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Tuesday 200 — #76

I’m tempted to say it’s not the first time Ryan’s been in a sling, but rehashing a dying man’s backroom predilections probably isn’t the best of taste.

“How ‘bout we put you into that?” I ask Paulo, the feisty Brazilian nurse, who in better times would have found himself in our bed.

“No today, papi.” He secures the fastenings of what he’d dubbed ‘The Hoist’. “Going up,” he says, starting the machine that lifts Ryan out of his hospice bed.

“First floor, haberdashery,” Paulo says, easing Ryan up and over towards the wheelchair, an overgrown baby hanging from the beak of a stork. His robe’s draped across his shoulders, sleeves hanging down like an angel’s broken wings.

Ryan grimaces. I can’t tell why. Pain? Embarrassment? Resignation?

“You okay, baby?” His eyes are clamped shut. Maybe he thinks if he can’t see us, then we can’t see him.

The virus has wormed its way through his mind and body. I hate it, but can’t help staring, like Lear’s fool watching the mad king’s final descent.

“Going down,” Paulo says, guiding Ryan into the chair.

“You wish,” Ryan whispers, a quiet reminder the man I’ll always love lingers inside the withering frame.

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