Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One Last Thing, Part III

*a continuation of One Last Thing, Part I  and One Last Thing, Part II

The sounds fade as the lights dim. Cray knows he's missing something spectacular and it's his body's fault. Too old, too slow, it couldn't keep up. Or stay ahead, in this case. It's disheartening... not so much that he has to take it lying down... but that his mind is as young and as fast as it's ever been. Why does sleep have to be so inviting? It's not fair.

Ah, well... he'll just dream for a while.


"Wake up, Cray," Drew half-scolds as he slaps his friend awake. "It's over."

Cray blinks himself back into consciousness - a strangely difficult task. The confusion from an abrupt interruption of sleep lasts much longer than it should and it takes him nearly a minute to remember where he is. "Are they safe?"

Drew nods. Cray looks up at his friend through blurry eyes. Is Drew crying? How unlike him. Cray needs to write this down.

"Where are they?" Cray asks.

"Bolivar and Two-Knives have them."

"Well, shit, Drew. Why aren't you celebrating?" Cray starts to worry about his friend's dour expression.

"You know why," Drew replies, glancing downward.

"The Hell I do. That's why I asked." Cray wonders what Drew was looking at for a moment, but the sensation of cold usurps his ultimate concern. "Can you get me a blanket?"

Drew snaps his fingers and yells at someone beyond Cray's narrowing peripheral vision. "Can I get a god-damned blanket for my friend here?"

Ratliffe brings a blanket and lays it on Cray. Cray is semi-aware that he's covered, but it's still too cold. He secretly wishes he'd hurry up and bleed out. He hates the cold. With a passion.

"Why are you messing around with me? Go see your grandkids."

Drew wipes his eyes dry. The sickness in his stomach is becoming too much to bear. "They don't even know who I am."

Cray manages a laugh. "Now's a good time for an introduction, wouldn't you say?"

Drew can't help it. He returns the laugh. It wasn't a very funny thing for Cray to say, but Drew assumes any intended sarcasm was lost with Cray's blood.

"God damn you, Cray. I'm the one dying."

"He damned me years ago, fool," Cray says as he closes his eyes, perhaps for the last time. "The day I met your cranky ass."

He knows better, but Drew takes a little offense anyway. "I never did like you much."

"Mutual, Drew. Very mutual."

Drew stares at his friend, unsure of what to say. Those weren't exactly befitting of anyone's final words. "What do you want me to do?"

Cray manages a flippant wave with his left hand. "Just take me home."

"All right. The least I can do."

"Wait... there is something else." Cray opens his eyes. Drew can't be sure, but they appear a lighter shade of blue, almost gray.

"What's that?"

"Don't join me anytime soon. I need a vacation from you." Cray smiles and closes his eyes again. Drew watches as his friend's breathing slows down. And, finally, stops. Cray's recognizable grin frozen to his face. Memories of that grin fly through Drew's mind. Their first meeting at Special Forces selection. Cray's greeting when Drew followed him to another, more elite unit. The day they signed their CIA contracts. A shootout in Venezuela. The debacles in Ukraine and Turkmenistan. Their first and second retirements. Cray's first, second, and third weddings. Cray's first and third divorces. And endless others.

"God damn you, Cray."


Baino said...

Awww. I guess nobody's dodged it yet.

PattiKen said...

Powerful scene. This is the first time I've read something sad sad from you.

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