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Thread: Last Night I helped A Man Die.

  1. #1
    Registered User Jett Black's Avatar
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    Last Night I helped A Man Die.

    Last night I watched someone die. No, last night I helped someone die. It wasn't like euthanasia or anything; it was my brother-in-law Ray. Got a phone call from Melanie, my youngest sister just before midnight.

    "It's Ray." I could hear her swallow a sob. "He won't die."

    Yeah right I thought. Ray and I had never been close, never been buddies like some guys are with their sister's husband. He’d been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer nine months ago.

    "The doctor thinks that maybe he's waiting to see someone before … before he goes." Mel went on, "Perhaps he wants to see you Ryan, to apologise maybe and to say he's sorry. Will you come to the hospital now please."

    I loved my kid sister very much and always have. We'd grown very close over the years, especially after our folks were both killed in a car smash.

    "Sure sis I'm on my way."

    She gave a sigh of relief into the phone. "Thanks Ryan. Come quickly please."

    I put the phone down and locked up.
    Driving to the hospital my thoughts went back to the time when Mel and Ray started dating. Even then the signs were obvious. They seemed happy enough during the week when he used to call on her at our house almost every night. At that time it was only weekends that things were different. Ray used to drink a lot over weekends.

    Friday evenings Mel would sit in the lounge all dressed up, ready to go and waiting for him. Every time she heard a car engine she'd jump up and part the drapes, squinting out into the darkness then slump down again in her chair.

    Mom would grimace and dad would look at her over his newspaper and shake his head. "Why do you let him do this to you Mel?" he'd ask.

    "I love him dad." was Mel's standard reply.

    Then came the day that Mel announced that she and Ray were engaged to be married.

    "Over my dead body." dad said.

    "God help us." mom said.

    "F-ck me." was my only observation.

    "If you don't let me marry him I'll just wait until I'm twenty one." Mel said, using the same argument a gazillion other girls had through the ages. "Then you'll have no say."

    "Why him Mel?" mom asked, her faded blue eyes troubled. "Why do you want to marry him? There are any number of nice boys who like you."

    "Oh they're all nerds" Mel said dismissively. “Rays a real man. I'm not interested in nerds thank you."

    Then in the early hours one Sunday morning a few weeks before the wedding, Mel came into my bedroom and shook me awake. I switched on the bedside lamp and when I saw the purple bruise just below her left eye, I felt angrier than I'd ever felt in my life. She was crying, her whole body wracked by sobs.

    "Ray did this." I said accusingly.

    "No Ryan …."

    "Don't lie to me Mel. Jesus I know it was Ray."

    "No."

    "I'm gonna kill the f-cker." I spat

    "No you're not." She tried to push me back onto the bed. "Ryan what am I going to tell dad?"

    "Jesus sis you've gotta call off this wedding. For Christ's sake if he's doing this now, what's going to happen when you're married?"

    "I love him Ryan … I love him."

    Next day when our folks asked her about the bruise she made some lame excuse about someone slamming a car door against her face by mistake. But mom and dad weren't fooled even though they said nothing.

    So Mel married Ray and his drinking problem got worse and they had two kids and his drinking got way beyond worse. They moved house a lot cos Ray couldn't hold down a job for long. Mel was a bank teller and earned quite a good salary at the time so as soon as the kids were old enough she had to go back to work so they could make ends meet.

    One night, she told me later, when Ray was drunk and she wouldn't give him any more money, he picked up their month old daughter and held her out the first floor window by her arm, threatening to drop the infant unless she gave him some cash.

    Another thing he did was to wake her at about one or two o'clock in the morning and demand that she make him steak, eggs and fries or he'd beat her up. Most times she said, when she got back to the bedroom with the food he was fast asleep.

    When their son was ten and their daughter eight, Mel at last decided she'd had enough of Ray. She phoned me at five one morning and asked me if I would come and fetch her and the kids.

    When I arrived Ray was standing in the front garden. He was a big man, his head seemingly attached to his shoulders without a neck. He stood with legs astride so that he wouldn't fall over he was that drunk. In his right hand he held a length of garden hose about a metre long.

    I walked up the path, my gazed fixed on Mel and the two kids who stood in the open doorway wide-eyed and afraid.

    "You boy, whatcha want?" Ray asked, his speech slurred. Ever since we'd met he'd called me boy … never Ryan.

    I stopped a few paces from him. "I've come to fetch Mel and the kids Ray. I'm not leaving here without them."

    "Melandthekidsh. No …” He raised the piece of hose and took a swing at me.

    I took a step forward and easily pushed him aside. He was so drunk that he just fell over onto his side, his head thudding into the dew-damp grass.

    Mel and the children scampered down the path towards me. I went back to the front door where their two suitcases stood. Once they were in the car I drove off, the kids peering out of the rear window at their sloshed father who thankfully now was struggling to his feet. I took them to one of Mel's close friends who'd agreed to put them up for a while then I drove home.

    Ray phoned me almost every day demanding to know what I'd done with his wife and kids. He was usually so drunk that it was with great difficulty that I could understand what he was saying. Mel also phoned me a few times to say that she and the kids were fine and that she's seen a lawyer to start divorce proceedings.

    I think it was about three weeks later, a Saturday afternoon, when I answered my doorbell and found Mel, the kids and Ray there. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. They were all smiling and had their arms around each other and my heart sank because I knew he'd somehow conned my sister into taking him back.

    When I got the chance to speak to Mel alone she said: "Ryan, Ray has promised to change. He swears he’s going to stop his drinking and start looking for a job."

    "Yeah right and my a-s is a chicken." I said cynically.

    They left and I never heard anything from Mel for over a month, which was long for my little sister. I figured that either Ray had kept his promise, which I seriously doubted or else Mel thought I'd be very angry if she phoned me again to ask me to fetch her one more time.

    It was a month later that she phoned and asked if she could come and see me. We sat side by side on a couch in my living room and I waited for her to tell me what Ray had done this time. At least there were no visible bruises on her. Mel looked at me, her eyes filled with tears.

    "What's up Mel?" I asked in concern. "Ray been beating you again?

    She shook her head and took a hopelessly inadequate tissue out her bag. I handed her a man size one from my own pocket.

    "Rays dying Ryan." She wiped her eyes and blew her nose and I held her close when she started crying again.

    Now it was eight and bit months later and I was walking into a hospital to help a man die. I closed the door of the private ward behind me. A skeleton lay in the bed, the oxygen mask almost completely obscuring its face. Mel sat on the one side holding Ray's emaciated hand in both hers. A uniformed nurse stood on the other side holding his wrist in her right hand and staring at the watch on her left wrist.

    I stood next to Mel and looked across at the nurse who almost imperceptivity shook her head. Mel looked up at me and smiled her thanks.

    "Ray," she said loudly, Ryan’s here to see you."

    The skeleton opened its eyes. I moved closer and bent over him. Slowly Ray disengaged his hand from Mel's grasp and raised it until his ridiculously thin fingers closed around the front of my shirt. It seems as if he was trying to pull me closer. His lips moved and it was clear he wanted to speak.

    The nurse leaned forward and pulled the oxygen mask down off his face. I bent down until my ear was almost against his lips, trying not to wrinkle my nose at the smell of death that emanated from him.

    His breath was like a feather against my ear and I heard the words clearly as if he were in my mind.

    "F-ck … you … boy."

    His hand slipped off my shirtfront and I straightened up. Rays eyes closed and the nurse released his wrist and it dropped to the bed. She took the stethoscope out her ears and turned away.

    Mel looked up at me, her cheeks damp with tears.

    "Thank you Ryan." she said softly, her small hand slipping into mine. "What did he say to you?"

    I gazed down at my little sister whom I loved so much and who would need my love even more now. I'd never lied to Mel before but I knew I had to now.

    "I'm not sure sis," I said squeezing her hand, "I think it might have been ... "Love Mel boy."
    “The embers of past lives lie within us all, waiting to be fanned into flames of reality by the breezes of remembrance.” Jett Black.

  2. #2
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    You are an excellent writer. Now that you told this story some of the others begin to make some sense, except that there is some hint of dislike for women in some like Velvet Glove, for example.
    Although I cannot know for sure whether you lived this story in practice or just in the imagination, I have seen enough of this situation and far worse. Love be with you.

  3. #3
    Wild is the Wind Silas Thorne's Avatar
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    I dont often comment on stories here, but wanted to for this one. Its a good story, and it's tied together well from start to finish. I think the characters are also well drawn.
    Just a few quibbles. First, and maybe this is just me, I think there are some places lacking in commas: 'Yeah right, I thought.' 'Ray's dying, Ryan' might be better, for example. There are other places too.
    Also, I really don't think you need the line at the end: 'I'd never lied... etc' I think people will understand just as well without it.
    @Cafolini: I'm not sure how you get to make judgements about the writer's attitude to women based on a few poems. Actually in the 'Black Velvet Glove' , the woman was in the power position.
    Last edited by Silas Thorne; 05-23-2013 at 09:10 PM.

  4. #4
    Registered User WyattGwyon's Avatar
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    Well done Jett. One trivial comment: In this sentence the word should be "imperceptibly:"


    "I stood next to Mel and looked across at the nurse who almost imperceptivity shook her head."

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silas Thorne View Post
    I dont often comment on stories here, but wanted to for this one. Its a good story, and it's tied together well from start to finish. I think the characters are also well drawn.
    Just a few quibbles. First, and maybe this is just me, I think there are some places lacking in commas: 'Yeah right, I thought.' 'Ray's dying, Ryan' might be better, for example. There are other places too.
    Also, I really don't think you need the line at the end: 'I'd never lied... etc' I think people will understand just as well without it.
    @Cafolini: I'm not sure how you get to make judgements about the writer's attitude to women based on a few poems. Actually in the 'Black Velvet Glove' , the woman was in the power position.
    Silas. LOL So much petty noise to prepare to make a statement toward my judgement? And you are confused regarding what is power. The woman has no power in a position like that. There is no power that's not actual. You cannot adopt a position of power unless you actually have it. Who are you trying to kid.

  6. #6
    Wild is the Wind Silas Thorne's Avatar
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    I was commenting on the posting, which I thought had a few minor areas that could be improved. Actually looking at it again I saw the phrase 'my youngest sister just before midnight,' and saw that it also needs a comma after the word 'sister.'
    cafolini, if you were to send me some polite visitor messages stating your opinion, instead of being a right rollicking Norvill about it, I might be tempted to change my ideas on the matter.
    I just hope the following posts are about the story, which I found rather good, and not about other things unrelated to it.

  7. #7
    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    chilling story indeed and I did not expect the ending to be this ending.
    the only thing I may want to say/add is that what were the writer's feeling about what Ray had said? . I just think that the reader may feel rather left out in the dark if you like about what had gone on in the end. sharing with the audience/readers the overall summary thought about how the discourse ended between Ray and the writer and how it made the narrator felt is I think important. it is an opportunity for the writer to share with his readers his overall feelings about the story and give a personal note/ prospective about what went on. it allows for a nice closure and also gives the reader an idea about what the writer is like personally. it is just a thought
    Last edited by cacian; 05-24-2013 at 11:48 AM.
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
    it is just that
    good
    it fly

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    Quote Originally Posted by cacian View Post
    chilling story indeed and I did not expect the ending to be this ending.
    the only thing I may want to say is that what did were writer feeling about what Ray had said? . I just think that the reader may feel rather left out in the dark if you like about what had gone. just a thought
    Difficult for anyone to answer when the question is incomprehensible.

    H

  9. #9
    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hillwalker View Post
    Difficult for anyone to answer when the question is incomprehensible.

    H
    Oops I did not realise what I wrote. I amended it now I hope.
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
    it is just that
    good
    it fly

  10. #10
    Registered User Jett Black's Avatar
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    Calofini ... we haven't met or been introduced but I do believe that we may be soul buddies. I have nothing but love and respect for ladies. This is a true story.
    “The embers of past lives lie within us all, waiting to be fanned into flames of reality by the breezes of remembrance.” Jett Black.

  11. #11
    Registered User Jett Black's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silas Thorne View Post
    I dont often comment on stories here, but wanted to for this one. Its a good story, and it's tied together well from start to finish. I think the characters are also well drawn.
    Just a few quibbles. First, and maybe this is just me, I think there are some places lacking in commas: 'Yeah right, I thought.' 'Ray's dying, Ryan' might be better, for example. There are other places too.
    Also, I really don't think you need the line at the end: 'I'd never lied... etc' I think people will understand just as well without it.
    @Cafolini: I'm not sure how you get to make judgements about the writer's attitude to women based on a few poems. Actually in the 'Black Velvet Glove' , the woman was in the power position.
    Cap'n Silas ... I respect your comments and do believe that you are a writing guru.
    “The embers of past lives lie within us all, waiting to be fanned into flames of reality by the breezes of remembrance.” Jett Black.

  12. #12
    Registered User Jett Black's Avatar
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    Thank you form reading and commenting ... I grow from your crits ...
    “The embers of past lives lie within us all, waiting to be fanned into flames of reality by the breezes of remembrance.” Jett Black.

  13. #13
    Registered User Jett Black's Avatar
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    Everyone else who read and commented ... Love ya all ... Thanx!
    “The embers of past lives lie within us all, waiting to be fanned into flames of reality by the breezes of remembrance.” Jett Black.

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