I’m as free as a bird now…

It’s not all heroic rescues, trauma codes, waving to kids and CPR, it’s so much more. It’s really all about people, and trying to do what is right, or at the very least, what you hope is right. . .

Nothing on the floor but dirt, roaches and him. The carpet was stained beyond repair; food, beer, piss and shit mostly. That would have to be replaced in a few weeks when they finally got rid of the tennant. Three weeks at the most, probably one or two, it wouldn’t be long, now.

“Jake” stood guard. The smell that nearly knocked me over didn’t bother him, he circled his master, protecting him from the intruders.

“Easy Jake,” said Richard from the floor. Eighty pounds, bald, yellow and brown underwear and nothing else, no blanket or sheet to cover him, no pillows or other comforts, spilled warm cheap beer next to him, some old smokes in an overflowing ashtray, Lynyard Skynard cranking from the Sylvania Hi-Fi in the corner.

“I got cancer,” he said.

“A lot of people have cancer, sir.”

“Poor souls.”

“We have to get you to a hospital.”

“Been there, ain’t going back. Me and Jake till the end,” he grinned from his spot on the floor. Jake wagged his tail and enjoyed the massage from the bony hand between his ears.

He wanted to get back in bed, where the remote was, and the piss bucket, and the warm 12-pack.

“If shit didn’t stink I wouldn’t bother to get out of bed.”

“I’m not leaving you here.”

“The fuck you ain’t”

Jake eyeballed me suspiciously when I moved toward him. The dirty little terrier had some heart, I’ll give him that.

“What am I going to do then, let you die on the floor?”

“Put me back in bed and let me die there.”

I got him onto the bed, gathered some pillows and blankets, put his beer in arms reach, moved the piss bucket closer and fed the dog.

“Turn that up!”  he said when Freebird came on. “I love that song!”

I lifted the cover to the console, saw the eight-track in it’s place next to the turntable, found the volume knob and turned it up.

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