Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Excerpt 7 from "Red Hot Sinner Man"

Excerpt 7 from Red Hot Sinner Man
By Stephen B. Bagley 

Alex met Abby by one of the grossest ways possible: he threw up on her shoes. He had recently started on Gleeco, one of the latest, greatest cancer buster drugs. Since his tumor was wrapped around his spine, they couldn't operate without leaving him a cripple at worse or needing Depends at best. Perhaps he would be forced into surgery later, but for now, Dr. Jeremath wanted to try Gleeco.

Most people who were dosed with Gleeco experienced "intermediate episodes of nausea," a medical way of saying that the patient would spew vast amounts of stomach contents in truly Olympic fashion. Gleeco patients easily qualified in distance for the U.S. Puke Team. Alex had already endured a three-day bout following his last dose. This time he was smarter. He scheduled his chemo on a Thursday afternoon so that he would only miss a day and a half of work. Then he stopped eating on Wednesday. He figured nothing in, nothing out. Lying on his bathroom floor, he discovered that dry heaves were worse as he tried to throw up his stomach. He couldn't even keep down the anti-nausea pills. But the worse passed by Sunday night, and he crawled gratefully into his bed and slept deeply.

The next morning, Alex wore with a strange feeling of well-being. It took him a few minutes to realize that he was simply feeling the absence of being sick. He stretched and realized he was hungry and could even think about food without his head swimming. Still cautious, he made do with a bowl of cream of wheat, dry toast, and black coffee. Not exactly the approved cancer diet, but it was food he could face without his stomach wailing.

He showered and went to work. He thought about staying home, but paranoia honed fine by years of surviving the corporate environment urged him on. If you were gone too much -- even for legitimate reasons -- people started to get used to your absences. Projects got reassigned, files got moved. More than one woman had returned from maternity leave to find herself a glorified secretary. Men ended up as assistants or found themselves on under-funded projects that wouldn't survive the next budget. Alex already had a cubicle at the end of a hall. His next move would be outside the building.

His inbox was full, both on his desk and in his email. While picking up a folder, he caught a wisp of perfume. Probably from Rachel. She bathed herself and her cubicle liberally in her favorite scent of the month to the dismay of those close to her. Glenda said Rachel could be tracked through a sewer plant. Alex started to grin, and then it happened. A hot flood rose within him. He whirled in his chair, trying to make it to the restroom down the hall.

He made two steps into the hall, and then the wave hit him so hard that he fell to his knees. He lost his breakfast. More than lost, he expelled his breakfast, shot his breakfast, hurled his breakfast, exploded his breakfast into the far wall. He caught a brief glance of a pair of legs before he was too occupied to see anything but a blur.

After a few eon-long minutes, the spell passed. He slumped against his cubicle doorway, exhausted and horrified by what he had done. Was this going to be his life now? Alex thought he'd rather be dead.

Someone knelt beside him. "Here. Put this on your throat." A wet paper towel was pressed against his skin.

A woman with blue eyes looked steadily at him.

"You're in a bad way, guy," she said after a moment. "Well, let's just see what we can about that."

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thank you for reading.)

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