I met him at the infusion center. There were dozens of patients receiving their chemotherapy through IVs. He seemed so young in his baseball cap and jeans, perhaps in his 20s. The rest of us were in our fifties or older. He was working on his laptop computer and talking about how he lived in DC but drove to Fairfax to get his treatment.
“It was no trouble,” he laughed. “The traffic is always going the other way.” He lifted his cap and he had no hair. His laugh was infectious.
I’m Ben,” he said.
“Well I am Mark,” I said. “Pleased to meet you.”
“What are you reading?” he asked.
“This is a book on how to write stories,” I said. “I was a newspaper reporter. Now I am winding down my career as a trial lawyer. I thought I might try my hand at being a writer.”
“My girlfriend is a school teacher,” he said. “But I don’t do much reading, except for labels off of beer cans. I’m a beer salesman.”
“It’s all good,” I said.
“I sell a beer called the 21st Amendment,” he said.
“Oh, what an interesting name,” I said. “What is the 21st amendment?”
“It is the repeal of prohibition,” he said.
“Ah,” I said. “I must try this beer. Can I get it at the local supermarket?”
“Of course,” he said.
“I must say you have a great spirit,” I said. “Some of my friends I asked how they are. They always say terrible. We must be optimistic. We must not go gentle into the night.”
“Agreed,” he said. “We must control what we can control. We can certainly control our attitude.”
When he left the nurse asked when he was coming back. He said he would be there the next morning for his infusion. He was so young. Ben the beer salesman.
Mark Kodama is a trial attorney and former newspaper reporter who lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and two sons. He is currently working on Las Vegas Tales, a work of philosophy, sugar-coated with meter and rhyme and told through stories. More than 150 of his short stories, poems and essays have been published in anthologies, including those published by Black Hare Press, Clarendon Publishing House, Eerie River Publishing, Escaped Ink Press and Devil’s Party Press. His stories and poems have appeared in Writers and Readers Magazine, the Academy of Hearts and Mind Magazine, Café Lit, Commuter Lit, Dastaan World Magazine, Dissident Voice, Jakob’s Horror Box, Indie’s Nest, Inner Circle Writers’ Group Magazine, Literary Yard, Magazine of History and Fiction, Mercurial Stories, Portland Metrozine, Potato Soup Journal, PPP Ezine, Spillwords, Tuck Magazine and World of Myths Magazine. His stories and poems appear in Ancients, Apocalypse, Blaze, Cadence, Unravel, Dragon Bone Soup, Enigma, Fox Hollow Stories, Glamour, Hate, Tall Tales and Short Stories, Gleam, Fireburst, Latin Anthology, Maelstrom, Pride, Tempest and What Sort of Fuckery Is This? “Land of the Pharaohs” won Story of the Month at World of Myths and “The Summer Camp” appears in Potato Soup Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1 (Best of).