The Sexton wakes up hooked to machines
that keep him breathing. “Punctured lung,”
a Doctor explains. “You should see
the other guy though.” Dark hospital humor,
as the driver who prepared the T-Bone sandwich
by forcing his vehicle between the crumpled
back and front end of the Sexton’s car
is currently at the morgue, preparing to relocate
to the cemetery. Normally the Sexton would dig
his grave, but his damage is extensive.
He will be in traction weeks instead of days.
His lungs have been a weak area
from chronic infections a few years.
Scientists haven’t invented the perfect antibiotic
yet. His temporary occupation is to keep numbers
registering on the monitors. To beep that EKG
’til he gets his legs back under him. The end
is what scares or sobers most people his age.
To him the concern is the agony, more so than
punching out of the world. See Exhibit A.
He’s glad to be alive, even given no one’s coming
to sit with him by the bedside. Each day
he faces whatever’s unavoidable, hopefully
with stoicism. Even with new hardware in him.
The Sexton says a prayer for the departed
whose name he isn’t aware of. Sends it
to an entity that has never made much sense.
The morphine pump is doing what it can.
Todd Mercer writes from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was nominated for Best of the Net in 2018. Recent work appears in The Lake, Leaves of Ink, Mojave River Review and Praxis Magazine.