Short Story by Royden V. Chan
He was in his mid fifties but looked much older.
I felt sorry for him, lying there helpless and alone on the hospital bed; he was never married and had no children.
He was an intelligent man who had an unfortunate life.
He had no formal education but acquired a high level of information by his insatiable quest for knowledge.
He influenced my interest in the arts; I remember spending hours listening to him talk about philosophy, history, music, painters and writers.
I still have the first book he gave me when I was in my early teens – The Razors Edge, by Somerset Maugham.
He volunteered for service in World War 11 and suffered from “shell-shock” during actual combat in Europe. He was afflicted with several mental break- downs for many years after, and was committed on many occasions to mental institutions.
He never achieved material success or financial stability.
I was never aware that he was struggling for years with his sexual orientation.
When I first found out that he was actively gay, I was disappointed and no longer held him in high esteem, but as I got older I became more understanding and accepted him for what he was.
Get me some water Allan”
“The nurse said you can’t have anything to drink until your tests are done”
“Please! my throat is dry.”
“No I cant. It’s for your own good”
“Don’t let me die like this.”
“ You are not going to die uncle Bill. They know what they are doing here…..they are going to look after you”
“Is this Allan Fraser”
“Yes it is”
“This is St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital….your relative William Smith died an hour ago”