Mar 28, 2021

2 min read

ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: The Writer, His Wife, and their Afterlife

Book One, Part One, Chapter 76: “He Murdered Me.”

Joshua calls Mike Davis, Ernie’s friend from high school, asking him to visit Ernie in the hospital. Mike lives in Michigan. His wife, Karen, drives him down because she doesn’t want Mike making the trip by himself.

Mike enters Ernie’s room almost on tiptoe, a slight smile on his face, and pulls up a chair to Ernie’s right. It’s a surprise visit — Joshua didn’t tell us this was in the works.

At first, Mike and Ernie talk of the past as Joshua and I listen. Then Ernie spits out to his good friend what’s really on his mind. “My urologist murdered me, and I don’t want him to hurt anyone else ever again.”

All three of us — Mike, Joshua, and I — hear Ernie use the past tense: murdered. Ernie turns to me. “I want you to continue with the lawsuit.”

“Even if we win it, what good will money do us, if you’re not here with us?” I ask Ernie.

He gives me an exasperated look, then turns his head.

Mike rises from his chair. His reddish hair has turned gray and is mostly gone; his face is splotched with freckles; his once tall, thin body has grown round and soft. “Karen’s waiting for me in the car. We’re going to get lunch, then head back.” He and Ernie shake hands. “Hang in there, Ernie.”

“You’re a dear man, Mike.”

They take leave of each other, and each knows he will never see or write to or talk with his good friend ever again.