Todd sat next to Charley in his hospital bed. It was late and they were alone. Todd was two years older than Charley his brother. Charley was slowly dying. He was now off life-support. It was his request.
“I can only watch, Charley,” Todd said. “That’s all I can do. If I could give my life in place of yours I would.”
Charley forced a smile over his pain. “You always watched, Todd. You always watched after me. You were always there. You have been a good brother. You always said I would end up dying before you because of the life I led. All you could ever do was watch. My whole life, I was out of control.”
“Don’t have any regrets, Charley,” Todd said.
“But I do,” Charley said. “You tried to look out for me and I ignored the one who loved me more than he loved himself.”
“I really do love you, Charley,” Todd said.
“I did so many foolish things,” Charley said. “I was always tempting death and here I am at last. Did you ever think it would end any other way? You knew all along this day would come. You knew you would have to be the one to find me dead or watch me die.”
“Just relax, Charley,” Todd said. “And think about all the good times you had.”
“I’d take them all back for one more day of life,” Charley said.
Todd smiled. “No you wouldn’t. You’d do it all over again with twice as much gusto.”
“Yeah,” Charley smiled. “I suppose you’re right.”
“Remember the time you jumped through two open doors of a slow-moving box car?” Todd said.
“And I made it through,” Charley said. “How was I to know a car pulled up on the other side; went right through the windshield. Only spent a month in the hospital. You helped pay the bill.”
“Didn’t think you were gonna make it that time,” Todd said.
“Then I tried hijacking beer trucks,” Charley said. “You paid my bail.”
“Yeah,” Todd said, “But you still had to serve 18 months.”
“And I still didn’t learn my lesson,” Charley said.
“Yeah,” Todd said. “There was the gas station.”
“You were there for me then,” Charley said. “The owner was a friend of yours and you talked him into dropping charges. You always looked out for me, my dear brother.”
“I’d do it again,” Todd said. “You kept my life interesting, but you changed.”
“I never changed,” Charley said. “I just redirected my efforts. I was always in trouble and you were always there to help me out.”
“I know, I know,” Todd said patting Charley on the shoulder.
“But you can’t help me out of this one,” Charley said.
“No, Charley, I can’t,” Todd said.
“I’m doing this one all on my own,” Charley said smiling. “Finally… right?”
“Right,” Todd said.
“I had more things I planned to do,” Charley said. “All legal. But ya know when ya live life on the edge you can’t expect to live a long life and do it all.”
“Do you have anything you’d like to get off your chest?” Todd said.
Charley smiled. “Can I have a kidney?”
“Don’t you remember,” Todd said.
“What?” Charley said.
“You all ready have one of mine,” Todd said.
Charley closed his eyes.
Todd held Charley’s hand. “If you could have only held on another month I was going to do something special for you when you turned 95.”
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