Live The Dream

Entry by: Tauren

23rd February 2017
“YOU READY?” Gavin shouted over the sound of the motor, deafening through the planes open door.
Alan clutched at the handle to steady himself, the wind buffeting him as he looked down at the ground more than 12,000 feet below, and wondered whether he was?

“So as you can see Mr Kavanagh, the tumour,” the doctor turned and pointed to the backlit X-ray behind him, “Has grown quite significantly, if we don`t….”
Alan`s eyes glazed over as he surveyed the ghost like image of his lungs and the large black mass near the end of the right one. He tuned the oncologist out, hearing only the `thump-thump.. thump-thump… thump-thump` of his heartbeat and Theresa`s catching, fluttery breath as she leaned against him. Feeling only how much she was trembling and her fingers digging painfully his right bicep.

Later in the car he sat numb while she sobbed, railing against the injustice of the universe, “But you don’t even smoke,” she wailed, “it`s so unfair, how could you get lung cancer?”

And it was unfair; Alan Kavanagh was an unremarkable man who`d lived an unremarkable life. He had worked hard in school for unspectacular grades and had left college with an ordinary degree in accountancy, taking a position in the cities largest firm. Where, after nearly thirty years he had peaked at middle-management. He had never smoked, rarely drank, and exercised regularly enough to finish his first marathon the previous summer in less than four hours.

In an attempt at humour he ran one hand over his bald pate and said, “Well at least I won`t have to worry about my hair falling out.”

“That’s not funny,” Theresa snapped, tears glistening in her eyes, “people like you shouldn’t get cancer, it`s people like….” She stopped, catching herself in time. “I`m sorry…. I didn’t mean…. It`s just that… that it`s so unfair.”

“It`s all right,” he said, patting her hand. She didn’t have to end the sentence; Alan knew who she thought was far more deserving than him. That is not to say that Theresa didn’t like her brother-in-law, she did, in fact it was quite impossible not to like Gavin, it was just that….. Well, he was Gavin.

It might be possible that there were two brothers in the world less alike, but it would be hard to imagine. Gavin was everything his older brother wasn`t, he smoked forty a day, drank copiously and lived his life like there was no tomorrow, oh! And he still had a full head of hair.

Gavin had left school at sixteen to bum his way around the world; he had been everywhere and seen everything. Climbed Everest at twenty one, had dived the Great Barrier Reef and successfully treasure hunted in Bolivia, returning home almost twenty years after he`d left, substantially richer in pocket and tall-tales. He dated a string of impossibly beautiful women, who tottered into and out of his life on ridiculously high heels and absurdly small dresses. In his wildest dreams Alan couldn’t have imagined Theresa in a pair of those heels, never mind one of those dresses.

Somewhere along the way he`d discovered he had a flair for customising cars and set up Ireland`s only custom car shop, “Living The Dream, custom cars and cycles” motto “If you can dream it we can build it” and he could too. It turned out to be a near overnight success, the rich and the famous from all over Europe flocking to have their Bentley`s and Merc`s remade into one of a kind works of art.

He is currently in negotiations with a major T.V. company who want to make a docudrama series around him and his shop.

Whilst it is impossible not to be jealous of Gavin, it is equally impossible not to like him. He is generous to a fault, dotes on his only niece, and no friend of his is in need any longer than it takes for him to find out about it. And though he has much to boast about, he is the soul of humility, his long and well-practiced line of self-deprecating wit disarming even the most determined cynics. To see him work a room is a thing of beauty, it has been claimed by more than one woman, that, “he can charm the paint off the walls.”

It would take Gavin to give voice to the words Theresa could not, when his response to his brothers news of the diagnosis was, “Christ Alan, no, I don’t believe it, if anyone deserves a dose of the big-C it`s me. What can I do; anything? You name it, you need a lung, it`s yours, just say the word.”

Alan chuckled, it was the first time he`d laughed in days and was surprised how much tension it eased in his shoulders. “No, no," he said, "there`s nothing you can do, the prognosis is good, it`ll be radiation and chemo,” he decided to try out his joke for a second time, again running his hand through non-existent hair, “At least I won`t have to worry about going bald,” and was relieved when Gavin laughed.
“So once they’ve shrunk the tumour, it`s the old slice and dice.” He made slashing motions in the air.

“I know this top guy in New-York, owes me a favour, I could give him a call,” Gavin suggested, “He could be here by the weekend?”

Alan thanked his little brother, (even though Gavin was a good foot taller than him and had been for more than three decades, he still thought of him as his little brother) but assured him he had every faith in the doctors.

The parachute jump had been Gavin`s idea, he`d pitched it to Alan a week later, slapping him on the back, saying, “Time you did something that scares the Bejaysus out of you for once in his life.”

Alan could have told his younger brother that he`d done many things in his life that had “Scared the Bejaysus out of him”.
Like the time he`d gotten down on one knee to propose to Theresa, or the first time he`d held his new-born daughter in his arms, consumed with masculine awkwardness and worry that he might injure her. Or the first time he`d let go of Patsy`s bike saddle, and only then after she`d cried, “Let go daddy, let go, I can do it myself,” watching in anxious horror as she`d wobbled away from him, more self-assured at six than he would ever be at fifty. Or two years ago as he`d walked her down the aisle, his belly full of lead as she`d kissed him on the cheek, for what he was sure would be the last time. He told his adrenaline junkie brother none of these things, mistakenly thinking he wouldn’t understand.

Now, as the gale like wind fluttered the pants leg of his jumpsuit it occurred to him that like his brother he had lived the dream. True, his dream was a modest one, but it was his, and he had enjoyed every second of the ride.
Stepping away from the door he shouted, “I DON`T….. I`M SORRY.. I`VE CHANGED MY MIND, I CAN`T DO IT.”

Gavin studied the set of his older brother`s shoulders a moment, realised he couldn’t be argued with, mouthed the word, “Okay,” gave him a smiling thumbs up, then theatrically tumbled backwards into the brilliant blue day beyond.

Alan went back to the door, gripping the handle once again for fear of being sucked out into the void, finding his brother`s spread-eagled frame, watched it plummet towards the earth, sure he could hear his “YAHOOOooooo,” exultation of joy; and for perhaps the first time in forever, felt not a twinge of envy.
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