Canto 23 – Confessional
Stan stumbled into the bedroom. He wasn’t sure how he was going to explain it all to Bonita. Especially since the Vodka was making it difficult to walk, let alone talk.
She was sprawled out on the top of the bedspread, it was still tucked in and made up with her usual attention to tight corners. She was still dressed. Her head, propped up against the pillows, was wide awake, and she had definitely been crying.
“Bone, honey, um…” He stood at the foot of the bed, swaying and shifting his weight from one leg to the other.
“Stan, you’ve been drinking.”
“It’s Maria… um, ah… it ain’t actually… um, going well…”
“But you’ve been trying harder than before… I’ve seen it. You two are working together instead of fighting.”
“Yeah, but, I have something to tell you…”
“Yeah… but, first… I have something I gotta tell you.”
“Oh, um… the doctor’s visit?”
“Yeah. The report came back.”
“Oh, no! You mean…?”
“Remission is over. The cancer is back.”
Stan pressed the palm of his hand against his forehead. How could he… now? Maria was…
“You gotta promise me about Maria. She’s gonna need you more than ever now.”
“You know I will…” The room was swirling a bit. He sank to catch himself on the corner of the foot of her bed. There was suddenly no way he could tell her now. “How long do you have?”
“Days, weeks, months… not years.”
“You know they told us that before. Then the chemo started doing its damn job.”
“Yeah, but not this time. It’s spreading faster than ever this time. Promise me you will love her like she’s your own daughter.”
“Don’t be so quick to give up. We both still need you.”
“We don’t have any more options. It’s still there in my lungs. We can’t afford more treatment, and Doc Jimenez says it wouldn’t help if we could.”
Stan started to cry. The alcohol… and the bad news… both sets of bad news. But mostly the alcohol…
“Promise me you’ll love her, and you’ll take care of her.”
There was nothing more to say. “You know I will.”
He gathered her limp and exhausted form up in his arms. Drunkenly. And they both wept together.