Karl picked up the pen Alan had put down and clicked the end which retracted the tip back into its housing. He slid it back into the inner breast pocket of his suit and gave his friend a soured smile.
Alan gave him a weak grin back saying, “So it’s done?”
Karl gave a slow nod, “Legally, yes. You can still back out at any time prior to them putting you under.”
Alan gave a chuckle, “And if they pretend not to hear me and put me under anyway?”
Karl’s eyes narrowed, “There will be witnesses there-” His mind then flashed through several scenarios as he spit out, “-Do you want me to be there? To watch over the proce-?”
Alan gave another chuckle, “And watch them cut my head open?” His head wobbled, “We are lifelong friends but I can’t say I would do the same for you.”
Karl turned away at the thought of oozing fluids and exposed organs. He was glad he had such a light breakfast and after a quick glance at the wall clock thought it might be prudent to skip his lunch as well. Karl cleared his throat, “Sooo…” he glanced around the room and spotted the chair nearest Alan’s bedside.
Alan started coughing again, “You don’t have to stick around. I know how much you hate making small talk with your clients.”
Karl faced Alan again, “You are my friend-”
Alan cut him off, “Which is why I know how much you hate this part.” He strained in lifting his arm as he pointed towards the doorway. “Go. Remember me as I was and stop seeing me as I am.”
Karl’s mind starting doing that. He got flashes of their socializing over the years like at a backyard birthday party or when he and his own wife had their car break down along the Gilmore highway, and as dumb chance would have it, Alan and Clair happened to be traveling along the same route and pulled over to assist them after recognizing their vehicle. He had always thought Clair was seductively attractive. He had never cheated on his own wife but had Clair ever made it known that she was interested, he was sure he would have succumbed. He had never shared these thoughts with anyone and saw no reason to introduce it now. He suspected his own wife has some suspicions but never addressed it. Clair had passed away, Karl’s mind delved back and then came back with a figure, twenty-three years ago. No, bringing up his thoughts now, on the last days of Alan’s life, would be cruel beyond measure.
A knock came at the door. Karl and Alan both turned to see a tall dark woman in teal scrubs. She said, “Should I come back?”
Alan replied, “No I was about to kick this asshole out.” He faced the doctor with his trademark smirk, “What kind of security do you run around here?”
The doctor gave Karl a half smile as he started towards the door while touching his various pockets to ensure he had all his belongings. “I can take a subtle hint when I hear one.”
Alan snapped back, “Was asshole too subtle?”
The doctor stepped, “Now now Mr. Hickler. We do have children wandering these halls.”
“Did you surgically remove all their buttholes? What kind of place are you running here?”
Karl reached the door but paused before passing the threshold, “You know its not too late to work the insane angle?”
Alan replied, “For you or me?”
Karl passed through answering, “Both perhaps.” He then stepped into the hallway as his nose was reintroduced to the smells of bodies and chemicals. He did his best to focus his breathing through his mouth as he made his way towards the elevator. He watched the elevator’s progress indicator stop on the floor below them. Twenty seconds later it opened before him and he stepped in and pressed the button for the main lobby.
As it went down he allowed himself the chance to breathe through his nose again. It was then that he caught the scent of Blue Diamonds. His heart started beating with a reinvigoration as his mind thought and groin started re-imagining visions of Clair. Blue Diamonds was her scent. It was discontinued years ago which made it such a rare thing to run across again. His mind fantasized about it being Clair but he knew better. His mind came up with the notion that he might have missed passing Anna on the elevator as she had gotten off on the floor before which housed the cafeteria. He felt himself nodding as that had to be it. She had applied some of her mother’s old perfume in order to make her father more comfortable. He then wondered why he hadn’t picked up on it in Alan’s room but didn’t as the door opened and people started making their way inside.
He blurted out, “Excuse me but I would like to get off.”
A young man in his twenties replied, “In the elevator? That’s sick dude.”
Karl didn’t have a response and instead pushed his way through and out the door. A young woman who had entered with the man said, “You don’t have to be a rude ass pushing your way through ya old fart.”