Cursing, he put the cigarette back into the pack. Rubbed more red into his eyes then pushed his sunglasses towards the shock of white hair. Taking a deep breath, he recited his mantra. In his mind, singing the words in perfect calming tone. He knew that he would be able to get through this craving, at least for an hour or so.
That would be enough time to view the things left behind, by her.
Fumbling his pockets again, his hands shook taking the key and letter out. He could smell the vanilla and strawberry perfume she once wore from her note. The key was recently engraved but showed the marks of shaky use. He held the letter delicately, trying not to ruin her scent. Talon ignored how easily the key slid in, inviting him inside.
The smell of recent renovations intermixed with lingering incense of cinnamon and herbs greeted him as he opened the door. Talon stepped into the shadow gratefully, his eyes and lungs relaxing a little as the morning sun was too harsh for his hungover state. He almost stumbled down the stairs into the sunken livingroom. Clumsily grabbing at the wall for balance, he hit a switch and the blinds automatically brought the morning sun back in again.
Growling at the inevitable, he took the sunglasses off and looked around. There was the couch that he slept on many nights, back in Oregon. There was the bookshelf, the pinkish stain of wine that would not come out of the yellowing wood. Her yoga mat covered in so many pillows next to the coffee table. Talon’s throat constricted as he saw the graveyard of pillbottles, small herb plants, and books that littered the area. Crystals held down stacks of cards, he recognized a few of the names and addresses. Other old friends with well wishes.
A wave of pain and fatigue rolled through Talon, as he moved through the strange combination of familiar and not so.. The kitchen lay beyond, and the fridge called to him. Within he found several bottles of water, draining two one after another. The cold shock hitting his stomach which churned in reaction. Hard acid from last nights libations. Somehow out of place, in the middle of the kitchen a new support pillar was installed. Still bearing price codes and dusted with recent gyprock from renovations.
Taking a moment, his eyes saw the wok, a fine layer of dust had formed on it. Memory of stirfry and strawberry wine of a Christmas past. Was there anything else here that would not remind him of her? A set of stairs lead him upwards, he carefully opened the envelope, and he paused to smell it. Vanilla, strawberry and her scent faint now and fading.
‘Talon, this is one of those times where I am lucid and the painkillers are not fogging my brain.
I always promised that I would get you a champagne breakfast, never thought it would take the cancer to get you into this spot. I know, I never could do things normally, but this would be an invitation you would never forget. At this point, I don’t even remember what our fight was about. Only that I was better with you, and you for me. But the cancer changed that. So many nights I wanted to call, but I knew that you would endlessly dote over me. The part which makes you Talon would have changed. And we can’t have that. I do know this, for our love, it made my life more. More. But this thing that is eating away at my brain has other plans for my fantasy of reuniting. For that, I apologize for all the pain I have left for you. Know this, there was nothing on this planet that could have stopped it. Not even my new upstairs roommate. My lawyers number is on the inside of envelope. He will bring papers for all my worldly goods, even though the best part I leave for you is my love.
The first thing I hear in the next lifetime will be your laughter.
Blinking away the tears he folded up the letter and continued upstairs. Her bed was neatly made, clothing folded into neat rows. An unused sticky note pad and pen lay atop a green bundle of hospital scrubs. The alarm clocked flashed 12:00 incessantly. Talon squinted in the forgiving darkness and noticed the large velvet divider which split the upstairs.
Feeling a little intrusive now, and trying to think of the things he would have to say to this stranger, his fingers caught the divider and slid it back. The morning sun glinted off the a huge golden form sending spikes of pain into his eyes. The room filled with a light that seemed to creep around and kill every shadow. The large Buddha statue sat contentedly, blocking the entire window.
“Room mate huh? Always loved that little bit of crazy.”
He heard the seagulls from the bay, and tried to look out of the window. Awkwardly he had to almost sit on the statue to get a look outside. It would have been the perfect thing to wake up to every morning, or afternoon in Talon’s case. A quiet part of the San Francisco Bay, and in that moment, Talon thought he saw a whale’s tail slipping beneath the surface.
‘Why did she do this? Away from her bed, sleeping downstairs beside all those things… it got that bad she couldn’t climb the stairs? Too much of the vitamin cocktails? It’s going to be a hell of a thing trying to get it removed.’ Thoughts ran around Talon’s head as he tried to deal with the alien and obtrusive statue.
Then it came to him, she could not put it in the livingroom, because she could not do that anymore. Living. She left Buddha there to look out at the world, to see what was going on. For her.
“Mr. Talon?” A voice floated up from downstairs.
Talon trotted down the stairs, with fresh tears painting his cheeks, his voice cracked, “Yeah?”
“I’m Bill, with the law firm representing Miss Janice Ravenblood’s estate. I have the paperwork already for you to sign. She arranged for everything to be done as smoothly as possible. The utilities will have to go over, as she didn’t have your last known address.” The man spoke in crisp tones, holding a manila envelope in his hand.
Just at that moment, Talon saw his old guitar, propped up next to the piles of pillows. There wasn’t a speck of dust on it. Recently used.
“Was a hotel, barely.” Talon laughed and rubbed his eyes again.
“If you wish we can get these papers signed at a later date, if this isn’t a good time?”
Talon stopped and looked up at the support beam, then grinned. “No time like the present. Let’s go down to the water, get a coffee, sign those papers. Some place where he can get a good look.”
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The Last Cocktail by Pearce Kilgour is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at pearcekilgour.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://pearcekilgour.wordpress.com. But you should really ask him first… send someone to rub his neck, feed him a gin and tonic, that would be the best… in fact he thinks the world would be a better place if everyone got neckrubs.