Here's lookin' at you, kid
now was but a feeble echo of what it used to be. He realized that his
grip was not to keep himself here but to keep her from going, to make
her stay and listen.
"Promise me," he whispered. "Promise me that you won't stop them from
taking this shell." He stopped speaking to try to pull enough air into
his weakened lungs to finish. "This shell I'm in now," he continued.
"Fucked over by that damned disease and then by the treatments that
were almost as bad. I'm ready to leave it and you don't need it but
maybe it will help them to figure out how to keep some other poor
son-of-a-bitch from going through this."
He felt her tears dropping slowly on his hand, and he paused to savor
the warm wet tracks they left across his wrist on their journey to the
sheet. He knew he only had a very short time left and wanted to get
done speaking before he got done breathing. Gathering the last of his
strength, he feebly went on.
"You know I love you. I've always loved you and I always will. I'll be
with you as long as you remember me. And I know you love me, but now
you have to let me go, to let go of this physical me, anyway. I'm
ready to be done with all this pain and bullshit, and I need you to
tell me that you will be OK with that when I do."
He felt her hand tighten on his as her tears continued to fall and
then he heard her quiet reply. "I promise. I love you, and I know it's
a good thing you're doing. You know I could never stop you from doing
a good deed and this is just one more."
"Good," he rasped. "I'm tired now, so you can go in just a minute
while I get some sleep." He smiled a little and finished in a barely
audible whisper, "Here's lookin' at you, kid."
She smiled a little through her tears and replied with her half of
their exchange, "We'll always have Vegas." His labored breathing faded
as did the remnants of his grip, and she knew that he had finally
left. She squeezed his now lifeless hand one last time as she looked
up at the doctor standing on the other side of the bed and nodded. She
had had months to prepare herself for this moment and although it
seemed vaguely familiar because of that, it was still heart-wrenching.
She stood and slowly turned to leave the room.
"If it's any comfort to you," the doctor said, "despite all he went
through, his corneas are still viable and we have a recipient here
that can use them."
Her smile got bigger and still facing the door she replied, "It's nice
to know that part of him will still be looking at someone." As she
walked out of the room she whispered again, "And we'll always have