Things I Learned from R. B.

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4475)

Episode 25

Sitting in the darkness of my room, I was overwhelmed by the circumstances and terrified by my indifference.

It had been nearly six weeks since I had seen R. B.

Following the concert, he had selected a profile of long phone conversations which were more or less therapy sessions. Not therapy in the sense that I was a qualified physician who knew how to address illnesses of the mind and spirit, but rather, R. B. groping into his surroundings, trying to find someone who gave enough of a damn to listen to his ever-increasing pandemonium.

During one of those exchanges, I was able to talk him into coming over to our house for a July 4th cookout next to our pool. I wasn’t surprised when the hour arrived, and he was nowhere to be found. But about forty-five minutes into our festivities, I looked atop the long stairway that descended to our deck, and there he was, shirtless, wearing swim trunks, slowly making his way to join the party. I could see under his right arm that he had his traditional bag of Doritos to donate to the food table.

Yet, as he came closer, I was stunned. I wasn’t alone.

Gradually, everyone spying his entrance grew quiet—and only the boom of the music remained. I looked around at my family and friends and noted that they were peering at me, wondering if I had any information or knowledge on the sight before them.

For you see, R.  B. was almost unrecognizable. He was so skinny that it was difficult to look at him. The bones were protruding from his hips and chest—and his legs looked like kindling wood which would certainly break with a passing breeze.

He continued toward us, each step offering a more startling revelation. When he finally arrived, he gave little Isabella a hug (because they were great comrades from making his video). She greeted him warmly. I stood to my feet and headed his way. He held out his arms for a hug and I quickly forced myself to embrace him. I could feel every single portion of his spine. As I pulled away, I noticed that his skin had turned grey, like marble, and had a texture of soft plastic.

Somehow or another, all of us made it through the afternoon without asking questions, challenging or indicating that there was something wrong. R. B. himself seemed oblivious to the changes in his body.

He must have lost at least fifty pounds and he had never been sturdy to begin with.

Now that everyone had departed and I was alone, it was righteous that I be honest with myself and admit that my comrade was sick.

What made it difficult was that I had just rented a large house for R. B. and a lady I knew, who had three children and was constantly struggling to make rent. I had concluded that this one house could take care of both situations. R. B. could have the upstairs and the family could have the downstairs. I would pay the rent and they could take care of the utilities and food stuff.

We were in our third month of the arrangement and everything seemed to be going well. It was expensive, but it was a resolution.

Now, as I considered the ghost who had come to my house as a skeleton, I surmised that he required medical attention.

I balked. R. B. had no medical insurance, and if he was going to get a diagnosis and treatment, someone would have to pay for it.

I felt like a piece of shit to be considering what to do for this human based upon finance. So finally, I didn’t.

I called my doctor and set an appointment. R. B. reluctantly agreed to go. She tested him—but the visit was very quick.

She reported to both of us that R. B. had a disease. She said it appeared to be fourth stage rectal cancer and that immediate treatment was a necessity.

I watched R. B. as he received the news. Rather than breaking down or becoming angry, he questioned the accuracy of her determination. My doctor was not offended. She suggested that he get a second opinion.

At this point, I finally spoke up. I don’t know why it took me so long to find my voice, but it seemed appropriate. “You don’t need a second opinion, R. B.,” I said softly. “You need a second chance. Get the treatment. We’ll provide the prayers.”

My words touched his heart, and he reached over to squeeze my hand. God forgive me, but I recoiled. It was not my proudest moment.

My doctor set up an appointment for R. B. to meet with a specialist. I posed a question. I asked my doctor if the cancer could be removed through an operation.

She quietly shook her head and said, “No. We will need to see what chemotherapy can do.”

I nodded. I was a novice, but astute enough to know that when operating is not possible, it’s just not good.

We left the office together.

R. B. wanted to go out to lunch. I lied and told him I was busy. I slipped him a twenty-dollar bill, and jokingly told him to eat enough for both of us.

I don’t think he knew that I was repulsed.

At least, I hope not.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: