I have this thing on my leg, she says.
On the inside of my thigh.
I brood about this for a few seconds. Then I say, call Goldstein.
It could just be a cyst or…
Call Goldstein! When did you get it?
It comes and goes.
It’s a lump then?
No, I wouldn’t call it that. More like an irritation.
Maybe it’s the estrogen.
Call Goldstein, I say.
Three hours later she is snoring peacefully as I sit in the chair beside the bed, fretting and fuming. A chilly sweat has come up on my back. I hear a pause in her snoring. Then she says, Erik?
Come back to bed, Fancyboy.
In a minute. Go to sleep.
Take your Xanax, honey, she says.
Should I turn off this night light?
No. Just come to bed.
In a minute.
I want you next to me, she says, voice quavering.
I never get why people wear their best clothes to the doctor, since they just have to take them off anyway. I called Dr. Goldstein this morning and his receptionist said for Dana to come in immediately and they’d work her in. She emerges from the bedroom dressed to the nines as usual. My heart beats faster as I stare at her.
Your eyes are bugging out, honey, she says.
That’s not all that’s bugging out.
She comes over and hugs me and licks my face. The smell of Chloe on her sends me into spasms of lust and worry.
What RU all dressed up for? She says.
We’re going to the doctor? I say quizzically.
Oh, no, no no, she says and backs away from me as if she’s been slapped.
I cant go with you? Why the fuck not?
If something’s really wrong I cant handle your hysteria. I’ll have enough trouble with mine.
But cant I just…
No, Erik. This could be serious. I cant be worried about you today.
What if it’s bad and you cant drive home?
I’ll take a taxi.
I pull her to me and hold her tight. I don’t wanna let you go, I say.
IG2G, she says impatiently.
I do not let her go.
Lemme go, honey! I know you’re worried but I wish you wouldn’t be such a baby about it…
After Dana leaves I get anxious thoughts about disease and death. Cancer, cancer. There’s a full length mirror on the bathroom door. Naked, I stand in front of it, looking for signs of cancer. Then I bend over and look in hidden places, checking my balls and asshole for cancer lumps and bumps, my hair touching the floor as I bob up and down. Recollections of a Michael Foremost, of blessed memory. He found a lump one morning while sitting on the crapper. Rest in peace, Michael.
Michael is in a mausoleum in Greenwood Cemetary.
When you get older you know that you are going to die. Not some day but soon; when you hit seventy how much longer? The time flies now as I wait for both of us to die. The mind measures subjective time in quotients; at seven years old a year is one seventh of your life. At seventy it is one seventieth. I am not prepared for this. We are both in perfect health but it isn’t a matter of health but of time.
The odds of dying from any cause double every seven years after the age of fourteen.
If she has cancer…
My mind wanders and I seem to be in a trance that I startle out of when I hear a car door slam. I hurry to the door to let her in. Even if there’s nothing wrong she will eviscerate me if I am not there immediately.
I hyperventilate as I hear her heels clicking on the driveway.
In a few moments I will know…