He's Dying

This is and excerpt from my newest novel, Galapagos Man.

“I figured it was my last chance to be somebody, to make something of my life,” Alex said. “So at thirty, during the war. I enlisted. I wanted to be an officer. It seemed like it was all stacked against me.”

Alex laid in his bed sunken and wasting away from a sickness no one could diagnose. It was unsettling seeing a man who just a few years ago stood six three and two hundred pounds. He still had massive hands and a barrel chest. Grey stubble covered his face like a burned forest.

The room was the bedroom of a small home purchased a couple of years earlier. Present was an odor like a load of soiled laundry. A light layer of dust covered everything. The sun struggled to cast its rays through water stained windows.

“What do you mean, Dad?” AJ said.

“When I went through the physical in basic training they asked me to do a deep knee bend. My knee was so swollen I could hardly walk on it. That disqualified me from OCS. In basic they all called me ‘Dad’ or ‘Pop.’ I was the oldest guy in my company; hell I was the oldest guy in the battalion. War is for young men made up by old men. They took care of me. There were things that a guy my age and with my knees couldn‘t do. Yeah, they were a great bunch of guys. I‘d like to see them all one more time before I go.”

“Don’t talk that way, Dad,” AJ said. “You’re going to be okay.”

“No I’m not, son. No I’m not.” Alex looked at a framed photo of himself taken when he was in the Army. “I’m only half the man now that I was then, maybe even less than that. It’s amazing what years of hard 
living can do to you. Take care of yourself, son. Don’t let yourself go to hell.”

“I love you, Dad,” AJ said.

“I love you too, son,” Alex said and smiled.