6 hours, 3 minutes, 31 seconds ago, I got the phone call.

"Mr. D'Amato, can you come into the office? We need to discuss the results from the pathologist."

After much prodding, the words came over the phone. I've never understood the phrase "Reach out and touch somebody", but I get it now. I could feel the ice cold hands of death reach out and grip my by the throat.

Swallow. Breathe. Swallow.

Now I'm sitting in Mexico, warm bourbon in hand, a hooker named Edurne sitting on my lap. I asked her how old she was, and she told me she was eighteen. Of course, I knew she was lying. Her boyfriend is watching me from across the bar, to make sure some gringo doesn't get any funny ideas with his woman. Get in, go to the back, do my business, return to the bar.

Except I'm done with the norm. I'm done following the rules.

6 hours, 12 minutes, and 48 seconds ago, I was told I was going to die. Not a dignified death at that. Chances are, I'd die with tubes sticking out of my face, like a scene from Aliens. Except for me, there would be no Ridley, there would be nothing as dramatic as another life-form bursting from my chest.

No, for me, there would only be a low sucking noise as my body finally gives out.

She's on my neck now, warm schoolgirl breath. She's probably leaving some of that blood red hooker lipstick on my neck. Why do they all seem to be wearing this ridiculously red lipstick? I guess in Mexico, nobody cares if they get found out about the hookers. Or, it stops people like me from kissing them.

Of course, it's too late for that. My first order of business with Edurne was to kiss her. First like a butterfly, but then my appetite grew, and she pushed me off of her when I bit her tongue. I've never bit someone's tongue before. Well, other than mine at least. She placed her hands on my chest and pushed herself away. But then she smiled, so I escaped certain doom at the hands of her boyfriend-pimp. What was his name? He told me. I know he told me. The bourbon makes me fuzzy. I want to call him Mr. Kotter. I get the distinct feeling that if I did, he would most likely not return my affection by calling me Barbarino. I get the distinct feeling that if I did, he would teach me about another way to meet my maker.

Ahh, my maker. My Maker's Mark. My bourbon is empty now. I've lost track of how many I've had. I don't mind. I'm sure Edurne and Mr. Kotter will rob me blind when I've passed out, head on the bar. I've got nothing to lose now.

Not since six hours, 34 minutes, and 8 seconds ago, at least.

I think I've handled this well. I called my mother first. I called her, and I said, very matter-of-factly "Ma, I got the cancer." I hung up on her before she started wailing. I heard that first breath get sucked in, and I hung up. On my own mother. I remember when my old man went. He had the cancer too. She cried for weeks when she found out he had it. She cried for 2 years when he finally died.

I left my wife Darla a note. I left her a note, because she was out fucking that bastard Edward from her office. Not that I know, exactly, but I know. If you catch my meaning, friend.

I left her a note, sweet as pie:

"Dearest wife of mine. I got the cancer. Goodbye"

Six hours, 41 minutes, 19 seconds ago; my old life ended, my new life started.

A fresh glass of bourbon . A little watery, definitely warm. But I don't mind. I'm sitting in mexico now, my schoolgirl-whore on my lap, staring at me in the eyes; consuming me with hers.

I won't sleep with her tonight. I don't have the heart for it.

Honestly, I'm not even sure how I ended up in this Tijuana shithole anyways. One minute, I was at home in my own personal castle in Mission Viejo. And now, now I'm in Tijuana. I've given my car away. I've maxed out 2 of my cards, and I've got one left. I'm working on that one right now.

The doctor told me, 12 months, 12 years, it's too hard to tell when I'll finally go. So, I'm going to solve this myself.

I've never done well with uncertainty. That's why I got into accounting. I destroy uncertainty. Everything balances, always.

Everything balances, until 7 hours, 1 minute, 2 seconds ago.

Mr. Kotter is certainly looking uncomfortable here. He thinks his woman is falling for this gringo. What he doesn't know is that I'm not going to the back with her because the .38 snub nose I had stuffed in my back pocket has fallen out, and I haven't quite yet figured out how to retrieve it without giving any one the wrong idea.

How do you explain to a room full of drunk tourists and Mexican pimps that the hand cannon you're carrying isn't meant for them?

See, there's a certain train of thought that I never thought I'd be capable of having. Not until very recently.

Seven hours.
Eight minutes.
22 seconds ago.

Now, I actually feel alive. Which is funny, because I've got approximately 4 hours and 32 minutes left to be on this planet. And here I am. I've got a frustrated hooker on my lap; Mr. Kotter giving me the evil eye, I'm drinking watered down bourbon that is most definitely NOT Maker's Mark.

And I'll be god-damned if I'm not happy. It's liberating, almost; to be able to determine the exact minute of your death. No goodbyes, no unfinished business.

In the end, it will be me; the business end of a .38 special, and a cheap motel room whose owners will most certainly be accustomed to cleaning blood off the walls.

I've already done my practice run. I'm prepared. It surprised me how cold the end of a gun barrel is in your mouth, even if it's been wedged in the small of your back for three hours. Unnaturally cold.

She's whispering something now. Something into my ear. I can't understand what she's saying to me. Perhaps it's in spanish. Perhaps I've drank too much. She whispers to me, and then she leans back, her fingers interlocked behind my neck, a little girl swinging around a flag pole. She's leaning back, and she's smiling at me. Blood red hooker lipstick, like a tattoo across her face. It's so perfectly applied, she must have been doing it since she could walk.

She's not pretty, but she's got charm. I don't know if that's how it is with all the hookers out here, but this one could certainly charm water from a stone. I have to go make preparations, so I let her charm another 100 bucks off of me and give Mr. Kotter a nod. He's got a friend with him now. I think I'll name his friend Goldfish Gary. Not that he looks like a Gary, but he does have the slightest resemblance to a goldfish. Perhaps it's his puffy cheeks and his pursed lips.

Regardless, Edurne walks back to Mr. Kotter, to Goldfish Gary. I lean over to tie my shoes. There's my gun. Just one quick stretch, and I snag it without anyone noticing. Either that, or nobody really cared. Regardless, I'm good at this cloak and dagger shit. Who would have thought?

I step outside, and I realize it's cold out here. I left my jacket inside. No matter, really. I can handle being cold for another 3 hours, 29 minutes, and 58 seconds.

...

Something has happened. What are these lights? Where am I? Jesus, my ribs hurt. My face hurts. My legs hurt. My hands hurt. In fact, I can't think of anything that doesn't hurt right now. There's tubes stuck in my nose. Down my throat.

Darla is here. My mother is here. Crying. Darla whispers in my ear. She tells me the date. I make her tell me twice. I can't believe it.

My gun is gone. Edurne is gone. Mr. Kotter is gone. Goldfish Gary is gone.

As far as anyone knows, according to what Darla could find out from the hospital in Tijuana was that Goldfish Gary was really Edurne's older brother. Mr. Kotter explained that this gringo didn't want to pay his girl. That he walked out.

Goldfish George decided to run me down in an old Monte Carlo. Twice. I guess I even left him a piece of my scalp in his grille.

5 months, 18 days, 9 hours, and 41 seconds ago, I was told I was going to die. And 5 months, 18 days, 2 hours, and 9 seconds ago, I lost the chance to do it myself.

I hear a low sucking noise coming from somewhere.

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