This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
This book is dedicated to all who struggle
Life is tough, but if you persevere you can achieve
The last days
Death is the last call until we meet our maker the god, that’s the so called belief. I spit in the face of this faith, I’m a cancer victim with not much longer to live. I take my dues and ready myself for the ultimate end. That blank empty space that will engulf my very being and take me to the other side, if that is the truth of the matter. When you have received a terminal illness, you’re faith in the lord almighty can take a turn for the worst. My wife tells me to keep my mind focused the doctors may find the cure that will save me. I am not that optimistic, this is a pain like no other. I can’t let my children and close friends witness me like this. I’m a dishevelled excuse for a man, my bones ache from the medicine the doctors insist on pumping into my system. At 35 years of age, I must accept that my days of kicking life to the fullest have ended. If my son comes and sees me like this he will never forget that image. I don’t want him to remember me as a frail fellow. His father has always been keen and alert with a full grasp for life. Thank goodness his trip abroad to Kenya, has been extended for a further month. If Debbie promises to keep her mouth shut and not panic the lad. I may look healthier when he arrives and not so horrid to the naked eye. This is the predicament that has befalling me now, it’s the sad state of affairs. Diseases in this world will take a long time before they can be eradicated for good. So I lay here in this hospital bed panged with an immense desire to live. My name is Harold broker and I work as a photographer. The work I take on is the erotic and the sensual type. Miss boudoir and the fine line between soft and pornographic images. This has funded my life for the past twenty years and the work I enjoy with all my heart and mind. The profiles that I have created for my clients tend to fulfil the needs of them. I know that sounds perverse but it’s the truth I get off on my choice of work. The cancer reared its ugly head around the year of our lord 1996. I found that the day would take all of my energy while I worked in the studio with my latest pictures. Then one day I collapsed from exhaustion and my assistance phoned the ambulance. The doctors at the hospital told me that they performed many tests. At first nothing suggested my condition and then a scan of my brain revealed the cancerous growth. The malignant disease showed up on their screens the size of a small plum stone in the far back region. “I ’m afraid you have what is known as an Astrocytoma a cancer that effects the spinal cord and the brain, but tends not to spread any further than those regions” The doctor said.
“There have been documented many different grade levels of this type of cancer Mister Broker. And I ’m afraid to tell you that you have hit grade four” The doctor tells me.
I turn my head to the wall and a tear leaves my eyes, I ’m going to die and there is nothing they can do for me. I don’t want to die, I want to live and spend time with my family that I love very much, why is life so cruel.
“What exactly does that mean” I ask.
“Well you have what is known in medical terms as Glioblastoma Multiforme. The most aggressive form of Astrocytoma” The doctor replies.
“Tell me how long I have to live” I said.
“I’m not sure there have been cases recorded and documented that patients have lived for five years and some have gone and passed away three days after being diagnosed” The doctor said. A solemn expression in his face.
“Damn I’m about to kick the bucket”
“We can make your stay in the hospital as comfy as possible”
“Yeah I know but that all comes at a cost, Thanks but no thanks”
“But you must, how will we monitor you and give you your medicine “The doctor asked.
“I’ll take my chances, if you think I’m to spend the last days of my life in a hospital bed surrounded by morbidity and sorrow. You must think I came down in the last shower” I replied.
“Well I suppose you could administer the drugs to yourself provided you allow us to come and check upon you every month”
“Come every week if you must, hell I might call you out to check on me. Just don’t let me do it here” I pleaded
“Fine Mister broker I will arrange for you to leave in a weeks’ time_”
“No I want to leave today, the sooner the better” I said in a forceful tone.
“I will have to get the clearance from the senior doctor” he replied. His face concerned that a man of my illness would want to leave and take care of myself.
But the truth of the matter is that is how my life has and always will be. Look out for number one and bite the bullet so to speak, and besides I think in my mind, how can I continue my work sat in this bed? A comfy bed with a great view of the outside and a perfect position to watch the football match on the television. Nevertheless life is for the living and I intend to grab every second whilst I still can.
“Fine do what you have to and make it quick, I got pictures at home that need developing” I said.
I could see a hint of caution and weariness in the doctor’s eyes, he thinks I‘m stupid to leave, but he ain’t ill, he don’t understand, and probably won’t ever get it. That is until he is in my seat and as forlorn as I am. He stares at me for a second and his eyes look sharp as needles, but there is empathy in those eyes, which is good I suppose. A good doctor is my doctor, I have been his patient for many years. I remember back in 1982, when I just learned the art of bicycle riding, full of youth and eager to impress my close knit friends with my skills.
I would ride about without a care in the world weaving around the streets and not aware of the dangers that were bestowed on me in a hairs breath. But what child thinks of danger when they are having so much fun. “No hands look at me no hands” I boasted to my friend Trey.
I sat upright my back straight and weaved left and right keeping my balance for as long as I could. Gravity took hold and eventually I grasped the handlebars.
“That’s my best yet, at least one hundred metres, let’s see you beat that” I said.
“Ok, I bet I can make it all the way down to the end of the road” Trey replied. He sounded sure footed. I suspected he has been practicing, that sure is a far distance I thought, but still I played along, I liked Trey he made me laugh and he always had a bag of sweets.
“Well that’s about five times the distance I just achieved, if you do that, I will pay you with a bag of sweets for a week” I said.
“You sure you want to place I bet like that, Harold, I mean that will take most of your pocket” He looks at me and smiles, but I can tell he wants the sweets, his eyes look eager.
“You bet, I tell you, there is no chance you will make it that far without assistance, it’s too far and there is bumps in the road” I replied with confidence.
“Ah my friend that is where you’re mistaking the road has been paved over only last week, my father told me, he did the job himself” Trey said and sped off before I could say another word.
I gasped and shouted his name TREYYYY, but he didn’t listen, he carried on riding along the road with no hands on the handle bars. I followed him and caught up to him and said.
“That’s not right, you can’t cheat like that”
“I’m not cheating, you put on a bet and I agreed to that” He said.
I kept riding alongside him and forgot to pay full attention to the road at my left. The high wall concealed everything that came out of the passageway until the last minute. Perhaps if my eyes we’re properly open I would not have experienced the accident, but I did. You see the high walls don’t speak and tell young kids on bicycles, that a fast motorcycle is speeding towards you and is not about to stop. It happened all so slow and I hit the front part and the impact jolted me forwards and over the handlebars. I remember the driver of the cycle put his hand up to deflect my small body, but I was not heading in his direction, I flew over his front tyre, but my feet must have clipped his hand. That sent me towards a brick wall fast. If it weren’t for my fast reactions, I truly believe my brain would be nothing but a smashed thing in my skull. I hit the wall my hands first and heard the bones crack and break. Out of the corner of my eye Trey turned and his mouth opened and his jaw almost hit his chest plate, he said my name once I recall and then everything went black. After a few minutes the light started to return to my eyes and I could taste the mortar out of the brick wall, and the metallic taste of blood seeping from my mouth.
“You alright mate” I heard a voice from above.
“Yeah, I think so” I replied to the helmet behind me.
“Here let me help you, can you stand” the biker propped his bike and dismounted.
“Harold, oh dear me are you OK,” Trey said.
“Yeah fine. I…I” And that is when I collapsed
And my doctor at that time who gave me a good check over after my collision, is the same man who tells me my life is about to come to an end in the not too distant future.
“Doc I want to keep this under wraps for as long as possible, I don’t want my children to know just yet. Will I visibly look different as the cancer gets worse” I asked.
“At first initial months no, you will have the pain and discomfort that you experience now. I know that is not an uplifting answer, but I feel I must be honest with you Harold. Eventually in the last stages of this disease, yes you will look ill and grey and probably not up to talking” he replied.
“Well that had put things into proper perspective, I will have to make plans”
“Plans Mister Broker” The doctor asked, he jotted something down on a notepad that hung from the edge of my bed.
“Well yeah there is plenty of events that I must get through now that I have this illness. No holding back now, that fun run in four weeks’ time at Dorset looks like a sure fire winner to me”
“I admire your vigour and esteem for life Harold, but I would suggest that if you insist on taking part in fun runs, you will need to rest until that time comes by. You’re a very ill man and I fear your life will be short lived if you don’t take my advice” the doctor said with a stern expression on his face. He looked like a cross between a bishop giving the final rights to a person on their death bed and the incredible hulk all full of anger in his posture.
I smirked at his remark, he cares for me which is touching, but he must understand I have to do what I need do. This fun run could break new barriers and open opportunities for people that have found themselves in similar predicaments as myself. A healthy attitude towards life can bring out the best in people. I can see potential in this run.
“I can assure you that my days that follow up to the run will be eventful but not too strenuous. A client of mine needs to have certain images developed as soon as possible, and besides I must do this run, I promised far too many I would and if this is my dying legacy it’s a necessity that I do this. Surely you can understand that my good man” I said with a slight smirk that fell across my face. I might be ill, but there is no need to be depressed about the situation.
“Fine I will return shortly with your possessions and a prescription you will need to pick up from the chemist” The doctor said. He put the note binder back on the edge of the bed it hooked in place with a snappy sound. He left the room his shoes clanked across the linoleum floor, out of the doors, and I listened until his footsteps we’re faint in my ear drum.
In the corner of the room another fellow lay on a bed and he looked not too good, in fact he looked down right horrid. He face sucked in at the cheek bones, his hands all frail and wrinkly and weak. His posture in the bed looked odd and awkward like he has just shit himself and has tried to get in a comfortable position to compensate for this dilemma.
I grimaced and shifted impatiently in the bed, wriggled my feet that stuck out at the bottom, lifted the covers off my body, and flung my legs over to the left side of the bed. I wore the pyjamas that Debbie had so kindly brought to me. Stood up and my head felt heavy and sore, the man in the corner heard my movements opened an eye, stared at me for what seemed like an eternity and then closed his lid and turned his attention to the television screen that played a Drama series.
Neatly stacked on a side cabinet my clothes we’re pressed and ready for wearing. Blue jeans and a white t shirt with a dark blue jumper and my dusty brown boots I picked up only last week from the local shopping centre. I clean pair of underwear with matching socks, man this woman sure knows how to take care of the people in her life. I owe Debbie a lot, she must have a heart made of gold, because her love and dedication to me is priceless. That might sound melodramatic, corny even, but she has been by my side for so long and has giving me two beautiful children. On the cabinet top a small bit of paper sits idle, I reach out and grab the note, open the folds and read the contents.
“I left whilst you slept, mum phoned and said she needed help with managing her sculpture, needed a lift to the workshop, and I did promise her. I hope you understand, I will come and visit later on tonight love Debbie. PS. Joseph’s trip abroad has been extended for a month.”
I smiled to myself and put the note on the side counter and grabbed the clothes. The room housed a blocked off area that held a shower and toilet and so I walked on over to this section of the room, and tried the door. Locked. Just as I knew it.
“What the fuck why they lock it” I said.
The man in the other bed grumbled and then remained quiet.
If they kept it open then numb nuts in the bed might not need to have his sheets changed, might not stink to high heaven and might save me from having to put up with this terrible odour. I walked to the door that led to the hallway and beyond, opened it and looked left and then right. Nobody. Not a soul, just me and these bare white clean walls and the clean white floor with the overbearing bright lights that shone from above. Then footsteps emerged quiet at first, so dim that it sounded like they we’re going away from where I stood, and then it got louder until a woman young, twenty years of age I guessed came into view.
“Excuse me, must you lock the doors in these rooms people might like to use them and I hate to think that you make every person come out of there room to request to use them” I said. Annoyed and a little embarrassed as the woman smelt exquisite and looked even better. She wore a nurse’s uniform, tightly hugging her frame, elongating her every curve and she oozed a huge amount of sexuality.
She looked at me with her hazel eyes squinted and then said.
“If you could tell me which room, I can___”
“Room 216 here, right here!” I said.
“You share that room mister broker with a Dan Green” The nurse said.
“Is that his name, yeah if so I do, and another thing this Dan Green smells horrid, like a sewer” I said.
“He has soiled himself again, God I told them to put him in with special care needs” The nurse said.
“Yeah well you need to see to him and get that door open. I want to go home!” I said.
“Fine just wait here I will get the keys” The nurse said.
She turned on her heels and walked in the direction from where she came disappeared around a corner, and I was left stood in the hallway. A moment later she appeared again a set of keys in her hand and a horrible scowl across her face.
“Come on I have the keys” She said.
I walked behind her and watched her tight bum cheeks sway up and down in her hugging outfit. My loins ached for the touch of a good woman and she would satisfy my needs very well. Debbie in the last couple of months lacked the enthusiasm that I wanted in our relationship, and my desire for her had waned also. The spark has fizzled out and I don’t think that it will ever return. The nurse opens the door and steps inside, the television is still on but now has been turned up further and is almost deafening.
“Jesus Christ almighty” The nurse said as she gets closer to Dan.
“Well what you going to do about it, I’m glad I’m leaving today the way you people treat patients in here is appalling. I have a good intention to report you to the board of health” I said.
“Here the door is open, and for your information we locked this door as the man you see lying there has a tendency to cause more of a mess in the bathroom than he does in his own bed”
“That’s right, now you do what you got to, and well I see your clothes on the cabinet there, you leaving?” The nurse asked.
“Right, which means you won’t have to worry about him will you?” She replied.
“I guess not” I said. Feeling a bit like she just put me in my place.
I entered the bathroom, the cold floor underneath my bare feet, the mirror in front of me, and the bath and shower to my right. I studied my features and in the last couple of weeks since this illness has taken me in. I can see that my health has begun to deteriorate. Huge bags sag under my eyelids like teabags hung out to dry in the warm sun. My skin once full of vitality and suppleness and tight. Now looks sickly and hung over and sagging. In the last day more grey hairs have emerged on my head, filling out a once dark patch with white follicles. I hear the nurse mutter a few words to the man lay in the bed opposite me.
“Don’t take all day in there Mister Broker I got to wash Mister Green soon” She said.
“I won’t” I said
“No longer than thirty minutes, this room will need a good cleanse” She said. Stopped talking and walked out of the room.
On the wall, the wall that the bath and shower sat, a picture of the lord himself stared at me his hair and face serene and composed. He held in his hand a sheep and a bright aura hung around him. His disciples sat at his feet as he laid out a sermon for his followers.
“Man I could sure do with some of your divine intervention now lord. Put a miracle on me I beg of you” I said. Humble and full of prayer as I stood in the bath and let the warm water trickle over my body that ached and used to do me so good. 35 and I feel like I’m 95 and I don’t even have this cancer in my family. Nobody I know has been afflicted as far as I’m aware, so why does this thing want to persecute me. I start to shake and feel weak and the tears roll down my face again. Life is not fair, I know that, but even I don’t think I deserve this.
Washed and dried I leave the bathroom, robe wrapped around my waist and my body still dripping with water. Grab my clothes, stare over at the bed at Dan. He now sits up and has moved to the side away from the huge stain he has left in his bed. I shudder and move into the bathroom.
Once I’m dressed and ready to leave, I will not be getting a lift off my wife so will use a taxi to get home. The only thing left is to get my prescription off my doctor. I can’t take it anymore the smell is making me nauseous and so I grab my belongings and wait outside the room for the doctor to return.
Whilst I do I imagine all of the things that I must do now this cancer has succumb to my presence. I’m not poor and have enough funds to fulfil the wishes that my heart so desires. I’m in two minds about doing certain activities, but my mind tells me to not put anything off as your days are literally numbered. In between waiting for that fun run, I will compile a list of things to do. First I will finish the work for one of my most faithful customers, ought to take no longer than a week. Then I will scour the internet, and get ready for some action. This is what I want.
I hear the Doctor and nurse approach, the nurse still scowling a look on her face of dread. She obviously don’t want to deal with mister shit cake in there. She brushed past me without a word and closes the door loud behind her and the frame shakes visibly.
“Here Harold your tablets and a note on your affliction. I have your number and will be in touch in the next week” He said.
“Doc I do feel weak, but my strength is coming back to me a little. I’m not sure that I will need your assistance and besides you’re a busy man, a man with a lot on his plate in this hospital. Don’t you think it would be better if you focused your attention on you job here?” I said.
“Mister Broker you’re my job all of the patients are my job” He replied. He looked a bit upset with my request, a bit taken aback by my dismissal.
“I see you as my son Harold and have treated you for so many years, to be honest I care for your wellbeing” He said.
“Doc, I appreciate your concern and have been very grateful for all your help over the years, it just I’m ill and I want to do things that you might not approve of” I replied.
“Harold what you up to?” He asked his tone fatherly. I smiled like a child caught doing something he shouldn’t, caught in a bind and not sure of the way out. The doc had that effect on me what can I say.
“Well” I said.
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