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He'll Die

by Alex Ward

The telethon to save Kellor's life is in two weeks. Telethons, those long and humorless commercials that constantly interrupted the barely better educational cartoons on PBS, can save lives. Cure disease. Stop some shithead from deciding to kill you after mugging you. Let you breathe under water when you're snagged by the under toe. Stop house fires, whatever. They can save lives.

“Yeah,” Jess says. “I guess I better do this.”

She breathes. She has to let somebody know she'll be there, of course. The Save Kellor Foundation, or whatever it's called. Was there even a foundation? Or is there just some guy with a bunch of phones and a video camera? She figures the former, prays for the latter. It'd at least make it more interesting.

She imagines this guy, looking like he's thirty with that early-twenties truth to him, sitting legs folded on a rug dotted with Spaghetti-O drippings and cat piss dribbles. He's be crunching on cheese puffs with a bent, lukewarm beer can stuffed in his folded thighs. Just one more gulp left. He laughs at something – there'd be other people there, more interesting people – then jump as the phone rings. Where's the phone? Probably balancing on the beer can in his lap. That's why he jumps. Makes sense. 

He answers the phone: Kellor's dying, how may I help you?

No video camera. She forgot about that. Well, it's probably not going to be like that anyway, she reasons. Probably not. She smells the clean, stale white room of the PBS station, the incessant ringing. People calling, wanting to help, but also wanting prizes, recognition. What will they ask of Kellor? That his life simply be spared if they pledge money toward his hospital bill? 

Whoever's doing this telethon, they don't have prizes. They might have a gift card, a crew neck sweatshirt, maybe an iPhone, but those aren't prizes. Jess could show them prizes. Kellor's third dimple on his left cheek that doesn't reflect his double-dimpled left cheek. His naturally yellowed teeth, perhaps also from smoking half a pack a day – a bad habit, but a good man. Maybe his eyes, slightly tilted, always sad, but not really. And that's all – what else was there? A man too young for his hospital gown? His recent journals, too short and plain to sustain any public interest? 

Two weeks is plenty of time to think things over. Enough time to reconcile? No, there will be time for that long after Kellor's death. Because Kellor will die, she thinks. We all do. Telethon or no, we can only avoid the call for so long. Jess didn't answer the phone today; she figures there'll be enough phone answering in two weeks. The phone did ring in the morning, of course, but it wasn't for her, not until after the telethon. She'll have to talk to the foundation or whoever in person. Let them know she's coming.