By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
Woofer is bored. They already got after him for yelling for help just to see who would come running. Now he fiddles with the pump on his intravenous tube, trying to speed up the new treatment he's hooked to that takes over three hours to administer.
He didn't get any better with ABV. And after an initial response to Daunosome, he failed that treatment, too. Today Myers put him on taxol.
"It's my last hope, I guess," says Woofer, who shifts his head constantly to compensate for the blindness in his left eye and the tunnel vision in his right. "My dad's visiting," he continues. "He's such a character--I guess I get it from him.
"This morning he jumps out of the shower singing, `I'll be seeing you, in all the old familiar places.' We laughed and hugged and then we cried.
"He's eighty years old and starting to have a lot of health problems. We joke that we're racing each other to heaven, and whoever gets there first has to have a party all set up for when the other one gets there."
Woofer pauses and closes his eyes--long enough that it seems he has fallen asleep. Then, suddenly, he looks up.
"You know, there are motorcycles in heaven," he says. "But the bikes in heaven have wings. They have wings so that you can jump from cloud to cloud."
He closes his eyes again. "I'm going to like that...jumping from cloud to cloud on a Harley with wings."
October 24, 1994--The End
Dr. Adam Matthew Myers Jr. lives in a modest Denver bungalow surrounded by memories.
A black cat, named after a patient who died of AIDS, lounges on the dining-room table. On the wall above is a photograph titled "Wes Kennedy's Hands," a self-portrait depicting the artist covering his face with his long, talented fingers. Wes's obituary still clings to the wall in the study.
In the living room is a framed clay relief of an Indian pueblo given to Myers by Charlie Abernathy. Above the fireplace, the Colorado landscape is a gift from a lung-cancer patient who lived another year under Myers's care before dying.
Upstairs in his bedroom is a drawing of an eagle with glasses, given to him by a Hodgkin's patient. Myers doesn't know if that patient is still alive--not all of his patients want to be reminded of that period in their lives when the bogeyman came calling.
Myers is at once haunted by and indebted to memories. Back when his father was ill, he stopped to visit Dr. Simels and thank him for his guidance. He reported that he had learned to hold his head up and watch where he was going in the world. The retired veterinarian had hugged him like a son and said, "You're welcome."
His mother never has understood why he's not in private practice, making more money, but she's still proud of "my son the doctor." She worries about him contracting AIDS. He tells her that he'll be okay and thanks her for pushing him toward medicine, sparing her the profession's sorrows.
As he sits in front of the fireplace in the living room, Myers toys with the ring on his right hand. It's Brad's ring. Brad is dead.
The gardener had made it home from the hospital the month before and had even come into the clinic to visit and talk about the possibility of taxol treatment. He was disappointed that the snow that week had knocked down all the vines he'd tended so carefully through the summer.
"But I got to see snow," he said. "I wanted to see it snow again."
They'd made arrangements for Myers to come by his house the following Wednesday afternoon. Brad wanted to talk about some secret.
Myers thought it probably had to do with Brad's desire "not to be a burden on anyone" should AIDS leave him bedridden or in an extended coma. The doctor knew he couldn't counsel Brad to take his own life: If he couldn't cure his patients, neither would he help them cut their time short.
But he never had to deal with the issue. That Wednesday morning Brad checked back into the hospital. He was failing rapidly.
On Saturday, Myers stopped in for a final visit. The ward was subdued; the nurses knew Brad, and he was well liked. But they also knew that this was the last time he would be with them.
As Myers arrived, Brad's father was leaving to get his wife from the motel so that she could say goodbye to her son.
Myers knocked and entered. He found Brad sitting in a chair, leaning forward to catch a breath. He wore an oxygen mask that muffled his apologies for his appearance.
He had fought a courageous battle and was as tough as any man Myers had ever met. But it was evident that Brad wouldn't survive much longer.
The doctor helped him back to bed and propped him up. They spent the next hour together, with Myers doing most of the talking while Brad nodded and occasionally added emphasis to some memory.