There's nothing more I can do for him. I know this, and he knows this, and he still smiled like that.
And somehow my gut tells me, “no, no, you can do something. Wait.”
So I wait.
He's lost a lot of blood, I know. The doctor said he might survive, might, maybe, if he has a transfusion.
There is no blood for a transfusion, not for him. My blood does not match his, but I know this, and it is true in too many ways. There's nothing I can do here.
But I wait.
The steady rise and fall of his chest is half matched by the slow beep-beep-beep of the heart rate monitor, occasionally in sync and most of the time not, but it doesn't matter anyway. Both will stop soon. He fell into unconsciousness a few hours ago, as his body slowly started shutting down. The mountain of blankets on top of him seems to be crushing his frail form, but they're his best chance. And he's pale, so pale, and there's nothing I can do.
I am waiting for a miracle.
The nurse comes in every half hour or so, asks me if there's been any change. There hasn't been, just the rise and fall and the beep beep beep and the slowing of them both and he's dying and I don't want to let go of his hand.
And there's nothing I can do.
Lucas is going to die tonight.
All I can do is wait.
His eyes are closed I think, still covered beneath the bandages, and I know that it's better this way. He has always been ashamed, so ashamed of them, and I know he wouldn't want to be ashamed in his last moments.
But he shouldn't feel that way, because there's a bullet hole in his shoulder instead of in my heart, and it didn't have to be that way.
It's dark outside the little window, but the blinds are down regardless. A policeman shifts outside the door, listening to the beep-beep-beep and the hospital carts rolling past and the sheer weight of the air, and I know he's afraid, but not like I am. He is afraid that someone will come to kill me too, and he'll fail and I'll be shot, or he'll be shot this time, like Lucas was. But I am afraid because Lucas is dying, and I am living, and I don't want it to be that way.
And I know, I know, that my testimony will avenge him, but it doesn't matter. The man who shot him is in custody already, and the men who hired him will be in custody soon enough, and I will nail their coffin without Lucas by my side. That is what I can do, and what I will.
But it doesn't matter, because Lucas won't be there, and that's not how it's supposed to go.
We were supposed to do it together. I promised him, really promised, that I'd stick with him until we brought them down. And he promised, with all the sincerity of a man who never doubted anyone but himself, that he would stay with me until the end.
I doubt he has much time left for that.
The nurse comes in, her shoes click-clicking against the white tile, and she smiles at me in the way of someone who knows there is nothing to smile about, and I try to smile, but realize that I'm crying. She hands me a tissue and asks me if there has been any change. There has been no change.
She moves to remove the cloth from his eyes, the one thing still clean, still untouched through all this bleeding and dying and catching bullets, and I move to stop her. She says she has to clean off his face, because he's sweating, and for some reason that's bad. I still can't let her do it, and I'm crying, and she's still trying to smile that same way, but can't. So I say let me do it, if I do it it might be alright, even though I know it's not, and he would be ashamed.
And she agrees.
So I carefully, careful not to rip the bandage or touch his skin or wake him, carefully remove the bandage. I apologize as I do, but he cannot hear me.
It is surprising. The nurse doesn't know, so she goes to work washing his face. But there's nothing wrong. There's nothing different, nothing to hide. His skin is just as pale, just as smooth as the rest of his face, and his eyes are closed, with long black eyelashes and I am curious now. There's nothing wrong.
And there's nothing for him to be ashamed of, and he shouldn't have to feel that way.
The nurse is leaving now, and I don't say goodbye. The rise and fall and the beep-beep-beep are unchanged, the sky is still dark and the policeman still stands there and the blankets are still far too heavy, and Lucas is still dying, but now I don't understand and I never will.
And there's nothing I can do.
I watch him now, like I did at the very first, a man who looks dead in a thin blue hospital gown, except now he really is dying, and there is no panic to hide my feelings with. And all I can do is wait for him to die.
He shifts, almost imperceptibly, with the same weak, barely fighting spirit he's always had as he tries to hold on to life, but there's not enough blood for him to hold on to, and I'm crying again.
We're still for a moment as he lies there, weightless beneath the mountain of blankets, and I reach out to brush his black hair out of his face, because I want to see his eyes (and I am sorry, Lucas.)
And my hand lingers for a moment, and the beep-beep-beep is going steady and I am crying, and there's nothing wrong except a hole in his shoulder and I'll never understand, never understand why he was always so ashamed, and there's nothing, nothing, nothing I can do.
He opens his eyes.