Borrowed Truths

Tom 2

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Tom 2

Tom wasn’t exactly sure what he was reading, he was an educated man, but the words on the paper were well beyond his ability to discern, except for the two at the bottom, “Diagnosis: Terminal.” “It’s an extremely rare form of cancer Tom, I’ve been practicing medicine for over thirty-five years, and I’ve only seen it twice before, I’m sorry.” Tom got as far as the car dealership a few blocks away from the hospital before he had to pull over and park, barely missing a brand-new vehicle in the lot. The shaking was uncontrollable, it was as if his nerves had just caught up to what his mind had finally comprehended, his time was almost up, he was going to die. He lit up a cigarette, that helped a little, but it was still a full fifteen minutes before he could finally compose himself, the shaking subsided but he just felt numb all over.

“Well, you must be interested in it, you’ve been sitting out here for quite a while, want to take it for a test drive?” Tom looked up at the young car salesman for a minute, and actually thought “Why not, I won’t have to worry about making the payments,” but said no thanks, put his car in drive and headed home.

“What am I going to do about you, Toby?” It had been six hours since he had said a word, and the cat’s only reply had been to rub against his leg and then drift over to the sunshine coming in through the window to take a nap. This wasn’t supposed to be happening, he was thirty-two years old, working his way up the corporate ladder, making plans for a position at the very top, and now he was going to be six feet under in just a few weeks. He took three of the pain pills, might as well, the doctor said he had an open prescription for them, “It’s the best we can do for you,” along with another “sorry,” next patient please. The young man moving up the ladder all of a sudden felt like he was utterly disposable, “What’s the point, what purpose am I good for now.” Toby looked at him for a moment, stretched and went back to sleep.

“Well, we’re sorry to see you go Tom, and sorry to hear about the terrible news.” Tom was getting a lot of “Sorry’s” lately, his dad, brother, even the checkout girl at the grocery store, everybody was sorry, but nobody could do anything about it. He really didn’t blame the remaining family members that would still talk to him, Tom had burned a lot of bridges in his past, he knew where he was going, and he didn’t need any help getting there. “Where you going, buddy?” “I don’t know.” “That’s not telling me much buddy, you’re the one that got in my cab.” He had stopped driving about ten days ago, the pain was too much getting in and out of the car, much less the effort of driving, and so it took him a moment to realize that he had stepped into a cab.

He gave the cabby the address of the apartment building, closed his eyes and leaned back, listening to what sounded like an old southern gospel preacher’s voice coming out of the speaker. “Do you know where you are going my friends, can you say for sure.” “So buddy, how about you, do you know where you are going?” Tom had no idea why he accepted the little tract and the brand new, still in the wrapper Bible from the cab driver, they were placed in his hand in exchange for the cab fare, and now they sat there looking at him from the coffee table. Of course, wouldn’t you know it, the title on the little cartoon Christian tract was “Sorry,” go figure. He had read it thru three times, the pain pills had been increased in their dosage, and it was starting to affect his ability to comprehend what he was reading. The little cartoon character had died and was standing in front of a brightly lit up drawing that was suppose to be God on His throne, and each time a part of the guy’s life was shown on the big screen, the little cartoon guy would yell, “Sorry, I’m sorry!” It didn’t do much good though, he still ended up getting thrown into a big lake of fire.

Tom woke up screaming, sweat pouring off him like a fountain, the dream had been so real. He had been told the pain pills might cause this side effect, but this one had been so real, he actually still felt like he was on fire, but the worst part was the complete and utter helplessness, the knowledge, not just a feeling, but the unmitigated knowledge that all hope would be gone forever. Three more pills, a glass of water and thirty minutes later he started to feel a little better, as best as a dying man who had just had a lucid dream about hell can feel. He picked up the Bible the cabby had given him, flipping it over to tear off the cellophane when he noticed a little piece of paper with a name on it and a phone number.

The cab arrived an hour later, and he painfully, slowly sank into the back seat. “Where you going, buddy?” “That’s what I wanted to ask you, John.”

The funeral was both sad and joyful at the same time, a new soul had entered into the eternal kingdom of the Lord, a soul named Tom, and as John arrived home and sat on the sofa with his loving wife, Toby the cat jumped into their laps to join them.

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