The sun is brilliantly bright and the air is humid as a wet dog. Inside his house, Doug, bent over in his electric wheelchair, which is pulled up to the breakfast table, sipped from his cup of coffee. He looked at Betty, and said, “I am not feeling well.”
Betty looked up at him from where she stood at the stove while frying bacon and eggs. “Honey, do you want a pill.”
“No, I am really not feeling well.”
Betty noticed he was clutching his chest. She wheeled him to the van, helped him up from his chair and into the passenger seat. She slammed the wheelchair into the garage wall, ran around the front of the van and jumped in the driver’s seat while clicking on the garage door opener.
In the crowded waiting room, while wearing medical masks, Betty and Doug held hands. Doug turned to Betty and said, “You were always the most beautiful of all your eight sisters.” Then he closed his eyes and slumped in his chair.
Betty ran to the receptionist desk, “My husband is dying!”
A bald doctor wearing a medical mask entered the waiting room. He put two fingers under Doug’s left jaw, lifted his thin arm and placed a thumb on his wrist, opened one of his eyes and lit it with a flashlight, opened his mouth and looked inside, placed a stethoscope on his concave chest, inspected thoroughly the color of his exposed skin, and said, “Sorry Mam. He had a massive heart attack. His heart just exploded. We’ll wheel him in for posterity. Did he suffer?”
“No, he just closed his eyes and slumped in his chair.”
“Well, that’s the way to go.”
“Oh my God!”
“Sorry Mam. I was just trying to make you feel better. I will call a nurse to accompany you. He has the face of a good man.”
“Oh my God. No! No! No!”
“My condolences, really Mam”
“No!” she bent over hand her chair and sobbed.
“Really sorry, Mam.”
“OK, Mam, we . . .”
She looked up at the doctor, “NO! He was not a good man. He was a son of a bitch!”
A masked orderly came in and wheeled the body of the room.
Stephen Page was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, where he worked in factories, die-maker tool rooms, and steel-cutting shops—all the while longing for a vocation associated with nature. He lived in Argentina where he had the opportunity to run a wildlife refuge/ranch/farm. He now lives near the sea. He holds degrees from Columbia Universty and Bennington College. He is the author of four books of poetry.