Paranoia (132 of 170)

—of —
by Joseph Finder
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Macmillan: Paranoia

Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.

Part Seven: 70 (Cont'd)

"I wanted you to have a chance to say good-bye to him," Antwoine said. I could hear his voice, feel the rumble, but I couldn't turn around and look. "He went into that respirtary distress again and this time I didn't even waste time arguing with him, I just called the ambulance. He was really gasping bad. They said he had pneumonia, probably had it for a while. They kept arguing about whether to put the tube in him but they never had the chance. I kept calling and calling."

"I know," I said.

"There was some time ... I wanted you to say good-bye to him."

"I know. It's okay." I swallowed. I didn't want to look at Antwoine, didn't want to see his face, because it sounded like he was crying, and I couldn't deal with that. And I didn't want him to see me crying, which I knew was stupid. I mean, if you don't cry when your father dies, something's wrong with you. "Did he ... say anything?"

"He was mostly cursing."

"I mean, did he—"

"No," Antwoine said, really slowly. "He didn't ask after you. But you know, he wasn't really saying anything, he—"

"I know." I wanted him to stop now.

"He was mostly cursing the doctors, and me...."

"Yeah," I said, staring at Dad's face. "Not surprised." His forehead was all wrinkled, furrowed angrily, frozen that way. I reached up and touched the wrinkles, tried to smooth them out but I couldn't. "Dad," I said. "I'm sorry."

I don't know what I meant by that. What was I sorry for? It was long past time for him to die, and he was better off dead than living in a state of constant agony.

The curtain on the other side of the bed pulled back. A dark-skinned guy in scrubs with a stethoscope. I recognized him as Dr. Patel, from the last time.

"Adam," he said. "I'm so sorry." He looked genuinely sad.

I nodded.

"He developed full-blown pneumonia," Dr. Patel said. "It must have been underlying for a while, although in his last hospitalization his white count didn't show anything abnormal."

"Sure," I said.

"It was too much for him, in his condition. Finally, he had an MI, before we could even decide whether to intubate him. His body couldn't tolerate the assault."

I nodded again. I didn't want the details; what was the point?

"It's really for the best. He could have been on a vent for months. You wouldn't have wanted that."

"I know. Thanks. I know you did everything you could."

"There's just—just him, is that right? He was your only surviving parent? You have no brothers or sisters?"


"You two must have been very close."

Really? I thought. And you know this ... how? Is that your professional medical opinion? But I just nodded.

"Adam, do you have any particular funeral home you'd like us to call?"

I tried to remember the name of the funeral home from when Mom died. After a few seconds it came to me.

"Let us know if there's anything we can do for you," Dr. Patel said.

I looked at Dad's body, at his curled fists, his furious expression, his staring beady eyes, his gaping mouth. Then I looked up at Dr. Patel and said, "Do you think you could close his eyes?"

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