Roy moved next door to me, a couple of weeks ago. There are only three houses on this dead-end country road. Roy moved into the vacant one at the end, just past mine. He called out to me, the first day he was there. He saw me hanging my clothes on the line, to dry, naturally, in the Georgian spring sunshine. It was a breezy day, with fluffy clouds above, and as quiet as it always is here. I saw Roy waving his arms, heard him beckoning me to join him for a bit of conversation ? figured he just wanted to introduce himself.
Without asking my name, he instantly proceeded to tell me that I might do him a service to keep an eye pointed in his direction whenever I could. He said that his name was Roy Dickson and that he was soon to die. It seems Roy has leukemia, heart disease, diabetes mellitus Type 2, liver disease, hypertension, high LDL cholesterol levels, atherosclerosis and a few other ailments that I cannot recall presently. I found it strange that he said that if he were laying out in the middle of the yard, that it wasn't that he would be drunk; he would likely be dead or dying instead.
Roy told me that he had a list of his health conditions, and a list of the medications that he was on, and a list of other medications that he was allergic to. He instructed me to make sure that the paramedics that would come to assist him were shown those lists. They were in his wallet he said. He took them out to show me. Santa Claus would be envious of such lengthy lists. He said he was highly allergic to morphine especially and that morphine was the the first drug they always tried to pump into him. He said that would kill him ?deader than a doorknob?.
At this point, I said, "Hi, Roy. My name is Alan." He dismissed that as soon as the "n," in Alan, passed my lips; actually about one quarter of one second before it had.
Roy Dickson proceeded to begin telling me his history; at least, his history of health disorders. He seemed compelled to go on about his ill-fated condition, and on and on. I quickly discerned Roy was addicted to his afflictions. He just couldn't stop talking about them.
He mentioned he's 73. I wondered why he didn't have anything else to tell me about. Surely in over seven decades there must have been some events worth speaking of to have transpired. He stopped talking about his imminent death long enough to light up a Wildhorse cigarette.
I asked Roy about his diet. He told me he eats whatever he wants, whenever he wants. I couldn't resist. I said, "You know, Roy, it might do you some good to not be smoking and maybe even pay some attention to what you eat. You know, with the diabetes, heart disease and all." He got a little impatient and started waving his hands at me. He said he was well aware of "All that." I told him that I knew that he was.
I asked Roy if he was active. He told me his thighs were "No bigger than that," holding his hands together to form a crude zero, with the diameter of a 2-liter Coke bottle. He said he couldn't trust his legs to support him any longer; said he was afraid he would fall down.
I told him that he should still do whatever he could to maintain his muscle mass; even if was only to flex his toes back and forth as he sat on the porch smoking Wildhorse cigarettes. I suggested that he get some 2 or 3-pound dumbbells and just take a few minutes each day to do some arm curls. He sort of shrugged that idea off. He said he knew he should try to stay active however he could. I told him I knew he knew.
Roy said he took several prescriptions, specifically, Loratabs, Xanax and Somas. He was to take ten Loratabs every day, plus 2 Xanax, plus Somas! I thought to myself that it's no wonder his liver is diseased.
At the time, I didn't know what I know now. Roy likes to drink the booze, too; more than any writer I've known. I told Roy it was good to meet him, but I had to get back to work. He said to stop by and talk with him. He said he would come and visit me, but his legs wouldn't carry him that far.
After that, I would holler out to Roy when I seen him and go over every couple days to check on him. He has a lot of visitors, so I always know that he is alright. About a week ago, I took him over a salad in the evening, without dressing. It was a good one, with about 10 different vegetables in it.
Roy liked that. He thanked me graciously for the salad and said it had been many months since he had tasted fresh vegetables. The next morning, I walked over to retrieve my bowl and check on Roy again. He was sitting outside on the front porch. He seemed confused.
As I approached, he said, "Alan, I just got some real bad news this morning from my doctor." I asked him what the news was. Roy said, "The doctor said that there is nothing more than can be done for me. I guess I'm just a goner now."
Not knowing what to say, I said, "Roy, those doctors don't know half of what they think they do. You could live another 15 years if you want to make some healthy lifestyle modifications." He waved that off and his eyes were tearing up.
Then Roy said, pleadingly, "What have I got to do, Alan," as he reached for his pack of wildhorses. I said, "Well, Roy, you're going to have to start doing what you should have long ago, and stop doing the things that you should have not been doing. You have eat correctly. Yyou have to be as active as you can, even if it hurts. You have to stop smoking and you have try to stop taking all that pain medication. If you want to live, then you have to do these things, Roy."
That evening, I looked out my window and saw flashing lights on the ambulance parked in front of the house next door. I ran over to find Roy on a stretcher, puffing on a Wildhorse. I asked the paramedics if Roy had given them the lists with his conditions and medications, both prescribed and forbidden, on them. They said that he had. I asked Roy what was going on and he didn't or couldn't, answer me. The paramedics said that he had told them that he couldn't see and that he needed help. His eyes were distant, and hopeless, as they placed him in the back of the transport and drove away. Roy was placed in ICU when he arrived at the Ty Cobb Memorial Hospital in Hartwell, Georgia that night.
A few days passed and I called the hospital. I was told that no Roy Dickson was there. He had been released. Released!; I thought. Yesterday, I heard the familiar sound of Roy's car in the road outside and I look to see. It was Roy, cruising around like a spring chicken.
I walked over to the house next door, later on, to find Roy sitting on the front porch, smoking a Wildhorse. He said that they had pumped him full of a new drug that seemed to be working. He said he felt pretty good. He didn't ask me any more about how to live longer. He didn't tell me anymore about his ailments. He seemed to be tranquilized enough to be calm and relatively stress-free. I couldn't talk with him long, I had to work.
I can see Roy, right now, through my living room window. He doesn't know it though. He's puffing another Wildhorse and enjoying the country scenery. He's drinking some of his special lemonade, from a 44-ounce cup he keeps at hand. I'll go talk to him later today, to see how he is doing. I won't really know what to say though because I already know that he doesn't want to hear it anyway.
Guess I'll just listen to him talk about death.
M Alan Roberts is a radical thinker. He has a gimlet eye for injustice, much as did Frederich Engels, a century and a half before. Still, Roberts finds a way to write effective SEO copy. This suggests both sides of his brain, his mind, work equally well.
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