Billy and Robert

The respirator let off wisps of air which sounded like someone sucking on a straw tapped into an empty juice box. The cardiogram occasionally offered a lazy beep.

Robert laid in bed, still, his eyes half shut.

From across the room, it was hard to tell where the white bed sheets and hospital gown ended and where what was left of Robert began.

Billy sat in a chair near the bed, reading an old issue of Sports Illustrated.

The cardiogram interrupted the silence with a protest. Robert’s eyes jolted wide open, and he groped around his side for the clicker that triggered his morphine drip.

Billy put down his Sports Illustrated and got up, then dug the clicker from between the mattress and steel tube bed frame. He leaned in close.

“Maureen said I could have your patio furniture. Is that cool?”

Robert nodded. Billy pressed the clicker a couple of times, then handed it back to Robert.

Robert’s eyelids drooped, and the cardiogram’s protest ended.

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