That Elusive Cure 15
By lisa h
I came to in the pod. Jimmy must have picked me up and put me there. I glanced over to where he was, sat on a pew he’d dragged near to the machine.
“Kath?” Jimmy jumped up and came over. “You’ve been out for a couple of minutes. Any longer and I was going to call for an ambulance.” He stroked my head gently. “See if you can sit up.”
I did as he said, the back of my skull tender to the touch, but not too painful. “I’m okay, really,” I said as he stared intently into each of my eyes.
“How many fingers do you see?” He held two fingers up.
“I’m fine, Jimmy.”
He backed off, giving me a little space while I stood up. Thinking better of it, I sat down again.
“So what the hell is this?”
Here it comes, all the questions. I shrugged and rubbed the back of my head. Truth was, my thoughts were a bit jumbled from the bump. I couldn’t think up a story that might satisfy him when I couldn’t even string two normal thoughts together.
“Come on, Kath. Tell me what this is all about.” He slapped the machine. “What is this, a tanning booth? Why would you have it here? And what about the church? Are you taking out loans I don’t know about?”
“It’s not a tanning booth.”
“How much debt have you racked up? Don’t you think I do enough for you already?” He walked around the machine.
I didn’t know what to say. Shame filled me. How could I not have told Jimmy? I should have been honest with him from the start.
“If I hadn’t needed some things from the shop I wouldn’t have been this end of town and would never have seen your car.” He paced back and forth, kicking up dust.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t say anything because I thought you’d tease me and call me a fool.”
That made him stop. “What are you talking about?”
“The machine, this thing.” I ran my hand slowly over the smooth metal. “My new friend Janie, she showed it to me and gave me the key to the church. It’s from the future or something. It fixed her, made her cancer go away.”
Jimmy sat down on the pew and put his head in his hands. “And you think this machine will do the same to you.” He didn’t sound angry anymore, just so, so sad.
“I just had my second session and something is happening, I swear. My liver aches so much less. I can’t even feel it right now. It scans me and tells me the size of my tumours, they’ve reduced so much.”
“Oh, Kath. You can’t let yourself believe this. It’s a fairy tale, a joke this woman is playing on you.” Jimmy knelt in front of me and took my hands. “When you get your next scan and you find out nothing has changed, you’ll be devastated. Do you remember when they cancelled your surgery last year? Do you remember how bad you got?”
How could I forget. The liver consultant was going to operate on my liver and then I’d be free of the stupid cancer beasties. But they’d grown and multiplied between scans. I’d come into hospital that morning for the operation, changed into hospital gown, hair in a special net, all my jewellery off, my feet in these throw away shoe covers, and those tight stockings on my legs. The doctor was late, and when he showed up told me I’d gone from operable to inoperable, then left me on my own as I began to sob. The weeks afterwards were among the darkest I’ve ever lived through.
I nodded at Jimmy. “But I feel it working.”
“No, Jimmy. You told me to do whatever was necessary. This machine feels necessary. Even if it doesn’t fix me, at least I’ll have had a few weeks of the dream, because it this doesn’t work then the alternative is simply to wait until the end.” I felt a tear slip down my cheek. “All of this freaking sucks. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I’ve tried your ideas, eating low carb until my breath stank, then the juicing detox that lasted weeks. Total avoidance of sugars and processed meats. All those vitamins that each suggest they might help my odds. I HATED it. I just wanted to be normal. But I did it all for you because you hoped it would fix me or help or something. Well this time I want to do something that I think might help. And what the hell do I have to lose?”
“Nothing,” Jimmy said. He pulled me close and wrapped his arms around me. We sat that way for a long time, our sobs the only sound.