We have seen the young man mutilated,
The torn girl trembling by the millstream.
And meanwhile we have gone on living …
We have all had our private terror …
-T.S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral
I didn't know it, but I was too late.
Frank had died twenty minutes earlier, but when I arrived, all I saw were the hospital sheets, like wrinkled drapes in a house in which no one lives, lying on a disheveled and very empty bed.
I picked up the sheets anyway, as if to make sure Frank wasn't hiding beneath PROPERTY OF WEST PENN HOSPITAL. He wasn't, but lying next to the garbage can was a crumpled piece of paper. I investigated this new evidence. People don't simply disappear from hospital rooms.
"Turn the corpse over and fold the arms behind its back," the note read. Frank is dead! I realized. What a way to find my old friend. An hour ago Frank was watching "The Today Show" and sipping cold coffee. Now he is "the corpse."
Two weeks earlier I had gone to his house to give him Communion.