I look around and try to read their faces. They're giving nothing away. I'm ready to burst. I'd like to call a friend, or buy somebody a drink, just to talk. How do these people practise silence with such calm? They're not even reading a magazine, or pretending to follow the soap on the television mounted to the wall. They're just staring straight ahead, their gazes so fixed I wonder if they can see through the wall and into the room of the doctor we're all waiting to consult.
This is my third doctor this month. This one's a good egg, the best. He's known as a sharp shooter; no sugar-coating or expensive prescriptions. He's the extra round all the really professional assassins fire into a corpse, to make sure it's really dead. If you don't believe the other quacks, if you think this just cannot be happening to somebody your age, someone as careful as you are, someone so nice, you go to him. He'll tell you it's true, and you'll believe it. His job is to strip you off all sense of entitlement, and he does so with grace.
He holds in his hands detailed reports on the composition, deficiencies and excesses of my urine, blood, fecal matter. I'm cold in the gown the orderly helped me into, but I'm also sporting an erection. It's more intimate than you'd think, having someone study your soul so clinically. He goes over every little detail, his forehead furrowed in concentration. He looks like a washed up Daniel Craig, with a sort of nerdy muscularity that I know women find attractive. I'd like him to punch me repeatedly in the face, just to see if I can take it.
"I'm sorry," he says, "this is rare in somebody your age."
It's real. It's really real.
"Is there anything you can do?" I still have faith in Craig.
"'Fraid not," he says lightly, breezily, "this is the end. You've simply run out of words."
Icy Highs's Music Recco: "The Frontman" by Madrugada (The Nightly Disease)