Shadow of the Infinite
Leona R Wisoker
From the charity anthology formed to support author C.J. Henderson. All publisher profits go to CJ’s family even today.
Side note: This is one of the stories I wrote on my mobile phone at 1 am when I couldn’t sleep.
That probably accounts for the surreality.
THIS IS HOW I REMEMBER IT HAPPENING. I DON’T trust much these days, certainly not my fragmenting memory, but I took notes. Really good notes. He knew that I was crazy-serious about documenting things. It’s one of the reasons we got along so well, one of the reasons that he called me in to help.
He was sick. I knew that going in. I’d seen cancer hit folks before, and it’s never pretty. C.J. made it look worse than usual, but he’d been no prize to start with.
Oh, I’m not allowed to say that? Why, because I have tits? Five years ago, you would have laughed it off as guy talk. Fuck you. I haven’t changed that much. Or maybe I’ve changed back. It’s hard to tell, some days.
Anyway, I knew what to expect. He was down a hundred pounds at least, which hurt to see all on itself. That big goofy grin had become a pale wrinkle in a sagging face, and the beard stubble was a brisk shadow of his former mane.
Yeah, so I don’t use words the way you’ve been taught. Lighten up, and listen. It isn’t easy for me to tell this story, even with all those notes. I wasn’t ever all that good at proper structure, and it’s not high on my priorities just in this second.
I didn’t bother telling C.J. that he looked like shit. He already knew. And I didn’t tear up over him looking so sorry, either, but only because it would have confused him to no end. He has enough trouble dealing with me on a good day. Never knew me before the transition, and he’s been good about it overall, but I can tell.
Never mind that. I’m trying to talk about that day he called me in to the hospital, calling in that favor I owed him from…well, never mind that either. Like I said, memory is a funny thing these days, and that’s one story I’d have to get a hundred and ten percent right for it to make sense to you.
Rambling. Shouldn’t ramble. Where was I? Hospital. C.J.. Right.
“I’m dying,” says he, and “yeah,” says me, because what else are you gonna say to that? And I’m thinking, dude, if you called me in here to pull the plug when nobody’s looking, fuck you, I do not owe you that big a favor….