Why have I never shit my pants? An odd thing to contemplate, but I’m fighting the cough reflex from a lungful and it’s the first thing to float to the surface of my pot-addled brain.
Sure disgusting, but eighteen months of treatments for advanced prostate cancer has to earn me an oopsie-daisy, right? Just to see the look on the wife-cunt’s face as she pulls back the Grandpampers and sees what I made for her. Maybe slip in this over-sized Caligula sundial strapped to my wrist for good measure.
No, that’s the pain talking. Julie was a good wife most of the time and the watch was for our 10th, about six months after my diagnosis. I hated it but tried to smile in gratitude for Julie, who thought value was determined more by weight of jewels and precious metals than anything resembling craftsmanship.
Exhale just as I start to see spots, just like the guy at the dispensary suggested, and fittingly Rivers throws another interception. Goddamn Chargers. I quit chemo because I was tired of suffering. The radio beeps as I cut the power, revealing the background noise of parking lot gravel under tires.
This rest stop used to be a beautiful place. A great big parking lot on a bluff over-looking the Pacific. Now state-budget cuts turn ruined blacktop into cheap gravel and public restrooms into long-term residency for coked-out prostitutes too cheap to pay for a hotel. Outside of the truck drivers who stop for a piss-and-a-poke, the lowest rung of drug addicts are the only residents. My death will just be excused as a mugging-gone-bad and not what it really is; a contract killing ordered by the victim, with a delivery scheduled in about thirty minutes. I told him to look for the guy wearing a watch that looks like it was made by Liberace’s jeweler after a coke-and-LSD binge, place two to my head, then take the watch, wallet, and the $25k in an envelope in the glove box. A clean murder and not one that will cause any hesitation from the life insurance company.
A rap to my window startles me (a killer who wants to introduce himself?), and the far-too-pale-for-California face of Mike peers in. Mike introduced me to Julie, who worked as an account exec in his office. He also talked me out of walking away after I’d caught her in an affair.
A good friend, and not someone who should be around when a killer is about to arrive.
“Mike, what the fuck dude?” I ask as he lets himself in. I’m high enough to smirk as his eyebrows raise from a whiff of what no doubt smells like a Blues Traveler concert.
“Sorry for interrupting, but I needed to talk to you.” He looks concerned. Did Julie see the several large withdrawals from my personal accounts over the last six months and miraculously figure something out?
“Julie told me you were heading to the beach and I thought you might be at our old stoner spot.”
“The more the merrier, dude,” not wanting to be a shitty host, I hold out the joint. Mike waives me off, hardly looking at me, horrified at what cancer has done to my body and sense of moral rectitude.
“We’ve got to discuss.. something,” Mike stammers, trying to collect his thoughts. He’s sweating, but it is mid-August and he was always too cheap to use the AC.
He takes a deep breath, starts with “It’s about Julie”, and I suddenly know the rest. Julie has strayed before. Mike has been at our house almost every day. I thought just for me, but also it appears for her.
He rambles on about the affair, turning me into a stoned priest taking his confession and giving details I neither want nor need. Once I can tell he’s done purging his guilt, I smile as best I can.
“Don’t worry about it Mike. You have always been a good friend and I have not been able to give Julie the physical attention she deserves.”
Mike looks at me with a bastard concoction of guilt and relief, then leaks from his eyes without shame or embarrassment. He’d loved her from the first moment she’d walked into his office. He was just married at the time, so he introduced her to his best friend. Then his marriage falls apart and I start to die. Understandable.
“I love you, man. You and Julie deserve each other and deserve to be happy,” maximum eye leakage from Mike now. “And I’m glad you came by. The docs tell me I might lose the ability to speak after the next batch of chemo, so I wanted to give you something before that happens.”
“I want you to have my watch.”