Right now he’s left bleeding in an alley, dying of cancer or aids or whatever he’s contracted this time. His whole body is cold in a way he’s never felt before, he whispers to me, over the phone. His lungs aren’t doing what they’re supposed to and he swears he’d feel sick to his stomach if he could concentrate hard enough to feel pain.
He’s telling me now how his stomach is ripped a little bit and he can’t keep his teeth in his mouth. Likewise, it seems he can’t keep the words in his head. Thoughts pouring out like blood from a ruptured stomach. He’s talking now, blabbing really, about how he’s sorry. Every time, it seems, he’s always sorry.
This time it’s the selfishness. This time its how he couldn’t shut up about his problems. He’s telling me how he realizes now. But it’s too late. I’m only understanding every third word, because of the blood or bile or whatever he’s choking on this time. It’s not that I’m listening too intently. I’ve heard these same stories hundreds of times before.
Finally he gets to the good part. He’s crying now, hard and fast. He’s telling me it’s his fault, he deserves this. He tones down his hyperventilation, idling, waiting for me to disagree. When he hears only silence, he apologizes again and once more exhales the slow shallow exhale I know so well. silence.
He’s gone now. Lying alone, dead in an alley. Of a gash in his abdomen, or a concussion. I listen for another five minutes to the sound of him not breathing. I like him this way best.