A lone, gray-haired man wearing sunglasses, rapidly breathing in labored, shallow breaths, feverish and heavily perspiring, drove his late model SUV towing a modest travel trailer heading west through the desert of southern Arizona swiveled his head side to side looking for a suitable place to die. Feeling himself grow weaker, minute by minute, he cautiously slowed to a stop off the side of Interstate Highway 8. It no longer mattered about the perfect place, but just any place would have to do, now. Reaching down the steering column he shut down the engine and pulled the keys from the ignition. He tried to take a long deep breath but couldn’t as he looked around his car one last time and gingerly patted the dashboard with a faint smile before he opened the door to exit into the remaining desert heat of the early evening.
Slowly, he walked around the front of the car then back toward the trailer door, pulled out the entry steps, unlocked the door and went inside. Deliberately, piece by piece he takes off all his clothes while wiping his sweat with each article of clothing before tossing every item onto a pile on the floor beside the little sofa just inside the door. Standing naked in front of the trailer’s only mirror mounted on the medicine cabinet above the compact bathroom sink, he leaned-in, stared deeply into his own blue-green eyes - not caring about anything else - as if wondering what his soul will look like on the other side of life and if he would recognize his former self then.
Outside, an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer whizzed past. The blow-by wind rocked the little trailer as the man balanced himself with both hands on the edge of the sink and the bathroom wall while continuing to stare straight forward. He violently coughed, gasping for air and spitting up blood. He spit it out into the sink. He reached around to take out a bottle of chilled water from the refrigerator and and drank a little, rinsed his mouth out and spit again, before consuming the rest of the bottled water all at once. The tiny drops of remaining water on his lips instantly evaporated while the perspiration on his face remained.
Reaching into the tiny shower room, he grabbed the wash cloth, wet it and took - as campers call it - a quick little spit bath with the bar of soap and water running from the spigot into the plugged sink. He had to be quick. There wasn’t much time. Then, he put on clean underwear and socks before reaching into his hang-up closet for his best and only suit of clothes, a white dress shirt, but couldn’t decide between the two ties for a second, then picked the opposite one he originally picked out to go with his gray shirt. He only had two. He had been retired for some time and had no need of such things.
He buttoned up his shirt and neatly tied his tie so that it just the right length and would have that famous GQ dimple just below the knot .. just right. Then, he pulled a pair of black dress shoes from the shoe rack behind the bathroom door and dusted them off with his damp towel. He decided they were shined enough as he raised each foot to the edge of the dinette seat, put them on, and tied the laces. He reached for his suit jacket and draped it over his arm. It was still too hot for that just now, but he wanted to look his best. Isn’t that what they do in ordinary funeral homes?
It was getting on toward dusk outside. He flipped on the light over the medicine cabinet, stood himself up as straight as he could quickly as flashing Marine Corps Boot Camp images passed through his mind as his head passed through the neck chain of his decades old dog tags. He took one last final inspection look before running a hairbrush over his head four or five times, as if it really mattered. It would have to do. Strictly out of a lifetime of habit, he loaded his pockets with the usual things; wallet, sixty-three cents in change, clean handkerchief, comb and small multi-tool pocket knife he’d been carrying for a dozen years. He did grab two more things — his cell phone and his handgun - checking to be sure it had a full magazine.
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