That mouth of yours! Vinca vine run amuck. Strings of useless words that lead to nowhere! Look at you… a wilted old bean…a showy Physostegia in the August heat.
A single leaf out on the limb…clawing your brittle nails into the bark to prevent your fall? Like a gnarled, dried acer leaf; your silver sheen long ago turned to fungal rot! I see you there…lingering about…swaying in the autumn gust…twisting and lifting in fits while praying you’re still stuck to the limb and not caste off…like the rest of us! Oh, you'll touch that cold, dry clay -- you bet I'll be there when you do. I'll watch you disintegrate! Into nothingness! Like you had done to me!
Oh that mouth of yours. I can wait. I can wait right here while your withering, pathetic bag of old bones turn calcium for the cabbage. Won’t be too long, no matter. Won’t be but a few months now; less than a year before you join us and feed the trees yourself! The frost will get you. Seep into your roots. And when it does, you’ll get what’s coming to you! I’ll make sure you do. For eternity! You’ll never have a moment’s –
“Mr. Warren? Hi! Sorry to wake you. Do you mind if I take your IVs out? Ah, I didn’t think so! You’re looking so much better! I heard your lovely daughter is picking you up? Yes? How nice. We’ll get you out of here in no time. No, no; I’ll do that. You just relax, and I’ll have you untied to this room in a flash. I’m sorry. What was that?”
“What happened to…lady across…hall?”
“Mrs. Holland? Fred, I am very sorry to say that Mrs. Holland passed away earlier this morning.”
“I am so sorry. Was she a friend of yours? Pardon?”
“Went out…on a date…a month ago. Brighter days.”
“Yes. Good memories for the both of you, I hope.”
“Yes. Her nurse…nurse…”
“…said she had pneumonia?”
“Just like you. But your lungs were much stronger than hers. That’s one nasty bug going around the whole Midwest. Lucky your daughter convinced you to come see us, right? Yes? Hey. Sorry for your loss, Fred. Let me swing by here…and finish this rodeo up…and…there you are. I have freed you from your robot Masters. Now listen. Your daughter tells me that you're quite the talker. Would you like some excellent advice from a perfect nurse? Remember to rest your throat and lungs when you get home and try not to talk any more than necessary. Can you do that for us? Yes? Good. A pleasure caring for you. And Mr. Warren… I’m so sorry for your loss.”
Loss? Wait until I get hold of your sorry state. Cling! Cling and sway in the wind for as long as you can, you scratchy, noisy thing. Useless, rotted old Acer! Nothing but a blister-sprouting hogweed. You’re not worth the plot where your old stick in the mud has stuck. You'll see me soon enough. I’ll set fire to the root! I'll shove a ripe rutabaga into that terrible mouth of yours. I'll make sure you rot in Hell!
A lovely woman, that Anne Holland. Eyes as blue as opal…is opal blue? Weren’t they green? Like turquoise? I don’t recall. Does it really matter, old boy? Anne’s eyes were…were…they were the color of full engagement; wide-eyed and attentive to your stories on the old business and that great little tax fight I had with Jones. Sonofabitch. I told him exactly a year to the day when I filed that he was gonna lose. She looked surprised when I told her how much I got back from the state. Oh, my cough was so bad that night. I’m sure I presented miserably. She didn’t seem to mind. A true lady. Obvious she felt bad for me. Winced empathetically with every bout. Barely said a word, but full of compassion. A true lady. You really thought something was brewing, boy, now didn't you? Ha! And the lake home invite…she perked right up when I told her how much land me and Mickey cleared away for the boat shed and RV. She probably liked boating. Or maybe the thought of it… To escape her tiny old ranch on Ferguson, near the park. Just a few weeks ago, she was trimming her shrubbery --or whatever the hell those pod stick things were. Loved how she corrected me under that big hat of hers. 'They are variegated Patriot hostas. Mind if I return to my work?'' Ha! a patriotic hosta. And what the hell is variegated? Man, was I lucky to get her to agree on the dinner. Four tries. Finally gave in to your good looks. Ha! Oh, such a lady. She was as shy as a four-eyed prom drop! How unfortunate to go so quickly. Really sad. Had such a wonderful time. She was a bit high-end for me. Pretty to look at, for sure. Oh...sad. Would have enjoyed showing her the lake home. I figured it cost about five thousand greenbacks to clear out those trees. She seemed shocked by the cost. If she knew how much more Mickey wanted me to cough up! But, I told him I’d clear those oaks myself if he asks for one more piece of copper. Besides, I had to sink two big ones to replace all the dry wall due that goddamn roofing on the south pitch. Wish Annie would have agreed to go up there one weekend. Might have kept her from catching the flu. She liked being called Annie. No. She asked that I didn’t, but you loosened her up, old boy, didn’t you? Ha! She shook her head a time or two when I called her that, but she had a sense of humor, I could see. Oh, what a terrible change of events. A lot can happen in a month. Poor Dear. Lost her husband so young...to cancer in the mid-nineties. Or was it diabetes? Probably liver disease. She could sure drink wine like it’s squeezed from a faucet, boy. That was forty dollar wine, I tried to tell her. You’d think she was deaf. That’s all good. Had a great time. Quite a lady. Remember that kiss? She blushed when I landed my lips right on those pretty red rosies of hers! God bless her. May she rest in peace. Said it was her first date in years. Said she liked to cook. Spend time in the kitchen. Wish women these days were more like her. Or, did she say she was a Gardner?
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