By Pete Moss
Aunt Kate is not in ICU.
She's in a subdued ward. Maybe the hospice. A quiet calm place with low lights. The antiseptic smell isn't so overpowering. The staff isn't so bossy.
Actually the staff isn't really much in evidence. And there's no beeping booping machines at bedside.
Take Five by Brubeck is playing softly.
Kate is sitting up in bed. Donnelly is standing next to the bed as I walk in.
"Are those flowers for me?" says Aunt Kate. "I woulda preferred a pint of JD but the flowers will do."
"Pete, you made it," says Donnelly.
"Chalk gave me a ride in his cab."
"Is that you Pete Mossotti?" says Kate. "I haven't seen you since.....gosh, I can't remember."
"You remember me?" I say.
"Well of course. May kidneys may be shot but my brain's still sharp."
I look at Donnelly. He looks at me.
"Oh I know about Donny getting deported. I told his mother and I told her, back in the day, I said: get that kid some citzenship papers. But that stupid girl never had a thought beyond her next orgasm." then Kate groans. "God what I wouldn't give for a shot of whiskey."
Donnelly rolls his eyes.
I go out to the nurse station to see if I can get something to put the flowers in.
Two guys in uniforms stride down the hall and turn into Aunt Kate's room.
When I get back in the room they have Donnelly cuffed.
"What the Fuck?" I say.
"These shitheads are taking Donny into custody," says Aunt Kate.
"We're from ICE..." starts one of the uniforms.
"Fuck off, pig," says Aunt Kate.
The uniforms look at each other.
"Give me a kiss goodbye, Donny. Have fun in Ireland."
After the ICE guys have hauled Donnelly away Kate moans and groans for a bit. Finally she talks.
"What time is it?"
I look at my phone. "4:55 am"
"Shit, liquor store doesn't open for over an hour."
"Well I'm sure there will be plenty of whiskey where ever you go from here," I say.
"There better be!"
We sit for a few minutes without a word.
"Now listen," says Kate.
"I'm listening," I say.
"I haven't much time."
"You gotta move into my house and hang onto it for when Donnelly comes back."
"Donnelly comes back?"
"Of course he's gonna come back. He's not Irish. He doesn't know a soul over there. He's a Californian. The weather alone will kill him."
"It's not like he's getting sent to Mexico and he can just walk back. They're sending him across a big ass ocean."
"He'll be back. He will. California is his home. You just gotta hang onto the house so he has somewhere to come back too. You promise?"
"Well....yes. Of course I promise. You put it like that."
Kate has been sitting forward. Now she falls back into her pillows.
"I know I can trust you. You always were a good boy, Pete Mossotti. The way you kicked that priest in the shins that time, in front of the whole congregation...."
I'd forgotten about that. "Oh yeah, the one later turned out he was a child molester."
"The bastard," says Kate. But her voice is a whisper. Then she closes her eyes.
"Wait," I say.
But she skips away, just like that.
Then there's a nurse in the room and all the official routine of death commences.