He’s holding up one of those SARS-panic masks and a paper bag. The Infected One shakes his head unable to see how they can prevent the stench from going wherever it will. This masks have never foiled anybody other than the human psyche but the stink, the stink is a wraith. However, he does grab the sick bag.
Jesus! Max, dead on his back, in his pajama, looks bloated far beyond his fighting weight. He is lying in a puddle of dark liquid, thick nectar of dissolution, facing upwards at the ceiling, in as far as there is still some face left. The Infected One whirls back and nearly hurls into the hallway. Blind luck and reflexes both funnel the first explosive regurgitations into the bag. Two more follow. Vomiting is an awful hustle: anus-bound puree makes an escape through the mouth.
T.I.O. grabs his knees to de-stress his torso and thereby get some extra-air into his lungs. One of those genius deep body postures that requires no thinking at all. The fucking vermin have been having at his late friend Max. It is not Max any more, it is Max’ body minus Max. But in the administrative eyes of the police it is him alright: Max Jakuse, 52 years old, divorced, father of one, short black hair, light build, green eyes, dead. What’s the forensic report expert term for “partially eaten by goddamn bugs because ‘who gives a fuck?’”?
A frail, pallid hand settles on his right shoulder like it has every right to. It belongs to a tall gaunt man with wire-rim glasses, with a razor-thin mustache, cheeks fallen back onto the bone, a high forehead and features so sharp they certainly cut diamond. The general impression is that of a skull which hastily pulled over a sack of skin: “Honey, have you seen my skinover?” The officer stands at least two meters tall in his dark blue police clothes and the black, sleek trench coat.
– It’s alright. If you’ve identified him you do not need to see any more, Mr. Fanon. That is, we will contact you after the forensic pathologist and the mortician have done their work.
– Yes, thank you Officer Balibar that will be the best, I’m sure. This is not my…. I’m of a different constitution. I have this condition, this infection I’ve been dealing with.
From the corner of his eye The Infected One can see an insect slipping under the body of his dead friend. There also seems to be a pile of something on his desk but he does not dare turn around just one more degree. The corpse, at this stage of decomposition, is a disgrace to the living memory of Max; he wants absolutely nothing to do with it. Little wonder they have closed coffin funerals and two thumbs up for cremation. The Infected One promises himself that he will never end like this even though he will not be around to be bothered either way.
Mortified by the idea of harassing other passengers with the smell of last things, The Infected One calls a cab. On the drive back home he tries steering his thoughts away from the dead body of his friend. The image of a steel casket forms, which reminds him of a strongbox, which brings to mind his banc account. For over a year the .7 million of the 1.7 he has have just been sitting there, as have the other .5 and .5.
The Infected One had been out of his skin with joy when he saw his numbers align with the one’s on the Cherry’s screen. He can barely remember those first two days. Then he had set himself the task of using it extremely efficient and for the most part altruistic. But he had only gotten to the point where he distributed the money on three different banc accounts as a safeguard against the global market’s fuckups. He had also moved to a slightly nicer apartment, bought a new bicycle, told his boss the diplomatic equivalent of “go-f-yourself” and made four very nice trips [Venezuela, South Korea, Senegal and China]. In 20 months The Infected One has only allowed himself the pleasure of top-hole [literally] escorts three times due to certain ethical reservations not even the lotto lucre had been able to wipe out.
However, when it got to investing the money altruistically, things had gotten much more complicated. So far his internet research has not yielded any NGO that seems to be worth the money the wind has blown into his lap. He has short-listed a few but he still needs to figure out a way of inspecting them more closely. 1.7 million is quite a lot but in terms of making the world a better place, as far as The Infected One can see, it does not amount to a fraction of a fly shit.
Outside the daylighted city’s perimeter is gliding by as if on wheels.
– Driver. Can you take me to the MegaMall, wait 30 minutes, then take me to the airport? I’ll make it worth you while
– Well how much is my while worth?
– How much would you say?
– That’s not for me Sir. The money is in your pocket.
– A thousand bucks, driver. One Thousand.
– OK then.