Alice was in the hospital and she wasn't coming out. Lulu stayed with her day and night.  She wasn't going to let her old friend die alone, she said.

"Will they let you do that?" Bobby asked. 

"I'm doin' it," Lulu said.

Bobby showed up after dinner to see how things were going.  Lulu was sitting by the bed reading a book.  Alice was snoring. There was a tube in her nose and an IV in her arm. 

Bobby sat down.  "How long?" he asked.   "Tonight, tomorrow, who knows?" Lulu said. 

Lulu handed Bobby a pad of paper.  It was a yellow legal pad with blue lines. "She wrote her own obituary," Lulu said. "She said if she didn't they would just screw it up."

When Bobby finished reading, he handed the pad back to his friend.  "I didn't know she had been married," he said. 

"For about a year. It turned out he liked boys better than girls."

Bobby looked around the room. There was only one bed in the room. He asked Lulu where she was going to sleep.  In the chair, she said.  One of  the nurses had brought her a blanket and a pillow.

"You eat in the cafeteria?" Bobby asked.  Lulu nodded.  "The food's not bad," she said.

They sat in silence for a time, and then Bobby asked if Lulu wanted him to drop the obit off at the newspaper.
"I go right by there," he said. 

Lulu said she would take care of it.

Bobby sniffed. He leaned forward and stared at his shoes. When he sat up again, he was smiling. "Remember the time when Jake was moaning in a meeting about his wife leaving him, and Alice said, 'It's no big deal, it's no big fucking deal'?"  Lulu nodded.  Bobby chuckled.

Bobby and Lulu sat there talking about their friends and the good old days when AA was AA and not just a meeting place for pill poppers and the lovelorn. Bobby sighed.  "There's not many of us left," he said. 

Lulu nodded. "Everything changes," she said.

When Bobby got up to go, Lulu walked with him down the hallway to the elevators.  Bobby noticed she was limping. "How's the leg?" Bobby asked. "Not bad," Lulu said. "Getting better."
The elevator doors had closed and Bobby was on his way down when Lulu remembered that she was going to ask her friend if he knew that Alice had done two tours on a hospital ship during the war.  Bobby was a vet, and he would want to know.  Lulu knew that he'd get a kick out of what she said, too, that she had given a lot of guys their last meal and their last...well, there was nothing too good for our boys.

Jack Swenson is a teacher and writer who lives in sunny California. He writes flash and micro fiction. He also teaches a class at a local senior center and works around the house and yard when he has to.



Copyright 2009