The Blue Teashop
Dane departed the bus around midnight in Missoula because his tongue was swollen with thirst and his head was pulsating in pain from the sickness and the drunk woman passed out next to him had pissed her pants and the puddle on the floor had touched his foot so when he walked away from the bus station he kept looking down at the wet mark on his leather shoe and knew the axis of the world was made of dice because a dying man in a world made of good rules wouldn’t get pissed on but that was the way of bus travel in a world overrun with a species that sprinted, out of shape with their heads down.
Eight months earlier Dane learned of his sickness from Dr. Howe when Dr. Howe informed him and Heidi that Dane was unlikely to live another year and even though Dr. Howe made bundles of money he was not worth a penny for the manner in which he delivered the news. Dane felt the Dr. actually enjoyed dishing out such news as it made him all the more powerful and mighty in a world in which the Dr. would also lose in the end.
At thirty-seven and being a hot shot back-end software engineer Dane figured he had the world’s little hairy balls gripped firmly in his hand. He owned his house. He and Heidi were happy—pretty-much. Their two sons and one daughter were the cat’s meow. He bought organic food and nice coffee. Ran marathons here and there. Maintained a good relationship with his mom and younger brother. All was pretty good.
Until he collapsed in the kitchen early on a Tuesday. Seven days later Dr. Howe said, “It’s hard to say, but nine to twelve months should seal the deal.” He looked somber.
“Seal the deal?” said Heidi.
“Pass,” said the doctor.
“Pass? Are you telling us, Dane’s going to fucking die in a year!?” shouted Heidi.
He nodded. “I’m afraid so, Sweetie. I’m sorry.”
Heidi kept yelling. Dr. Howe kept digging his hole deeper. Dane left the room walked out into the sun and puked under a palm tree.
The ensuing eight months sucked. Yelling, crying. Special moments. Drunkenness. Horrible moments. No one knew what to say. Dane didn’t know what to say. He quit work four months later. Two months after that, he told Heidi he was leaving.
“What do you mean, leaving?”
His speech was now somewhat slurred. “While I can. I don’t want to die in a bed surrounded by family wishing I’d just die so they can get back to their lives. I’d kill myself but I don’t have the nerve to stomach it. I don’t want the kids to see me shitting my pants. I need to go die away from all this.” He waved his arm around the kitchen. “Now’s my only chance, while I can walk and count money.” He forced a smile.
She forced a frown.
He didn’t want to have sex one last time. She pretended to desire nothing less. It was like two sacks of frozen sawdust falling off of one another. Heidi’s eyes were empty. Dane just wanted to sleep.
The plan was simple—the divorce finalized weeks before. Dane would not call.
He’d go somewhere and die. He might die in the woods or in a hotel room or on the street or in a boat or if he could, he’d do himself in but he knew that wasn’t his thing. He just wanted to evaporate.
Jake was the saddest and most confused. Tom was withdrawn. Cecelia was angry.
Tom’s hug was soft. He stared at the floor.
Cecelia’s hug was quick, tears streaming down her face.
Jake wouldn’t leave his room and sobbed, snot bubbling out his nose.
Heidi was relieved. Enough already. From the kitchen window she watched Dane disappear around the block. She sighed, felt sick, staring at the too green Palm Olive thinking life fucking sucked.
Dane left the 24 hour convenient store with a bottle of water and Trident. He stopped under the lit sign and sipped the water. He fantasized about gulping it down but gulping was beyond his means. Sips. Dribbly sips was all he could summon.
He walked around. Stopping and sipping, then walking. He wanted to smash a window. Burn a building. Tip over a car. Bend a lamp post in half.
He laughed. The water bottle felt heavy.
His face was hot, his throat burned.