For One Night Only

Without warning, I start humming Johnny Cash’s 25 Seconds to Go. It seems entirely inappropriate and I am cut short by more laughter from next door. They really are in high spirits – old Mr. Whatshisface must be getting out, either that or he is having a bed bath and the nurses have found something all the family can laugh at.

This thought brings long since purged memories rushing back to me. Of the abuse, the torture and beatings doled out to me by my father. ‘He’s a disciplinarian,’ my mother would explain, ‘He only wants the best for you’, she would implore. If the best meant black eyes and a fear of the dark, he succeeded.

My reverie is interrupted by a flatlining screech. I look immediately at the monitor next to me. Alas, the stay goes on. I look through glass door to see where the nurses are rushing to. Nowhere, that’s where. It’s Mr. Old Man Happy and the Happy-ettes. His equipment is unplugged and his is ready to go. His son, I presume, is helping him to the door. They smile and look perfectly comfortable in each other’s arms. The bastards. I curse them and vow to hate them forever there and then. I know I’ll never hold my father like that.

Thinking about my father again, I recall the mental abuse being much worse than the physical. Bruises heal. When I told him I was dating a black man he beat me in to a coma and I still refused to press charges. We’ve never talked since. I have spoken to him on loads of occasions, especially in the last month since his heart attack, but for obvious reasons he has never answered.

Outside the room I hear the visitors leaving. Only the beeps and my breath are audible in this confined space. I know there won’t be a nurse around for another hour. They check to make sure the bed is dry and the beeps are beeping. I sit there motionless, like I have every night for weeks now and wonder if I have the strength to go on. I urge myself to do it. Death will not come alone. He, no, they, Death and Dad, will mock me and my weaknesses. I need to be strong. What am I waiting for? Is it permission? There is no one to say yes, no one to say no. There is only me and my needle. I am in charge. Death can bite me. I can do better than he, the scythe wielding myth. Does he have a stranglehold on expirations? No I say. I am taking over, I will be fate’s cruel hand for one night only.

I look at him lying there pathetic. His heart attack has rendered him a vegetable; only machines and TLC from over-worked and under-appreciated hospital angels keep him alive. I lift the sleeve on his pajama top and slowly pull back the needle’s plunger with my teeth. I caress it in my mouth and it feels electric. With deliberate slowness I put the needle in the same vein his drip is in. The Demerol will get to work and in an hour he’ll be dead. There will be no post-mortem; heart attack patient dying of a heart attack? The perfect murder. A tear drops onto his forehead as I lean over to kiss him. ‘Goodbye, Dad.’ I say.

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