Uncle Vic, 68... shotgun.
Grandpa Edward, 82... prostate cancer.
Aunt Helen, 90... heart disease.
Uncle Pat, 74... cirrhosis of the liver.
Uncle Clarence, 86... Alzheimer’s.
Dad, 58... log truck, US 20, Milepost 17.
Mom, 72, breast cancer.
Grandma Sophia, 90... stroke.
Aunt Emilia, 91... emphysema.
Cousin Domonic, 48... brain tumor.
The headstones keep tumbling. More tenants climb from the muddied earth. Some three-hundred of my relatives gather in the warm torrential rain, a family tree rooted in the sludge of centuries.
“Brian,” one of them says, weeping toxic tears.
Brian — that’s me — 39, lung cancer.
Stage 4. Doctors give me eight weeks to a year. Found out days before whatever it is I heard on the news this morning. Whatever it is that makes the dead walk and the living follow in their footsteps.
My balance isn’t so good. I slip in the rising water. Hands steady me.
Maria, 24… pulmonary embolism.
We last kissed fifteen years ago. Her eye and nose cavities drool liquid biohazardous waste onto my tongue.
“Some weather we’re having,” I say.
“Welcome home,” she says.