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Old Devil
Life Between Cancer and Hate: 8/9/21
© 2021 James LaFond
In late March, when I returned here to Pittsburgh from the west, my longest held friend, Rick, was sick. He had refused to tell me he was sick, as he didn't want me dropping my plans for him. One of the strongest physical specimens I had known was now unable to carry a water jug up the stairs and shuffled like an ancient.
The tree blown down in the backyard lie there unaddressed. Food that was going bad in there fridge did so because he could not eat it. He had cancer in the sterno-mastoid muscle in his neck that I thought was a training injury last August when I left. The chemo poisoned him and the radiation burned his throat. He couldn't swallow water and had to get it pumped in. He could not talk above a hoarse croak.
Through all of this he refused a ride to the hospital and drove himself. When I left for Jersey in late April, he had just finished his chemo and could barely talk. This had been quite a blow for a man who was following a strict anti-cancer diet in order to avoid the fate of his grand parents, as cancer of certain kinds ran in the family.
Having hauled his water up the stars and done the yard work, I was packing as he lie here in this guest room covered up and hatted, unable to stand the chill of his normal room, resting in the sunniest room in the century-and-a-half old house on the old cobblestone street.
I wanted to lift his spirits some, as he had just returned from his last chemo, juicing, radiation and weighing. I said, “Bro, you look like you're 135.”
“Good guess he croaked—exactly, lost forty pounds of muscle in two months.”
“Bro,” I said, “you could have been a contender! I had no idea you could get this light. You could have wrecked skinnies in the ring.”
“Fuck you!” he hissed—“Get the fuck outta here!”
Punky, his mother, and I hugged and she smiled, “Thank you, Jimmy. My son is coming back to me. Pretty soon he'll be the same arrogant prick he was.”
“Let's hope, Doll.”
Then our buddy Mescaline Franklin took me away towards Jersey with promises to return, and we did.
Rick is still only about 155 pounds, but his voice is back and some portion of his strength. Yesterday, just before the three of us thought criminals went to Mudshark Alley, a local dive bar, to be served by the nice black man behind the bar as the fatty boomalaty ghost wenches chortled and screamed and called for more booze, Rick had related two very recent adventures had as his strength returned. The last of these had him ask me for some pointers on the bag at the gym.
In about two hours I'll be coaching on the heavy bag in a muscle palace.
These will be related in the next posts on this site in late October:
'Sir!': Old Devil Part 2
'Asshole!': Old Devil Part 3
'Another Victim'
the man cave
by this axe!
winter of a fighting life
the combat space
the greatest lie ever sold
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