“Okay, hon. Well, you just ring for me again if you need me. Try to get some sleep.”

Across the room, trying desperately to swim against the current of a drug-induced nightmare, Henry surmised that he had the power to control the IVs of every patient in the hospital. This came as some surprise to him. As the blood pounded through his foggy brain he could see in his mind’s eye, the drip, drip, drip of a multitude of intravenous drugs increasing their rate of flow into the bloodstreams of his fellow infirm neighbors. Quite an alarming revelation this was. He opened his eyes finally and stared up at the ceiling.

The nighttime noises of the hospital (nurses shuffling through their rounds; mumbling amongst themselves) were disorienting. It took him a minute to come to grips. Just then the new guy in the bed across from Henry stirred. The fifty-ish executive type (who liked to chew on unlit cigars while reclining in his hospital skivvies) was making retching sounds, and breathing heavily. The man switched on his overhead lamp and pressed the nurse call-button. Apparently, this was all the evidence Henry needed to convince him that he had not been dreaming. As the night nurse angel entered the room, Henry watched the man across from him expiring as a result of his very own newfound telekinetic ability. He felt this was somehow wrong.

After the nurse had finally left, Henry stared at the man as if in a trance. He scanned the features of the portly Cigar Chomper who struck a pathetic form lit only by the fluorescent tube behind his bed. He sat awkwardly staring into space, as if he did not understand how he had arrived in this place. He was a far cry from the cocksure wheeler-dealer of the previous afternoon barking orders through the phone at some poor employee of his. The guy seemed to tell anyone who cared to know that he wasn’t “afraid of being cut”. It was the “downtime” he didn’t care for. He had a business to run. Time is money. Henry now felt the need to turn away, but could not. He felt he was somehow responsible for this man’s present discomfort.

The throbbing in Henry’s brain had subsided. He wondered whether the time was approaching for his next shot of Demerol. Would the man make it through the night? Was the damage Henry caused serious? Maybe he’d like his cigar? Was he even worth saving?

Just then an image flashed in his mind of Esophagus Ned, Cigar Chomper’s predecessor, sitting up in the same bed across from Henry; staring at him with his perpetual, half-crazed grin. Henry would lie there in bed reading or watching TV completely aware of Ned smiling away at him quizzically. Try as he may he could not contend with Ned’s probing mirth.

“How you hanging in there young man? What’re you doing in this dump on your summer vacation? Should be out at the beach. Heh.” said Ned. All the while grinning away. It was as if his face was frozen in some horribly jolly rigor mortis, his long, stringy white hair framing his emaciated features. They would exchange a few niceties, and eventually each would go back to their own little bubble of hospital numbness, Ned’s grin slowly fading. Over the few days or so Ned was in the room Henry began to feel the same sadness toward him as he felt for Mr. Nossiter turning to dust at his side.

This sadness was conveyed to him entirely, of course, through eavesdropping. Ned’s chief complaint being that he could not swallow without much difficulty. Eating his meals consisted of thin choking and whining sounds, exasperated sighs, and long pauses. The doctor suggested to Ned that they might attempt to stretch his esophagus in order to “relieve” this symptom. Henry wondered about this procedure. What does stretching someone’s esophagus entail exactly? Ned disappeared soon afterward.

Henry admitted to himself that he did not feel the same warmth toward Cigar Chomper that he felt toward Ned. All the same, he felt a gesture was in order to help alleviate his guilt at inadvertently almost killing the man with his mind-powers. It seemed the man was now aware of Henry staring at him from across the room. It was hard to say in the dim light. Was that a look of fear in his eye? Henry shifted slightly in his bed, paused, thought of what to say in a situation like this. He switched on his own overhead light. “Sir?” Henry whispered. Not strong enough. Henry raised his voice slightly. Mr. Nossiter moaned and exhaled loudly next to him.

“Excuse me, sir?” No acknowledgement from Cigar Chomper.

“You’re going to be all right. Don’t worry about anything.” The man fixed his gaze on Henry for a moment, but said nothing. Perhaps it was the lack of conviction in his voice. Henry rang the nurse for his Demerol injection. There would be no more pep talks that night.

About fifteen minutes after his morning Demerol shot the nurse set Henry up in a chair next to his bed. Since the surgeon had closed up his wound, Henry was being made to get up to take short walks assisted by the nurses at night before bed. Sitting up in the chair near his bed was another part of this rehabilitation. Henry would sit and attempt to give himself a sponge bath. On the hospital tray before him lay various personal toiletry items: a bar of soap wrapped in paper; a pristine hospital washcloth; a shallow yellow basin; a small toothbrush; a neat black comb; a small tube of cinnamon toothpaste; a safety razor; and a small can of aloe shaving cream for sensitive skin.

After surveying the items before him, Henry began to nod off as he attempted to finish a thought. What was he expected to do with the items in front of him, and why was he sitting up in a chair? Adjacent to him was Mr. Nossiter. Interesting. He could just sense him out of his periphery. Henry wondered how he had managed to miss this. He could not look at him. He refused to turn his head. He didn’t want it to be ruined. Oh, but he was alive. He could hear a faint rasp to his left.

Within a minute Henry had removed the toothbrush from its plastic cellophane wrapper. He stared at the tube of paste and tried to make a connection. Mr. Nossiter let out a wet burp and a clipped moan. Henry’s hands shook as he squeezed the paste onto the toothbrush, missing it by about a fraction of an inch. It now sat in his lap. To his left he sensed Nossiter and his own motor skills. This was a challenge! A jolt of electricity shot through his belly as he felt a warm kinship coming on. This could quickly turn into a surreal competition. After brushing his lips for a little while Henry stared down at the razor, and suddenly felt tired. Perched at the upper right hand corner of his table was a single red rose sitting in a large soda cup filled with water.

His grandmother had brought that for him. The day after Henry’s surgery when he first became conscious again, it was the one thing he could appreciate. It seemed to Henry that he had never encountered such a fragrance before. He just started to smile and smile, and didn’t stop. First at his grandmother, then at the rose, all the while holding it close to his nose. He had considered eating the petals for a split second, but could only imagine them clogging the NG tube which had been inserted through his left nostril, and down into his stomach previous to the operation. In the perpetual morphine shine of that fair morning he confirmed some things for himself.

The idea of reciprocal love between him and these precious people. He thought the word ‘grandma’ and smiled grinned like an idiot. Along with his mother she had helped raise Henry. Henry had always viewed her as a second mom. She had accepted this bastard child with open arms. While he was in the hospital she had been sending a chaplain every Sunday to give Henry communion in bed. Can you beat that? Staring at the pristine rose, and at his beautiful little grandmother standing there, Henry reflected joyously on eating Christ.

One particular Sunday he awoke from what the nurse called a “prednisone rage.” As he struggled to awaken he had the sensation of his body being violently thrashed around the room by some invisible assailant. Henry’s brain felt like it was boiling in his skull. He called the nurse and she gave him something. She seemed to know instantly what the matter was. The phone rang after that, and it was his grandma.

“I just thought I would see how you were doing before church.”

“Hi—Gram. I just had the worst…”

“Hen, I just thought I would see how you were before church. Did you sleep well? Has the chaplain brought communion?”

“No…I just had the worst nightmare. My head hurts so bad, gram.” He could hear her start to speak and then pause. The tears were in her voice. It wasn’t like she was about to sob. Just a little choked up. These tears came easy for his grandmother, as she got older. It seemed that with age certain moments were felt a touch more preciously; every small sadness embraced.

“Hen, you try and doze back off. I love you, honey. I’ll say a prayer for you today.” And she would, too. He did believe her. Most of the time when someone says that, it comes off as a little condescending and, frankly, corny. That rose was so beautiful. And so he fell asleep as he prayed.

For what seemed like hours, Mr. Nossiter and Henry sat side by side. Nossiter and Henry together; trying to make themselves presentable. Neither of them spoke a word to each other. They were so close Henry could have sat in his lap. Henry wanted to ask him about euthanasia, and what it meant to him. He wondered if his doctor had already beaten him to the punch. Henry decided it would be too awkward a subject for their first conversation. A part of Henry wanted to embrace Mr. Nossiter badly. At the same time he felt a sort of revulsion to the old man and his condition. He was poison. But he thought if he could just hug him, and whisper into his ear that he was still a man… And think of the life you’ve led. Look how goddamn tall you are! I’m not sure, but I could bet you were an officer in WWII. My very own grandfather trained to be a frogman in the Navy. You know, the precursor to the Navy SEAL? He died of cancer, and drank like a fish. He kissed me on the cheek and his beard scratched me once. That’s the most vivid memory I have of him. You have two children now living a few states away, and you should see those grandkids! Your wife loves you despite your disposition, and she’s on her way here today to talk really loud to you. With complete and utter patience. Every time you curse her; every time you curse your lack of vision and hearing (and all the blood!) she is considering just how much more she can love you, and why hasn’t the doctor been in to see you in two days!? It is a terrible thing to listen to a man weep and moan because he is in pain. It is embarrassing. A man who, in a previous decade, had dug up the septic on a cold March day up to his knees in his own family’s shit; smoking a Pall Mall the entire time. It would have to be pumped after all. There were no two ways about it.

During the month before his operation Henry’s condition had been stabilized, and he had his own private room. A room he would have to vacate following his operation, as it was located on an orthopedic floor. Henry could only gather that they did not want to risk infection to the orthopedic patients. It didn’t make total sense to him as to why he was in an orthopedic room to begin with. Anyway, he was being fed intravenously through a major artery in his neck. He had been admitted to the hospital acutely anorexic, for all intents and purposes. Now the color had come back to his face, and he could walk around freely up and down the hallways with his IV cart in tow. His first week consisted of major nicotine withdrawal, and one chiefly desperate night Henry contemplated ripping the feeding catheter out of his neck. An urge he would fight off and on for an hour. Things did calm down eventually, so he started to eat jell-o. He had been given special permission to go to the little refrigerator adjacent to the nurse’s station, and take jell-o whenever he desired it. In the mornings he would watch the ladies’ coffee shows on the little hanging television above him. In the afternoons he would eat jell-o, and read George Bernard Shaw. As dusk approached the prednisone would begin to creep up on him.

Right around this time, Henry’s uncle put a sharp bamboo stick in his eye, and had to visit the emergency room. It was getting dark and Henry was standing in front of the window in his private room, which looked onto…nothing. He had been looking out that useless window for something to dramatize, and his hands were shaking badly. His body felt as if it were sunburned from the prednisone. He felt that his mom had had a car accident on her way. He turned around, because he hadn’t done that in a while and just stood and stared, trembling, at the door to his room, which was wide open with his uncle standing in it. He could smell that it was dinnertime. The aroma of which mixed with the odor of manure wafting from his uncle’s clothes and work boots. Shit. Eat. Shit and Eat. Henry’s uncle just seemed to wander into the room as if he were his roommate.

“Bamboo stick in the eye,” he said. “I was planting all day, and as I bent to tie my boot it caught me good in the–”

“Are you ok?” Henry asked as he stared at the corner of the doorjamb behind him.

“A lotta blood. They bandaged it and gave me some percocet. How ya feeling, Hen?”

“Man, I hope your eye is ok,” he whispered to the floor. His mom was really late.

“Where’s your mom? She coming tonight…?”

“It’s nice out tonight?”

“Nice night. So, you’re looking pretty good. Got your own room. I thought I’d catch your mom here. She’s probably running late? Anyway. Okay…Well…Take care, Hen. I gotta pick up the boys,” his uncle said as he turned to leave abruptly. Henry always admired for some reason the way his uncle was able to exit a room so abruptly. His voice would suddenly become louder and more urgent…and then—OKAY BYE! This was always done so smoothly. Henry considered how for him it always took hours to leave somewhere. More like months as it were.

Henry wandered back to his window with the tremor in his hand still intact. There was a line from a Royal Trux song running through his head. It was something about a sword hanging over “the spectre’s” head. It would always make him think of the Hand of God. A hand extended in benediction, he thought. That was the Hand of God. He had also heard of it representing impending death. He didn’t know. There were plenty examples of it in Christian and Byzantine art. The whole deal with the sword was something else entirely, he guessed.

His mother showed up finally bringing with her a cheeseburger that he was not allowed to eat. “I thought maybe you had an accident on the way or something,” Henry said.

“There was a bad accident. There was a detour and I tried to go the back way, but then I ended up lost for a minute. I had to circle back. Are you hungry? I brought this.”

“Mom! — I have a freakin tube in my neck! I can’t eat a cheeseburger!”

“Oh yeah…I keep forgetting. I’m an idiot. I was just thinking how bad the food in here must be. I’m sorry,” she said, laughing as she stared at his neck.

“I don’t eat meat anymore, anyway. You know that. Jesus…how many times—“

“Henry, I just think after you get out you should consider eating some meat again. Even if it’s just some fish. You know? I mean you don’t exactly eat vegetables or anything.”

“I had ten cups of red Jell-O today—and there’s more where that came from. I can promise you that.”

“I just don’t understand what kind of vegetarian eats primarily grilled cheese and bean burritos. You need to think about these kinds of things with your stomach like this.”

“I just want a cigarette. That’s all I want right now. And I want to take a walk outside. Just for five minutes. And…I think I want that cheeseburger after all. Fuck. You know I was really scared something happened to you. It freaked me out! You know Uncle Dan was just here? He stabbed his eye with a bamboo stick.”

“Jesus Christ! Where is he?”

“He’s fine. He had a big dumb grin on his face as usual. You know him. In and out. Just stopped by to provide some extra tension.”

Henry and his mother took their nightly stroll around the circular hall surrounding the nurse’s stations. His mother was in her late 40s, and she looked young for her age. Henry thought of her deciding to give birth to him after his own father had left her already pregnant. The reason he gave her was that he needed to finish college. Supposedly she wasn’t the only girl he had done this to. Henry had never met him. He wasn’t too sure he ever wanted to. Maybe just see him in the flesh once walking and talking. He also wasn’t sure if his mother had made the right choice in keeping the baby. Henry felt the guilt of this thought in his stomach.

As they walked his mom talked mostly about Henry’s brother Zach and how she was worried he might be smoking a bit too much weed along with his recent obsession with death metal. Upon hearing this Henry could only think back to a few days earlier when his brother had come to visit while Henry was in the midst of a nasty nic/hissy fit; contradicting any reassuring or positive comment Zach would make to him. Zach just leaned over the bed and gave Henry a secure, comforting hug. Zach cried as he hugged Henry who also reluctantly began to cry. He and Henry were half brothers. Zach’s father was probably the closest Henry ever had come to having a real dad. But that was only for a couple years when Henry was still too young to appreciate it. There had been his mother’s boyfriends and a stepfather, but Henry had the most respect for Zach’s father. Zach and his dad were close. It seemed that Henry had been used to treating Zach like shit for years. Zach was younger, and so that was the way. But sometimes Henry was aware of an almost sadistic skew to his relationship with Zach. Zach had been a hyper little kid; always getting into shit. He wasn’t a mean kid he was just mischievous. This required extra supervision from their mom. Not the case with Henry. Henry could sit for hours and not say a word. He was the kid who got to stay up late. Adults liked young Henry.

The two of them continued to walk the circuit in silence until Henry’s mother abruptly remarked that maybe she had been too hard on Zach growing up and not hard enough on Henry. As Henry gave the usual you-did-just-fine speech his stomach seemed to suddenly shrink. Henry knew this to be true. Henry had been a well-behaved child. But he knew now (maybe he had always known) that he had gotten away with murder at times. He could always talk his way out of punishments, and was often unjustly rewarded. What was more important was that it seemed his mother was trying to say something else. It was something about strength. Henry lacked strength, strength of body for sure, but more than that strength of will; the will to finish; the will to be well in every sense of the word. He could at that moment feel himself as poison.

As they sat side by side both staring straight ahead Henry knew that in his gut he despised Nossiter. And he could not forgive himself for this. It was not so much the man that he despised, but the wasted, helpless condition of the man’s body. Wasn’t that all there was? Shit, he couldn’t have a conversation with this guy if he wanted to. He would probably start screaming something, and then shit himself. Shit himself right there on the chair that was impossibly adjacent to Henry’s own. And rest assured that there would be blood in that poison shit.

There was not much there. Not much holding the two of them together, that is. Some stitches, some gauze in various places on their respective bodies, an extravagantly fragrant red rose that could be shared, some choice dope that was probably of more use to Henry than to Nossiter at this point. They comprised no team. No camaraderie was apparent. And it seemed to him now, in some strange, sublime manner that that was what Henry had wished for. Nothing was said. Henry couldn’t look directly at the old man because when he did he could only see himself. Henry’s brother had always said that Henry was too selfish. He loved his brother.

©️2017 teagown/P.E. Tottenham 

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