Maybe Less (a short story)

“You have cancer.” He looked right through me. “You’re going to die.”
I heard nothing else, just, “You’re going to die.” Hell I didn’t even hear how long…just “…maybe less.”
The words echoed in my brain, “You’re going to die.”
With the bedside manner of a cockroach, he rambled on…chemo, radical new treatments, new studies, and on and on. All I heard, “You’re going to die.”
I wondered through the streets of New York seeing the homeless that were never there before. Bars on the windows that were never there before, windows that were now cracked. Pigeon filth covered the sidewalk below the sign, Joe’s. The stench of vomit flowed from the doorway and behind the bar condoms littered the alley.
The city that was once so bright and shiny… the city that was once my future was gone…gone along with my future…gone along with my life. I began to see and feel the cancer that was killing the city as well as the cancer that was killing me.
Why me? Shit.
Life in the city is so ugly. Someone should clean this mess up. Soap it up, wash it down…bring back the sparkle that was once the dream…chemo, radical new treatments…
Shit. Why me?
“Hey buddy, something wrong with you? Watch where you’re going.” I could smell him, without looking up I could see him, feel him, and know him. Was he there before? Or was it she?
Why not her? Shit, shit, shit.
“One year, maybe less.”
Yeah there’s something wrong with me, I’m going to die.
What was that?
“One year, maybe less. Of course we’ll do more tests…”
Yeah, thanks. Why the hell did I thank him?
So cold, where’s my coat? Need to get warm… “You’re going to die.”
Past the vomit and into Joe’s…smells just as bad inside…hose it down clean it up, chemo, radical new treatments.
“What’ll you have Mac.”
“Another thirty years.”


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