It was the end of October when old Mr. Me went to the capital with May Linh and the kid and it was very nice weather there, neither too hot nor too rainy. But it was winter already when we came back up the mountains where we lived now with May Linh. A soggy winter. And I got a cold I just couldn’t get rid of. I had almost stopped smoking cigarettes because of the horrendous coughing and that says something. I could tell my health was declining rapidly now. I would still drink beer and the kid would get me high with tisanes. I was hardly eating anymore.
I took the time to write to my wife and each of my children. I mean a real letter. Since the house had burned down, May Linh and I didn’t get a new computer and it was perfect this way. The world could crumbled on itself and I wouldn’t know it. So I did write to my wife and kids, each on a real piece of paper, with real words written with a pencil and, once I started, it turned out to be pretty long letters to each one of them and I hoped they could read my handwriting.
Anyway all I said basically was that I loved them and hoped that they were doing well. I was sure they were, I trusted them, always had. That’s why I could leave and move to Southeast Asia when, late in my life, I came upon the aliens’ money. Then I put these letters in real envelops, gave them to the kid and told him to mail them from somewhere not here once I’m dead.
“You mean from another country?” he asked.
“Yeah, that’d be great,” I said.
“Ok,” he said.
“And put real stamps on them,” I said.
“Will do” he said.
After that, all administrative and personal papers were in order and everything was cool and I could concentrate on being with May Linh, on looking at her, for the time I had left. On a few occasions, we had the most passionate gamahuches ever, though with a sense of urgency that was sweet, desperate and pathetic at the same time. I sure didn’t have Lily’s power with me anymore. Every day I thought May Linh was more superb than the day before. She’d let me see her nude as much as she could be nude and she kept me warm. She knew I hated being cold. We didn’t need to talk much yet we were always communicating somehow. We learned that Lily had moved to New Orleans. Good for her I thought, winter in Chicago is a punition for men and beasts.
Although you expect death, though not waiting for it, it still always comes quite unexpectedly. It was early afternoon and raining outside so I was having coffee, listening to music on the radio, doing nothing and it was perfect. I was perfectly alone and that should have told me something. I got up to go to the kitchen when I felt my heart cramping and I immediately fell heavily on the floor, face down. My first reaction was panic as I tried to crawl, as if I had somewhere to go. I could smell the carpet.
It had been raining for several days now and the house was humid and all of a sudden, from the damp carpet, I could smell so many different odors and my heart was racing and my brain was looking for oxygen and I couldn’t feel half of my body but smelling all those whiffs full with fragrances forced my brain to think, to analyze, and then I regained control of myself, somewhat. I still couldn’t move. I could see with astounding clarity every fiber in the carpet, how they were weaved together.
I don’t know how long I stayed there but each of those odors was reminding me of something, at one time or another. It’s weird thinking of how one never forgets an odor. And it was even weirder to have all those smells coming back to me all at once. And I was talking to myself in my head, lying on the floor, so that everything would stay focus, the heart on beating still, the brain trying to sort out all those fragrances. I found some smells of mine, fragrances of May Linh. And somehow I could smell the sand, the wood of my house by the beach, the ocean, baby diapers, Lily, Maggie, and Paris and Mexico and Shanghai. I was a carnival of scents in my head and I was feeling dizzy and I had to stay focused. “Focus, smell, focus, smell, focus, smell” I was telling myself, like a mantra, and I didn’t know anymore where all those aromas could be coming from, they couldn’t all be in this carpet. Baby diapers again, and that odor lingered a long time, with variations and I could recognize each of my four kids’ scent. “Focus, smell, focus, smell, focus, smell,” I was telling myself, filling my nose.
Then I heard May Linh come in. She never came back from school that early but she knew somehow, I guess, and she came as fast as she could, still walking with dignity. So she wasn’t surprised that much to find me on the floor. I couldn’t see her but I heard de door, her steps and her smell was suddenly so strong that my heart started racing again and my brain was frying but she stayed calm, put her hand on my face and that helped me to regain my senses and my focus. I couldn’t move but I could smell and I was trying not to be overwhelmed by May Linh’s perfume. I could hear but May Linh didn’t need to talk and hadn’t said a word.
I had one side paralyzed but I felt May Linh grabbing me and pulling me to the bedroom. Then I knew she was pulling me up on the bed and I knew it must be hard for her and I couldn’t help her and I had to stay focused for my heart to pace itself enough and my brain to breathe enough. Then May Linh quickly undressed me, then undressed herself and then came to lay next to me, to keep me warm I knew, and then she pulled the blankets over us.
Then she quickly set herself toward the one side I could still move and pulled my hand over to her butt, and I could feel it, and, still holding my hand, she got hold of my middle finger and wiggled her bumhole to it and I could feel it and I could tell she was giving me all the warmth that she could and my heart was racing now like on our first gamahuche and I felt my finger go past the first ring and I felt May Linh’s tears and they came to my mouth and I could taste them and that surprised me. And I could smell her, so close, and she smelled so good, her hair in my face and I was so happy.
“I love you,” I managed to whisper from the side of my mouth.
With that, I lost focus.
May Linh stayed over Mr. You for a while, covering him with her body, not talking, they didn’t need to anyway. Then she got up and got dressed, a black robe, then put clothes on Mr. You. She knew he would have rather gone naked, just like when he was born, but a bunch of people were going to come to the house and it would have been too weird if Mr. You had been naked, this dead white guy here – someone anyone hardly knew – being weird enough.
Then May Linh went to fetch the doctor. He confirmed that Mr. You was dead, which May Linh knew already. He wrote the death certificate and established the time of death at today, 5 pm, but that was only the time he concluded Mr. You was dead, not Mr. You’s exact time of death. Which goes to show that, in some circumstances, nobody cares for details.
Soon the kid was there and he helped May Linh that evening to make all the necessary arrangements and fill up all administrative papers. Mr. You would be cremated as soon as the next day evening. Once every one was gone, May Linh asked the kid to leave her alone. Then she called Lily.
“I’ll be there in a couple of days”, Lily said.
Then May Linh called Maggie.