Brig and James sipped tea as Tommy rested in a Gamow bag nearby. This wasn’t the first time the village doctor had treated HAPE and had quickly constructed the portable hyperbaric chamber that Tommy was now resting comfortably inside.
It was evening time at the Rongbuk monastery, and the storm that had raged in the morning had lessened considerably. The doctor was optimistic that they could move Tommy to a more hospitable altitude and location for a man in his condition in the morning. The weather forecast prophesied as much.
“So what are you going to do now?” James asked Brig.
“The first thing is to make sure that Tommy gets better and see that he makes it safely back to Hong Kong. Then find out if I’m going to be a father. It’s probably just another con.”
“Can I assume that killing yourself is now off of the table?”
“It’s still an option,” Brig joked, “but it has fallen a few lines down on my Things to Do list.”
“Glad to hear it,” James said sincerely.
Suicide was always an option. How close had he come? Fifteen minutes? Thirty minutes? He had had little time to think about the events that had transpired, but for now, he was sincere when he told James that death was no longer a priority. He had to see how this baby thing played out. It was entirely possible that this was just another attempt by Tommy and Happy to get more of his money. Earlier, he had phoned Happy to see where her head was at. She wanted an abortion and told Brig that it would already have been done if Tommy had not convinced her to wait. There was definitely some extortion going on, but if there was a possibility of being a father, Brig was all in.
Pat had returned the items that Brig had left in his room earlier that day. His iPhone was now fully charged and receiving a strong signal. Brig scrolled through the rash of messages from Tommy begging him to reconsider. Even Happy had sent several texts revealing she was temporarily pregnant with his child. Perhaps most surprising was the flurry of messages he received from his father and sister. In a last desperate attempt to stop Brig from killing himself, Happy had phoned Brig’s father and given him Brig’s telephone number. For most of the last twenty-four hours, VII and Brenda had sent messages every half hour, begging Brig not to kill himself and to come home. Brig sent back a simple text telling them he was okay, that he had reconsidered, and that they would talk soon.
He supposed it would take days, perhaps months, to come to terms with the idea he would be a father. He would need proof that the baby was his, but resting comfortably next to a fire, sipping tea, and talking it over with James, he realized that life was about hope. Things may not get better, in fact sometimes they got worse, but as long as he was able to imagine a scenario in which things got better, he could go on. This was a new insight for him. Over the last couple of months, his singular purpose, his hope, had been to die on Mount Everest. Now he had new hope, a new Everest. He would be a father. The Brigham Young bloodline would continue.
The End….for now…