“Right, right, Doc!
I got it!
Stage Four! Understood. It comes right after 3.
And, before you start in, these people are my people, and a few minutes is not going to kill me.”
Situation normal, he was in charge of all around him.
But, heavy coughing, followed by several drawn in breaths, and silence from the people surrounding his bed.
“Ha! I was just pulling all your chains! Got a few left in me!”
His bloodshot eyes and pallor skin showed against the backdrop of his green hospital gowns and white bed linen.
“Doc. back off the fuck off!
What do you want me to do, stop breathing right now?”
“Come on Doc. Didn’t you ever rock out to Queen on the radio in your car? No? Maybe, try to match Stevie Wonder in the shower? Really? Please don’t tell me you are one of those hip-hop guys? Hell, just stick a needle in me now. Take me home, I can’t bear no more!”
He looked the young physician straight in his eyes.
“So, what have you been doing
for 30 years? Oh, well lah di da, excuse me. A virgin at 38.
Just a joke, Doc, don’t get so red in the face.”
He turned away from the doctor to face his longtime female friend.
“Now, Donna, take a few notes for me, and if the water turns on again, I will take you out before I go? Come on. That was funny!”
“Ok, please, please take notes for me, and I am sorry.
Jeez, you have only dealt with me since forever.”
A few more coughs, some deep breathes, and he dug in, again the center of the universe.
“Right, Let Jessie say a few words, he is really my brother from a different mother. But, don’t let that ex-wife of mine say a single damned word. She is probably why I am where I am. Tell Jessie he cannot get sappy like he did back in ’98. I think the Jack Daniels had him, you know he gets slobbery when he drinks too much. John B.? Yes, John can certainly tell the truth of my life. Everyone loves his singing and speaking voice! We shared a lot more than burgers, let me tell you. Keep that lawyer in the backrow. You hear me, Donna? If he wants to get any closer tell Tommy and Lin to move him.”
His head turned, and the arm with all of the plumbing came off the bed.
“Pictures? Are you kidding? Look at me. Ok, some from the early years, but none from the last five years. Agreed? And, none of that organ music. Hell no!”
“My music?” he turned his head like a puppy.
“Please, no one plays a single thing from any of those putrid albums!
Ok, Donna and Pete, there were a few album covers we all liked, but just the album covers, none of my tunes!”
“I want to get everyone’s pulse rate up, not down. I want them to walk out singing a tune, damned sure better be smiling and salsing away.”
“K, K, First:
“One Way Out” Allman Brothers. That is a great tune to start, they must see my damned humor on that one.”
Next, “Devil with a Blue Dress ON” Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, a live version from ’67 or ’68. Had several Blue dress devils in my life. Dress usually did not stay on.”
“Give them, “Sir Duke” Stevie Wonder, backed up with Joe Cocker “Feeling Alright”.”
“Time for a slow one, right? “Girl” off the Rubber Soul Album, Beatles, and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.”
“Now, let’s get ready for Hell….Donna, if you don’t stop with the waterworks, you will have to leave! Where was I?”
“Oh Yeah, Hell, “Go Down Gambling”, Blood Sweat and Tears, and “Lucretia MacEvil”.”
“Sweeten it up a little with “Lady Madonna”, Beatles again,,,,
and, “Thirty Days in the Hole”, Humble Pie.”
“Move away from the devil, with “God Bless the Child”, Billie Holiday, ’41 or ’42, not the Blood Sweat version.”
He stopped again, coughed again, took a few more deep breathes again.
“Donna, please, I have to say all of this, please take a chill pill.
It is not the end of the world for all of you, Just me.
Oh, come on, that was funny!”
“Back on track, are we, Donna?
Now, we rock them up:
First, Ray Charles, “What’d I Say””
Irritation showed heavily in his face with yet another medical intervention.
“What? Doc? What? My blood pressure?
What the fuck? I got a few hours left, and you want a few minutes to show everyone what a Healer you are? Back off! You and I will be finished very soon.”
“Now, Donna, you got Ray Charles?
His face showed his new found energy.
“Now finish me off. Donna, turn down the tears. We have work to do!”
“Now, find the heart of music, give me, Stevie Ray Vaughn:
I mean, really, can any of you think of a better way to send me off?
SRV, “Look at Little Sister” then SRV, “Superstition””
“My personal patriotic final send-off,
Ray Charles, “God Bless America”
No one, anywhere, anytime has ever done it better!”
His eyes blazed, even though his body was obviously waning,
“K, we got a plan?”
“If you guys follow my menu, well Hell,
I might just stand up and start dancing.”
“But, regardless, I want everyone else dancing, tapping their feet, and smiling, dammit.
And, that is how you can pay respect to me, no bullshit, no tears, no lies about what a great guy I was!”
“I want my life passing to be a celebration for those that are still breathing. Got it?”
His eyes teared up and a few rolled down his cheeks,
“Yeah, Yeah, love you all, too.
Seriously, you do know I love you all? No jokes here. My last word to you
is I love you all, truly and forever. ”
“You will see me in just a short time, stiff as a board.
Right? Sorry, just trying to lighten the damned mood. Crap!
I want you to remember our good times, singing,
dancing and working it out.”
“Please for me, don’t remember what an asshole I was.
Donna? Especially you?
Well, ok, that is not fair. I know. I was mostly an asshole.”
“Just try to relax and enjoy the music, the music was the best of my life, even not my music.”
“Go on, get out! All of you!”
He turned back to the physician to his left, looked at his young face and said,
“Now, Doc, give me my pills.
How ’bout some real pills, so I can fade out with fun?
Damned Doc, you need to kick it up out of neutral, life is a blast.
You have to eat life like a Chinese Buffet!”
Maybe, you need to get laid!”
With only the Doctor and Nurse left he said,
“Bet you will not forget me real soon! Do not feel bad for me!
I have had a ton of friends, music by the bushel, and more women than you can count!”
“Dammit, Doc! Loosen up!”
Can you not give me just one of those feel-good pills?”
“Well, hell, regardless, you go to my funeral! I bet you will be tapping your feet and smiling too!”