Larry's Kidney

By DANIEL ASA ROSE  |  July 22, 2009

"Dying, Dan. I need a favor."

[Click.] The line goes dead.

* * *

The phone rings again 20 seconds later. I scramble to adjust my bike so I can keep one hand free, and there it is again, the lugubrious voice, like that of a funeral director with a slight speech impediment. "Huwwo."

"Larry, sorry about that. Hold on a second, I've got to take these earplugs out. Okay, I can hear you better."

"What's with the earplugs? Is it cold?"

"No, nothing. My kids are nine and 12, is all. It gets kinda noisy. Guys," I say, securing a couple of fast-moving collars within my fist so they stop ramming their handlebars into each other, "if you don't stop fooling around, someone's going to fall right under the — "

"Huwwo?"

"Larry, I'm still here. So what do you mean, dying? Literally or metaphorically?"

"Literally, Dan. Kiddie disease."

"Kiddie — "

"Kidney, kidney. Consequently, I'm depressed beyond all measure. More than depressed: I'm depressionistic. But first I have to ask: are you still mad at me?"

"Mad? You mean for ratting me out to the FBI that time, telling them I'd inflated my income on a condo mortgage application, which you specifically advised me to do because you needed the commission?"

"I was upset, Dan. I'm not proud of it."

“And why were you upset? Because I had the gall to ask for the thousand dollars back that I’d loaned you to spot your latest invention.”

“You’re right, Dan, I regret it.”

“Which as I recall was for wooden neckties.”

“Which you could sponge the gravy stains off of. I still maintain that would have been huge if I’d had the proper financing.”

The chairlift stalls above a grove of majestic pine trees, allowing the boys a momentary calm to see how far they can dangle one of the front wheels off the side. I nearly lose the phone grabbing a tire.

“No, I’m not mad at you anymore, especially since the FBI laughed it off. Besides, who the hell cares about that, if you’re literally dying?”

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