Last Seen Normal

Eliot Li


The Emergency Room doctor asked 75 year old Gloria Huang when she last saw her husband normal, as she looked at Lawrence lying on the hospital gurney, his eyes rolled back and tongue hanging out, as he sucked in air at a slow tortured tempo he no longer consciously controlled, after the doctor showed her the CT scan with the swollen left side of his brain where all the brain cells died from a “massive acute stroke”, and she wondered if she should tell the doctor the truth about when she last saw Lawrence normal, because it was when she snuck out of her room late at night at the Sunrise Senior Living facility where she lived on the 2nd floor, so she could go to Lawrence’s room in the advanced dementia ward on the 4th floor and give him a blow job, which he happily received even though she was not sure he was capable of recognizing who was giving him the blow job anymore, and immediately after he orgasmed—a big one based on the noises he made—he seemed to fall asleep but did not awake the next morning, and that’s when the nursing home staff called the ambulance, and the EMS technician’s eyes widened as he took Lawrence’s blood pressure, and as they were bouncing around in the back of the ambulance, siren blaring, she remembered the first time she gave Lawrence a blow job, in Shanghai 50 years ago, after Lawrence had driven her around the city wearing his tailored brown suit in his shiny black Ruxton Roadster with the top down, and they walked holding hands along the Huangpu River in front of the marble buildings of the French Concessions, and she wondered how she must seem like a gold digger to this young handsome self-made man to whom she would never feel equal though she felt she could easily match wits with him, and since he had gone to a school run by missionaries he felt that sex before marriage was wrong but that certain other things were OK in the eyes of God, so that night she agreed to do what he asked when she stayed over in his room, and when they eventually got married and the Communist Revolution came and they fled China for their lives since Chairman Mao wanted all the intellectuals and all the landlords thrown to the bottom of the Yangtze River, they came to America with nothing but a few framed photos and his tailored brown suit, and they lived a good and modest life in the U.S. with him working as a salesman at Macy’s, and as she looked at what was left of her husband lying motionless on the gurney, she realized what was lost, that she would never hear him speak or do anything with purpose again, and she decided not to tell the doctor.


Eliot Li lives in California, and has work forthcoming in The Pinch, Flash Frog, Cleaver, and Gordon Square Review. His fledgling twitter account can be found @EliotLi2.