[Strong language, adult themes]
The man who had turned John’s cancer into a death sentence was on television again. Flashbulbs blazed as the Veteran Affairs Secretary strode from his office towards the parking lot, waving away a microphone from the NBC news crew.
“Weasel’s on again,” John called to Ella.
John had made a point of not remembering Weasel’s actual name. He wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.
“Fucker,” Ella said, returning from the kitchen with a Bud Light for John. They had barely spoken since her return from her weekly reading group, that afternoon.
John nodded, and held the beer can against the back of his neck. He had been running unusually hot since last Wednesday, even with the fan on full.
“What’s the latest?” she asked, sitting down on the sofa next to him.
“Another whistle blower. Saint Louis. Same thing.”
John cracked the can open.
“That’s three now?” asked Ella, absently spinning her black star-shaped necklace between right thumb and forefinger. She had taken off her father’s crucifix after John’s diagnosis.
“Yeah,” he said. “Here. Phoenix. Saint Louis.”
Ella nodded. On screen, the NBC anchor woman was talking to a young male reporter standing outside Capitol Hill.
“…Well, we just don’t know how widespread this practice is, and that’s what Congress is trying to find out. They’ve…”
Quietly, Ella started to sing to herself.
“All around the mulberry bush…”
John closed his eyes. His thighs ached. The cancer had already metastasized to the lymph nodes there. Penile cancer had an 85% survival rate, if caught early enough. He had waited two years on an invisible waiting list to see a specialist at San Antonio’s North Central Federal Clinic – a waiting list that only existed in someone’s desk drawer. By the time they had actually called him in, it was far too late. At best, they could only keep him comfortable. Survival was no longer a viable outcome.
“…called for his resignation. The Vice President, however, in a statement earlier today said that he strongly supported…”
“…The monkey chased the weasel…”
They had done this to him so that they could look good on paper. So that faceless administrators could get pats on backs for their terrific performance. They must have known, when the waiting lists were suddenly slashed overnight. The Weasel must have known, but instead of investigating, had just chosen to let John die.
“…The monkey thought it was all in good fun…”
The sudden sound of sirens caused John’s eye’s to blink open. The TV was showing live footage of a parking lot where a black Mercedes was engulfed in wildly dancing flames.
John stared at Ella, eyes wide.
“Pop goes the Weasel.”