Leo plopped into the seat of his walker with a groan. He grabbed the glass Jen offered him.
The champagne bubbles rose toward his withered lips. His knotty fingers clutched the crystal.
I tried to get a grip on my feelings. Look at a baby and you see potential. Look at Leo and you get a reminder of the inevitable descent to the grave. The vanity of life. The slippery nature of earthly ambitions. Memento mori. Useful, maybe, but it takes the wind out of your sails.
And only eighty six! With the money Leo had the docs could keep him going forever. New hips, maybe some knees, valves, pumps, a pacemaker or two, lenses for the peepers, the best hearing aids money can buy, FloMax, Viagra by the shovelful, Lipitor, warfarin.
“What brings you by?” Leo asked.
Before I could come up with a lie, Leo waved his hand and said, “What the hell, doesn’t matter. This, that. The other thing. Most of it crap. Be here now, that’s what I say. I’m here. What about you, Charles?”
“What brings you by?” he said again. Then, “Asked that. Still doesn’t matter. Fill your glass, boy! Jen, you too. Let’s have a toast.”
Jen grabbed the bottle and sloshed more champagne into each of our glasses.
“To life, gad man it. God damn it, that’s what I mean.”
“Gad man it,” I said.
“What?” Leo asked. “What did you say?”
“To life,” I said.
“Beginning to end,” Jen added.
We tapped our glasses against Leo’s. He drained his in a couple gulps. Jen grabbed the glass before he had a chance to drop it.
“Why don’t we move you to the sofa?” Jen said.
Leo focused on a point beyond the room. He put on that macabre grin again.
“He’s so cranked up on meds, alcohol puts him over the moon. Five minutes and he’ll be snoring,” Jen said.
We grabbed Leo and dumped him on the sofa.
Leo got a hand on Jen’s glutes and squeezed. “Ha ha. Never gets old,” he said.
His head drooped onto the sofa cushion.
“Let’s move somewhere quiet to finish up,” Jen said.
I followed her into the library. Everything heavy and dark there. The desk. The drapes. The leather sofa. A wall of books.
Finishing up. Jen had ideas about what that meant. No need for all the details. Things from the desk got swept to the carpet. A lamp, a pen set, a paperweight.
“Hear? Don’t worry.”
Of course I did.
Leo was the least of it.
Monday: Baby you don’t look so good.