The Party Across Town And The One In Here
"Do you want me to read you the new issue of Entertainment Weekly? There's a big article about the next season of LOST..."
"No. Why would I want to hear about all the exciting things coming up on a season I'm not going to get to see? Just make me sad."
His parents had gotten him a private room. They had money, and I gathered they were using most of it to make sure their son was as comfortable as possible right up until the very end. I get the impression that, were it a possibility, they'd offer the cancer a hundred bucks to, ya know, "take it easy on the boy, there." At the moment, they're at dinner. A work thing, they assured me; not for pleasure. No one is allowed pleasure right now. Because obviously. So I'm on Friday Night No-Fun patrol. Keeping things dour.
"I want to go to a party."
"You weigh 90 pounds and can't walk. The parties we go to, you'd be in pieces on the floor like a dropped LEGO castle within moments of walking in the door."
The TV anchored to the top corner of the wall plays an old black and white movie. We've got the lights off, so everything in his room appears to be black and white too.
"Are there any parties tonight?"
"Jeez, would you leave off with that?"
"Yeah, okay... yes. Jess Horstein's parents are out of town. Everyone's going over there tonight to test the limits of their home-owner's insurance. I'm sure it will be a blast. Literally, if anyone finds out that Jess Horstein's father collects old WWII weapons. He's probably got an A-bomb in his basement..."
"I want to go."
"Dying people don't get to go to all-night ragers. Sorry, I don't make the rules."
"You're not supposed to tell me that I'm dying, fuckwad."
"Well I promised you when we were thirteen that I'd never lie to you. Haven't thus far, not starting now."
We sat there for a while, not doing anything. He stared off into space and I pretended to be gripped in the narrative thrall of the black and white movie. Really, I was just focusing on not getting up, walking out the door, and never coming back into this stinking hospital room again.
But then I leave. A half hour later, I come back, armed with a bottle of cheap vodka and a couple of red, plastic Solo cups. I pour him about an inch of the hard stuff and then dilute it with water from the big, omnipresent pitcher that's been on the nightstand since this whole ordeal started. I hand it to him and I pour vodka into my glass up to the rim. No dilution for me, thanks. I'm not dying.
"We're partying now, my shrunken friend. If you get me drunk enough, I might take my top off."
He laughs and then coughs for a minute or two and then takes a drink from his cup. And we drink on in the black and white, having absolutely no fun at all, but trying all the same because what else are we going to do, young and not dead yet, on a Friday evening? What else could we possibly do?