The sounds of the respirator and the smell of disinfectant permeated Tyler’s ears and nose. The sun had begun to set through the private hospital room window in Nashville. Tyler sat quietly with his daddy’s beat up acoustic guitar across his lap while he held his hand. While Tyler picked at the guitar strings the memories of days past flew through his mind, trying to hold the tears back. Johnny “.45” McKay was on his death bed with his son Tyler by his side. There were stacks of cards and the flower baskets that had been sent from fans and record execs from all over the country were strategically placed around the room. One would think with this much correspondence that the room would be full of family and friends coming to see the great country star off to the great unknown but Tyler knew this was not the case. All the years of his daddy’s drinking and drugging had pushed everyone away. Tyler knew he would be the only visitor in these last painful hours of Johnny’s life. Tyler picked a few songs here and there wondering if the old man could hear him. The morphine had taken control now and it would not be long. The nurse came in with a clip board and a pen.
“Mr. McKay, you need to sign these insurance forms and the dnr as we discussed yesterday.” The nurse says to Tyler in a very professional voice.
“Ok, give em here.” Tyler says calmly taking the clip board and signing the papers.
“It won’t be long now will it?” Tyler asks as his bottom lip starts to quiver...
“Don’t worry he does not feel a thing,” the nurse replied. Tyler went back to picking at the guitar. Tyler watched as the nurse loaded the morphine in to his father’s I v. The sweat on Tyler’s brow appears immediately.
“Ok, I will be back shortly to check on him,” says the nurse. Tyler quickly got up and laid the guitar in the chair he was sitting in. He locked the hospital room door and went into the bathroom and locked the door behind him. Tyler pulls the black sunglasses case out of his denim jacket pocket and sets it on the sink and removes his jacket. Tyler looks at himself in the mirror as he rolls up his left shirt sleeve, revealing the needle tracks in his arm. Tyler turns his trucker hat around backwards and opens the case removing the tied plastic baggie of heroin and the spoon. He flips open his pocket knife and unties the baggie, slides the tip of the knife into the bag and shovels a generous portion of the heroin onto the spoon. Once the heroin is cooked Tyler fills the syringe and ties his belt around his arm and looks at himself in the mirror.
“Here’s to you Pops,” Tyler says raising the syringe in the air. As the tears roll down the young country stars face he slides the needle into his arm and the warm euphoria comes rushing in. Tyler removes the needle and packs up his kit. He quickly unrolls his sleeve and puts his denim jacket back on and heads out the door for a smoke.
The cold, wet Nashville air sends chills through Tyler’s stoned body. Tyler lights his cigarette, pulls his phone out of his pocket and starts to walk around the courtyard of the hospital. Tyler dials his voice mail and puts the phone to his ear taking a long drag off the cigarette.
“Tyler, it’s me, Meghan, I know you think you want me there with you but I just can’t do it. Call me and let me know you are ok, please, please, “the voice sobs in the message. Tyler hangs up the phone and sits down on the bench in the courtyard staring at his phone. For all practical purposes Meghan was Tyler’s girlfriend. They had known each other a year now and Tyler had professed his love for her right before Christmas. It was not until after Tyler’s New Years Eve show that the two finally hooked up. Meghan had been dodging Tyler’s advances since they met. Tyler knew she loved him; it was just getting her to admit it that was the hard part. Now, two weeks after their romantic weekend, Meghan had gone back to her indecisive ways. Tyler had also started using heroin at the same time he met Meghan. She was the only person in the whole world other than his dealer that knew about his drug problem. Maybe this was the reason she refused to admit that she loved him, maybe it was the constant touring, and maybe it was something in her own head. The more she told him she did not love him the more heroin he put into his veins. The pain of not having her by his side as his woman was almost too much for him to bear. Tyler dials Meghan’s number and waits for an answer.
“Hey,” Tyler says in his sad, depressed, stoned voice.
“Hey,” Meghan replies.
“How are you?” Meghan asks. She waits listening to the silence on the other end of the phone.
“Well how the fuck do you think I am? I am sorry I don’t mean to snap at you. I just really wish you were here with me. It is not easy watching your father die.” Tyler says to Meghan. He can hear her start to cry.
“We have talked about this Tyler, you know I cannot be there and you know why.” Meghan says through a mouth full of sobs and a face full of tears. Tyler takes a long drag off of his cigarette and drops it to the ground smashing it with the heel of his boot.
“Well I’ve got to go. It won’t be long now and I want to be there when he goes. “Tyler tells Meghan.
“Ok, well will you call me later, after? Please don’t go get wasted. You know I worry about you so much.” Meghan pleads with Tyler.
“Tyler, Tyler, Tyler,” Meghan yells. Tyler hangs up the phone with out a reply and walks back into the hospital.
“That woman is going to kill me before anything else,” Tyler mumbles to himself.
“Has there been any change?” Tyler asks the nurse.
“No, son Im sorry, but I would be surprised if he makes it through the night.” The nurse replies.
Tyler exhausted from the hospital, the heroin and Meghan, pulls the chair close to his daddy’s bed. He slides his boots off and props his feet up on the bed and covers up with his jacket. He cannot keep his eyes open any longer. Slowly Tyler fades to black.
Tyler wakes up shortly around eleven p.m. to the one of the machines beeping. The nurse is standing above his father taking his pulse.“it will be any minute now, Mr. Mckay.” The nurse says softly. Tyler gets up and puts his boots back on. The heart monitor makes a suttle beep