She just sat there holding his hand. She didn’t know what to say. It was about time. It was pointless to ask him about his health or how he was feeling. He was dying, and they both knew it. She tried to come up with something deep, something she should have said a long time ago, but didn’t, and struggled to find it. Surely, he knew she loved him, didn’t he? “I love you,” she said, squeezing his hand gently. There was a small, almost imperceptible change in his eyes, one that she couldn’t put her finger on. “I love you too,” he said, after a moment. “What time is it, is Jeopardy on yet?” he asked. Linda is supposed to wake me up when it comes on, that damn woman,” he said, chuckling again. “She keeps trying to get me to eat, she knows damn well I can’t eat anything, but she keeps trying.”
Something changed in his eyes again, and he looked around the room conspiratorially. “There’s some people in here that don’t have any damn business in here,” he said softly. Angela looked around at the dresser, full of medication, the humidifier, a basket of clean, folded linens. There wasn’t anyone else in the room. “What people?” she asked him. He struggled to sit up, the look in his eyes becoming one of alarm. “These damn little people, always showin’ up. Look at her, she wants to fuck me. Keep telling ‘em to get the hell out of here, but they keep coming. Help!” He started yelling in alarm, and Linda came rushing into the room wiping her plump hands on her apron. “Oh Lord,” he’s having those hallucinations again,” she said. She grabbed a bottle of liquid medicine from the dresser, poured some into a little dosing cup, and, rushing over to him, she tried to soothe him with soft words, stroking his brow. Quickly, she poured the medicine into his mouth, past clenched teeth, and tipped his head back. His eyes, locked on hers, leaked tears of terror. She stroked his head and cooed soothing words, for what seemed like a very long time, and before Angela knew it, he had fallen asleep, holding Linda’s hand tightly.
Without realizing she had risen, Angela, standing by the door, burst into tears. Linda waddled over and grabbed her in a tight hug, and the two of them stood there hugging and crying. “He’s going to be all right, darling” Linda said, after a minute. “He is right with God. He lived a rough life, and committed many sins, but he is right with God. He can go home now knowing that he has been saved,” Linda said earnestly, wiping Angela’s cheek with a plump hand that smelled like soup. “I knows it, ‘cause I was there, I took him there,” she said, and Angela could see that she was becoming the Linda that she didn’t like very much, so she broke away and grabbed her purse. “I need to leave now, but let me know if there’s anything you need from me,” she told Linda. “I can take off work with just a little notice, if you need me, and I’ll be back over tomorrow after work.” “I will let you know if we need anything,” said Linda, leading Angela to the door with her sweaty little arm linked through Angela’s.
Angela walked quickly to her car, and once she was in and locked the door she burst into a fresh bout of tears. This was horrible. He was dying, and losing his mind simultaneously, and she wasn’t there to help. In fact, she had never been there. This little zealot who apparently loves him is there taking care of him all by herself, and, she realized with a surge of guilt, she was happy to let her do so. She watched Linda’s silhouette through the curtains as she stood by Pop’s bed, saw her turn and then the room went dark.
At home later in her bedroom, Angela couldn’t get to sleep. Finally, after the 2nd glass of wine she drifted off into a fitful night of terrifying dreams. She heard a nasty, putrid little giggle, and glancing to the side of her bed, she saw a doll-sized, naked dwarf standing by the side of her bed. Naked, the dwarf was morbidly obese, with oversized, bullet-shaped breasts pointing downward. The thing was using one hand to stifle her giggles, and the other to pleasure herself. Angela was disgusted, but couldn’t move or talk, only her eyes seemed to work, and she saw another dwarf, this one male, standing by her closet with a pair of her soiled underwear clasped in a hideous little hand, pressed to his nose, sporting an oversized erection. His eyes met hers, and he snorted and spit in her direction. She tried to scream, and there was a huge clanging sound, and she couldn’t stop it. As she lay there, in helpless terror, the noise got louder, while the little monsters began to fade, and as the fog lifted she realized that her bedside phone was ringing. It was still dark, but the room had the quality of light of a dawning day. Snapping out of her heavy sleep she grabbed the receiver. “Angela, he’s gone,” Linda sobbed.
It was four days after the funeral. She and Angela had just about everything boxed up, donated or disposed of, and she was finally tackling his bedroom. Going through his home office had been the most difficult things she had ever done. A locked file cabinet revealed file after file of naked teen-aged girls, posing in adult positions for his wicked camera. One file revealed pictures of her best friend in Junior High, posing seductively with braces and acne. File after file contained naked photos of his of old girlfriends, even pictures of her own mother. She had broken the shredder, there was so much filth. She had banned Linda from the office while she was going through all this, and when she would come out with trash bags of shredded material, Linda would give her a haughty, knowing look and a sniff. It was humiliating, and she wished she didn’t have this task. Her memory of him was tainted; poisoned. She wasn’t sure she could even stand him.
In his bedroom she finished throwing away underwear. She headed to the closet to start boxing up suits and jackets, her plan was to take everything that was in good condition to Goodwill. She grabbed a black leather jacket and pulled it off the hanger. She recognized it, he wore it all the time when he was out at night clubs. His black leather coat and a cowboy hat were his uniform of the night. She held the jacket up in front of her, checking its condition, when she noticed something on the collar that glistened. Taking a closer look, she saw what appeared to be women’s lipstick, but….no. It was a perfectly formed lip print, no bigger than the nail of her pinky, an opened-mouthed, seductive kiss-print. And it was still wet. She shook her head and looked around the room – yes, she was awake, this wasn’t a dream, this was happening.
Linda came bustling into the room suddenly. “Oh, I was looking for that,” she said, and snatched the coat out of Angela’s hand. “I promised it to my son,” she said nervously, and rushed out, looking back at Angela with a strange look.
Angela stood there, weighing what she had seen, then locked it away in her mind, never to be exposed again, except for late at night, in feverish dreams.