Wildebeest — Speakeasy #144

The rules for Speakeasy #144 are found here.

He kept glancing at the pictures on her nightstand. There was their wedding day photo. It was a small wedding in a boat on a river. She was extremely pretty. There was the picture of both of them dressed in period costume taken on the Boardwalk. He as Clyde Barrow and she as Bonnie Parker. She used that picture on her desk at work and most of her co-workers never guessed that it was them. There was the one with both of them poking their heads out of an open aired jeep on a safari in Kenya with tangerine trees and marmalade skies.

The room was always quiet. No air sucking machines, no tubes invading her body, no pill bottles,  just the slight up and down movement of her chest. No noise. She was living by sipping nourishment through a straw. That was her life now.

That trip to Kenya was a special trip for them after she became very ill. It was on this trip they made a vow and a secret word that went with that vow. A word that they both understood to signify  it was time for the grand migration to the afterlife.

He left her room and went back to his den. His den was where he went to remember. His den, except for the time with his wife, was his whole life now.

Hospice had arranged for someone to visit three times a week. This time was the only time he left her side.

He chuckled as he told her stories about their marriage. The time she thought he was putting the moves on a waitress and all he was actually doing was making arrangements for a birthday cake to be brought to their table to celebrate their anniversary. The time he finally got enough nerve to tell her the dress she had picked out for a special occasion looked like the rug pattern from his grandmother’s house. She,  who on her first round of golf with friends had picked up the dime he used to mark his ball on the green and brought it to him and said, “see honey I found a dime.” Seeing the great Pyramids, the river cruise up the Nile, Whitewater rafting in Virginia, driving a NASCAR in North Carolina, a Hot Air Balloon ride in Wyoming were some of the many adventures they experienced together.

She usually was able to smile when he talked to her like this even though he knew she didn’t understand. She was just smiling because she recognized a voice she remembered and loved. Somethings can’t be forgotten.

Yesterday morning she made no reaction at all to his attempts at comedy. On his afternoon visit he sensed she was alert with her eyes open. She raised her chin in an effort to say something. There was no mistaking what she said. “Wildebeest.”

With no hesitation he make his way to the kitchen and made her the  special tea that she liked. He added the toxic ingredient he had bought illegally for this occasion and stirred. He returned to her bedroom and leaned over her frail body and inserted the straw into her mouth. She sucked in her last taste of life. And smiled! The same smile as he was blessed with on their wedding day.

The Hospice volunteer, arriving on time as usual, called out for him. She expected him to be in her room but he wasn’t there. The volunteer knew from experience that she had passed. Rushing to the den she found him slumped over his desk with a single sheet of paper. She picked it up. All it said was “Wildebeest.”

614 Words


  1. You capture the complexities of love and commitment so well in this piece. I appreciate how you give the reader snippets of this couple’s history/life together. The part about the dime made me laugh. Thanks for the sweet read.


  2. oh the tears. the tears that stream from my eyes right now. this time one year ago, I was visiting with my grandmother– along with hospice. 😦 I visited at least once a week, if not more. she meant the world to me. I was there the day she passed. I was right next to her in fact. so this piece just really brings it all back.

    have you seen the movie “Up”? this also reminds me of that except the husband doesn’t off himself.


  3. The ending is so painful how can you do that 😦 Or he do that 😦 But the story overall is very emotional and very wonderfully written…The memories and the details are just so sweet. Love it.


  4. Very powerful and emotional story, Danny. You wrote them having a full life in the time given to them, and they went out the way they wanted under the circumstances, making the ending bittersweet. Wonderful work!


  5. I didn’t expect that ending! What a touching story, almost Romeo & Juliet-ish, but more mature. I couldn’t imagine having to to make the decision to mix the last drink, but I do admire him being able to carry out her wish.


  6. I volunteered as a hospice worker some years ago. It was a rewarding job, but also quite challenging. The patients who couldn’t speak anymore were the most difficult. Most of them could only communicate by blinking their eyes. That’s a tough way to communicate, you know? Watching their eyes dart around, seeing their emotions like that. It’s those poor folks that make you wish they’d legalize euthanasia and end-of-life assisted suicide. Thanks for sharing 🙂


    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment. My wife is also a hospice volunteer, in case you were wondering, who is now caring for a 97 year old patient. She goes to the patients home two days a week for 3 hours and sometimes her patient is with it and other times not, and still other times just sleeping.



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