Charlie flexed his hand. The skin hung loose, and it was a pale color darkened by age spots. At 74, it was getting harder and harder to remember his youth. He was still tall- his slightly curving back hadn’t robbed him much of his younger height. He still stood over 6 foot tall, and for a man of his years, he remained in remarkable physical condition. He walked without a cane, and walked whenever he could. The traffic in the Bronx was always a problem anyway. But Charlie enjoyed the exercise. It was just a mile or so from his building to the Clinic where he patiently waited. He had signed in, waiting for Dr. Beckett to arrive and to start on his final procedure.
He had the appointment he had been waiting 6 months for at the Promise Clinic this morning. Valentine’s Day had much less significance since his Doris passed away four years ago. He usually spent the holiday going through their old albums, looking at pictures of their trips upstate with their three children. When he got the diagnosis six months ago, he thought it wouldn’t be so bad. He’d get to see his Doris once more, and someone else could take care of the apartment building. He still had some reasons to live- but taking care of the apartment building wasn’t one of them. The tenants, like the rest of the neighborhood, were struggling with poverty. He had overseen the building since the end of WWII, but he wasn’t able to manage things as well as he once could. And there were people like Dowd who were friendly, but caused lots of complaints from his neighbors. If his brain tumor took him away from the world, he would say good riddance to the building.
He started to reflect on his three children, and his eight grandchildren, when the nurse called for him to go back. Dr. Beckett was smiling, and patted Charlie on the shoulder.
“Good morning, Charlie. What do you say we get rid of this tumor once and for all?”
Dr. Beckett was motioning to the nurses to prepare some additional supplies as Charlie stepped behind a flimsy curtain to change into his surgical gown.
From behind the curtain, Charlie replied. “That sounds good to me, Doc. The headaches are getting worse.”
Dr. Beckett scrubbed his hands, and reassured his patient. “I’m afraid those might continue a while afterwards. But your tumor is still shrinking. This treatment is working. I’m sure you can manage a few more weeks of headaches.”
“I suppose that’s true.”
As Charlie emerged, Dr. Beckett patted the surgical table twice. “Let’s get you started.” As Charlie got situated, the nurse handed the doctor a syringe with a clear liquid. Dr. Beckett injected the syringe into the IV once the nurse had finished.
“That’s good. I want you to count backwards from ten for me Mr. Wright.”
Charlie nodded, already feeling drowsy. He pictured his Doris, and his children.
“10, 9, 8…”
The Doctor nodded at the nurses in the room. “Let’s begin.”