Brig awoke the next day in the late afternoon. He rolled out of bed and pulled his pants on. He knew he looked ridiculous, but they were the only clothes he had. As he pulled on his shirt, he noticed his old backpack sitting on the room’s desk, along with a cell phone and a note:
Good morning Brigham,
I hope you slept well. Tommy is doing much better, and the doctor is much more optimistic today than he was yesterday. He has a long way to go, but I think he’ll live. Yellow is in the room next to yours, sleeping, and I’m over at the hospital. I’ve left a cell phone on your desk. It has a Chinese SIM card. Hopefully, it won’t be too complicated for you to figure out how to use it. I’ve put my number and Yellow’s in it. Call us if you need anything.
I’ve also returned your backpack to you. It should have everything you had in it when you arrived in Hong Kong. At least the important stuff. There was over US$15,000 when I found the bag. I heard you came to Hong Kong with US$30,000, so I added another ¥100000. You won’t get very far in China with US dollars.
I would say you’re welcome to stick around, but I think and hope you’ll agree, it would be better if you moved on. Hopefully, you can put all of this behind you.
There was no signature. No salutation. No hand-drawn hearts. Only “H.”
Brig wanted closure, and there it was. He was sad, but he also felt…satisfied? It was as if something in his life finally fell into the correct order and he was primarily responsible for the outcome. He would have preferred getting back together with Happy, but once he came to terms with the reality that that wouldn’t happen, he behaved like an adult, and not the spoiled rich kid that always got what he wanted.
He set the note down and picked up the cell phone. It was the same make and model he had used in the U.S, an Apple iPhone 6s. Happy probably realized that it would be easier for him to figure out how to use it. He smiled, hoping that was the case. He powered the phone on, comforted to see the graphics he was familiar with; the white and green telephone icon, the blue and white email icon, the compass for the Safari web browser, and the musical notes for his music. There were a few other apps; some he recognized, some he didn’t. He would mess around with it later.
He laid the phone down next to the note and unzipped the top of his backpack. The “fat stacks” of cash lay immediately inside. $15,000 U.S dollars, mostly in hundreds, and ¥100,000, all in red ¥100 yuan notes. What was he going to do with all this money? He imagined the face of a sherpa, stumbling upon his cold frozen body at the foot of Everest next spring and finding this unexpected windfall. Brig smiled at the thought and decided that it might be the best way to get rid of the cash.
Directly behind the money was the bottle of Oxycodone, still mostly full. How easy it would be to swallow a handful of pills and be done with it? Why was he putting himself through all of this shit? He considered taking just one and seeing how he felt after that, but he knew how that would end. If he took one pill, he would take another, and eventually the bottle, coming up just short of his goal of reaching Everest.
Brig stood and walked to the bathroom. He opened the lid to the toilet and held the bottle of pills over the standing water. “Mother, please give me strength,” he pleaded. His hands shook as his mind battled and his will tested. “Gan Bei,” he said as he turned the bottle over. The pills plunked and plopped through the water’s surface, settling at the bottom of the bowl. He reached for the toilet’s handle but stopped before pushing the handle down. If he acted quickly, he might still recover a few of the capsules. Suddenly and without warning, the toilet flushed, seemingly with no effort from Brig. Had he pushed the handle? Brig wasn’t sure. Regardless, the bowl was now empty. “Thanks, Mom,” Brig said to the ceiling.
Brig returned to his backpack on the desk, pulling out and inspecting a few other odds-and-ends. A compass. A Swiss army knife. His well worn, beaten up copy of “Into Thin Air.” The book was in bad shape. He last remembered seeing it flying across his ChungKing Mansions’s hotel room. Several sections of the book were chunked out as the book’s binding continued to fail. Last, he retrieved his journal. His face flushed, struck by embarrassment as he comprehended the many people that had had access to his diary. Tommy. Chang. Happy. Oh, my god! Happy read my journal, he thought. It was silly, he knew. Why should he care? In a few days, he would be gone and quickly forgotten. Still, it unnerved him to know others had read his foolish thoughts and ideas.
“The angels may quote from it, my ass,” thought Brig sarcastically.