Matter of Certain Gravity
|| I joined Sage, the oldest
of us brothers, at the buffet. He poked at some suspect vegetable
dip with a rubbery piece of celery.
"You'd think for
something like this we could at least have some food that was a bit
more classy," he said. "You know, like baked salmon or caviar
I sighed. "I wonder what 'the other half' are having at their
assisted-suicide parties." Everyone around looked at me nervously
when I said it. It was probably the first time anyone here had ever
said the words aloud, we’d all become masters at polite euphemisms
months ago. Dad just looked sadly at the ground. I suppose the only
thing worse I could've done was yell "Cancer!" at the top
of my lungs.
A black stretch limousine rolled up the gravel road and came to a
stop. The driver got out and opened up the back door, and out stepped
Dr. Reynolds and his assistant. His assistant was carrying a black
bag like the ones that doctors used to carry in the old days, when
they still made house calls. Dr. Reynolds was dressed in a black suit
and tie, and his gray hair was slicked back perfectly, resembling
what I imagined a 19th century undertaker would have looked like.
He was smoking a cigarette that I swear was about six inches long,
and he smoked it through one of those long cigarette holders that
someone like a washed up Hollywood-starlet lush would use. Realizing
his faux pas, he handed the cigarette holder to his driver and cleared
his throat. His assistant looked like a trophy wife; a beauty pageant
winner, albeit dressed in some sort of cross between a naughty nurse’s
uniform and what you’d expect a funeral home director’s
wife to wear.
"He's supposed to be one of the best."
I heard someone whisper. "Studied under Kevorkian himself."
They walked, or rather strolled, over to the party, and the Doctor
bowed to all present.
"Hello everyone," he said,
"are we about ready?"
We all looked at each other stupidly, until finally Dad spoke:
"I suppose so. Does anyone have anything else to say to
A murmur of ‘No's’ and shaken heads answered him. I looked
over at Mom, who just sat there on the mossy tree stump, watching
us and looking sad. She was far enough away that she couldn't understand
what we were saying, but she knew that we were talking about her.
It reminded me of the group of doctors that came to talk to our family
when they found out that mother's cancer was terminal. Four or five
of them stood down the hospital hallway out of earshot, and we could
tell that something mortally big was up.
The good doctor began setting up The Device on the picnic table, and
everyone sat down at the other tables and on grass around it. A few
hushed conversations took place as Dad went over to have a few final
words with Mom. They made a decrepit march over to the table, Mom
looking like she could crumble to the ground into a pile of dust at
any moment. I numbly watched the procession of two along with everybody
else; a bunch of gawkers staring like children who didn't know any