The morphine he got from the defrocked doctor helped, but it was a stopgap measure because he was dying on a bed in the Marbol Hotel on the sad side of the city.
He’d been there three weeks, and nobody was visiting. Just the old bellman who took pity and was the mule who funneled the morphine from the doctor. It lessened the pain.
The unlicensed doctor had come just once to confirm what was clear, that these were the final days. He couldn’t afford a hospital. He couldn’t afford a hospice. Just the Marbol.
Many years ago when both he and the Marbol were young, he had often stayed there. He had been a businessman, a very successful one, and the Marbol was a chichi hotel in those times.
He had a charming wife named Victoria and two children, a boy and a girl, and everyone called them well-behaved. He bought a new Buick every two years, and his suits were made in Barcelona.
He and Victoria and the children lived in a split-level in another city. There was a pool out back, lush grass and a barbecue grill. Everything was beautiful.
But then he met Naomi.
He was at the top of his game, but Naomi was like an oil spill that he stepped in and slipped, heels over head. Everything collapsed, and he slid rapidly down and with much regret — at the end.
There were scenes with Victoria, gin, tonic, screaming, tears and lunacy.
First, he lost Victoria and the children, then the split-level with the pool and the barbecue. The Buick. His work. When the money dried up, so did Naomi.
A golddigger, he discovered too late.
That was so long ago. He never recovered and now, at age 76, he was supine in a Marbol room that smelled of grime and bleach and needed a good sweep.
Every night, feeling the morphine, he thought of Naomi, her black hair, her movie-star thighs, her wasp waist, her lips and sparkling eyes. She would be decrepit, but he would die to see her.
But he died without seeing her — or anyone.
Just the old bellman who called the coroner.
* * * *
(One of a series titled The Marbol Hotel.)