Living Wake

By Nate Chang

“Redwood,” his family had taken to calling him, but he really didn’t care that everyone around him jibed at his age, despite the fact that he was on record as one of the ten verifiably oldest people on the planet at 114 years. But Eugene Cravitz had reached a point in his life where he didn’t give a fuck. His parents were gone, everyone he knew growing up was gone, his children were gone, and the only people left in his life were reporters looking for a puff piece, and the odd grandchild or great grandchild looking for a handout. Everyone thought it necessary to shout around him, even though his hearing was perfectly satisfactory. His eyesight was fine if he had his glasses on, his mobility was exceptional – no wheelchair, no walker, no cane. The only thing that had dulled with his age was his taste, which he had killed with 60+ years of non-stop hot food that bordered on unsafe levels of heat, and was typically loaded with peppers, curry powder, or various other methods of awakening his aging taste buds. He had also subsisted on at least three rations of bacon a day since the day he joined the U.S. army in 1917, much to the chagrin of his doctor, who had, for the past thirty five years, attempted in vain to ascertain how someone could consume so much bacon and a) not be obese, and b) not be dead. But in his recent decades, Eugene Cravitz had made a virtual career of not giving a fuck, starting when he realized, on his 95th birthday, that he had been collecting Social Security checks for 30 years, and had probably made at least one person at the bureau quite upset that they’d had to keep writing checks to the same man, in all probability, for their entire working life at the bureau, and would retire from the bureau, still having to write him checks. But he didn’t give a fuck about anyone – not his family, who seemed only interested in his possessions and the three million dollars he had made investing fortuitously in major defense contractors – not anyone at the Social Security bureau, not his doctor, not the nurse his doctor sent round once a week to see if Old Redwood had croaked, the nurse had been given secret instructions by the doctor to pilfer anything of value should she find Redwood deceased, though throughout her twenty five-year tenure with Eugene and his doctor, had yet to enact the plan, had even developed a grudging respect for the man and, in her advancing years, had often wondered what it would be like to fuck a man as old as Eugene.

The nurse had left two hours earlier, much to Eugene’s delight. For his part, he’d often wondered what it would be like to fuck someone who hadn’t yet begun collecting Social Security, though if he were to be perfectly honest, he would’ve admitted that he found relationships distasteful, and much preferred his Sterilco-brand artificial vagina – it asked so little (or more appropriately, it asked for nothing,) and yet gave so much. Regardless, Eugene was in the mood to remove his Sterilco-brand artificial vagina from its home in his closet when another knock sounded at his front door. Two knocks on his door in one day – an incident without precedent for many, many years. Upon answering, Eugene was nearly swept to the floor in a flood of his relatives, all wearing black and ignoring him completely, fanning out into his house, and taking stock of his possessions with clipboards adorned with spreadsheets. Columns with names abutted rows with Item, Value, and Going To.

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