You let me drive. You let me choose the radio station. You rested your huge head against the headrest and closed your eyes. You were never a willing passenger. All firsts. Seventy-five quiet kilometers to the Regional Palliative Care Clinic. I walked the Thames Riverbank for an hour. Back in the car, you said, I need a haircut. I want it all off. These patches are butt ugly.
Outside Masonville Mall in London, Ontario, the most conservative city in Canada, you said you wanted to vomit, couldn’t get out of the car. I went into Hair Effects Cut Above Gentleman’s Barber and told the story. Orhan followed me through the mall to the car, I put down the window and rested your head against the car door frame. If we had a bucket, we could give him wash, Orhan said or joked. Thin tuffs fell to the asphalt. Blond brown sandy grey tumbleweeds blew toward the highway home. Orhan toweled your scalp, returned your head to the rest, refused payment. You mumbled thanks. Orhan mumbled in Arabic. A prayer I imagine. Shook my hand, patted my shoulder.
The drive home was more silent. You tilted your head to stare out the window. High cornrows, rutabaga, wheat, cattle, our primary school, a friend’s farm, the church, the hill where your body decomposes now. In that driveway, you put your arm over my shoulder. We hobbled inside; a soldier pulled from battle. You went to bed for the last time. Left your body there.
David Morgan O’Connor is from a small village on Lake Huron. After many nomadic years, he is based in Albuquerque, where a novel and MFA progresses. His writing has appeared in; Barcelona Metropolitan, Collective Exiles, Across the Margin, Headland, Cecile’s Writers, Bohemia, Beechwood, Fiction Magazine, After the Pause, The Great American Lit Mag (Pushcart nomination) , The New Quarterly and The Guardian. Tweeting @dmoconnorwrites.