25 Jul


dying man photo: DYING BREED DyingBreed03.jpg

Jerry Minkin looked around him through eyes that barely worked.

The room looked exactly the same as it had for the past several years when he’d gazed round in the morning, and in a way that surprised him. Surely it should look … different? After all, this was to be the last time he expected to see it at this time of the day, shortly after a new sunrise.

By this time tomorrow he would be dead. As a dodo. Extinct. An ex-person, and his trials would all be over. The doctor had said, sombrely and sorrowfully.

Life had never been kind to Jerry. His childhood had been marred by the miseries of others. His mother’s death had hurt him dreadfully at an age when he had been deeply in love with her and decided that one day he would marry her. It was the sort of thing a young boy might think, with nothing perverted about it at all. But she had died and he’d been a damned sight too young to understand exactly what that meant.

Time taught him, though. He never saw her again, and it hurt like mad.

Then, as if to rub it in, his dad was carried off by two burly policeman for killing a third one, and he was still short of being ten. His dad shouldn’t have done it, he really shouldn’t, not because it was wrong to kill policemen (though he knew it was) but because it meant that he, Jerry Minkin, was going to be left all alone in the world.

Well, not exactly all alone.

He went to live with his grandparents, two old fogies on his mother’s side (his father’s were both dead, granddad Joe in the war and Grandma Annie from excessive mourning). The living grandparents might have tried to do their best their best but weren’t so good at it and anyway their idea of discipline involved no carrots but plenty of sticks. And when they died in a train crash (the only two fatalities, which he thought an indication of the Good Lord’s attitude to them) he was still short of being twelve and a little too immersed in the consequences of death for his own good.

He went to a children’s home from there, his world having run out of blood relatives willing to care for him, and he began to learn that a lad could be happy after all. A slightly older boy called Colin fell in love with him, told him it was perfectly okay to kiss and cuddle and do other things when nobody was looking, and for a time his life was settled. Colin guided him down sort of straight and narrow mental paths he’d never known existed. He taught him that sometimes what people suggest might be bad could, actually, be good. And Jerry soaked it up.

The staff in the home were, to a man and woman, kindly and well-meaning people, and the early disasters in his life might have all been eroded by their generosity of spirit had it not been for a faulty toaster which caused the fire which burned the place down.

Only one boy was killed in the fire, the slightly older boy called Colin who loved Jerry with the sort of intensity that might be looked on badly were it discovered (which it wasn’t), and that set the seal of Jerry’s knowledge of life and death.

Life, he knew could be both good and bad, though in all honesty it was normally bad, and death, with much more certainty, rapidly took away everyone he might depend on.

Now many years had passed and he’d reached his own life’s ending, and the room looked just the same as it had for years. And the sad thing was it didn’t really matter to him.

When the doctor had told him that his life was coming to an end (a painful and incurable cancer which they’d tried to cure, and failed, and that failure had involved surgery that had been unpleasant, then the word remission and then its return just about everywhere) he’d almost celebrated.

His adult life had only taught him one thing, and that was the only real love in the world died in a children’s home fire way back in his teens. Ever since then there had only been wretchedness. He had met a young woman called Marge, found that young women can seem to be far more delightful than his first awkward stirrings of teenage desire with Colin, and they had married (in haste due to her pregnancy, something he had never understood because they hadn’t actually “done” anything.)

The baby had been all wrong. Marge had been a blue-eyed blonde, he a fair-haired pale-skinned young man, and the baby black as the ace of spades. It was clear that something was amiss and beautiful as the child was he found himself wondering where it had come from. Then he had discovered a suggestion of the anwer when Marge ran away with a local doctor, back with him to Africa where he had been born, taking the child with them.

It was a lesson in distrust. Severe, heart-wrenching distrust, and when he met and married Arlene it was what everyone said was “on the rebound”. She hadn’t lasted long and he soon discovered that she hadn’t visited the STD clinic on an almost weekly basis because she worked there but because her work involved being infected by this or that organism. Anyway, one of the organisms took her off and he was left alone again.

Arlene had been bordering on lovely, though. She mad made him, for the short time they were together, as happy as he’d been since … never, really.

His bedroom door opened.

It wouldn’t open so many more times. Not with him seeing it, anyway, not that he could see so well any more. In fact, he was as good as blind, but when you’re lying in bed with your eyes mainly shut that isn’t much of a handicap.

“I’ve come,” said the voice, quietly.

He knew that voice. It cheered him up.

“It’s been a long time,” said the voice.

He nodded. At least he tried to nod, but nothing moved. If the room hadn’t still been there, almost visible to his dim eyes, he might have thought he’d died already.

He tried to speak. But it wasn’t so easy, and all he could manage was a single word. A vital word. The most important word in the language.

“Colin…” he sighed.

“Come on. It’s time,” coaxed Colin, and somehow he took him by the hand and somehow Jerry Minkin was led out of that life into a vast endless nowhere, with singing so quiet all around him and something soft like clover beneath his feet and the charred soul of his lover holding his hand.

© Peter Rogerson 25.07.15


2 Responses to “DEAD LOVE”

  1. georgiakevin July 27, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    Man Peter you aren’t afraid to touch on difficult challenging subjects and when you do you do it so well.

    • Peter Rogerson July 27, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

      Thank you, Kevin. This one wasn’t so easy, but once I get an idea I like to follow it through.

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